Family's dream farmhouse overrun with bats; insurance company comes through
Published Friday, February 9, 2018 4:53PM EST Last Updated Friday, February 9, 2018 7:10PM EST
A family in Kemptville says their dream home has turned into a nightmare.
The old farmhouse is overrun with hundreds of bats and mountain of bat droppings.
The Dewan-Arcand family bought the 150-year-old farmhouse on Gabert Road a couple years ago but didn't discover the problem until this past summer.
It has been a trying time for this young couple and their three little kids. The guano is literally seeping through the ceiling and walls. There is a big health concern with that and a financial consideration, too.
After months of worry today, they received some remarkable news; that help is on the way.
Laughing is a rare luxury these days for Matthew Dewan and Katrina Arcand, as they snuggle on their couch with 3-year-old Billie, 2-year-old Bronson and 1-year-old Brantley.
“I've cried more in the last 3 days than I have in my entire life,” says Katrina Arcand, a stay-at-home mother.
She and Dewan, an Ottawa firefighter bought a dream home in the country for their growing family. They knew it was a fixer upper, got a home inspection and moved in during the winter of 2015. During the home inspection, the upstairs attic hatch was sealed shut and the inspector was unable to access it.
That first summer they lived in the house, they noticed an overwhelming smell, similar to a hamster cage. They thought it was just “old house” smell or dead mice. It wasn't until they were outside last summer that they saw dozens of bats flying out of their house.
Then, the bats started coming inside and some of them were huge with a 12-inch wingspan and a head the size of Arcand’s fist.
“In my opinion, it was a mini pterodactyl,” says Arcand, “It was petrifying.”
They hired a bat specialist, who confirmed this was a infestation and that the bats had been in the attic and walls for decades.
“I actually crawled into the attic and had a good look,” Stephane Boucher with Canadian Pest Control Services said in a telephone interview with CTV Ottawa, “and the amount of guano is significant, like a foot, or two feet in some spots.”
Cleaning alone would cost tens of thousands of dollars, says Boucher, but they would still need to replace wooden structure, roof and trusses, too because the guano was oozing through the walls and ceilings.
“There's some guano seeping through there,” says Matthew Dewan, as he points to the ceiling in his son’s bedroom, “and when it gets moist it drips down.”
There is more staining on the ceiling in the couple’s bedroom, where the baby sleeps in an adjoining room, and 3-year-old Billie’s walls have vertical stains, Dewan says, from a 3 or 4 foot build-up of guano.
Bats can carry rabies and bat guano can cause histoplasmosis, a serious health issue.
“We bought a home in good faith that we could afford and raise our family,” says Dewan, “where we could live quietly and we got sold a house that is full of bat guano that is dangerous.”
When their insurance company wouldn't help, Katrina's sister set up a GoFundMe page that prompted an outpouring of support. And then hours ago, their insurance company came through.
“We won the lottery today, that's what I would say,” says Arcand, “we won the lottery.”
The insurance company has promised to rebuild the house from the ground up and settle the family elsewhere in the meantime. An emotional Matthew says he is so thankful to all those who offered to help.
“Everything that people who have donated, we will be giving it back to you,” says Dewan, “and the people who were supposed to take care of this are going to and that' s the way it should have been in the beginning.”
The family says it's learned a lot of bats in all this, perhaps more than they care to know.
They're anxious to have their own home and leave the bats to nest somewhere else.