Chinese drywall continues to be a problem
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. In fact, it's not even past." This is certainly true for homeowners and builders across the United States.
Remember when an estimated 250,000 tons of drywall were imported from China during the housing boom and it was used in approximately 100,000 homes in the U.S.? Do you recall the reports that this drywall installed was emitting pungent, corrosive gases and ruining appliances?
For years, builders feared product-related lawsuits and settlements. Unfortunately, the problem hasn't diminished yet. Nearly 10 years later, there are still reports popping up in regard to the drywall causing harm to health and homes all around.
As of April 16, there have been a total of 21,956 claims filed in regard to Chinese drywall including:
- Bodily injury
- Foreclosure or short sale
- Global, Banner, INEX repair and relocation expenses
- Lost rent, use or sales
- Preremediation alternative living expenses
- Tenant loss
Homeowners are being forced to risk health-related problems caused by the drywall, risk failed appliances due to wire corrosion or replace the drywall entirely.
The drywall contamination is also reducing the value of homes. Some insurance companies are rejecting claims to pay for the replacement drywall while many of their clients are facing financial ruin. Class-action lawsuits have been filed against homebuilders, suppliers and importers of contaminated Chinese drywall.
So what does this mean for you?
Legal website Nolo reports that "lawsuits over Chinese drywall use a number of legal theories to seek money damages. These theories include negligence, strict product liability, breach of warranty, fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment. The elements of each legal theory vary but, for the most part, consumers must prove that the toxic drywall caused a defective condition within the home or caused someone in the home to become ill."
Instead of waiting to see what happens with current lawsuits, home builders, inspectors and owners should be aware of the danger it poses and learn how to identify it. According to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, some key identifiers are:
- Copper sulfide or sulfur in the home as confirmed by tests
- Drywall marked as coming from China
- High levels of strontium or sulfur in drywall core
- Elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide or carbon disulfide emitted from drywall when tested in a chamber
- Corrosion of copper metal when placed in a test chamber with drywall samples.
- Health issues, including irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty in breathing, persistent cough, bloody nose, runny nose, recurrent headaches, sore throats, sinus infections and asthma attacks.
So how can you assist with homes with Chinese drywall?
Big Builder Online states that remediation is both a technical and a management challenge. Crews have to take out essential parts of the house including drywall, wiring and plumbing; parts that were never intended to come out.
You have to do this all while protecting and saving the rest of the house.
"Chinese drywall is the gift that keeps on giving," says Eric Stockland, who has made a full-time job out of remediating homes contaminated from Chinese drywall in Florida. "The reality is, ten years from now there will be a house sitting out there that has Taishan drywall in it, which nobody ever touched."
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