Florida Buyer Broker
Buyer Beware! Toxic Chinese Drywall is STILL a serious problem.
Mitigation attempts to remove Chinese drywall were provided to appease homeowners and some commercial property owners in Florida, USA.
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.
CHINESE DRYWALL IN FLORIDA
The EPA links below indicates the problem with drywall began in 2001.
I have been in at least two houses built in 2000. I am sure they had Chinese drywall. Entry level builders were using the cheap toxic drywall before there was a shortage of US drywall supplies.
The Consumer Product Safety Commissions website where consumers can place a complaint only allows dates entered back to 2001. It is possible some homes in a community may have toxic drywall and others may not. The builder’s drywall subcontractors may have gotten drywall from different suppliers at different times.
Entire communities in Florida were built during the building boom years of 2000 and 2009. Toxic Chinese drywall was used to build single family homes, condominiums and commercial buildings. In 2009 the US stopped allowing the importation of toxic drywall. However, there were stock piles still used up until 2010 in the US.
Health studies have been very limited.
The government has not funded the EPA to do continued study of toxic 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 drywall causes irreversible damage to the sinus and possibly lungs. As ones exposure increases, so do the symptoms.
Toxic Chinese drywall impacted mostly seniors and infants. Deaths were determined to be from “other” health complications and not specific to the presence of toxic drywall. Evidently, the family members of those who died must have thought there was a relationship between their loved ones deaths and toxic drywall or they would not have reported the deaths to the EPA. There were no toxicology test completed on any of the victims.
A lot of Chinese drywall was brought into the US.
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 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 Florida foreclosures are a result of investors “walking away” from a home or condominium because it was built with toxic Chinese drywall.
Overseas and some US investment firms unknowingly purchased homes with Chinese drywall.
Real estate investment firms and trust (REITS) purchased homes built with toxic drywall in foreclosure package. Other investors purchased them knowing they were only going to rent them until the market prices came back up. They were then put back on the market.
Part of the market crash involved builders and developers who used toxic drywall who did not want to be sued. Especially, in high end developments where homeowner’s had money for attorney’s and law suits.
Investors and buyers who purchased homes without home inspections find out when they put them up for sale, they purchased Chinese drywall properties. Smart buyers hire home inspectors who recommend Chinese drywall inspections on homes built and renovated in the Chinese drywall era. Florida sellers and buyers who purchased toxic drywall 20 years ago have no legal recourse except to pay for remediation.
Consequently, homeowners needed to do something to begin the process of repairing their homes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have prepared Interim Remediation Guidance. 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 toxic 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. 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 drywall.
Inspection reports and warranties are not guarantees.
Some real estate agents, builders and investment companies gave buyers reports and “Certificates.” 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.
Homes and condominiums should be inspected for Chinese drywall.
Some builder’s give “Certificates” saying that they will give the buyer a small dollar amount if they find toxic drywall after they purchase the home. An unsuspecting buyer who signs off on this type of documentation is limiting their opportunity for any recourse. Developers bought the leftovers from developers who filed bankruptcy in order not be sued by the homeowners whose homes were built with the toxic Chinese drywall between 2001 and 2010.
Sellers agents have tried to provided my buyers with copies of home inspections. The inspection reports show photos of electrical box panels without the cover 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 or condominium and to check the ground wires behind the electrical outlets for blackening.
LOWES CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
Toxic Chinese Drywall has also been found in older properties which have been renovated within the Chinese drywall. Lowe’s had a class action lawsuit because they sold the product in their retail stores throughout the United States.
Toxic Chinese drywall used to renovate 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.
Homes which used Chinese drywall still have a recognizable pungent odor.
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. 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.
Florida has given a tax break to homeowners.
Homeowners who are willing to declare they have a home built with the toxic Chinese drywall received a tax break. 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 resold to another buyer, that buyer is expected know the home they purchased 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. Even the property still has 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, a child or a pet?
Children who grew up in Chinese drywall properties would now be 15 to 20 years old. It is possible they could be 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.
One child was exposed to toxic Chinese drywall for several years. His home was mitigated, but his voice box is huge. As a consequence, he sounds like a frog croaking when he speaks. The parents and his doctor believe the cause was exposure to toxic Chinese drywall.
There are NO DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS for 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 majority of real estate licensees 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.
No real estate licensee likes the idea of selling anyone toxic Chinese drywall. Hopefully, when they do, they make the appropriate disclosures to their customers. In the State of Florida, Buyer Beware, is the Golden Rule. I have actually had agents try to tell me there was no Chinese drywall in Florida!
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 before and or during the property viewing. I can recognize the distinct smell of the toxic Chinese drywall, even 20 years later.
Want more information click here for the EPA site.
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