Defective Chinese Drywall Costing Millions
After receiving over 600 complaints from home owners about a rotten egg type of odor and corrosion related problems in their homes, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission brought up the issue with the U.S. Senate. Apparently the problem has been reported in numerous states, but largely in Florida, Louisiana and Virginia, with homes mainly built between 2004 and 2006.
Upon investigation, Lennar Homes discovered at least 400 Florida homes containing defective drywall from China – an expensive discovery that resulted in a $39.8 million repair bill. These are only Lennar’s initial findings; it’s possible this problem may effect thousands of homes throughout the U.S. Most of the effected homes were built during the boom between 2005 and 2006. Extensive reconstruction after a hurricane caused a drywall shortage in the U.S. and builders were forced to import to keep up with demands.
Lennar and various other builders have had to replace drywall, wiring and fixtures in order to rectify the problem. Although Lennar has a $20.7 million receivable for damages in their insurance plan, that will begins to cover the almost $40 million they have allocated for repairs. They are looking to recoup their losses from subcontractors, insurers and others involved once they have concluded their investigation of how far the damage has spread. So far the builder hasn’t found any evidence of the defective drywall in any homes outside of Florida during the same time span. However, 550 million pounds of Chinese drywall was imported into the U.S. from 2004 to 2006, and it is unknown how many homes were victims of the defective product.
Among the complaints received by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, many were medical in nature and included throat and eye itchiness and irritation, headaches, and other similar reports that, in some cases, resulted in homeowners having to move out and filing class-action lawsuits. The symptoms disappeared once residents moved out of their houses.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, upon testing, the CPSC found high levels of sulfur and organic compounds. This has led to an entire inquiry into the potential health and safety risks associated with the drywall. In addition to the list of medical complaints, homeowners often noticed the smell of rotten eggs (commonly associated with sulfur), and that the corrosive gases were effecting the inner workings of household appliances such as air conditioners, washers, dryers and refrigerators, electronics with copper wiring, and corroding household piping and wiring.
In one situation, a Florida family moved into their Homestead, Florida dream home. Soon thereafter, they noticed one mechanical problem after another with their appliances and electronics. In addition, the husband was diagnosed with sleep apnea and his wife and children developed other medical problems. They had to move out of their home for six to nine months while the repairs were taking place.
According to Florida attorney Ervin A. Gonzalez, he estimates, “It would cost a third of an affected home’s value to fix the dwelling. The fields must be destroyed in the inside, homeowners must continue to pay the mortgage, and they must pay a place to stay while,” said Gonzalez.
Knauf Gips, one of the main companies named in the lawsuits, employs over 22,000 people in over 40 countries. They claim their are no health risks associated with their drywall product.