Engineer hired by owner can’t certify safety of rowhouse

An engineer hired by St. John's landlord Mike O'Dea says he doesn't know if the house at 73 Long's Hill is safe to live in.

Peter Hutton says work on extension at rear ‘has been done with due diligence and good workmanship’

CBC Investigates speaks to the authors of 2 reports on 73 Long's Hill 3:13

An engineer hired by St. John's landlord Mike O'Dea says he doesn't know if the house at 73 Long's Hill is safe to live in. 

After CBC Investigates raised questions about the rowhouse this week, O'Dea provided a letter from Peter Hutton certifying repairs to the structure.  

But Hutton says he cannot vouch for the safety of the entire structure, just the extension at the back of the home that previously had no foundation.

Hutton declined to do a taped interview, but told CBC Investigates he was unaware until this week of the Parsons Engineering report that described the home as being in danger of “catastrophic collapse.”

That is after he had inspected work on 73 Long’s Hill.

Hutton confirmed that he is vouching for the work that was done on the extension at the rear of the home, and was never asked to address the balance of the structure.

“The structural framing for the renovations, including carrying point loads from beams to solid bearing is adequate,” Hutton noted in his May 13, 2014, report.

“The total renovation has been done with due diligence and good workmanship and has greatly enhanced the structure of the house.”

Structural integrity ‘compromised’

Last fall, the city carried out an inspection and demanded a structural assessment from an engineer.

Parsons Engineering concluded that the addition "has compromised the structural integrity of the entire building."

William Parsons is president of Parsons Engineering. He carried out a structural assessment of 73 Long's Hill in the fall of 2013. (CBC)
Company president William Parsons told CBC Investigates the addition created problems with the main structure of the house.

He is not sure that the work on the foundation underneath the extension at the back of the rowhouse is enough.

“Just adding a new foundation, to me, it’s step one,” Parsons said.

“You’re not going to hurt yourself by adding a new foundation, because right now you’ve got nothing. But whether or not it’s going to be enough to keep you going in perpetuity, now that’s another matter entirely.”

And simply investigating all potential problems would be a costly job.

"What we would have to do is go in, open it all up, find out what's there, calculate what should be there and then you see what the gap is,” Parsons said.

Meanwhile, the city still has yet to accept Hutton's certification, and is continuing to work on a report outlining deficiencies with 73 Long’s Hill.

That report will be provided to owner Mike O'Dea.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.