Announcing Changes to Accommodate “Slab on Grade” Foundations
Effective March 2 at 9:00 AM, CFSIC’s Underwriting and Claims Management Guidelines will change with regard to the replacement of Type 1 affected foundations built as slab on grade.
As many of you know, slab on grade construction presents special challenges to foundation remediation.
No basement exists in the classic meaning of that term…the first floor of living area is built directly over foundation walls that do not allow sufficient height for a typical basement foundation.
As a result, significant exterior and interior damage to the ground floor level of a home constructed on slab on grade occurs during the remediation process. This damage occurs to a greater or lesser extent based on whether the home is physically lifted or whether a non-lifting methodology is employed…but, to be clear, damage to living space of a non-optional nature occurs.
Effective March 2 at 9:00 AM, CFSIC will employ a revised methodology to calculate certain allowable costs for slab on grade construction in recognition of the challenge that this type of construction presents, and equally in recognition of CFSIC’s desire not to disadvantage homeowners who have slab on grade configurations.
What follows is a Q&A that should help everyone understand what will happen between now and March 2, and what will happen beginning on March 2 with the implementation of this important plan change. (For purposes of adherence to statute, CFSIC must publish any significant change to our plan of operation 15 days in advance of the enactment of that change. This announcement today is in conformance with that requirement.)
Question: How specifically will you change your guidelines to help slab on grade claimants?
Answer: The first important change (but only with respect to slab on grade construction) is that we’re going to increase the current maximum allowable cost parameter for the cost calculation of linear footage beneath the living area from the current $719 per linear foot to $1,012; and, secondly, we’re going to increase the maximum allowable cost parameter for the cost calculation of slab square footage beneath the living area from $27 per square foot to $29, in recognition of the need to insulate below slab in this type of construction, all effective on March 2.
Question: What about the other cost parameter factors?
Answer: These won’t change. They will remain at the current $657 per linear foot for the garage footprint and $12 per square foot for the garage slab.
Question: Will this change the cap on allowable costs?
Answer: No. The cap stays in place at $175,000 for stand-alone home construction, PUDs, and stand-alone condos (the current cap of $70,000 per condo unit on a shared platform also still applies). However, what this change does is help homeowners with slab on grade to reduce some of the gap between total construction cost and the allowable costs that CFSIC will pay for. This will put the cost of what CFSIC will pay for as a function of total project cost closer to the cost differential applicable in the case of a conventional basement foundation remediation.
Question: But so much gets torn down on the first floor during slab on grade remediation.
Answer: That’s correct…so we are going to permit certain types of work and activity required in a slab on grade remediation to be included in Section 1 of the contractor’s proposal starting on March 9. This will be types of work that, in some cases, would be in Section 2 of the contractor’s proposal for a house with a basement (and otherwise not allowable)…but we will move them into Section 1, which means they will be allowable costs.
Question: Do you know now what those allowable expenses will be?
Answer: We do. The expenses and construction activities that follow will, with respect to slab on grade construction, become contractor proposal allowable Section 1 costs:
- Remove any and all of the furniture on the first floor; this includes pictures on the wall, window treatments, and ceiling fans. (These should be stored appropriately for further use.)
- Remove all kitchen cabinetry and countertops, and remove dishwasher and sink. (These should be stored appropriately for further use.)
- Cut access hole in the first-floor exterior wall for equipment to enter and exit the structure. This includes the removal of siding, plywood, framing, window/s, insulation, sheetrock, etc., and rebuild this wall.
- Remove existing kitchen appliances, and store them appropriately; reinstall upon completion.
- Remove bathroom vanity, toilet, shower stall and/or tub, and store appropriately.
- Remove all mechanicals (heating and air conditioning, water heater, well pump, water meter, washer/dryer, etc.)
- Demo the first floor. This includes the removal of sheetrock, trim, cabinets, countertops, fixtures, radiators, etc.
- Remove flooring on top of existing slab.
- Remove load bearing interior wall and temporarily support the second floor above.
- Brace exterior walls prior to lifting the structure (as may be required).
- Reframe any and all interior walls/partitions that were removed.
- Remove and reinstall plumbing pipes (supply, drainage, venting, etc.) that were removed.
- Install appropriate insulation below replaced slab.
- Remove and reinstall heating pipes.
- Remove and reinstall electrical wires and boxes.
- Insulate exterior walls where insulation was removed.
- Sheetrock, tape, and compound interior and exterior walls.
- Reinstall existing removed kitchen cabinets, countertops.
- Reinstall kitchen sink and faucet.
- Reinstall and hook up baseboard radiators.
- Reinstall electrical outlets, lights, switches, cover plates, etc.
Question: I’m built on slab on grade, and I’ve already got two contractor proposals. Will I need to get these redone?
Answer: You will, if you want the additional cost parameter factors and additional permitted work to apply to your project.
