The four hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004, along with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, set off a building boom that drained domestic supplies of drywall, a board used to create the interior walls of homes. Builders turned to imported materials, much of it from China. But serious problems soon emerged.
"People started noticing there was a strong smell of sulfur," said Jim Katen, a partner in Associated Master Inspectors of Portland, Ore.
The drywall wasn't just stinky. The fumes, or "off-gassing," also ate into copper wires and pipes, causing air-conditioning units and wiring to fail, sometimes just a few months after the homes were built.
The fix is phenomenally expensive. The Consumer Product Safety Commission and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's remediation guidance (.pdf file) says homeowners need to replace:
· All the problem drywall, which typically means gutting the house.
· Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
· Electrical distribution components, including receptacles, switches and circuit breakers.
· Fusible-type fire sprinkler heads.
The cost for such remediation can spiral to more than $100,000, inspectors and appraisers said. Insurance typically doesn't cover the cost, and lawsuits are still wending their way through the courts.
The problem primarily affects homes in the Southeastern United States that were built or remodeled between 2001 and 2009. One way to check for problems is to see if copper wiring or air-conditioning evaporator coils have become blackened.
"Go look at the wires and copper and see what you find," Fries said. "Black ashlike is bad, and blue, green (or) red is OK."
Blackened copper "does not mean do not purchase, but be aware," and get additional testing, Fries said.
Typically, if the Chinese drywall problem is known there will be a disclosure that must be signed during the purchase. Many banks are taking care of this problem if you are purchasing a bank owned home. Be sure to ask your agent about Chinese Drywall.
Article information from www.msn.com