Gobi continues push to help homeowners affected by pyrrhotite

  • GOBI

Staff Report
Published: 7/20/2021 2:16:33 PM
Modified: 7/20/2021 2:16:38 PM

BOSTON — An amendment submitted by State Sen. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) to the FY22 state budget extending the life and coverage area of the Crumbling Foundations Testing Reimbursement Program has been included in the final conference committee report agreed upon by the two branches of the legislature. The amendment allocates an additional $50,000 for the program, which reimburses homeowners at a rate of 100% for visual testing conducted by a licensed professional engineer up to $400 and a rate of 75% for the testing of two core samples up to $5,000.

First established through amendment by the senator in the FY19 state budget, the program helps defray the cost of testing for the presence of the mineral aggregate, pyrrhotite, in the basement walls and foundations of homes located within a radius of J.J Mottes Concrete Co., located in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Gobi moved to extend that radius from 20 to 50 miles during this legislative session, and had this to say on the need for expanded reach to help more people in the state, “This testing reimbursement program is a critical tool that will help the state gain a sense of the issue while relieving homeowners of a small bit of debt at the beginning of the process. We are starting to see more homeowners reach out from even further away than anticipated, and getting your foundation inspected by a licensed engineer is the first step towards remediation.”

Pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide mineral, has been found in the concrete aggregate of homes throughout central and western Massachusetts and our neighbors to the south in Connecticut. When exposed to water and oxygen, this mineral begins to expand and decay, leading to spider and web-cracking that can cause the home foundation to inevitably fail. It is estimated that as many as 2,000 homes in Massachusetts may be affected, and the testing program is the first form of financial relief being offered to homeowners in this state. Connecticut has moved several steps ahead of the Commonwealth in attacking the issue, with a legislatively funded captive insurance company having been established to oversee repairs and reimburse homeowners for costs. Their program has repaired more that 1,100 foundations at this time.

Sen. Gobi has submitted a bill, S.548 An Act Relative to Crumbling Concrete Foundations, to begin addressing the problem and implement recommendations made by the 2019 Legislative Special Commission established to study the issue. Among other things, the bill would require home sellers to disclose any repairs or testing done on the foundation to prospective buyers, would allow for residential property tax abatements to affected homeowners, and it would mandate that quarry operators test for the presence of pyrrhotite before opening new cells. The bill currently has 26 bipartisan cosponsors, and stands before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agricultural awaiting a hearing.

For more information about the amendment, foundation testing program, or legislation please contact Sen. Gobi’s office by email at Anne.Gobi@MASenate.gov.

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