Toxic Chinese Drywall
Toxic Chinese Drywall is STILL a serious problem. Mitigation
attempts where provided to appease some homeowners in Florida and all the USA. See the links on the bottom of this page.
June 15th, 2011 Banner Supply Co., several related companies and Banner’s insurers, agreed to a $55 million dollar settlement for Chinese drywall claims. Banner purchased roughly 1.4 million sheets of Chinese drywall, most made by Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Banner claims they merely distributed drywall manufactured in China, primarily by the Knauf Group, after receiving certifications and warranties from Knauf that the drywall was safe and not defective in any way. However, Banner knew in 2006 that builders were complaining about odors from the drywall and yet continued to sell it. This settlement claims that nearly all the corrosive product damaged Florida homes.
Health studies have been very limited because the government has not funded the EPA to do continued study of toxic Chinese drywall. Homeowner’s are reporting recurrent headaches, irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty breathing, persistent coughs, runny noses, sinus infections, congestion, sore throats, frequent nosebleeds, and asthma attacks.
The degree of symptoms are related to the amount of exposure someone experiences and that the toxic Chinese drywall causes irreversible damage to the sinus and possibly lungs. As ones exposure increases, so do the symptoms.
The deaths reported (mostly seniors and infants) have been determined to be from “other” health complications and not specific to the presence of toxic Chinese drywall. Evidently, the family members of those who died must have thought there was a relationship between their loved ones deaths and toxic Chinese drywall or they would not have reported them to the deaths to the EPA. There were no toxicology test completed on any of the victims.
There was a lot of Chinese drywall brought into the US. The Federal and State governments were unable to deal with the magnitude of this problem. The State of Florida’s insurer Citizens Insurance Corp. announced in mid January that they were going to suspend insurance policies for homes tainted with Chinese drywall. Objections to this announcement stopped Citizens’ Insurance from suspending all the policies at one time.
Understandably, many homeowners’ have not reported their toxic Chinese drywall problem for fear of consequences. Homeowner did not want their insurance companies cancelling their policies or the inability to resell their property. Many of Southwest Florida foreclosures are a result of people “walking away” from their home or condominium because it was built with toxic Chinese drywall.
Overseas and some US investment firms unknowingly purchased homes in foreclosure packages bundled and sold to them in packages. Other investors purchased them knowing they were only going to rent them until the market came back then put them back on the market.
Since, the real estate market has improved, I get calls from investors who purchased homes online or thru auctions without my assistance. They are finding out when list their properties for sale that they purchased Chinese drywall. Buyers are hiring home inspectors who recommend Chinese drywall inspections on homes built in the Chinese drywall era. Today, these Florida sellers have no legal recourse when they purchased thru Transaction Brokers.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have prepared “Interim Remediation Guidance” because homeowners wanted to do something to begin the process of repairing their homes. “The guidance is designed as a conservative, common sense approach to the challenges facing homeowners, and is offered in advance of a complete understanding of certain scientific matters at issue.” Replacing all the Chinese drywall, plumbing and electrical components in a property is an interim solution until they find something better to tell the consumer public. Toxic Chinese drywall permeates all the porous surfaces of the property and furniture. Disintegration of electrical wires and corrosion of plumbing components were continuing to create fire hazards and plumbing problems after only replacing the toxic Chinese drywall with new drywall. Therefore, electrical and the copper plumbing components of the home also needed to be replaced. Air conditioning systems with copper coils where only lasting a couple of years because of the corrosive qualities of the toxic Chinese drywall.
If toxic Chinese drywall can turn electrical wires and copper black, what do you suppose the toxins can do to your lungs or a childs?
Some real estate agents and investment companies are giving buyers reports and “Certificates” on homes they are flipping saying they have been inspected for toxic Chinese drywall. These reports are not guarantees or warranties. Inspectors who check for Chinese drywall can only give assurances to buyers based upon their experience and inspection findings that a house does not have toxic Chinese drywall. Some agents make it sound like the inspection report or “certificate” is a guarantee that is backed by some kind of opportunity to have recourse if the inspector has made a mistake. All inspectors have the buyer’s sign a detailed liability waver. Some builder’s give “Certificates” saying that they will give the buyer a small dollar amount if they find toxic Chinese drywall after they purchase the home. An unsuspecting buyer who signs off on this type of documentation is limiting their opportunity for recourse if the house is found to have toxic Chinese drywall after it is purchase. This is typical when a new developer come in and buys the leftovers from a developer who filed bankruptcy in order not be sued by the homeowners whose homes were built with the toxic Chinese drywall.
Sellers agents have provided me with copies of home inspections when I have asked if a home had toxic Chinese drywall. The inspection reports show photos of electrical box panels without the cover being removed! One of the main sources of discovery is to see if there is damage to the inside of the electrical panel of the home.
