December 12, 2018

New guidelines inked for crumbling foundation relief

HBJ PHOTO | Bill Morgan
HBJ PHOTO | Bill Morgan
South Windsor resident Kristen Cole is one of many homeowners dealing with cracks in her home's foundation.
PHOTO | Connecticut Department of Housing
Towns identified as having been impacted by crumbling foundations.

After soliciting public feedback, the nonprofit insurer supporting homeowners with crumbling concrete foundations has expanded the guidelines for applicants seeking financial assistance.

In a letter to constituents on Monday, Steve Werbner, president of the Connecticut Foundation Solutions Indemnity Co. LLC (CFSIC), rolled out 13 new guidelines that change the scope and structure of the program funded by $100 million in state bonding.

The new prerequisites take effect Jan. 10, 2019, when homeowners can apply for reimbursement of completed work or funds to replace their deficient concrete foundations.

Werbner said CFSIC's board met in late November to discuss the comments made by homeowners and others during the public comment period weeks earlier. The board, he said, debated the proposed changes and agreed on the most prudent revisions that could be met under the bonding allotment.

Under the new application rules, homeowners will be able to hire any testing or laboratory source to test for pyrrhotite, a mineral that causes cracking, flaking, bowing and separation of concrete foundations when exposed to oxygen and water.

Current guidelines limit homeowners to select testing sources chosen by the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG).

Any professional engineer license in Connecticut can also now be hired to conduct visual examination work for homeowners. The existing guideline also relied on CRCOG's list exclusively.

Other rule changes allow residential buildings purchased on or after Oct. 31, 2017, to be eligible for funding, under certain conditions, and coverage is now excluded for residential buildings owned by holders of debt, CFSIC said.

Also, the grade of damaged concrete foundations can now be changed through a visual examination report, which could garner additional funding for homeowners. Current guidelines didn't specify if the class severity could be altered over time.

Homeowners, however, under the new rules cannot apply for two different types of claims simultaneously. The current guidelines do not reference this issue.

Condominiums or planned-unit developments with five or more living units on one foundation remain ineligible for funds under the program, CFSIC said.

The Connecticut Department of Housing estimates over 35,000 Connecticut homes in about 41 towns may be facing issues with crumbling foundations.

The cost to replace the irreversible damage ranges from $150,000 to $250,000 per home, state officials have estimated.

In July, the state legislature allocated $100 million in bonded funds over the next five years for homeowners suffering from defective concrete foundations.

The state assigned Michael Maglaras, principal of Ashford's Michael Maglaras & Co., to oversee the CFSIC fund, which will receive $20 million per year over the next five years and another $9 million annually over the next decade.

The first allotment of money was recently delayed one month.

Last week, property and casualty insurer The Travelers Cos. joined the effort to support homeowners suffering from the regional epidemic, committing $5 million to support current and former policyholders.

Click here to view CFSIC's new guidelines

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