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State Agency Turns Tolland Home With Crumbling Foundation Into A 'Sure Bet'

The first Connecticut family to have a crumbling foundation repaired using a new state fund have moved back in to their home.

The McCloskeys invited members of the media inside their house in Tolland on Wednesday to show off the fix made possible by bond funding.

“We’re still a little dusty and a little dirty, but we’re super psyched to be back,” Aisling McCloskey said.

The family returned home after they rented another place in Tolland over the past six weeks.

“There’s no place like your own bed,” McCloskey said.

The house on Paula Joy Lane is one of nine homes on this tiny Tolland street suffering from crumbling foundations. McCloskey’s house is the first one in Connecticut where the repair was financed by a new state agency called the Connecticut Foundation Solutions Indemnity Company.

McCloskey once thought her family would have to pay $265,000 out of their own pockets to have her house fixed. This renovation did cost $185,000, but the McCloskeys only spent around $20,000,  and their costs only ran that high because they asked the contractor to do some additional work on the property.

“If we didn’t, honestly, it would be less than $5,000,” McCloskey said.

Wednesday’s open house was designed to be a celebration after the family coped with the stress of knowing their foundation was unsound for 18 months -- something that’s become the new normal for families living in Northeastern Connecticut.

Two bottles of champagne were popped to mark the occasion.

Michael Maglaras got them open and he did it in front of the cement recently poured to make up the home’s new foundation. Magleras is the superintendent of the Connecticut Foundation Solutions Indemnity Company, the captive insurance company set up to disburse repair funds.

“I think what we saw here was a very rapid and very happy conclusion to a major, monumental problem, which, if we had not intervened, this house essentially would’ve been condemned,” Maglaras said.

He estimates Connecticut is home to 5,000 homes with crumbling foundations. He bets it would cost up to $700 million to fix them all. That's about $500 million more than the agency is currently promised.

“What’s clear is we need more people who have this problem to come and apply to us because the need is great,” Maglaras said. “The more people who apply, the more likelihood we’ll be able to help more in future because we’ll make a strong argument for additional funding.”

Credit Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio
Connecticut Public Radio
A closer look at the new concrete that's been poured at the McCloskey home in Tolland after the home was lifted so the old, crumbling foundation could be eliminated.

Right now, the state has bonded $100 million over five years to fund his agency. There’s taxpayer money that’ll hit the account next April – but that’s only worth about $8.5 million.

Tim Heim owns a home with a severely crumbling foundation. He’s also the president of the Coalition for Crumbling Foundations, a group of homeowners experiencing similar problems.

“It’s promising – four years of working diligently and relentlessly, and tirelessly,” Heim said. “We worked so hard based on hope and now today, hope becomes a reality and that’s extremely gratifying.”

Heim said the walls in his Willington home are bowing in an inch-and-one-half. It’ll be fixed next April. While he looks forward to that point, he does hope his house is still standing by then, so he won’t have to find a place.

The nightmare is over for the McCloskeys. Aisling McCloskey, a mother of three, said she’s already been asked if she’d be interested in selling the house, which she now calls a “sure bet.”

“Our foundation is fixed – they don’t have to worry,” McCloskey said. “We are not interested in selling right now, but I do laugh because we could sell, which is a good thing.”

Her home with a crumbling foundation was anything but a sure bet 18 months ago.

If you read any of Frankie Graziano’s previous biographies, they’d be all about his passion for sports. But times change – and he’s a family man now.
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