Chinese Drywall

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Modified on 2010/04/15 03:36 by Chrissie Cole
Drywall (a commonly used building material) from China has been having interesting effects on the American homes in which it has been installed. Chinese-made drywall installed somewhere between 2000 and 2008 (the exact dates differ) has been releases sulfuric smells, as well as gases that have been corroding electrical and metal objects in the home.

Problem drywall has been found in 30 states and the District of Columbia, with most cases coming from Florida and Louisiana. But the problem has also recently traveled as far north as Canada. Some 4,000 to 7,000 Louisiana homes are believed to contain Chinese drywall and collectively face $3 billion in repairs, according to insurance industry and government estimates.

Background

While the exact dates are unclear as to when Chinese drywall first began being imported to America, most sources agree that the levels of importation drastically increased around 2004-2006. This was due to the combined construction boom and destruction done to the Gulf region by the Hurricane season of 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

An inquiry done into the situation determined that at least 550 million pounds of the drywall had come into the country since 2006 alone. That much drywall could be used to construct about 60,000 average-sized homes. The CPSC has 44 in-depth investigations and incident reports on imported drywall from China.

October 2009

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released several documents as part of work being done by several agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others. These agencies coordinated efforts to investigate and analyze how corrosive drywall entered the U.S., where it was use, what’s in it and the impact it can have on human health. You can read these documents and several others on the Florida Department of Health Web site.

December 2, 2009 - Class Action Lawsuit Deadline

Homeowners have until December 2, 2009 to submit proof that they have Knauf drywall to participate in a class action lawsuit against Knauf Tianjin, one of the largest Chinese drywall makers.

Effects of Drywall

According to homeowners who have been affected by the Chinese-made drywall in their homes, the substance has a very negative effect on both the health and property of the home’s inhabitants.

Many homeowners have reported negative effects on their health after moving into homes made with Chinese-drywall. These people have reported an array of maladies including “respiratory problems, nosebleeds, irritated eyes, and headaches”; in addition to the noxious smell of rotten eggs that permeates the home.

The situation has been made more complicated since a federal report was just released that concluded that the high levels of “bothersome chemicals” should not cause the negative health effects that are being reported.

Moreover, many homeowners are also noticing that their appliances, electric appliances, jewelry, and other random household objects are being corroded or are wearing out much more quickly than normal.

The combined health and property damage done by Chinese drywall has rendered homes with the material to be greatly devalued, if not rendered worthless. This puts homeowners in a tough situation: if a homeowner wants to move into a safer home, they usually have to sell the home they’re living in for a fraction of what they paid for it. Since most of these homes were built within the last ten years, that could mean walking away with substantial debt on their old home, notwithstanding whatever debt they incur in purchasing a new home.

According to CPSC, they are unaware of a definitive test to determine if a home has problem drywall. They suggest contacting your homebuilder to ask about the materials used in construction.

Insurance Companies

Homeowners also have the option to replace the drywall and any corroded components in their home, but to do so in an average-sized home would end up costing in the range of $80,000 to $100,000.

If a homeowner files a claim with their homeowner’s insurance company to receive financial aid to fix the home, the claim will likely be denied. This is due to the fact most homeowner’s policies don’t cover building material defects. Not only will the company likely deny the claim, but two companies in Florida, Universal North America and Citizens Property Insurance, are now taking action against homeowners that fail to fix the problem on their own. If a homeowner with Chinese drywall files a claim, these companies notify the homeowner that their policies won’t be renewed if the problem isn’t fixed within a certain period of time, and that the homeowner should not expect any financial aid from their insurance policy.

This is a nightmarish scenario for a family to be in, since mortgage holders are required to have homeowner’s insurance. Thus, when the mortgage company finds out the homeowner has lost his or her insurance, due to his or her inability to fix a problem they didn’t even cause, the company considers the homeowner to have defaulted on their mortgage. As of right now, there is no viable solution to this cycle of financial burden, outside of the government stepping in and regulating insurance policies.

See your doctor if you have experienced serious side effects associated with Chinese drywall. In addition, it may be important to contact an attorney who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit.

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