Before we began an inspection the other day, the Realtor, whom I had not seen in some time, said, "Jay, I just want to apologize. The last time we had an inspection you had some things to say about Chinese Drywall. As I listened I thought you were crazy, that nobody would do that, and that you were a China bigot. I was so upset with you that I could not recommend you to anyone for an inspection. Then lately I have been hearing the news and Chinese Drywall is a big problem! You were right, and maybe even a little polite about it. I am sorry and I am glad to refer you again."
I was shocked! Those Chinese Drywall comments were made about a year and a half ago. Then he said something that really buoyed me, "I will never doubt you again!" Kinda made my day!
Well, I'm not a bigot, but if I am bigoted about anything*, it is about schmuck work. It doesn't matter to me who produces something that is dangerous or bad. It needs to be brought to the fore.
I realize that the consumer product markets have been exposed to and gone through some bad products. That includes various building products:
Louisiana Pacific siding, bad FRT plywood, polybutylene plumbing, UFFI formaldehyde, aluminum wiring, asbestos, EIFS... just to name a few. There have been many. And we have gotten past them, or are getting through them.
Why? Because there has been a recourse and a way to address the problems. There has always been redress.
But this product is different. There is no recourse. At least to date.
And if your house has this stuff it is ruined. Not only your house, but everything in it. Everything that has copper or silver components - AC coils, electrical devices and all electrical wiring, fixtures, smoke detectors, security systems, plumbing, accessories - corrodes or is otherwise destroyed by the toxic air. Even insulation, carpeting, furniture and clothing which cannot get rid of the sulfur smell needs removal.
And where can you go for recourse? The consumer has always been able to go to the source. But the source in this case is China. What can the consumer do? Take China to court? Good luck with that...
In addition to problems with components and materials, there are immediate, and for some people severe, health problems. They go away when removed from contact or breathing the sulfurous air, but for some health problems have lingered. **
The only real recourse for homeowners affected by this drywall is to TAKE CARE OF IT THEMSELVES BY REMOVING IT AND ANYTHING DAMAGED BY IT. They will have to test for it (there are testing services springing up) and if found, get rid of it. All of it and everything affected by it.
That is easy for me to say - I am not affected. I think a homeowner is looking at tens of thousands of dollars. But what else can they do? Wait for the government? It isn't the government's responsibility. File an insurance claim? It isn't the insurance company's responsibility. Go after the builder? It isn't the builder's fault either.
The fault belongs to the manufacturer. Period. And I don't think any homeowner will get very far with China.
My recommendation: This might not seem like a problem that affects a large percentage of homes. But it is a very, very big deal for anyone that has found this drywall in their home. They can live in the home, they can't sell it and they can't rent it out. Their only recourse is to remove it. That, for most of us, would be a big deal.
* My kids accuse me of being a rock and roll bigot. I think rock and roll died about 1980, but that is just me...
** In addition to respiratory and eye problems, victims report insomnia and urinary infections. The long-term medical effects are unknown.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560