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MA to Help Homeowners with Crumbling Concrete

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

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Late last month, Massachusetts legislators made sure that two provisions in the state’s budget were passed to help homeowners deal with crumbling concrete in their homes.

Together, State Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, and State Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, have made sure that homeowners won’t get stuck with the full bill to fix crumbling foundations, and a commission will be made to come up with solutions for a long-term resolution.

The Problem

The concrete in these homes’ foundations is tainted by the mineral pyrrhotite. Over time, the iron sulfide in the mineral reacts with oxygen and water, causing concrete to crack and swell. These cracks sometimes don’t appear for 20 years, though.

According to reports, a company by the name of Becker Quarry, of Willington, Connecticut, sold the pyrrhotite-contaminated stone to concrete company JJ Mottes (now defunct) from 1983-2017. While primarily Connecticut is affected, tens of thousands of homes in the region are expected to have the pyrrohotite-contaminated concrete in foundations and footers.

The only fix for the home is to lift the entire thing and replace the foundations, a fix that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and is hard to finance since a crumbling foundation reduces the value of the home to nearly nothing. Insurance won’t pay for collapsing foundations (unless they’ve already collapsed), and banks are now requiring inspectors to look for pyrrhotite damage before a mortgage. The issue will also cause property values to plummet, an issue concerning taxpayers.

"We continue to field calls and questions for constituents," Lesser said. "I hear from the real estate community. I hear from municipalities.

"Unfortunately, it's a highly complex set of facts. We have so many parties, contractors, insurance companies, who are running in the other direction. Everyone is pointing every which way and the only person stuck in the middle is the homeowner, who is the least responsible."

The Legislation

Because of Gobi’s amendment, the state will set aside $50,000 to reimburse homeowners for 100 percent of the cost (up to $400) for a visual inspection and 75 percent of the testing of two core samples up to $5,000.

Lesser’s plan is to form a government commission made up of the governor’s office, the attorney general, consumer protection, banking, insurance and other entities.

The senators plan to have a public meeting next month.

   

Tagged categories: concrete; Government; Laws and litigation; Maintenance programs; Residential

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