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Money Room-by-room rebuild overcomes horror-house ordeal

08:05  05 february  2018
08:05  05 february  2018 Source:   thestar.com

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Kim Hennick and Mary Sist, with cat Sam, in the kitchen of their new home constructed from six, custom, modular pieces that were trucked in then crane-lifted into place to complete the house in eight hours.© Bernard Weil Kim Hennick and Mary Sist, with cat Sam, in the kitchen of their new home constructed from six, custom, modular pieces that were trucked in then crane-lifted into place to complete the house in eight hours.

As Kim Hennick and Mary Sist describe what they’ve been through with their house, their story begins to sound like a movie script.

Part horror, part drama, part comedy, their adventure began back in 2007 when the couple bought an A-frame-roof, cottage-style house in Etobicoke.

They took what they thought was every precaution before purchasing the four-bedroom, $448,000 home. They bought title insurance, hired a lawyer and a housing inspector and were five years away from paying off the mortgage.

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“It was renovated, it was beautiful,” says Hennick, 48, the director of branch development for The Printing House. “It was a big, entertaining house and that was the whole thing for us, we’re very social people.”

Hennick and Sist can talk, and occasionally laugh, about their ordeal now that it seems to be over with the construction of their new, custom, modular home they moved into a few months ago.

They describe how it all began, a few years after living in the home they first bought.

“We started getting little leaks,” explains Hennick. “Then little electrical wonky things started happening here and there.”

Finally, after drywall under their stairs began to bubble in 2014, they discovered water on the cement footing below. They went to the City of Toronto to pull the permits from the previous owner’s renovation and were shocked to learn the permits had never been closed.

“We should have never been able to buy the house!” says Hennick.

Since the housing inspector had included a paragraph in their report noting it was a renovation and permits should be pulled to guarantee everything was done properly, the couple’s title insurance was null and void.

Hennick and Sist hired tradespeople to investigate further — and more problems arose.

The basement, which had been dug out and expanded during the previous renovation, didn’t have the proper footings to match the original. The master bedroom at the front of the house was full of mould. The electrical work needed replacing and some of their plumbing was installed backwards.

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Bleeding money, they had to make some big decisions. And fast.

“We were lucky that we could go to the bank and say ‘OK, here’s the situation, we’re going to do something,’ ” says Sist, 55, the senior manager of training and development at Mr. Lube Canada.

Ultimately, they decided to say goodbye to their house.

“We paid $450,000 to knock it down and start fresh. All because the inspector put in that one paragraph,” adds Hennick. “We loved that house! We didn’t want to tear it down. It was perfect for us.”

They decided to install a modular home, instead, which came with an easier-to-swallow six-to-eight-week timeline compare to the minimum six months for a rebuild.

“We had this giant demolition party,” says Hennick of their July, 2016 move-out and teardown. “We were throwing hammers at the wall! We had some fun along the way. It wasn’t all horrible.”

During the demolition, the foundation which Hennick and Sist had just spent $50,000 to fix, was irreparably damaged. They were forced to lay a whole new foundation, a months-long delay.

Their two-storey modern home — which they affectionally call their Lego home — was sourced from iModular Homes in Aylmer, Ont., and arrived in six pieces on three flatbeds from Indiana.

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Six men put together the three-bedroom house over just eight hours and gave the students at the school across the street a total shock in the process.

“The kids go in from recess, and they come out and there’s a house there!” laughs Hennick.

The entire 1,750-square-foot modular house — with almost everything already in it — cost $385,000.

The plumbing and electrical had to be installed afterwards, and they hired a separate contractor to finish the basement, increasing their total space to the total 2,850 square feet.

The silver lining to the disastrous experience is that couple loves their new home more than the last. “It’s 100 per cent better!” says Hennick.

As well as entertaining, the couple love to travel and highlighted some of their favourite destinations while decorating.

They used custom wall decor from The Printing House to transform their basement into an Irish pub, complete with pool table and big-screen TV. A piazza mural in their dining room brings back memories of Italy. On their back deck, they can relive apres-ski while hot-tubbing against a mural backdrop of the Rockies. They also incorporated 3-D printing into their home’s decor.

Upstairs, their master-bedroom sanctuary features a barn door sourced from a local farm outside of Aylmer which was built in the 1830s. A large walk-in closet, ensuite bathroom and sitting area take up the entire floor with a chimney-free fireplace they scored at Costco for $250 adding to the cosy, tranquil feel of the space.

When guests come to stay with the couple, they have their own private retreat in the basement, with two additional bedrooms and a bathroom.

“I like cooking, so I love this compared to the other place,” says Sist, leaning against the 10-foot Corian kitchen island with sit-up bar across from her five-burner gas stove.

“We can be the hub again. We can bring people together!” adds Hennick.

THE NUMBERS BAR:

$1.3M: Approximate current market value of their new home

600: Kilometres their house travelled to Etobicoke

9: Months they lived with neighbours

108: Bottles of red wine consumed during their time with neighbours

10: Number of years’ warranty on their Lego house

$3,300: Fee charged by City of Toronto to cover the wires during house delivery

4: Times Sist contacted the Ombudsman of Ontario over their ordeal

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