Friday, December 4, 2009
When someone says "Chinese" as an adjective I typically think of food or maybe checkers.
Rarely though do I think of synthetic building material.
That should probably change now that Congress and some of the nation's leading plaintiff law firms are getting more involved in the growing Chinese drywall controversy. Here are some details from the Housing Wire blog:
Congress is taking action to help homeowners affected by defective drywall manufactured in China. The drywall was used to build hundreds of homes during the housing boom and is now known to cause serious structural defects, according to the results of a government task force investigation. ...The resolution cites that the noxious gases released from the drywall is forcing borrowers out of their homes and into temporary housing at great personal expense and calls on banks and mortgage servicers to help borrowers affected by the drywall.
Apparently, sitting here in Montgomery, Alabama, I'm near Ground Zero of this curious by-product of the housing boom. As far as I know, our house (built five years ago here) isn't chock full of this type of drywall (I know my builder well and he "really, really" promises he didn't use the stuff).
But, can you imagine the administrative and logistical nightmare that this could present if it turns out to be a widespread problem? Drywall is not something easily removed. We're talking about gutting thousands and thousands of homes. This means a great deal of electric, plumbing, and other modifications.
Those are the exact things that city building departments typically focus on. With many cities laying off building inspectors, I suppose the silver lining is that Chinese drywall could be a huge jobs stimulus for that market segment (yes, that is partially a tongue in cheek observation).
Anyhow, I would definitely follow these Congressional actions closely if you research/write/represent interests in the life/safety side of the land use world.
--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.