Imagine purchasing a brand new home, only to discover it has a persistent rotten egg smell. On top of that, your new appliances mysteriously stop working and the home’s copper wiring turns black. It sounds like a nightmare, but for those in Florida and other southern states whose homes contain defective Chinese drywall, it is reality.
Although it now seems a distant memory, there was a time not long ago when new homes were being constructed across the country at a record pace. This housing boom, combined with the need to repair damage from severe hurricanes in Florida, created unprecedented demand for building materials such as drywall. When domestic sources of drywall ran low around 2005, some contractors and builders, particularly in Florida, began using drywall imported from China. It has been estimated that enough Chinese drywall for 60,000 homes was imported to the U.S.
Unfortunately for the owners of the homes containing the Chinese drywall, it emits sulfur gas that corrodes copper and gives off a rotten egg smell. Attorneys for the affected homeowners also allege that the gas causes respiratory and other health problems, though the manufacturers of the drywall contend that it does not.
Class action lawsuits have been filed against builders and drywall manufacturers in a number of southern states. So far, it does not appear that any Chinese drywall made it as far as Ohio, although one Columbus-based builder, M/I Homes, has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit concerning homes it built in Florida.
Though certain builders have stepped up and voluntarily replaced the defective Chinese drywall in some homes, others are unwilling or financially unable to do so, frustrating owners who have already seen their property values plummet due to the mortgage crises. It remains to be seen whether these owners will receive any relief as a result of the lawsuits.