Chinese Drywall – A Homeowner’s Nightmare

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drywallAs Shakespeare might say, “Something smells rotten in the state Of Georgia (and other states too).” I’m talking about Chinese drywall, the newest construction environmental issue. 

Chinese drywall hit our shores in 2000 due to a shortage of American made drywall. We were going through a huge building boom and a few years later the shortage grew worse when Louisiana had the Katrina disaster.

The problem with the Chinese drywall is that it contains sulfide gases. The issues concerning Chinese drywall were first noticed in the Dade County area of Florida. Now it has spread to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia. What federal investigators have surmised, to date, is that high heat and humidity are causing gas emissions from the drywall. 

The most obvious sign of defective drywall is that homeowners notice a “rotten egg smell”, hence the reference to Shakespeare’s quote form Hamlet. Along with the odor, there is the appearance of corrosion of metals and wiring within the home. Electrical outlets, circuit breakers, mirrors and other metal items attached to the walls of affected homes turn black. An electrician should be called in to assess the extent of the damage.

The houses that are affected are those built or that have been renovated between 2000 and 2008. It includes condominiums as well. The cost to repair is expensive and not all insurance companies cover defective construction materials either.

If you’re a homebuyer, you’ll want to ask your home inspector questions if you suspect Chinese drywall. If you’re a Realtor, be sure to speak with the homeowner about this issue when listing a home. Ask about peculiar smells and metal discolorations. It’s better to know up front about property issues than to deal with an angry buyer after the fact.

There are numerous articles on the Internet regarding Chinese drywall. Now is a good time to learn the details about this relatively new issue. I wish I could say “all’s well that ends well”, but we’re not near the end of this story as yet.

Have you come across Chinese drywall in your home/listing? What’s been your experience?

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16 Responses to “Chinese Drywall – A Homeowner’s Nightmare”

  1. Arthur Harris Says:

    Dana,

    This is new information. I have not come across Chinese drywall in my home/listings yet, but now I will be sure to keep an eye out for it. Thanks.

  2. Brad Carlton Says:

    Dana,
    Thank you so much for sharing this information with us! At this pooint I have not had any problems with any of my listings or homes my Buyers have bought, but if, and when I do, I’ll report on the issue!

  3. Suzie Metro Says:

    I have always liked older homes. This makes me feel very good about buying my 1980’s house, with older appliances and windows. It’s been fun making the updates and seeing the results of my work. I don’t think I would have enjoyed a dry wall job as much!

  4. Pete Canavan Says:

    Thanks Dana for this information.
    How prevelant is this problem?
    How does an inspector know if there is a problem other than the smell or discoloration? Is there any testing equipment to uncover a potential problem?

  5. Jeannie Doole Says:

    I came across this in a contract recently! The buyer requested we source where the drywall came from… never heard of this problem before but I became well versed in it! Fortunately it was a builder owner who had all his supplier lists… we backtracked the order and was able to confirm it was made in USA. I wouldn’t really know how to determine where it came from otherwise. Jeannie Doole

  6. Linda Mock Says:

    Thanks Dana for sharing. I looked online to find a site that is very informative about this issue. See http://www.chinesedrywall.com/

  7. cheryl Says:

    I appreciate the information. A young buyer I’m working with right now just asked me about this and I was able to share this information with her.

  8. Joshua Sophy Says:

    People with Chinese drywall manufactured by Knauf Plasterboard Co. have until Dec. 2 to join a lawsuit against the company. Rather than go through a lengthy legal process, join this lawsuit very easily. The following Web site will give you everything you need and help you file a claim and get some closure on this difficult and costly time: http://www.Chinese-drywall-answers.com

  9. Jamie Lea Says:

    Thanks for the info Dana. I’ve had 2 buyers this year have the home inspectors check for chinese drywall. It’s so easy to check. Very popular in Florida & i’ve heard of cases in Atl. None in North GA yet!

  10. Hank Spinnler Says:

    Hi Pete. To answer your question, other then the smell, the drywall will be marked on the back “Made in China” or “Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin (KPT)”. Of course, since the back side of the drywall is not usually visible in an existing home, it may require the taking of a sample of the material. Bear in mind that this would constitute a destructive inspection that is not part of the ASHI Standards of Practice. As of now, I have not come across it in the Metro Atlanta area.

  11. Joshua Sophy Says:

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission has finally linked Chinese drywall to metal corrosion in homes with it installed. This will just be the first of many problems associated with this toxic import.A deadline to file a lawsuit against one of the manufacturers is next week. If you’ve been affected by this product, please don’t go without reading: http://www.chinese-drywall-answers.com/

  12. Randy Says:

    Home Depot and Lowes have both stated that they sold no Chinese drywall in Georgia. However builders and tradesman may have obtained from other sources.

  13. Cyn Says:

    The first Chinese drywall lawsuit begins this month and here is some good information on this ongoing issue: http://www.chinese-drywall-answers.com/. Among other problems, people living with Chinese drywall have also suffered eye, respiratory, and sinus problems in addition to problems in their homes such as awful odors and metal corrosion. Some 500 million pounds of Chinese drywall were imported into the U.S., impacting about 100,000 homes.

  14. johnkilpatrick Says:

    I just posted an update on Chinese Drywall. Take a peek at http://wp.me/pqerO-24 and leave me your comments.

  15. John Says:

    I don’t understand why it’s just homeowners who are stuck with the consequences of a builder using cheap chinese sheetrock?
    Homeowners warranties?
    Builders liability insurance?
    Why?

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