Elderly Alberta couple says dream home is now a nightmare to live in

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WATCH ABOVE: It was their retirement dream home but now an elderly couple in Thorhild County say they are trapped and living in danger. As Kendra Slugoski explains, they fear their final years will drag out in a construction zone – Jun 18, 2019

It was supposed to be their retirement dream home, but now an elderly Alberta couple say they are trapped living in a dangerous construction zone.

There is only one way in and out of Russell and Helen Lakusta’s house in Thorhild County — crossing a plywood bridge in the garage. It’s difficult and dangerous for the seniors — both 86 — especially Helen, who uses a walker to get around.

“My wife fell on it, broke her arm,” said Russell Lakusta. “I fell on it and got a concussion.”

The bridge was put in place to cover a massive hole that was dug in the garage and fenced off with a danger sign. Another hole along the foundation outside the home was also fenced off — cutting off access to the front door.

“You walk through here you get scared when you look down,” Lakusta said.

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Crews dug a massive hole in the Lakusta garage in August, 2018, to pin point basement wall problem. Kendra Slugoski
A massive hole was dug outside the main door, cutting off access to the front of the house. Kendra Slugoski

The Lakustas moved into their modular home in Buffalo Lake Estates, near Redwater, in October 2016. By the next summer, Lakusta said a basement wall had caved in.

Crews dug the holes to pinpoint the problem and an engineer’s inspection report pointed to a faulty foundation and said it must be replaced.

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That hasn’t happened yet and the Lakustas fear their home will never get fixed.

“I get sick to my stomach,” Lakusta said.

“We retired hoping we’d have our last few years here and it’s sure not panning out that way.”

READ MORE: Alberta home builders cut jobs and projects as industry faces tough times

Lakusta thought his insurance with The Alberta New Home Warranty Program would cover the repairs, but said he was told he’d be paid a lump sum and would have to hire his own contractors.

Lakusta said the foundation replacement quotes he gathered were much higher than the insurance pay out — and he doesn’t have the energy to tackle a huge repair job himself.

He was also told if he started doing any work to his basement it would cancel his insurance.

Scott Hamilton, with The Alberta New Home Warranty Program refused to comment on the specific case, but said, “At this time the Alberta courts have referred the matter to the legislated resolution process mandated by section 519 of the Insurance Act.”

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“The ANHWP is the market leader for warranty protection and we are committed to ensure that fair and reasonable outcomes the New Home Buyers Protection Act is intended to provide.”

The Lakustas said there is nothing fair about being left in limbo. “We would like to have new home warranty get a contractor and finish the work they started and fix our basement.”

“We can’t go on much longer,” Lakusta said.

READ MORE: Alberta set to license homebuilders: ‘We want to make sure that Albertans are protected’

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