Reid’s $ 1.8 million Canberra family dream home to be demolished after horror discovery


Canberra man Dean Papas paid $ 1.8 million for the family home of his dreams – only to find after a total renovation that it needs to be demolished.

A family in Canberra is ’emptied’ that their eternal $ 1.8 million home is on the verge of demolition after a horror discovery renders the place unliveable.

Dean Papas and his wife sold their house in Curtin earlier this year and quickly realized that the demand in the real estate market was “crazy”.

This forced them to look further and seek more ‘eccentric’ deals when they stumbled upon a heritage house in the suburb of Reid, which Mr Pappas said was in disrepair with structural cracks and other problems related to the fact that it had hardly been touched since the 1970s.

When they put the property built in 1927 up for auction in May, beating five other bidders, Mr Papas said it was a “dream” come true.

He and his pregnant wife were hoping to move in with their 18-month-old son, providing their growing family with a new home.

“My wife and I grew up in Canberra and have spent our entire lives here, so buying a piece of Canberra’s heritage, especially as a builder for me, was an absolute dream,” he told news .com.au.

“It was a really cool thing to be able to be a part of because I’ve always been in heritage properties and I’ve worked on a number of heritage properties… Especially in Canberra until recently we didn’t have any. history or culture for us and I feel like we’re doing it now and being able to be a part of it and put our own twist on it, it’s a cool project to do.

The property moved in on a Friday earlier this year and Mr. Papas had sales teams on the property on Saturdays.

“We have renovated the entire property inside and out, cleaned up the garden and replanted, repaired the facade, repaired cracks, repaired the storm water drainage, replaced the air conditioning units, while the plumbing and electricity weren’t too bad, ”he explained.

“We redid the floors, rugs and repainted the whole house and we redid the kitchen and laundry. It was a pretty big renovation, we had at least 10 people every day to work there all week and weekend.

“We had sold our house, so we had to move out and live with my parents at the time. My wife was very pregnant and we already had a child of a year and a half, so I was taking a lot of time off my schedule and things were hectic.

As a builder, Mr. Papas was fortunate that a job that should have taken three months was completed in just seven weeks and the family moved in, excited to unpack and settle in.

But they hadn’t had time to install a ceiling fan in the master bathroom, so when the family was already living in the place, a tradie came to finish it.

The electrician climbed to the ceiling to check some of the work, peeling off the yellow insulation to discover a horrific discovery: There were asbestos fibers, a deadly material where exposure can cause mesothelioma, an incurable form of Cancer.

He immediately called Mr Papas who was driving home from work, but the builder having been trained in asbestos detection he was sure it was a mistake and asked for pictures.

“I saw the photo and immediately felt sick. I think I even stopped breathing for a while. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, ”he said.

Urgent tests the next day confirmed Mr Papas’ worst fears.

“It was really scary as a builder, I figured out what the situation was and now there was asbestos in the ceiling cavity. I thought we hadn’t made a lot of holes in the cavity, but I was backing up looking at photos and videos trying to piece together and determine the exposure that there might have been, ”he said. -he declares.

He emailed the ACT Asbestos Response Working Group, which immediately came out and took photos and samples.

Then, as Canberra went into lockdown as the Delta strain spread, the family received a call telling them that asbestos was definitely in the ceiling, but was not found in the main part of the house, which means that they could shelter there temporarily.

“I don’t even think I slept that night when we first found out. I spent all of my time online doing research and trying to figure out what would be going on and trying to anticipate things, ”he said. “It was a really terrifying time, the first two to three weeks sitting in limbo in a locked out house and not knowing if the house was clean or well and I had an 18 month old running around, touching all surfaces and worked out very closet so it was not a comfortable place.

The family had fallen victim to a widespread contamination scandal by a company called Mr. Fluffy, the name used for the company of Dirk Jansen, which blew loose asbestos fibers into homes in Canberra between 1968 and 1979 .

However, no record has been kept on how many or how many homes were affected and despite the launch of a program to rectify Mr. Fluffy’s asbestos-contaminated homes, three decades later, it is clear that some have always been missed.

According to the ACT Asbestos Task Force response to the removal program, 65,000 homes were inspected in Canberra at the time, but 1,000 were poorly cleaned or missed.

