• John Jantak

Another St. Lazare home undergoes costly foundation repairs


St. Lazare homeowner Stephan Guenette shows part of the $75,000 process going on inside his garage and outside the house’s perimeter which was excavated as part of the process of stabilizing the foundation.

Stephan Guenette, a St. Lazare resident on Rue Champêtre will have to spend about $75,000 to repair a faulty foundation, he told Your Local Journal during an interview outside his home last Sunday, October 15.

Guenette said it was important for him to tell his story because other homeowners in the area have had to do expensive work to stabilize their houses and more may have to do similar repairs in the future. His foundation problem began almost nine years ago but worsened in the last two years.

What started in 2008 as a hairline crack in a Gyprock wall in the basement eventually grew to about a half-inch crevice. That’s when he realized there was a serious problem with the foundation and knew it had to be repaired.

After getting three estimates from companies that specialize in foundation work, Guenette said he chose the contractor with the lowest offer – $65,000 excluding taxes.

Family distressed

The stabilization work began almost 10 days ago when the exterior ground around the entire house was excavated. The floor inside Guenette’s garage was also dug up as part of the repairs. The process to drive metal pilings into the ground to a depth of 140 feet until it reached bedrock began two days ago.

His wife is distressed, said Guenette. “She’s discouraged. All the money we would have invested to improve our house, buy new cars, take vacations, we now have to put it into repairing the foundation. I built the house and now I have to take on almost the total cost of the repairs,” he said.

Guenette said he was the first person to build his house in 2003 based on the assessment that was made by the engineer who inspected the soil. The first phase of a major residential development for the area was announced one year earlier and a second phase in 2004.

Slow moving wave

“Nobody knew there were problems with the soil. If I had known, I wouldn’t have built there. It was a total waste of money. The company doing my foundation work said it would have cost $10,000 to do it properly in 2003. It wasn’t cheap back then but it’s a lot more expensive now,” said Guenette.

While the developers have paid the cost of foundation repairs for other affected houses,

homeowners still had to pay for all other expenses, said Guenette. Some people have endured tremendous financial stress including one homeowner who had to declare bankruptcy, he said.

Guenette compared what’s happening in his neighbourhood to a slow moving wave. Many houses have been repaired but others will eventually have to be stabilized as foundation problems become apparent.

“I live about one kilometre away from the train tracks near Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes. I can feel the vibrations in my house from the train when it passes by. It’s like living on top of gelatin,” said Guenette

Insufficient subsidies

Mayor Robert Grimaudo said St. Lazare was recently approved for a program at the provincial level which provides a $10,000 subsidy in addition to $10,000 offered by the town if homeowners meet the requirements.

“It’s ridiculous what the town is giving as a subsidy,” said Guenette. “There are many people who are in the same situation as us. It will take a lot of subsidies to help everyone.”

It’s a process that resident Joanne Ackland knows very well. She went through a similar situation almost two years ago when her foundation began shifting. Metal pilings also were driven through the excavated soil to a depth of 140 feet at a cost of $60,000 to make sure her house was properly stabilized.

Ackland said a more equitable subsidy would be for the municipality and province to each pay one-third as they apparently did in the past which would equalize the cost of repairs and lessen the financial burden on homeowners.

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