Along the Gulf Coast and in the South, between 2004 and 2005, an estimated 100,000 homes were built with toxic Chinese drywall. Today, homeowners are suffering from the consequences.
Toxic Chinese drywall is an imported drywall that was delivered to the U.S. after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in response to the reconstruction of homes. The drywall is considered toxic because it contains high levels of chemical pollutants such as sulfur. The drywall has been linked to health problems such as breathing trouble, nosebleeds, coughing, headaches, and eye irritation among others. The toxins also corrode pipes and wiring and emit a foul odor, and can cause family pets to die.
Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Southeast Texas and Virginia are the hardest hit areas thus far due to the heat and humidity levels of the climate. However, the Chinese Drywall Complaint Center (CDCC) believes that Chinese drywall is actually in homes in all 50 states.
Currently, the federal government has no approved method of remediation for the situation, and many homeowners have opted to move or have all of the drywall removed (a complete renovation) in order to deal with the problem. The CDCC fears that many homeowners will soon walk away from their houses, hurting the housing market even more.
“None of [the] states [affected] have any laws protecting innocent home buyers from unknowingly purchasing a toxic Chinese drywall home. Banks can sell a toxic Chinese drywall foreclosure in Florida – as is – no disclosure at all. We don’t even have building codes in the US Southeast on how to properly remediate a toxic Chinese drywall home,” says the CDCC in a statement.
There are a number of options that homeowners with Chinese drywall have. The CDCC offers inspections for homes that are suspected of being contaminated with the drywall and also have sources for builders who do remediation of properties with Chinese drywall. A special federal mortgage program called 203-K allows the purchase of a Chinese drywall foreclosure and provides money to remediate the property.
There is hope for homeowners with Chinese drywall. The lawsuit against Banner Supply, a supplier of Chinese drywall, reached a settlement on Tuesday. Banner agreed to pay $54.5 million to homeowners whose homes were tainted with the drywall they supplied. This will go to 2,000 to 3,000 homeowners.
“This is a substantial development in Chinese drywall litigation,” said Ervin Gonzalez, a Miami attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, in a statement. “It enables Florida homeowners to get some relief from their ongoing Chinese drywall issues.”