Crumbling concrete affects home sales in western and central Massachusetts

HOLLAND, Mass. (WWLP) — Crumbling foundations caused by pyrrhotite are impacting buyers and sellers in this boiling real estate market. 22News’ I-Team visited a house in Holland that was recently sold after testing positive for pyrrhotite.

The house in Holland was built by its owner in the early 1990s. Last year the owner decided it was time to sell. Shannon Boyce was the listing broker.

“The first day we had the open house was amazing,” Boyce said. “It was such a busy day. So many people came and they loved the property.

They received an offer, but during an inspection they discovered that the foundation contained pyrrhotite. It is a mineral that causes concrete to crack when exposed to oxygen and water.

“It was devastating,” Boyce explained. “It went from the best deals to now we’ve done a very drastic price drop. When you have a certain number in your head and then reality hits and that number is now down, it hurts.

They got a verbal quote of $250,000 to repair the foundation. To do this, the house would be lifted from the current foundation, the bad concrete would be dug up, a new foundation would be filled with good concrete, and then the house would be lowered back down.

With that $250,000 quote in mind, Boyce put the house up for sale a few weeks ago.

“What we’ve done is we’ve lowered the price significantly and been very honest with the situation – this foundation is affected by pyrrhotite,” Boyce said.

A state commission has determined that homes built from 1983 to 2015 within a 50-mile radius of JJ Mottes Quarry in Stafford Springs, Connecticut may contain pyrrhotite. This represents approximately 95,000 households. But those numbers were based solely on that single quarry in Connecticut.

The barn on the Holland House property had concrete poured by a Connecticut company. The house had concrete poured by a Massachusetts company. Both were cast on the same day by two different companies, and both tested positive for pyrrhotite. This home is one of two in the area that the I-Team was able to confirm was poured by a Massachusetts company.

“It’s not good,” State Senator Anne Gobi said.

She lobbied for legislation to help landlords who are affected by this problem. Part of the bill would help people pay to have a foundation fixed and test Massachusetts quarries for pyrrhotite.

“It is extremely problematic. We know that when we look at individual communities where households test positive – in some cases it may be a single household. In a development that was built at the same time, there could be 50, 60 or more houses,” Gobi said. “It is extremely concerning.”

Buyers and sellers, beware

For anyone looking to buy a home in central and western Massachusetts, Boyce told I-Team there is absolutely no way to skip an inspection.

“It’s a repair that if you buy at market value as it is today and then add a few hundred thousand dollars and then fix it, I don’t know how anyone can prepare for that. that kind of financial loss,” Boyce said.

She also has the same advice for sellers.

“Pay that little extra, get them out before you list your property and do the inspection,” Boyce said. “What they’re going to do is first visually inspect it and they’re going to locate it. Then afterwards, you can make a basic sample. The base sample is your definitive answer.

Boyce was able to sell the Dutch house in six days by being honest with the buyer about the pyrrhotite, and the bill being considered by Massachusetts lawmakers.

“She (the buyer) is looking forward to Massachusetts passing legislation to relieve her of some of the burden of fixing it,” Boyce said.

The bill has a report date of March 31. The 22News I-Team will keep you updated on the status of the bill.

The 22News I-Team also visited a home in East Longmeadow in 2021. This family’s plan to sell their home was also impacted by crumbling concrete.

Resources for owners:

Massachusetts Residents Against Collapsing Foundations

Test refund information

In Connecticut, where crumbling foundations have also been a huge problem, there is a fund to help homeowners pay for a new foundation. So far, the state has donated millions of dollars to help fix homes in the northeast part of the state. It is paid for by an additional $12 on everyone’s home insurance.