When buying a house, one of the newest and most serious problems your new house may have is hazardous imported Chinese Drywall. You may have heard about it on the news, on the internet, or even from your real estate agent. However, most people don’t realize how bad the problem really is. The truth is that hazardous Chinese drywall has been found in over 4,000 properties, most of them located right here in South Florida.
In 2004 and 2005, because of hurricanes and other factors, construction material was in short supply. So builders began importing materials (including drywall) from other countries. Surprisingly, the hazardous drywall wasn’t even from China. The most notorious exporter of the hazardous drywall was a company called Knauf out of Germany. Knauf obtained the raw materials from a gypsum mine located in China. Although we haven’t been able to trace the exact cause of the contamination in the gypsum, it is believed that poor pollution controls in China allowed the raw gypsum to be contaminated within the mine. Since then, millions of sheets of this hazardous drywall have been imported and installed into homes and business across America.
Although the hazardous Chinese drywall is mostly found in homes constructed around the years 2004 and 2005, it has been found in homes as early as 2001 and as late as 2009. It is recommended that any house constructed or renovated between the years 2001 and 2009 be fully inspected by a qualified home inspection professional. In addition to having your home professionally inspected, you can review a self assessment guide at Florida’s Department of Health’s website: (http://www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/community/indoor-air/inspections.html).
Although the chances of your home having Chinese Drywall are minimal, the cost of remediation can be astronomical. Building Inspection Services, a home inspection company specializing in Chinese Drywall, recommends Chinese drywall remediation to include the complete replacement of the following: all drywall, all electrical wiring, the air conditioning system, all metal plumbing components, all appliances with major metallic components, all carpeting, all wall insulation, all wood flooring, all wood baseboards or crown molding and all metallic bathroom fixtures or components. As you can imagine, the cost of this work can easily skyrocket to $50,000 to $100,000 depending on the home.
With that being said, most people will want to avoid buying a home with Chinese Drywall. However, some people with an entrepreneurial spirit have made a great profit on these homes. I spoke with an investor who purchased a townhouse in the Orchid Grove community in Pompano Beach a few months ago. He purchased a townhouse for $35,000, remediated the entire place in 2 months, costing him $60,000, then sold it for over $130,000.
Written by: Mike Jenkins, Home Inspector
Building Inspection Services / www.BIS-Inspections.com