Foundations Problem is Bigger than State Has Identified

An NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters analysis reveals the number of homeowners directly affected by crumbling foundations may be three times more than the nearly 500 homeowners who have filed complaints with the state. The reason is condominiums.

Ed and Bobbie Oswecki love condo living, but problems with their unit arose several years ago.

"In 2010, my front wall was bulged in and was ready to collapse and was replaced, "says Oswecki.

They didn't know the cause until the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters started reporting on crumbling foundations and Ed went to a concrete coalition meeting a year ago.

"When I saw the pictures and the reports that they gave, I knew we had a problem here," says the Vernon resident.

Ed is President of the Lakeview Condominium Association and took immediate action, hiring a structural engineer to inspect the entire complex. he engineer called three buildings unsound and told Ed that eventually, they will begin to collapse.

The Osweckis' neighbor Phil Bambera is dealing with the same issues: map cracking of his basement walls that's progressively getting worse.

"If this is happening this fast in 8 months, what's it going to look like in another 8 months?," says Bambera.

They brought in a contractor to give a quote to lift the buildings and replace the concrete in ten unit: 865 thousand dollars. Ed pulled together all the condo owners to show them the engineers report and the quote. He also encouraged each owner to file a complaint with the state.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris says the number of homeowners filing a complaint continues to grow.

"We have 488 total complaints and of those, 136 are condo unit owners in five different associations," says Harris.

Harris acknowledges that count doesn't capture the true number of homeowners directly impacted by the concrete issue. Those 5 associations have 456 owners who share financial responsibility.

"If you extrapolate that out, our universe now would show about 944 homeowners affected in some way," says Harris.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters did an analysis of the nine condominiums and planned unit developments that have identified the crumbling foundation problem in the towns of Enfield, Manchester, South Windsor, Stafford, Tolland, Vernon and Willington.

There are more than 800 owners in these complexes, the vast majority of whom share financial responsibility to fix the concrete basements in their associations.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters also looked at the entire universe of condo owners in those same seven towns. There are nearly 8000 owners in 156 associations built since 1983 who are potential victims of the crumbling foundation problem.

Ed Oswecki says each owner at Lakeview will either pay a 19 thousand dollars up front or $190 per month for ten years.

As painful as it may be, he believes there's strength in numbers.

"There's other condo associations that are reluctant to come forward yet, they're in shock they don't know what to do with this. They are impacted. Their sales are impacted. There is an onus on your complex. Everyone is going to chip in and pay for this. Right now, there are state and federal officials looking at this problem, but the numbers are small, so they look at it as a little problem. It isn't."

Another impact that's harder to quantify is that anyone who lives in an affected condo association or planned unit development is dealing with the fact that the mere presence of the deteriorating concrete in their complex, makes it very difficult for them to sell

Property managers tells the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters several sales in recent months have fallen through because more and more potential buyers are learning about the concrete problem.

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