WINNIPEG - A portion of an exposed foundation wall of an Osborne Village house collapsed overnight, forcing the family that lives there to flee their home.
Steve Hunt-Lesage said he was woken at 7:30 a.m. this morning by construction crew who told him the foundation of his house had collapsed and it wasn’t safe to remain inside.
"There wasn’t a crack in this house for over a hundred years and then overnight the wall collapses," Hunt-Lesage said as he surveyed the damage to his home. "I can’t believe this can ever be fixed."
Construction workers at Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church had excavated the foundation for an addition to the church property -- a home for the parish priest -- and had exposed the entire north foundation of Hunt-Lesage’s adjoining house, which is one-half of a duplex.
"They asked if they could dig up my sidewalk and I said sure but I didn’t know they were going to dig right up to my foundation wall," Hunt-Lesage said.
Workers had shored up portions of the exposed foundation wall but not the middle section. It was the rear corner that had collapsed, leaving a giant gaping hole into the home’s basement.
Hunt-Lesage said he wasn’t aware the foundation had collapsed but after being notified by workers, he could see that the main floor had dropped several centimetres.
From the outside, the exterior brick wall appeared to be drooping at the rear. A large exposed beam appeared to be the only thing keeping the house standing.
"I don’t even know how they’re going to shore (the wall) up," Hunt-Lesage said. "There’s nothing left to build on."
A spokesman for S&J Concrete Works, whose workers had notified Hunt-Lesage about the collapsed wall, refused to comment. Parish priest Father Sam Argenziano briefly examined his neighbour’s damaged home but also refused to comment.
Hunt-Lesage said he and his wife and two young children have lived in the 2-1/2 storey home for seven years.
Hunt-Lesage, a real estate agent, said the bank had appraised the home, built in 1907, at $300,000, but he believed it would cost in excess of $400,000 to rebuilt it from scratch.
An engineer working on the church project assumed responsibilty for the collapsed wall, Hunt-Lesage said, adding the engineer said that crews would brace the house by inserting large steel beams underneath the basement joists and then re-build the foundation wall.
However, Hunt-Lesage said he was doubtful that anything could save the house.
"This was one of the first duplexes built in Winnipeg," Hunt-Lesage said. "I don’t see how they can ever fix it ... at least not that I could ever feel safe moving my family back in there."