Saint-Jérôme: 48 condo owners will have to evacuate their poorly constructed buildings

Saint-Jérôme: 48 condo owners will have to evacuate their poorly constructed buildings

MISE À DAY

Forty-eight homeowners could find themselves on the street in a few days because of a contractor who cut corners during the construction of three buildings, 30 years ago, in Saint -Jerome. Unless they each advance $200,000 to fix the many problems, they will lose everything. 

“We know very well that no one can pay for this. Only the City or Quebec can help us,” says Claude Beauvais, one of the presidents of the three condominium syndicates present last Thursday at a special meeting of co-owners. 

The buildings, built in 1993 by the Investissement Jérômien consortium, are located at numbers 600, 620 and 640 Castonguay Street. All the companies that made up the consortium have been dissolved since at least 2004.

Each building has 16 four-room apartments. The estimate for renovation costs at 620, for example, is $4.2 million, or $262,000 per unit, which exceeds their market value.

As it is not a claim or damage suffered, insurers wash their hands of it. The 48 owners will therefore lose their homes, remain responsible for the mortgage and will have to relocate in the midst of the housing crisis.  

Andréane Durocher and Raphaël Di Palma Locas are expecting a second child and will soon find themselves in the street.

The rental housing vacancy rate in Saint-Jérôme is 0.3%, according to the most recent report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. 

Rotten structure

The calvary begins in October 2021, during a minor repair on an exterior column.

Marie-Claire Lahiton and Mrs. David take care of the administration of the disaster. The first is in charge of the renovations committee and the second, president of the syndicate of co-owners.

“Seeing the cracks, the contractor suspected that there was something more and he refused to do the work,” says Marie-Claire Lahiton, head of the renovation committee for the three buildings. < /p>

An engineer is then hired to inspect the buildings. What he is about to discover chills the blood. 

The buildings were so badly built that it is impossible to draw up a complete list of the defects here. The structure of the buildings is rotten by water, in particular. 

After the general contractor and the engineer, an architect was hired to make the estimates, then an estimator to establish the costs of renovation. 

Each co-owner has already had to pay $32,500 to $40,000 in special assessments to pay for all these expertises and certain security work. 

Notice of denunciation

The real bomb fell on September 15, when a whistleblower notice was issued by the architect. 

“We consider the current situation to be of great concern for the health and the safety of users,” he wrote in his opinion.

It now remains to alert the City of Saint-Jérôme, which is playing hide and seek with the presidents of the three unions. A meeting scheduled for October 6 was canceled by the acting mayor, André Marion. 

A new meeting is scheduled with the mayor today [Tuesday, October 11]. 

< p>“We want to alert the City ourselves, because if it's the architect who does it, the yellow buses will arrive within the hour to evacuate us,” explains Ms. Lahiton. 

Living through hell

“It's a humanitarian crisis,” adds Lucie David, president of the condominium syndicate at 620 rue Castonguay.

Remedies are practically non-existent. The contractors who built the buildings are dead, insolvent or untraceable. 

The syndicates of co-owners are still awaiting the report of the Régie du bâtiment, whose inspectors came last May. 

Their local deputy, caquiste Youri Chassin, met with them for three minutes in April, without ever hearing from them again. 

“I live in hell or not far, let's say that I am at the gates,” says Denise Lacroix, 68, one of the co-owners of 620 rue Castonguay. 

The insurance broker had to give up her retirement, scheduled for December, because she will soon lose her house. 

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