SASKATOON -- Neighbours drove by slowly on Sunday, watching as workers in white protective suits lugged drywall chunks and other material out of a home that has been a source of mystery— and frustration for people living nearby.

The vacant house, once valued at $710,000 according to court documents, was slated for demolition by the City of Saskatoon after attempts to reach the home’s owner over concerns about mould growth were unsuccessful.

However, on Tuesday, construction equipment brought in by the city to demolish the home sat idle in its driveway as the owner came forward and mounted a legal challenge.

Saskatoon demolition

A Court of Queen’s Bench judge granted a temporary 10 day delay on the demolition, and the equipment was removed from the property.

Outside court, the owner’s lawyer, Ling Ma, named the home’s owner as Liu Yu and said he now resides in China.

She said Yu learned of the home’s condition after his relative read media reports about the planned demolition and that he hoped to repair the home.

Respirators, safety gear 

While the exact nature of the work underway Sunday is not yet known, the work crew was equipped with respirators and protective gear typically worn during home remediation efforts such as mould removal.

CTV News has learned Berch Consulting Limited was overseeing the work Sunday. The Saskatchewan-based firm’s website mentions mould as an area of expertise and lists hazardous material surveying among its offered services.

A spokesperson for the City of Saskatoon said the crew was not working on behalf of the city because demolition work is on hold pending the court process

The house, situated in Saskatoon’s upscale Briarwood neighbourhood, has been vacant since 2016, according to the city. 

Over the years, some in the 100 block of Beechdale Crescent, where the home is located, tried to maintain the house and took turns mowing its lawn, neighbours who spoke with CTV News said.

Home slated for demolition

The city first began investigating the home’s mould issue earlier this year after complaints of a foul odour issuing from the home.

In a news release sent to media after the temporary freeze on the demolition was granted, the city said the home poses a serious health and safety hazard to neighbours.

A hearing to decide the future of the house is scheduled for Oct. 11 at Court of Queen’s Bench in Saskatoon.

James Watson, CEO of Got Mold in Saskatoon, said that partitions in the house could be affected if the flooring and subfloor got wet.

"All the walls that are there, so in order to get underneath there and get those floors cut out so you can replace them in a proper manner, could be a very difficult feat.”

With files from CTV News Saskatoon's Chad Leroux.