Dundurn, Sask., family tries 'crowdfunding' for new home

When a young couple bought their first home in Saskatchewan in 2009 it seemed like the perfect place to raise their kids.

Water, mould problems have created poor living conditions in current house

Karen Mackie and Charles Dumont say they would like to move their family out of their home because of health hazards, but right now they can't. (CBC/SRC)

When a young couple bought their first home in Saskatchewan in 2009, it seemed like the perfect place to raise their kids.

Four years later, Karen Mackie and Charles Dumont say major water and mould issues have made their Dundurn house nearly unlivable.

The family is now trying to raise $120,000 on the internet through a 'crowdfunding' page to help build a new place to live.

The couple said they turned to crowdfunding because they can't afford the repairs. Selling would come at a great financial loss, and they don't want another family to have to deal with the same problems.

Mould and water were found under the floorboards. (CBC/SRC)

"We don't want to ask for a lot of money from people because we know that people don't have it," said Mackie. 

"Most people are in the same boat as we are, or similar."

On the page the couple is telling their story and asking people to make $25 donations — if 4,800 donors give that amount, they will reach their goal.

"I think it made it easier to put that out there, than just saying 'we need your help, we need your money.' Saying 'we only need $25' made it a lot easier to do," said Mackie.

Crowdfunding, most commonly used for charities, artistic endeavours or business projects, has become a popular way to raise money online, with people from around the world making small donations towards a big goal.

"As hard as it is to ask for donations, when I know that there's other people out there that are so much worse off and need it more, it's just ... it's a fine line, you know," said Mackie.

As of Monday morning, the page had raised $3,420.

House problems

Karen, a photographer, and Charles, a drummer and web designer, bought the two-bedroom-and-a-den bungalow in Dundurn, about 32 kilometres south of Saskatoon, to get out of their renting situation.

About a year after moving in to the home, they were expecting their third child. 

That's when the couple renovated the basement into a master bedroom and soon after discovered there were 10 centimetres of water underneath the wooden sub-flooring.

On the crowdfunding, page Mackie explains "it was later determined that water infiltration was due to seepage, which was subsequently not covered by insurance."

The couple said they had the home inspected before moving in and the inspector did not detect the water in the basement.

After ripping out the floor and walls they also found mould was growing in the basement.

They have done several repairs to try to make situation better, but nothing has worked.

As time passed the problem became worse. The couple has been sleeping in the living room for nearly three years.

"When I do laundry in the spring and summer months, I have to wear rain boots because there is usually a few inches of water around the washer and dryer," Mackie said on the fundraising page.

With all the snowfall this winter, the couple is scared the flooding in the basement will be a lot worse this year.

With the funds they raise, the family hopes to buy a pre-fabricated house, and they would complete the inside on their own.

Mould may affect family's health

Mackie said mould was recently found again to be growing in the basement and she's afraid it's affecting her health and the health of her children.

The couple's 11-year-old son suffers from Marfan Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that makes him lose his breath very quickly.  Mackie fears the mould in the house is making his condition worse.

"I can't even begin to describe the guilt we feel with keeping our kids in a home that could be making them sick or could eventually cause irreversible health problems," said Mackie on the crowdfunding page.

She's also scared the mould is causing her own health to deteriorate — she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism seven months ago and has not gotten better despite taking medication.

"Staying in this house terrifies me, because I know how much worse I've gotten over the last year, and thinking of long-term effects on my kids, we need to get out of here and we have no other options," Mackie said.