Senator: Crumbling Foundation Response In The Works

Bill also proposes the creation of a captive insurance company

Lawmakers are actively working on legislation to address foundations beneath homes in central Massachusetts that are crumbling due to the use of a particular mineral in the concrete, according to Sen. Becca Rausch, who described the issue on the Senate floor Thursday as a “widespread problem” that must be addressed.

“These people need some relief,” Rausch said. “We as their legislators have an obligation to not only stop this from happening in the future, but also provide some support and relief for these people whose entire senses of security and financial stability are literally crumbling in front of their very eyes.”

A crumbling house foundation is shown in Vernon, Conn., in 2018. [Courtesy/Connecticut Rep. Michael Winkler/File]

Rausch, who co-chairs the Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, told colleagues the panel is working on details of the bill while operating under an extended reporting deadline, with plans to “hopefully advance it soon.”

A bill (S 548) sponsored by Sen. Anne Gobi and supported by central Massachusetts lawmakers speaks to the presence of pyrite or pyrrhotite in quarry mining, a requirement that producers of concrete products maintain a record of concrete batch sources for at least 30 years, and enabling property tax abatements for owners of property built after Jan. 1, 1983 and located within a 50-mile radius of Stafford Springs, Conn.

The bill also addresses the operation of a “captive insurance company” to provide for assistance to homeowners with concrete foundations that have deteriorated due to the presence of pyrrhotite, “including overseeing the evaluation, repair, replacement and reimbursement of qualified residential crumbling foundations.”

Homeowners have been appealing to Beacon Hill for help for years. A relief bill was filed at the start of this two-year session in early 2021, but didn’t get a public hearing until a year later when lawmakers heard Gobi’s bill in January.

“The hearing that we had on this bill was one of the most heartbreaking hearings in my entire tenure,” Rausch said. “People’s main investments, their livelihoods, their financial security, their ability to provide shelter for their young children, is literally falling apart in front of their very eyes.”

In May 2018, Gobi said that if a foundation is seriously compromised, the only way to remedy the situation is to lift the house off its foundation, remove the foundation and pour a new one, an effort that she said would come with a minimum cost of $150,000.

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