Toxic Chinese Drywall has also been found in older properties which have been renovated within the last few years. Lowe’s had a class action lawsuit because they sold the product in their retail stores throughout the United States.
After many years the strong odors from the Chinese drywall begin to diminish. This does not mean the home is less toxic, just that the strong scent is no longer obvious. It does however, have a very recognizable smell to anyone who has enough experience going into the properties to know “that pungent odor” which still permeates the properties and is often covered up by Glade plug ins or other deodorizers. There are other signs besides odors which must be inspected to determine whether a property has the toxic Chinese drywall.
The State of Florida has given a tax break to homeowners who are willing to declare that they have a home built with the toxic Chinese drywall. Those homeowners get a $0 for the value of their building (home) and only pay taxes based upon the land value. Once the home is sold to another buyer, that buyer is expected know whether or not the home has the toxic drywall. The tax exemption is removed upon the resale and the new owner pays taxes based upon real estate assessed values of the home and land combined regardless of whether it still has toxic Chinese drywall.
Some real estate agents believe that once the drywall is removed they and their sellers are no longer obligated to disclose to the buyer that the home has been remediated for the toxic Chinese drywall.
The links below indicates that the problem began in 2001. I have been in at least two houses built in 2000 that I am sure had Chinese drywall. Entry level builders were using the cheap toxic Chinese drywall before there was a shortage for all builders in the US. The Consumer Product Safety Commissions website where consumers can place a complaint only allows dates entered back to 2001. All newer and newly renovated homes no matter what the price range or who the builder was should be suspected of having toxic Chinese drywall, until professionally inspected. It is possible that some homes in a community may have toxic Chinese drywall and others may not. The builder’s drywall subcontractors may have gotten drywall from different suppliers at different times.
Toxic Chinese drywall in one condominium can permeate the entire building, the electrical system and plumbing. No one wants to address the problem in condominiums because it is too overwhelming.
Part of the market crash involved builders and developers who used toxic Chinese drywall who did not want to be sued. Especially, in high end developments where homeowner’s had money to go after them with law suits.
The majority of REALTORS® use Chinese Drywall Disclosures on properties built between 2001 and 2010. This alerts the buyer there maybe an problem and they should have the property inspected.
Today REALTORS® still use Lead Based Paint Disclosures required by law on homes build prior to 1978. Young children in homes with the paint peeling from the walls would crawl over chips and then put their hands in their mouths. In a sense those properties are all stigmatized because of the Lead Based paint issue.
I believe many children who would now be 10 to 15 years old and those younger are suffering the health consequences of living in a toxic Chinese drywall environment. Likely, their doctors look for allergies and other breathing problems not even aware of the toxic Chinese drywall health consequences. I know one child in particular who was exposed to toxic Chinese drywall. The home was mitigated, but the child has a huge voice box and sounds like a frog croaking when he speaks. The parents believe the cause was exposure to toxic Chinese drywall.
No REALTOR® likes the idea of selling anyone toxic Chinese drywall. Hopefully, when they do, they make the appropriate disclosures to their customers. Buyers beware, I have actually had agents try to tell me that there was no Chinese drywall in Southwest Florida!
I prefer not to show homes or condominiums which provide remediation information in the privileged information provided to cooperating brokers in the confidential agent remarks. I do not believe remediation is the solution. I also believe the years in which toxic Chinese drywall was used to build homes, condominiums and in some cases entire developments have already be stigmatized based upon “years built” just like Lead Base Paint used in homes prior to 1978. I believe there should be a law, like there is for Lead Based Paint, requiring disclosure of potential health hazards during the years toxic Chinese drywall was imported to the US.
I have experience in knowing what signs to look for in homes which indicate the presence of toxic Chinese drywall. I make every effort to help the buyer determine whether or not toxic Chinese drywall is a possibility when we view the property. There are times I will not go past the front door, because I am sure I can recognize the distinct smell of the toxic Chinese drywall, even ten years later. I desire to limit my exposure. Buyers, however are curious or persistent and they want to go in and see for themselves. Most often the properties are vacant and many appear never to have been lived in. They may have fresh paint, new A/C systems and new appliances.
Visit these links to learn more about this very serious issue. Government agencies may change these links, type in Chinese Drywall if the page only give you a search link.
Please feel free to call me, Beverly Howe, ABR, EBA, GRI, TRC, CIPS, MCNE, SRES
Exclusive Buyer Broker/Owner
Toll Free at 1-800-283-7393 or 1-239-601-2013 anytime for additional information.
Florida Buyer Broker
Licensed to sell real estate in Southwest Florida since 1981