A problem with foundations that has devastated homeowners in Connecticut has spread to western Massachusetts. Michelle Loglisci built a home in Monson from the ground up with her husband, her high school sweetheart.
In 1996, they moved in with their two young boys. "Life went on and a year and a half ago, December, we paid it off," said Loglisci.
With her children grown and no more mortgage, Michelle said she and her husband were looking forward to their retirement. "Our youngest son wanted to buy the house from us. We thought that was a wonderful thing that it would stay in the family, and were all excited about that," she added. In the fall of 2017, the Loglisci's learned about crumbling concrete foundations from local news reports and saw that the issue had crossed into the Massachusetts border.
Tens of thousands of Connecticut homes are collapsing due to the presence of a naturally occurring substance that originated from 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 Massachusetts.
Michelle still has photos of J.J. Mottes pouring concrete into her foundation.
While more than 35,000 Connecticut homeowners with crumbling foundations identified themselves, only a dozen or so in western Massachusetts have come forward.
That's why Senator Eric Lesser encourages you to find out. "What we saw in Connecticut was that when a critical mass of people started to come forward, that's when it really becomes hard to ignore," said Lesser. "I understand people are afraid. They don't want to know that the largest investment in their life has this problem and is no longer worth much," Lesser continued. 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. Michelle said in April 2017, she received a renewal notice from Hanover Insurance, her provider, telling her there was a change in the collapse section of her policy.
"Changed it to be abrupt collapse and not the peril of collapse," said Loglisci. A spokesperson for Hanover Insurance told Western Mass News they would not look into this policy change without someone's policy number. Michelle's premium has more than doubled since 2009, and a spokesperson for Hanover said they would not comment on specifics. "It feels like, what's the point of having coverage when as soon as they find out there's some risk, they take that risk away from themselves," said Loglisci. Senator Lesser said he needs the attorney general to step in to protect homeowners. "People through no fault of their own have been found to be in a very tough situation, and it's really because these insurance companies put contracts in front of them that people didn't fully understand when they signed and that's not fair," Lesser continued. As for Michelle, her 22-year-old house is now worth the land it sits on, and she's not alone.
Homeowners from Longmeadow to Wales and Brimfield have shared their stories with Western Mass News, too, showing us their cracking foundations and photo albums filled with evidence that J.J. Mottes poured their concrete. "Monson had the tornado a few years ago. Even though it isn't as dramatic and instantaneous as the tornado, I don't think this is any less of a natural disaster than the tornado was, because it came from the dirt in the ground. That's nature. How do you deny coverage for that? It just doesn't seem right to me," Loglisci added. Local politicians are standing up for these homeowners.
Representatives Brian Ashe and Todd Smola have filed a house budget amendment establishing a commission to identify financial and economic impacts of crumbling concrete foundations across the state.
Senator Lesser will be filing a similar version to the senate budget.
Western Mass News will bring you updates on-air and online as we learn more.
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