I-Team: How Connecticut is Helping Homeowners Replace Foundations with Collapsing Concrete

STAFFORD, Connecticut (WWLP) – Fixing a house with a collapsing foundation is no easy task. This includes lifting the house from the wrong concrete, digging it in, pouring a new foundation, and then bringing the house down.

Right now, if a house in Massachusetts has a foundation that collapses, it’s up to the homeowner to pay for the repair. It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket. Across the Connecticut state border, the legislature passed a bill creating a fund to help people pay to have their foundations fixed.

Sue Toomey lived it with her home in Stafford, Connecticut. It was built in 1995 and 20 years later she noticed telltale cracks in its foundation.

“20 years I had the house, 20 years I paid the mortgage, 20 years I paid my taxes, my insurance premiums. Then all of a sudden you wake up one day and it’s all gone, ”Toomey said. “You just can’t explain how devastating it is. What goes through your mind is “Am I walking away?” »Do I have to give the keys to the bank? Should I demolish the house? Do I start over? There are so many different storylines and none of them are good.

Sue Toomey in front of the foundations of her home in Stafford, Connecticut, when it was built in 1995. Twenty years later, her concrete began to crumble.

Cracking is caused by pyrrhotite, a naturally occurring mineral that slowly deteriorates concrete when exposed to oxygen and water.

Toomey’s home was one of the first in Connecticut to be repaired in 2019 when the legislature passed a fundraising bill. The state covered the cost of $ 115,000 to secure a new foundation.

“Once you find out that you are eligible for funding, you are very excited,” Toomey said. “Then reality sets in, and it’s like I have to find a place to live while this is happening. I still have to pay my mortgage. I have to pay rent while I pay my mortgage.

State funding only covers foundation work and does not replace landscaping, walkways, decks or walkways damaged by the work. She bought an RV to live in while her house was on stilts – a cost also not covered by the state.

“It’s just fluff,” explains Toomey. “You have recovered your capital. You can retire someday. You can send your children to college. You can sell your house if you get a job transfer. It restores your life. It restores your financial well-being.

So far, 1,847 claims have been filed in 48 Connecticut communities for a total of approximately $ 74 million. Part of this is paid for by an additional $ 12 on everyone’s home insurance.

Sue Toomey’s home in Stafford, Connecticut, on stilts as the concrete foundations are repaired in 2019.

Homeowners in Massachusetts face the same issues a few miles from Toomey’s home. She believes the funding in Massachusetts will eventually arrive, as it does in Connecticut. She is now urging Massachusetts homeowners to have their foundations tested so that there is an accurate tally.

“If the state provides funding, it won’t be enough if it’s not a realistic number,” Toomey said. “I know, of all people, I know how easy it is to live in denial. But, once things start to happen, they happen quickly.

There is a bill at the Statehouse that would help the people of Massachusetts pay to repair their crumbling foundations. The first hearing of the bill is set for January 4.

Concrete of concern was poured by former JJ Mottes in Stafford Springs, Connecticut from 1983 to 2015. A state commission determined that homes built during this period within 50 miles of the quarry may contain pyrrhotite . This represents around 95,000 houses, although there is not an exact number of projects for which JJ Mottes supplied concrete due to a “lack of documentation”.

Currently, the only help offered by Massachusetts is testing reimbursement. Homeowners within a 20 mile radius of JJ Mottes can take an eye test and get 100% back up to $ 400. For basic testing, homeowners can recover 75% up to $ 5,000.