Dream home a nightmare The Bryden familyof Rideau Lakes Township highhopes had whenthey set out to buildtheirdreamhomein 2002. But after a bitterlegalbattle,they now facelosingthe h o m ea n dt h e i r currentresidence, Andrew Thomson reports. Andrew Thomson The Ottawa Citizen Saturday, January 12, 2008 Afteryearsof planning and dreaming, Loriand RickBrydenhopedby now they'dbe livingin their dreamhomeon old familypropertyoutsideWestport,in Rideau Lakes Township. -- That hasn'thappened their unfinished househas sat vacantsince2002. Now they and their teenaged daughterface the prospect hugefinanciallossesand of removalfrom their current housein the middleof winter. Lori,an educator who ran in Leeds-Grenville the Liberals for in CREDIT: BrunoSchlumberger, The Ottawa October's provincialelection,hasn't Citizen stoppedwritingto PremierDalton From left, RickBryden,Mara Brydenand McGuinty cabinet and ministersat Lori Brydenface being homelessafter a Queen's Park,desperate a last-minutelegaldisputeover the constructionof their for reprieve after yearsof disputeswith the dream home, which has been condemned. the and builder, municipality their warrantyprovider. "We have no optionsleft for usr" she said. "We are absolutely stuck in this awful situation." The Brydens want to know how a houseonceapprovedby townshipbuilding is officials now consideredunsafe,despiteno changein construction five for years. The most recenttwist was when the Brydens,both 44, received sheriffs a noticein November vacatetheir currenthouseon the same propertyso the to former contractor home,to recouppart of his can auctionit, and the unfinished damage awardsin a judgmentfrom a February regarding longstanding lawsuit a paymentdispute. Bob Pollard, Westport a won $78,000in damages, auctionis Jan. builder, The 29. beingevictedfrom the housewe live in," said Rick,a school "We are essentially bus driver,who callstheir situation cautionary for new homebuyers. a tale The story beganin 1986,whenthe youngcouple boughtthe landon North ShoreRoad from Lori'smother.The lO-acrepropertyhas beenin Lori'sfamily for generations alreadyhad a 1960s-era and house. The Brydensspentmore yearsdesigning their dreamhome,whichneededa provisions. numberof special Maraspenta gooddealof her first year in hospital and,to this day, fights severeasthma.Lori'srheumatoid arthritis flaredup at the sametime, leaving her physically and unable work for four years. disabled to The property's homestead original wouldbe moved,splitting landinto two the barrier-free lots.The new housewould be an open-concept, spacein caseLori's physicalconditionworsenedagain. In 2002,they hired Mr. Pollard, experienced an and family localcontractor acquaintance,alongwith an architect. The Brydenslinedup their mortgage,got approvalfrom the township and nearbyconservation and had the authority, landsurveyed. whileLori'smotherstayedin Theymovedinto a traveltrailerin July2OO2, workshop. olderhousehad beenmovedbut needed new foundation Rick's The a and hydroconnection. began, Construction with township visiting ensure officials to the Ontario codewas beingfollowed. building But work stoppedin December 20A2after a paymentdisputebetweenMr. and Pollard the Brydens' bank, Meanwhile, Brydens the hiredan engineer inspect house. to the Three geotechnical, building structural, and followed. codeengineers The reportsdiscuss building and code,measurement structural issues that need especially the basement. attention, in someof their findings Rickhighlighted duringan hour-long tour of the unfinishedtwo-storeyhouse,whichremains at opento the elements several pointsand is surrounded discarded by wood, styrofoam, and cinderblocks. Mr. Pollard eventuallysuedthe Brydens recoverpaymentfrom 2002, arguing to duringa two-weektrial that any required couldbe madeduringthe final repairs framingprocess,and that other structuralchanges by had beenrequested the Brydens. In February, Brockville a SuperiorCourtjudge agreedwith the plaintiff,after testimonyfrom engineers and workers,The Brydensowe $78,000as a result, plusthe trial'slegalbills. Loriand Ricksaid20 per cent of their wageshavebeengarnisheed