Residents of two of the three “sinking homes” on Best Avenue are moving out.
The District of Mission and its insurance company have reached a settlement to buy the house at the southwest corner of Cedar Street and Best Avenue and the house two doors down from it, but not the home in the middle.
Cory O’Donnell, who owns the corner house, said he’s happy the ordeal is over, but is still frustrated it took so long for it to happen.
“I’m happy I’m out from under a home in the ground,” said O’Donnell. “Now the pressure is on to find a new place.”
O’Donnell, who has owned the house for 14 years, said he has moved most of his belongings out already over the past three years, and is now packing the rest.
The three property owners first noticed their houses deteriorating almost five years ago. According to the district, the houses were built in the mid-1980s, but the property was likely filled in the 1950s.
The district began investigating the sinking home claims in July 2012. The homeowners worked together to try to get a settlement from the district and launched court action last year due to the lack of progress.
O’Donnell declined to comment on the settlement, but credited Mayor Randy Hawes and the district’s insurance company for making it possible.
“They got what their houses are worth as if there was nothing wrong with them,” said Hawes, noting the district will be paying a deductible and the Municipal Insurance Association will be responsible for the rest.
Hawes didn’t disclose either figure, but confirmed the houses will be owned by the district when the deals close.
“I’ve been at their houses on a number of occasions,” said Hawes. “The homes are not salvageable. They’re breaking apart, the foundations are breaking apart — they’re, well, sinking.”
According to the mayor, the middle house is in the worse condition and the two homes on either side are sinking towards the middle one.
“We recognized with the two houses, we had a responsibility. “
Hawes explained the two houses were built on improperly placed fill which was full of organics, but the district inspected and passed both.
“When you have a responsibility, I believe, and this council believes, we need to live up to it … This wasn’t their fault.”
The middle house, owned by Scott Geisser and Emalee Bridger, was inspected by an engineering company, not the district.
“They had an engineering company sign a letter saying (their house) was built on solid ground,” said Hawes, who added the district is still trying to assist Geisser and Bridger. “We’re working with them through our insurance company and their engineers.”
Hawes believes information provided by engineers should be reliable and “that’s why engineers have insurance.”
Geisser and Bridger would only say they are planning to meet with Hawes soon.
Hawes said he and the rest of council began working with homeowners as soon as they were sworn into office.
“The insurance company was very supportive once we started having discussions.”
Hawes said the houses will be demolished when the district takes ownership, and council will determine what to do with the land when all three properties are in the district’s possession.