There is little information and advice available for buyers to arm themselves with when looking for homes in a town that may be affected by the scourge of crumbling basements. There is plentiful information, instruction, and advice for sellers and although they do shoulder the largest burden by far, it is incumbent on a potential buyer in Eastern and Central Connecticut to conduct their due diligence and be as informed a consumer as possible.
Buyers are making what is likely one of the largest purchases for their lifetime. The outcome of mistakes made during this process can be financially and emotionally devastating. Talk to the owner of a home with a crumbling basement and you will hear first-hand the devastation this epidemic has wrought on them, their families and their future. These homeowners built or bought these homes in good faith, naturally assuming that they were purchasing a fully reliable and non-defective product, which would become a long term asset and a significant portion of their nest egg. You, as a current buyer, armed with documentation, resourcefulness and a good agent, can make an educated decision and a wise purchase.
Connecticut Collation Against Crumbling Basements (CCACB) is a support and informational group formed by victims crumbling foundations. Here is their advice to buyers from their FAQ page:
I want to buy a home, but fear it might be affected. What do I do?
We respect buyers are leery of purchasing homes in the affected region. We hear often from buyers. However, CCACB was founded to help raise awareness about this issue and support current victims. As an entirely volunteer run group, CCACB must remain focused on current owners. If you are a buyer, our only advice is: Do your research. We can provide no information or lists regarding affected homes, neighborhoods, builders or other identifiers to safeguard your home purchase. You will need to work with experts to research whatever information exists on the construction of your perspective home. If you have concerns, you may want to pursue core testing prior to purchase. You may also want to contact the Connecticut Association of Realtors for advice.
As stated above, Realtors also are not in possession of a "list" of homes or neighborhoods with known crumbling basements. The only official list that we know of is at the Department of Consumer Protection who maintains a list of homeowners who have filed a complaint regarding a crumbling foundation. This list is protected from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act for seven years. This leaves a prospective buyer in the unique situation of doing their own research and engaging the services of a buyer’s agent to assist them in ferreting out the history and facts about a property.
Where Does a Buyer Start? Here is our best advice (as of today) for all buyers looking to purchase a home in Eastern & Central Connecticut
- Where are you buying? Are you buying in an affected town? There are registered claims in 47 towns. Map of affected towns in CT
- Try to confirm whether or not the concrete came from JJ Mottes. Ask the listing agent if homeowner has any information on the concrete supplier or the builder. Ask for documentation.
- Was the home built between 1983 and 2017?
- Contact the builder if known. Ask your agent to search the mortgage history on the property. In many subdivisions, the builder purchased the lots and sold to the homeowner.
- Review the disclosures. And make sure they have the most recent revision dates. Property Condition Disclosures are available on all properties for sale with the exception of a property owned by an estate or when the seller has declined to complete a disclosure.
Residential Property Condition Disclosure Form. Revised 10/1/2019 (or later). The form should include 57 questions.
Concrete Advisory And Disclosure for Sellers and Buyers Revised 7/17/19.
Foundation Advisory for Buyers. Revised 7/17/19. For your protection as a buyer, it is a Home Selling Team office policy that you review and sign this disclosure to acknowledge that you have been informed of the recent requirements prior to a purchase regarding eligibility for claims under the Connecticut Foundation Solutions Indemnity Company.
Connecticut Foundations Solutions Indemnity Company (CFSIC) is a captive insurance company created in Connecticut to provide financial assistance to homeowners whose homes are affected by a crumbling foundation. The CFSIC website and the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) website are the best resources for more information on the captive insurance relief and the crumbling basement epidemic.
- If the home was built prior to 1983 and/or you’ve confirmed that the concrete was not provided by JJ Mottes, check the dates of any subsequent additions, garages or outbuildings with the building department in the town.
- Contact the Town Assessor and ask if that specific property has requested an assessment reduction due to evidence of a crumbling basement.
- If you are looking outside of a subdivision, are there similar homes on the street/neighborhood that may have been built by the same builder?
- Ask the neighbors in a subdivision or area of like homes if they are experiencing any issues with their foundation.
- Check the sold prices of neighboring prices. Does it appear to have sold under market value?
Condominiums and PUDs are now eligible for funding through CFSIC. The Association is the actual applicant since the foundation is owned by the association and not the homeowner. There are currently 5 condo associations in line for funding. As of Janaury 4, 2021 condominium associations comprising 111 units with severity class coded 3 foundations are in line for funding. If you are interested in a condominium or PUD you should contact the management company and the Association president to ask about current concrete concerns. There are specific rules regarding condos and PUDS that you should fully understand before moving forward. The most updated information is here.
Transferring a Claim: If you want to purchase a home with a confirmed crumbling foundation and the seller is a registered claimant with CFSIC, the seller is able to transfer the claim to you as the buyer, with you essentially replacing them as claimants in line for funding. You can find more information here about transferring a claim. It is a good option to buy a home that meets your criteria if you have the flexibility and are willing to be inconvenienced for a short period of time while the work is completed. There may be costs over and above what CFSIC will reimburse you for so you will have to thoroughly explore the contracts with CFSIC and the contractor that will be performing the work once your funding becomes available.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this website has been provided for informational purposes only, and Home Selling Team makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, as to the completeness or accuracy of the facts, presumptions, conclusions, methodology of preparation, or any other matters contained therein. By viewing any information contained on this website, all visitors to and viewers of this site expressly understand and agree that any information or materials provided on this site are provided only for the convenience of any such visitors or viewers in making their own examinations and determinations as to whether to engage in any real estate transactions, and, in doing so, visitors and viewers shall rely exclusively on their own evaluations and not on any materials supplied by Home Selling Team. Visitors and viewers are also expressly advised to conduct their own independent investigations and inspections of any property in which they might be interested, utilizing such experts as they, in their sole discretion deem to be necessary for an independent assessment of all liability and risk, with respect to any property. Visitors and viewers further agree that they shall ultimately rely only upon their own investigations and inquiries with respect to all such liability and risk, including, without limitation, all liability and risk with respect to the presence of crumbling foundations, in, on or around the Property.