Companies Agree to Stop Selling Materials Connected to Crumbling Foundations - NBC Connecticut
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Companies Agree to Stop Selling Materials Connected to Crumbling Foundations

(Published Tuesday, May 10, 2016)

Two companies at the center of a state investigation into crumbling foundations have signed an agreement with the state to stop selling materials or products for residential foundations containing aggregate from Becker's Quarry in Willington until June 30, 2017.

The two companies, J.J. Mottes Company, in Stafford Springs, and Becker Construction, in Willington, have acknowledged for the first time that, pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide mineral, may be a contributing factor to the crumbling foundation problem in Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties.

The state launched a multi-agency investigation after the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters brought the failing foundations problem to light last July.

Construction experts say there is no fix for the foundation problem and that all the concrete must be replaced, at a cost of $150,000 or higher for each home.

The state Department of Consumer Protection has received complaints from 220 homeowners, but construction experts estimate that thousands of homes across eastern Connecticut might be impacted by the faulty concrete.

"We believe there is now sufficient evidence to conclude that significant levels of the mineral pyrrhotite in stone aggregate used in the production of concrete is a substantial contributing factor to the crumbling foundations experienced by some homeowners in eastern Connecticut," Attorney General George Jepsen told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters. "Because the aggregate produced by Becker's Quarry and the concrete made from it may contain pyrrhotite in significant levels, caution dictates that concrete products and ingredients from these companies be removed from the residential construction market until our investigation in complete."

J.J. Mottes and Becker Construction are reasserting their position that the problems with these foundations are the result of faulty installation.

In a letter to the Attorney General and Consumer Protection, Mottes and Becker state they have "independently conducted their own investigation as to the claims of concrete foundation deterioration and have reason to believe that numerous installation and environmental factors caused or otherwise contributed to residential concrete foundation deterioration." They contend they have "not seen any evidence that any residential concrete foundation deterioration was caused by their products." The letter argues that phyrrhotite is a common mineral in Connecticut. They believe its "mere presence" is not the cause of foundations deteriorating, but may become reactive with other elements, like water, under certain installations and environmental conditions.

In addition, Mottes and Becker "believe that exterior waterproofing of foundations will protect residential concrete foundations from deterioration, even those containing phyrrhotite."

The state investigation continues into other factors that may contribute to the failing concrete and what possible financial remedies are available for the struggling homeowners.

The J.J. Mottes Company released the following statement:

The “While the state’s investigation of the causes of the failing concrete foundations continues, the Joseph J. Mottes Company and Becker Construction have decided – as a good faith measure and with the goal of finding answers homeowners deserve –to voluntarily join with the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office and the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection and agree to suspend sales of aggregate or concrete for residential home builds through June 30, 2017.  We continue to believe this is an issue of improper installation and not materials – findings which were proven in our only Connecticut court case involving a failed foundation, the Tofolowsky decision of 2003 – and we have always cooperated with the state and will continue to do so in the hope of finding sustainable and meaningful solutions for the homeowners and future homeowners.” – John Patton, spokesman for the Joseph J. Mottes Company, said in a statement.

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