A couple from Fort McPherson, N.W.T., are warning other homeowners: if you accept government money for home repairs, be prepared to take on the risk.
Last June, Bill and Winnie Prodromidis were approved for a $15,000 grant from the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation's CARE program — Contributing Assistance for Repairs and Enhancements — so they could fix their leaking roof.
Documents show the family was on the hook for the remaining $5,000 estimated in repairs, and any extra costs incurred.
"I was hoping they would do [the work] when I got approved in June. It would've been much easier on us," Winnie Prodromidis said.
A private contractor was hired through a government tender. They didn't remove the roof until October — and when they did, more damage was found. The Prodromidis's were told the job would cost $60,000 — triple the original estimate.
"I don't know why they waited till winter," Winnie Prodromidis said.
The family said they were left in an unexpected situation and they couldn't afford the new bill.
"They say they care about people," said Bill Prodromidis.
"They left me here with an open roof. Just a tarp, –38 with the wind."
'It's like a home renovation show'
The territorial government said the CARE program clearly states that homeowners bear any extra costs associated with construction.
"It's like a home renovation show where they see a big surprise when they open up the wall," said Alana Mero, the N.W.T. Housing Corporation's Beaufort-Delta district director.
"We have that potential in any of our homes."
For privacy reasons, Mero could not comment specifically on the Prodromidis case, but she says of 367 approved applicants under the CARE program, she's only aware of one or two situations where the cost of repairs increased.
However, she says it is common for repairs to be delayed.
"It's not unusual that we can be taking a few months to get to the construction stage. It very much depends on construction availability," Mero said.
She said at every stage of the program it's up to the homeowner to decide whether they want to proceed with construction. And if a contractor is only available during the colder months, homeowners can say no to starting repairs.
Mero said the only requirement is that the work be completed within the same fiscal year the grant is approved, or it will expire.
Did the work themselves
After the Prodromidis's renovation nightmare, the couple say they closed the roof themselves.
But instead of paying $60,000, they say they only paid about $3,000.
The family says they learned their lesson about doing home repairs in the North, and they'll never accept government money for home repairs again.