Failing Foundation Leaves Stafford Woman With Few Options

Sandy Miller has known the foundation of her long time Stafford home was troubled but Monday night things went from bad to worse.

"The house made a loud noise and then proceeded to shake as if there was an earthquake," Miller said. "My 16-year-old daughter who had been home from school had told me that it happened three or four times in the time that she'd been home from school until I had got home."

In November, engineer Bill Neal inspected the single mother's home for structural defects. Neil's report indicates a one inch gap between the wood shelf on top and the finished wall.

"(The) wall is separating, the shelf is separating from the wall," Miller showed NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters when they came to the home. 

The Troubleshooters were there when Neal returned to the home. He discovered that the one inch gap had nearly doubled in size in less than two months caused by what he called "rapid movements" in the concrete walls. 

"I can't tell you how much it pains me to say this to you," Neal told Miller. 

Neal and the town's building inspector agree that Miller's home has deteriorated to the point where it's no longer safe for her and her daughters to stay. 

"Financially, this is a huge burden on me," Miller said. "I don't know what else to do."

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters first exposed the problem in July. It's affecting hundreds of residents from East Hartford to Ashford to homes they report were built between the early 1980s to the late 1990s.

Homeowners in the months since said the cracks begin a decade or more after the foundation was placed. They said insurance companies deny claims for coverage with out of pocket costs to replace totaling in the hundreds of thousands dollars. 

Miller hopes to disrupts her kids' lives as little as possible but has no idea where they are going to live.

"It's devastating because this is the home that my kids have grown up in," Miller said. "Now they don't have a home."

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters reached out to the Department of Consumer Protection.

"Our hearts go out to the families whose homes have been hurt by damaged foundations," Commissioner Jonathan Harris said. "We're working hard to move our investigation forward deliberately, effectively and as quickly as possible."

Harris said the state should have preliminary results of its probe in the spring.

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