Condo Owners Share Pain of Crumbling Foundations

Dealing with a crumbling foundation is emotionally and financially draining on homeowners, but those living in condominium complexes say the challenges are multiplied.

Condominium and planned unit development owners from several complexes in eastern Connecticut first reached out to the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters in the weeks after the original investigation aired in July.

Unit owners dealing with the issue at one Willington condominium community say sharing the cost and planning the logistics of replacing a single concrete foundation with six separate owners is overwhelming.

“When you’ve got all these unit owners, what are you gonna do?” says James Nissen. “This is beyond our scope and beyond our finances so it’s just a matter of time before we basically have to leave - like it or lump it.”

Nissen says the association overlooking the 6 building, 34-unit community off Baxter Road in Willington tried to keep up with the cracks forming by fixing the concrete walls with the worst signs of deterioration. The cost was shared among all the owners. Each owner took out a $10,000 loan to pay for the fixes, but Nissen says it did not solve the problem.

“The ones that were really hurting they got taken care of,” says Nissen. “Now, some of them on the ends are starting to hurt. So what’s going to happen with them?”

Attorney Scott Sandler represents about 400 community associations. He is the current legislative liaison and former president of the Connecticut Chapter of the Community Associations Institute – a membership group made up of hundreds of association managers, lawyers, structural engineers and contractors.

“One of the challenges for the associations is educating the homeowners as to why it is a community expense,” Sandler said. “It may not be directly under their unit where the problem is but if they’re sharing a foundation the entire thing is under their building. It’s not an easy situation for anyone, either the association or the homeowner.”

The state Department of Consumer Protection is investigating the issue with assistance from the Attorney General’s office. The Governor’s office says a working group of legislators and experts met to discuss the problem facing hundreds of homeowners, maybe more, in the northeast corner of the state.

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