A billion-dollar program launched by the ACT government in 2014 has since identified six homes affected by Mr Fluffy’s asbestos.

Mr Papas is sure he was exposed to asbestos, as he remembers replacing the lights and fibers falling through his hair on his face, while his companion was right next to him passing them the vacuum cleaner.

He said all tradespeople who worked at home were also reportedly exposed.

“The scary thing about the asbestos test is that you have to see it to test it, but it doesn’t have to be visible to be harmful,” he said.

“We had painted the house and had new floors and we had touched all surfaces. “

Although Mr Papas only praised the asbestos task force, he said it was a terrifying time as they wondered what would happen legally and financially, knowing they could not stay in. ownership only for a short time.

It also propelled them into Canberra’s fiercely competitive rental market. They rented an invisible place at first, after watching it on video due to the lockdown, but when they moved in they found it was totally inappropriate for a family.

They instantly canceled the lease and lost four weeks of rent.

The desperate family said it was “very difficult” to be knocked down on a few other rental properties.

Mr Papas said they were lucky to find owners who were equally sympathetic to their situation.

“I kept an eye on the market after the fact and honestly I don’t know what we would have gotten and I think we would have struggled to get something,” he said.

“The price of what we are paying is 20 to 30% higher than 12 months ago and the amount of rent we are paying is more than the mortgage payments on our house. “

Mr. Papas is speaking out because he wants to raise awareness about Mr. Fluffy’s issue and is asking for changes to be made.

He wants to see the mandatory testing of asbestos properties built before the 1980s at the point of sale, just like a building inspection, paid for by the buyer and kept on a register in perpetuity.

“It ensures that people will never be in the position we were in and trades will not be in that position. For now, the fallback solution is for builders and traders to pick up asbestos in what they do. In this process we are exposing ourselves and our people and it is not a sustainable approach to what we know to be a problem in Canberra, ”he explained.

“We need to enforce the rule and over the next few years the pre-1980s properties that trade sales will need this asbestos report and eventually we’ll start getting a database and know what’s affected.”

“I guarantee you there will be a spike in Mr. Fluffy’s properties – I’m not a gambler, but I would put money on the fact that there are properties that people don’t know about.” not.

“I’m a builder and I know what I’m looking for and it wasn’t visible – it was hidden under layers of insulation.”

He also wants legislation to be introduced requiring an asbestos assessment to be carried out for homeowners who plan to renovate or maintain homes built before 1980.

“The situation I found myself in and the stress I went through, I hope no one else will ever have to go through,” he said.

“For my family and my wife, it has been a busy year and it is something that we would like other people to avoid experiencing to some extent.”

Mr. Papas is also concerned about those affected in the past.

“We don’t know who was exposed to this walking past the house because there are vents on the side of the house and it is blowing a gust of wind in the ceiling so the fibers have blown into the street, so it doesn’t It’s not just us who are affected, it’s all the previous people who have been to the house and the people walking past the street, ”he said.

“There was a renovation done in 1990 with a massive extension added and they would have ripped off the side of the house so that would have exposed hundreds of tradespeople at the time.

“We’re not the only ones affected by this discovery, but we are the ones who found it and it shouldn’t be like this.”

Last Friday, the government bought the property back from the Papas family and their ensemble for demolition in the first quarter of next year, when the construction approval process could take between three and 12 months, he added. .

That means the family could potentially move into their new home by the end of 2022, but it’s more likely to be 2023.

Another complicating factor is that the construction will be subject to heritage rules, despite the demolition.

“We are in uncharted territory and try to be as sympathetic as possible to the legacy and the idea is to integrate it so that the untrained eye would pass by not knowing that this is a new home,” said he declared.

“But we bought a heritage house and we wanted to live in a house that was 95 years old because it is one of the oldest houses in Canberra and there is something really cool about it, so build a new one. homemade is bittersweet. “

For now, Mr Papas is celebrating the birth of his three-week-old son, but asbestos exposure is going to take a heavy toll on his mind for years to come as it typically takes around 30 years for cancer to appear.

“I think I’ll be 60 or 70 and when I get to that age it’s going to be in my head and something I’m worried about,” he said.


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