More homeowners come forward about crumbling foundations

Western Mass News Photo

An issue that's devastated homeowners in Connecticut has crossed the border, and now more and more homeowners are coming forward about their crumbling foundations.

This week, a group of homeowners met in Monson to discuss their plans to fight back. Michelle Heroux purchased a $230,000 home in 2014 with her husband.

"We lost our whole life savings," said Heroux.

They moved from Springfield to Monson that year with their teenaged son.

“I wanted a country lifestyle where my son can run and play and jump and scream and there’s acreage where we can have chickens and the dogs can run and the whole neighbor community," Heroux said. The Heroux's saved up for years, working hard to make their dreams come true, but that dream is now their worst nightmare.

“We do have cracks in the basement," she noted. Tens of thousands of Connecticut homes are literally collapsing due to the presence of a naturally occurring substance that originated in Becker’s Quarry in Willington.

The mineral, pyrrhotite, causes the slow deterioration of concrete foundations when exposed to oxygen and water.

A now out-of-business company called J.J. Mottes’ got their materials from that quarry and poured concrete into homes throughout Connecticut, and as it turns out, Massachusetts, too.

While more than 35,000 Connecticut homeowners with crumbling foundations have identified themselves, only a dozen or so in western Massachusetts have come forward.

“People need to understand, don’t hide from the issue," said Tim Heim. Tim Heim of Willington, Connecticut found out about his crumbling foundation in 2015. Since then, he’s worked tirelessly on raising awareness.

Just last week, he met with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on his visit to Willington. “When I spoke to Mr. Carson, he did tell me that he was going to absolutely talk to President Trump about the issue and raise awareness and educate him a little bit more on the crisis," said Heim. The damage is irreversible and results in a dramatic decrease in home value.

Your only option is a foundation replacement which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which insurance does not cover, and even if your home is not affected, you could end up paying, too. “What is going to happen is their house is going to decrease in value, which means you will collect less tax revenue on that house. Less tax revenue means less money for everything," said Evan Brassard, Monson Town Administrator. This could mean your taxes go up to make up for the shortfall, or it could mean less money going toward your parks and rec department, senior services, or road paving.

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Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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