Question: So what happens…should I contact my contractor?
Answer: Yes. Under separate cover, all CRCOG-approved contractors will receive this week an email notifying them of this change and when it takes effect. They will also have a revised slab on grade proposal template, which will be made available to them on February 24 when we publish all changes to the program.
Question: Will you publish on this website a revised contractor proposal template specifically for slab on grade proposals?
Answer: Yes. On Monday morning, February 24, we will publish a contractor proposal template specifically designed for slab on grade proposal assistance, inclusive of the specific slab on grade contractor worksheet.
Question: Where do I get help to understand all these changes?
Answer: Contact the ESIS claims management staff at: email@example.com
Announcing Suspension of Participation Agreement Signing
We have suspended the issuing of new Participation Agreements, and we will not resume Participation Agreement activity until at some point after July 1, 2020.
If you have not been provided with a Participation Agreement by the Superintendent’s office by now, you will not hear anything more about your Participation Agreement until we resume issuing them. You are still in line. We haven’t lost you. We haven’t forgotten about you. We are all going to find out together and pretty much at the same time when CFSIC will be able to resume Participation Agreement activity. We are at a point within CFSIC where we must conserve our remaining cash until two things happen: we identify exactly how much funding CFSIC will receive from the $12 per homeowner policy surcharge, and secondly when we will receive our next $20 million bond allotment from the CT Bond Commission. Without knowing, with precision, the facts about these two sources of funding, we will not be issuing any further Participation Agreements.
A Message to Severity Class 2 Claimants
We have a total of 179 claimants with Severity Class 2 foundations on our books.
174 of those claimants are active claimants. We hold financial reserves on them right now of $22,269,158.
Many of those claims represent applications that go back to the earliest days of our operations; and we know that Severity Class 2 claimants want and need answers about when we can get to them, how long it’s going to take, and whether will we have the money to fund their claims.
CFSIC’s board is very keenly aware of all of the concerns of our Severity Class 2 claimants.
As of this morning, we have created a new subsection in the “For Homeowners” section of this site, specifically designed for Type 1, Severity Class 2 claimants.
Where We Are
CFSIC continues to take applications under the “pending” status of claimant. It will stop doing that on February 29 at 5:00 PM.
We are working on revised infographics to include new data valid as of January 31, 2020. These infographics should be up on this site by the second week in March and will include a significant amount of data on town-specific claim activity.
CFSIC Has Resumed Application Activity
CFSIC began taking applications again effective 9:00 AM on January 13. We have re-opened the electronic platform to accept applications for claimants who agree to be placed in “Pending” status, and we have also enabled applications to be sent to the ESIS team by mail or other means.
CFSIC will remain open for the taking of applications through close of business on February 29.
To be clear, any claimant making claim to CFSIC on or after January 13 will be placed in “Pending” status. This means that your claim will be neither active nor inactive, regardless of the severity class code assigned to your foundation. CFSIC will not place a statutory financial reserve on your Pending claim until and only if we determine that we have sufficient funds to move any or all Pending claims into either inactive or active status.
What follows are some links that will take you to where you need to go:
The following Q&A should help everyone understand what is happening on January 13.
Question: I’ve been waiting for you to reopen your doors. I have a verified severity class coded 3 foundation, and I want to apply as a Type 1 claimant. I’m going to apply right away on January 13. What will happen to my claim?
Answer: You will become a “Pending Claimant” in our system. That means that we are creating a third category of claimant effective January 13, 2020. Right now, CFSIC only permits a claimant to be “active” or “inactive.” On January 13, you will only be able to file as a claimant under the new third status of claimant…a Pending Claimant. This means that we will register your claim and all the data you send us. We will provide you with a claim number, and we will acknowledge your claim…BUT even if you have a verifiable severity code 3 claim, you will not be able to move out of Pending status to either inactive or active status unless and until CFSIC’s sunset date is moved forward beyond June 30, 2022 AND we determine, starting in June of 2020, what the most likely scenario is for the amount of money we will receive from our share of the Healthy Homes surcharge.
Question: Are you saying that, even if I have a completed application and a verified severity class code 3 foundation, you will be unable to make my claim “active” or even “inactive” on or after January 13?
Answer: That’s correct. You will not be able to be an active or inactive claimant until the two things above are determined. You will be a Pending Claimant. You may remain a Pending Claimant for a very long time.
Question: That doesn’t seem fair. Why is it happening that way?
Answer: Because, until the June 30, 2022 sunset date gets moved to a later date AND we actually see exactly how much money we are getting in June 2020 from the Healthy Homes surcharge, we are flying blind…we can’t set any more claim reserves on any new claims beyond what we’ve already done. If we do that, we run the risk of making promises to claimants on or after January 13 that we can’t fulfill.