part of as the payment process. Pollard Mr. has now put a lienon the two houses well, as sayinghe has no choice to auction but them. He offereda settlementbeforethe trial but it was refused,Mr. Pollardsaid in a telephoneinterview. Any questions abouthis company's work were addressed duringthe trial, he said. The Brydens want nothingmore than to see work resumeon the new house, whichis withoutplumbing, or A insulation, drywall. contractor heating, has estimatedthat the houseneedsabout$250,000 majorwork, whichthe judge in ruledrestswith the family. The Brydens spendhundreds dollarseach month heatingthe basement of to preventfrost and cracks.They'vealso continuedmortgageand propertytax payments five years. But a warrantywith Tarion,the privatecorporation for that insuresnew homebuyersin Ontario, beginsonly when,or if, they move in, The Brydens not qualifyfor Tarioncompensation do they owe the because moneyand the houseremains contractor openand incomplete, spokesman said RobMitchell. "The (warrantyprogram)was neverdesigned intervene situations to in were people in arrears." findthemselves financial unusualcircumstance," A lack of written contractis an "exceptionally Mr. Mitchelladdedyesterday. Meanwhile, Rideau LakesTownshiphas postedordersto stop work and prevent occupation, demanding repairsto severaldefectsbeforefurther construction occurs. The Brydenssay they receivedthe list of neededrepairsin December it after requesting for months. The Brydens' biggestsourceof frustrationis why construction was approvedin 2OO2, onlyto havethe township condemn houseas unsafe the underdifferent officials, building basedon the engineering reports, is for Ricksaid."Wedon't feel it should "Somebody responsible thesemistakes," beus." A lawsuit the wouldlikelycostthe Brydens against township another$100,000, he added. RonHolman, mayorof Rideau Lakes Township, with the saidhe sympathized predicament Brydens' and that his office'seffortshad been"openand transparent." But he added:"There'sno way I couldjustify that the taxpayersof Rideau Lakesshouldbe responsible any portion"of potential for compensation. The mayorsaidthe civilcourt rulingagainst the Brydens assigned no to responsibility RideauLakes.Building code issueshave beensatisfied, said he postedthe unsafebuildingorder after an indication and townshipofficials the house was aboutto be occupied. The townshipwas waitingfor a responsefrom the Brydensafter sendingthem a repairs list of needed last month,saidMr. Holman. received contractor's Officials the estimatebut have not heard backfrom the Brydens aboutscheduling privatemeeting discuss a to he legalissues, said. The Brydensdenyany unwillingness meettownship to That includes officials. severalappeals Mr. Holmanand other councillors to aboutthe OntarioBuilding Code. "We havefallenthrougheach and every crack,"said Rick."All we ever wanted was a housethat wouldsuit our lives." The situationhas left one observerwonderinghow a housecouldbe approved and eventuallycondemned virtuallythe samestageof construction. at is "It definitely one of the crazieststorieswe've ever heard,"said Karen Somerville, president Canadians Properly of for BuiltHomes, Ottawa-based an organization callingfor strongerprovincialactionto protectnew homeowners. Print Story - canada.com network http://www.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id:b6d5 -4... 8438-0645 She has writtento MunicipalAffairsMinister Jim Watsonand Government and Consumer Services Ted McMeekin Minister and has askedthe Townshipof Rideau to Lakes clarifywhy the housewas approvedin 2002 but later deemed unsafe. So far, the government response the Brydens, hasn'tsatisfied who say their file has beenshuffledbetweenministries. The Brydenshave beenadvisedto move away and forget aboutthe land. But they'vevowedto continue propertythat their fight for the horseshoe-shaped abutsa quiet pond: the "centreof the universe," to according Rick. to Lori has beenapproached run for the Liberals Leeds-Grenville in duringthe But she has more importantthingsto take care of in the next federalelection. meantime. "I probablyneeda houseto live in first," she said.