Bridget Austin is calling it a miracle. Her family was about one to two months away from filing for bankruptcy when a home warranty company, Tarion, stepped in and saved the day.
“They’ve given us a new home warranty,” said Austin. “Now we can rebuild with no risk of stigma.”
The Austins purchased a home in 2018 on Beaver Meadow Rd. in Port Sydney, thinking they’d bought the ideal property where they could raise their daughters. But after living in the home for about a month, they learned their house was full of toxic mould, which made it unlivable.
The family had to find another home to rent, while still paying the mortgage and insurance on the other home. Austin sought help from their insurance company and mortgage company for some financial reprieve.
“We can’t get any help. Our bank is not willing to do no interest or freeze the mortgage for us. We’re completely on our own. We have to cover mortgage, utilities, property taxes for a home that we can’t even live in and also rent, utilities and insurance [for a rental home]on one income,” she said, in a previous interview with Huntsville Doppler. “Our entire life is up in shambles. Financially we’re broken. We’re not getting any kind of assistance from anywhere, I’ve gone to insurance but because it was preexisting they say our home inspector should have found it. But how is our home inspector supposed to find it if they’re not allowed to lift up flooring? It was all covered up.”
Tarion heard of the Austin’s plight after local coverage of their story garnered attention from major broadcasting networks.
“They emailed me and fast-tracked our investigation. They interviewed us and our neighbours,” said Austin. “They have been our saving grace, it’s a miracle. I don’t have the words to express how grateful we are. We’re completely thrilled they’re doing this for us. If it weren’t for them we’d be going bankrupt and lose our property and our house.”
Melanie Kearns, director, strategic communications for Tarion Warranty Corporation, told Doppler in an email, “When we became aware of the situation, we conducted a review and determined that the home was still covered by the builder’s warranty. Since the builder had not addressed the issues, we stepped in to resolve them with the homeowners and are glad we were able to assist.”
Tarion has offered the Austin family their maximum payout, $300,000, to rebuild and repair their home.
“Our home did cost more, so we’re still out the excess, which we’re hoping to recover with the lawsuit,” said Austin. “We’re looking to have the house torn down and rebuilding in the spring. The garage is a 600 square ft. garage, we probably won’t be able to rebuild that [due to cost], but as long as we can rebuild the house part and get into a house.”
When Huntsville Doppler reported on this story in June, a number of local businesses stepped forward to offer the Austins help during the rebuild, from HVAC to landscaping.
“We’re hoping there’s possibilities within our community with other companies that might be willing to give us at-cost [pricing]or significant discounts or donations, anything to help us feasibly get back in our house within that budget Tarion is giving us,” she said, listing examples for flooring, drywall and so on.
The family still has their Go Fund Me page set up.
“It did help us for a little while with mortgage and rent,” said Austin. “I got daycare subsidy approval but I can’t find registered daycare spots. I have a job offer on the table but I have no daycare. I can’t take this job until we have daycare. I’m on wait lists.”
Despite the challenges her family still has to face, Austin said they have hope and peace of mind again.
“It’s very uplifting to have someone sweep in and say, ‘We’ll help you’,” she said.
The lawsuit is still ongoing and could be a long process before it’s finalized.
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