Question: So if the sunset gets moved to, say, June 30, 2030 (the end of the Healthy Homes surcharge funding schedule)…are you saying that you will permit claimants who applied on or after January 13 to become active?
Answer: We’re almost saying that…the sunset date is only part of our problem. You have to remember that no one inside or outside of state government can tell us specifically how much revenue we’ll be getting from the Healthy Homes surcharge (just like no one inside or outside of state government can tell us when our next $20 million will be available to us from the CT Bond Commission). We must have time to evaluate both critical sources of revenue in order to make the best decision for homeowners.
Question: But don’t you know for certain that you’re getting approximately $8.5 million in June of 2020 and every year thereafter through June 30, 2030?
Answer: That’s the estimate…but it’s only an estimate. That could be the number. The number could be higher. The number could be considerably lower. No one can tell us.
Question: So if the sunset date gets moved, you get enough money in June of 2020, and you make my Pending Claim an active claim, and I am a severity class 3, that means I jump ahead of all the existing severity class 2s that have been in line since last year…right?
Answer: No. As of January 13, 2020, we are not going to permit any severity class 3 claim originally filed as a Pending Claim to jump ahead of an active severity class code 2 already registered with us as an active claim prior to January 13, 2020. We have many active severity class coded 2 claimants who have been in line since January of 2019, and we have determined that it is fair to issue Participation Agreements first for all existing active 3s and 2s in our system before any Pending Claimant can get in line for a Participation Agreement. This is only fair, given how long people have waited and the fact that we are only going to get $40M more in funding over the next two years from the CT Bond Commission source…and on top of that, we have virtually no idea how much we will get in Healthy Homes surcharge funds.
Question: But I thought severity class coded 3 claimants would always be ahead of everyone else. What has changed?
Answer: CFSIC’s Underwriting and Claims Management Guidelines will change effective January 13, 2020 to require that CFSIC issue Participation Agreements to valid, active severity coded 3 and 2 claimants who have been in line since the inception of our program before we move any other Pending claimants into active or even inactive status…regardless of funding amounts to come. If you file on or after January 13, we will have a record of your claim, and we will also have significantly more data about the extent of the crisis…but we’re not going to be able to do anything with your claim until the sunset date gets moved and we have evidence of a flow of predictable funds from the surcharge.
Question: How long are you going to keep the application process open from January 13?
Answer: A minimum of 30 days, but we don’t know exactly how long yet beyond that.
Question: Why don’t you know?
Answer: CFSIC’s fiscal year budget in the year July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020 is finite. When claims enter our system, we are charged by our outsourced claims management service company on a per-claim basis, as each claim is entered into the system, is analyzed, and is assessed. We have enough budget for the remainder of the fiscal year for a reasonable number of claims to enter our system between now and June 30, 2020…but not for a significant number to enter our system.
Question: But can’t you make an educated guess as to the number of people who are going to apply on or after January 13?
Answer: No, we can’t. Just before we opened our doors on January 10, 2019, we were told by email and through social media sources that we would get as many as 7,000 applications and that our application system would crash. We got 227 on the first day. We have found, through experience, that the wild projections as to application activity were then and may continue to be exaggerated. The reality of people actually taking action is unknown. We hope to have many new Pending Claimants, which will send a strong message about our need for funding. But to be clear, we will all see together what we will see…when we all see it.
Question: I want to apply as a Type 2 claimant. Will all the same rules apply to me?
Answer: Yes. (With one exception: Type 2 claimants do not require a severity class coding.)
Question: This all seems like a lot of work just to get in line and have my claim be in pending status for what might be a really long time. Is all this worth it?
Answer: That’s totally up to you. We’re giving people an opportunity to give us the data we need to raise more funds by identifying more potential claimants, who we hope to be able to assist at some point in the future when those funds arrive. We’ve gotten emails asking us to re-open for this purpose. We’re doing it. The question now will be how many victims of this crisis will actually take us up on our offer: file a claim, get in line, and with their claims registered…send a strong message about our need for more funding.
The CHFA Credit Enhancements Program
You should go here to learn more about the CHFA credit enhancements program as it is now constituted. Please note that it currently does not apply to condominiums. CFSIC did not create and is not administering the loan program, and the ESIS claim team cannot advise you in any way about the terms and conditions of any aspect of the program. The link noted in this section will take you to an outline of the program, as well as to a section marked “Frequently Asked Questions.” We also recommend contacting the Homeowner Advocate using the contact information on the Department of Housing website for more assistance.
CFSIC’s Annual Report
CFSIC’s 2019 Audited Financial
If you have any questions about the operation of the program, ESIS is your best source of information on your claim, and their phone number and email are shown below.
As you work through the information and application process (understanding that we are in suspension for the taking of new applications), here’s how you can get help:
– Call ESIS (the claim adjuster) at: 844-763-1207
– Email ESIS at: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Email CFSIC at: email@example.com