Although Chinese drywall complaints are not widespread in Indiana, the buzzword keeps coming up. I decided to do a little research to find out more about the class-action lawsuits that are making headlines in national real estate circles.
The problematic Chinese drywall came to the United States between 2004 and 2007- although the bulk of it arrived after 2005. It was imported because the stateside supply was low due to two factors; the mid-decade housing boom and the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Public complaints started to emerge by December 2008, although it has been suggested that earlier complaints had been settled privately.
It is estimated that Florida, Louisiana and Virginia account for more than 93% of the drywall complaints to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). It leads a team of government agencies (HUD, EPA and CDC) into the Chinese drywall investigation. According to a Time article from March 2009, the U.S. imported approximately 550 million pounds of drywall from China between Spring 2006 and Spring 2009.
One of the lawsuits alleges that the drywall, or gypsum, was made from “fly ash,” a waste material produced by Chinese power plants.
Effected homeowners cite a noxious “rotten egg” smell and the corrosion of household plumbing and metals (i.e. blackened electrical wiring, corroded copper pipes and air conditioning coils). The CPSC reports that health concerns linked to the exposure to the toxins and sulfurous gases in the drywall include, “irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty in breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infections and asthma attacks.”
Although several Chinese manufacturers have been cited, the most prominent name in complaints is Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co., Ltd. (KPT), a China-based producer. The company prints its name on the reverse side of its drywall, making it easily identifiable to homeowners.
To date, I am unaware of any specific cases of defective Chinese drywall in the metro Indianapolis market. The majority of the cases appear to be located in warm and humid climates like the southern Atlantic states and the Gulf Coast.
If there are updates on the topic that directly effect residential real estate in the metro Indianapolis area, I will post information on this blog.