98-year-old Westmount farmhouse lifted from its foundations for repairs

EDMONTON — A near century-old home in west Edmonton is getting some much-needed foundation repairs so it can continue to be a historic part of the neighbourhood.

The project, estimated to take about two weeks, will see the home lifted from the ground and slowly moved back from the prior foundation so that work on the new base can be completed.

Kyla Amrhein, the current homeowner, bought the four-bedroom Westmount home five years ago. She knew foundation work would be required, but the historical nature of the home was appealing.

“The idea that this home in particular, for a hundred years, housed families and grown families, seen kids grow up. Maybe it’s nostalgic but it’s something that too often gets overlooked.”

The two-storey home has stood in the neighbourhood since 1922 when it was built by William Hartley for $3,000. Amrhein knew that if the right work wasn’t done to it, the building could be lost.

“We just like to do projects, my husband and I, so what better way to do that than on a home that we could perhaps salvage, that we knew probably otherwise would be taken down for an infill.”

Amrhein is a self-described farm girl and the history of this old building, and its importance to the neighbourhood, was not lost on her.

“This was the farmhouse where it all sort of started for the west side of Westmount,” adding, “it’s really neat just having that shared history with the community.”

The massive project has drawn the eyes of several neighbours.

“We got to meet so many neighbours just coming by to check out what was going on, hear the stories and maybe to steal a brick or two for their backyards.”

Amrhein and her family are also taking a few of the foundation’s building blocks and hope to repurpose them into a future backyard project.

Westmount farmhouse

SMOOTH LIKE BUTTER

Amrhein said the process so far has been incredible to watch, saying working from home during the pandemic has allowed her to keep a close eye on the project from next door.

“Someone was inside in the basement with a sledgehammer hammering at the bricks and you slowly see them pop out. It’s that heart attack moment of, oh my gosh, it was that easy to get this foundation down.”

When asked if she was nervous about her home during the process, Amrhein said she’d be lying if she said no, but praised the on site crews saying that the project so has gone well.

“A little bit of faith and trust,” Amrhein laughed.

Amhrein hopes that she and her family will be back in the house sometime in early 2021, following an addition to the rear of the house and additional renovations.

RENOS ARE OUR WHEELHOUSE

Michael Plamondon, the construction manager for Ackard Construction, explained the process of getting the house off of the foundation so work could begin.

“It stays nice and flat the whole way through and it takes a very long time. I think it took about four or five hours to get moved back that fa,r which is only about 40 or 50 feet.” 

Plamondon says that while Ackard does infill projects as well, saving structures via renovation has become their wheelhouse.

“If we can find a way to save a structure or a portion of a structure and avoid putting it in a landfill and get another hundred years of life out of it, that’s always our first goal.” 

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