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Homeowners face unknowns with foundation failures

There are few issues that become more emotional that those that touch on your home. All of the sentimental and emotional clichés exist for a reason. When people live in a dwelling for a long time, they accumulate a great deal of memories and feelings that are associated with that structure.

When something threatens that home, it is natural that they would become upset. Having your foundation crumble under your residence is disturbing in so many ways, but learning your insurance company has denied your damage claim related to that failing foundation is incredibly disturbing.

Because your foundation is essential to the support and integrity of the building's entire structure, the failure of that foundation may result in your home becoming worthless.

Such is the case with potentially thousands of homeowners in Connecticut, where it appears that poured concrete foundations from the 1990s are now cracking and crumbling. The replacement of a foundation of an average home can cost upwards of $200,000 and may cost more than the structure is valued.

Insurers in the state have inserted language in policies that limits coverage to abrupt collapses. With a slow-motion collapse, homeowners are left abandoned. State lawmakers have considered the issue but have failed to act.

The problems appear to stem from a particular concrete supplier, but they claim contractors may have improperly installed the aggregate mix, in some cases watering it down and weakening it.

Insurers have been warned by the state not to cancel homeowners who make these claims, but that may be little help for the homeowners if their claims are denied and they are left with a disintegrating foundation.

What is frustrating is that problems with poured concrete foundations were raised in the early 1990s, but no action was taken by the state regulators.

In Minnesota, new homes have a warranty that provides coverage for 10 years of "major construction defects." If your foundation failed due to the reasons that appear to have caused the problems in Connecticut, the warranty could apply. However, even with a warranty, there can be problems, such as when an insurer is overwhelmed with claims or when policies are not adequately funded.

Source: nytimes.com, "With Connecticut Foundations Crumbling, ‘Your Home Is Now Worthless’," Kristin Hussey and Lisa W. Foderaro, June 7, 2016

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