Around 1995, Linda and Robert Tofolowsky noticed the walls of the basement in their Connecticut home cracking. Their foundation had developed severe fissures, and they soon discovered other homes in the area with the same issue. Their insurance claim was denied, they got no help from the town or the state, and they lost their lawsuit against JJ Mottes, the company that installed the concrete for the foundation. In a 2001 complaint the couple filed with the Consumer Protection Department, Linda wrote that the issue needed to be made public "so that maybe someone else will not lose their biggest investment, their home." The couple ended up being just the first of hundreds of homeowners in the state whose foundations are crumbling, causing their houses to slowly collapse. "When you’re told your home is now worthless and your biggest investment is now worthless, it’s devastating," one such homeowner tells the New York Times.
As the Times points out, state officials were warned about the problem by more than just the Tofolowskys in the early 2000s, and in 2003, lawmakers met with the CPD, representatives from the attorney general's office, and homeowners about the issue—but did nothing. In July 2015, WVIT did an investigative report on the foundations, prompting state officials to open an inquiry. They recently announced that the problem is at least partially caused by high levels of pyrrhotite (a mineral that can cause swelling and cracking when mixed with water) from aggregate in a local quarry used in JJ Mottes' concrete, the Hartford Courant reported last month; a spokesperson for JJ Mottes blames contractors who improperly added water to wet concrete so it would pour faster. Officials are taking steps to help homeowners, but none of those steps do much to subsidize their costs, and WVIT notes that insurance companies are only settling with some homeowners and only after "long legal battles." (Read more foundations stories.)