Toxic Chinese Drywall

Toxic Chinese Drywall was used between 2000 and 2010

Buyer Beware! Toxic Chinese Drywall

In Florida toxic Chinese drywall is STILL  a serious problem.  Mitigation attempts where provided to appease some homeowners in Florida and other US States.

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 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.

Exposure to Chinese drywall caused a number of health problems.

Health studies have been very limited because the government has not funded the EPA to do continued study of toxic Chinese drywall.  Homeowner’s were 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. 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 as deaths to the EPA.  There were no toxicology test completed on any of the victims.

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.

A lot of Chinese drywall was brought into the US between 2000 and 2010.  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.

Homeowners where afraid to report they had toxic Chinese drywall because it devalued their property.

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 with toxic Chinese drywall.   Many of Florida’s 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. There are NO Chinese drywall disclosure laws in Florida.

Real estate investors or buyers who purchased homes online or thru auctions without inspections find out they bought properties with toxic Chinese drywall when they go to sell.  Smart buyers hire home inspectors who recommend Chinese drywall inspections on homes built or renovated in the Chinese drywall era.  Today, the Florida sellers who purchased Chinese drywall 2 decades ago have no legal recourse.

If toxic Chinese drywall can turn electrical wires and copper black, what do you suppose the toxins can do to your lungs or a children’s?

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 comes 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 between 2000 and 2010.

Some listing agents have provide copies of home inspections.  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 copper wires inside of the electrical panel of the home and to check the ground wires behind the electrical outlets for blackening.

Toxic Chinese Drywall has also been found in older properties which were renovated between 2000 and 2010. 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.  Homes which used Chinese drywall still have a recognizable pungent odor.  These older Chinese drywall odors permeate the properties and  are  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 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, the new 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 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 drywall permeates everything including the studs in a home!  

It is possible some homes or condominiums 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. Not many condominium associations want 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 then filed bankruptcy because they did not want to be sued.  Especially, in high end developments where homeowner’s had significant wealth to sue the developers.

The children who would now be 20 years old who lived in Chinese drywall properties could be suffering the health consequences of living in a toxic Chinese drywall environment as a child.  Likely, their doctors look for allergies and other breathing problems not even aware of the toxic Chinese drywall health consequences.  One child who was exposed to toxic Chinese drywall who’s home was remediated by the builder 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 property. Hopefully, when they do, they make the appropriate disclosures to their customers.  In the State of Florida, Buyer Beware, is the Golden Rule.  There are agents who do not know what Chinese drywall is or that it was ever used in Florida!

Today, the many REALTORS® use Chinese drywall Disclosures. Properties with Chinese drywall are stigmatized, similar to Lead Based paint being present in homes built prior to 1978. This alerts the buyer there maybe an problem and they should have the property inspected. There have been entire towns in Florida, during the building boom between 2000 and 2010 built with the toxic substance!

My own exposure over the years as a REALTOR® entering and showing homes with toxic Chinese drywall caused me to have a tumor behind my eye. Consequently, one of my major sinus glands had to be removed.

Chinese drywall remains a problem in homes, condominiums, commercial properties and in some cases entire developments which are still tainted with the toxic drywall.  

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 during the property viewing.  I can recognize the distinct smell of the toxic Chinese drywall, even 20 years later.  

When you are going to make one of the most significant financial investments in your life … Ask Beverly Howe first!

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