Hundreds of homeowners in eastern Connecticut are at their wit's end. For most, insurance companies have denied coverage for their crumbling foundations. Bills and uncertainty are mounting while their home values plummet, and now many, like Bob Margliani, are taking action to ease the financial burden.
"I have approached the town, gone to have a discussion with the assessor's office and have filed an appeal for assessment relief," Margliani said.
Margliani bought his South Windsor home in 2001 and about two years ago, his foundation became a concern when he started noticing the cracks were multiplying inside and outside his home.
Last summer was when Bob realized he had a serious problem after he saw the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters' first story on crumbling foundations that are affecting hundreds of homeowners in eastern Connecticut.
South Windsor Town Councilor Dr. Saud Anwar has identified at least 400 homes in his town that might have the same foundation problem and believes a united effort is needed to craft a solution that even includes people without crumbling foundations.
"First of all, it's the right thing to do. The second thing is, if those home's values are going to go down, your home value is going to go down as well," the Democratic former mayor said.
Right now, hundreds of homeowners are awaiting results from a state investigation into the cause of the problem. Experts say it requires all the affected foundations to be replaced at a cost of $150,000 and higher.
A contractor quoted Bob Margliani $250,000 to replace his. In the meantime, he paid for a home appraisal, which indicates his house has lost more than half of its value since he identified the foundation problem. Now he's turning to town hall for tax relief.
The Troubleshooters have learned that 14 homeowners in South Windsor have filed assessment appeals and assessors in towns across eastern Connecticut have confirmed that many other homeowners are seeking property tax reductions as well.
That includes Star McAllister, of Ashford, who the Troubleshooters first interviewed last summer.
"Every day, I notice something cracking, something shifting," she said.
By state law, a homeowner has until Feb. 20 to file an application. The local Board of Assessment Appeals decides whether to grant any tax relief. In the long run, town leaders are concerned this could have an impact on grand lists in eastern Connecticut, but Anwar said that's just the beginning.
"If any community has 100 homes whose values suddenly drops, it's going to have a deep impact on the entire community because it's going to give a perspective to potential future buyer that there are problems in these homes and in those areas," Anwar said.
Margliani is still hopeful that local and state leaders can work with the insurance companies to develop a viable solution to an issue that's about more than just bricks and mortar.
"These are lives. This is not just a house or a structure, it's a home where they've raised their kids and spent a lot of their years. It's the emotional center of their universe," Margliani said.