About Mary Elizabeth Allen

Mary Elizabeth Allen is the Marketing Director for The Real Estate Group and oversees the brokerage's marketing and social media efforts. She has worked for nearly two decades in the marketing industry and has also been involved in real estate for five years. A passion for branding is driven by her work on such well-known brands as STAR WARS, Dungeons & Dragons, and Capital One. Since 2007, she's been immersed in real estate, gaining perspective on the industry by working on the association side, consulting with nationally-known real estate trainers, and getting the view from the brokerage side.

Chinese Drywall in the News

There’s been a phrase popping up in the news lately that many people outside the construction and home inspection worlds may not be very familiar with: Chinese drywall.


This drywall—also known as sheetrock, plasterboard, wallboard, or gib—manufactured in China has been found to be detrimental to both the homes in which it has been installed and the health of those who live in those homes. Because of these findings, media coverage of the legal and remedial processes addressing these problems has been increasing and making the general public aware of the existence of Chinese drywall.

Chinese drywall

If you’re wondering what exactly Chinese drywall is and why it’s such a problem, we consulted some local experts to give us an explanation. Our friends at Quality Home Inspections have seen many homes containing this type of drywall and were able to very easily enumerate the many reasons why it’s a dangerous problem to have:

“Quality Home Inspections does perform Chinese drywall inspections, and it’s very sad to inform a client when the test is positive. Homeowners exposed to Chinese drywall often report similar physical ailments and symptoms including acne, asthma attacks, bloody noses, congestion, coughing, hair loss, headaches, hives, irritated eyes, joint and muscle pain, miscarriages, nausea, nosebleeds, phlegm, rashes, runny nose, shortness of breath, sneezing, sinus problems, sore throat, tightness of the chest, trouble breathing, and urinary tract infections after being exposed to Chinese drywall. The gasses emitted from Chinese drywall corrode copper and metal surfaces. Corrosion of electrical wiring may hamper the effectiveness of smoke detectors, which presents a safety concern.”

It’s also been widely reported that Chinese drywall emits a smell of rotten eggs due to the release of the gasses mentioned above, specifically carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and hydrogen sulfide. Not only can wiring be affected, but copper plumbing, air conditioner coils, and even silver jewelry are commonly damaged by the effects of Chinese drywall off-gassing.

So how did this problematic product end up in so many American homes?

During the construction boom that occurred during the first decade of this century, the United States began importing a limited amount of Chinese drywall. These imports increased dramatically during the rebuilding phase following the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons as American-made supplies ran short, particularly after Hurricane Katrina. Because of this, most of the Chinese drywall installed in the United States during that time went into homes in the Southeast and Gulf Coast states. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity present in these particular states seems to hasten the release of gasses from Chinese drywall, causing complaints about the product to run rampant throughout the Southeast in the last few years.

Fortunately, as reported recently in the news, action is being taken to remedy the situation and bring some relief to homeowners who are suffering the side effects of having Chinese drywall in their homes. Numerous lawsuits have taken place, and one Chinese drywall manufacturer, Knauf Plasterboard, has already settled for hundreds of millions of dollars. Another manufacturer, Tiashan Gypsum, has been trying to get claims against them vacated, but earlier this month a federal judge refused to dismiss the claims. The IRS has also allowed homeowners who have had to repair their homes because of Chinese drywall to take a federal tax deduction.

Rep. Scott Rigell

As for the future, Congress is taking its turn with the Chinese drywall issue. Congressman Scott Rigell of the Virginia 2nd Congressional District (right here in Hampton Roads) introduced a bill titled the Contaminated Drywall Safety Act of 2012 to set chemical standards and labeling requirements for all drywall used in the U.S. The act passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week and has moved on to the Senate for a vote.

If you suspect your house may contain Chinese drywall, you will want to contact a licensed home inspector to confirm or deny your suspicion. There are also resources on the Internet to help you learn more, including the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the Consumer Products Safety Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

About Mary Elizabeth Allen

Mary Elizabeth Allen is the Marketing Director for The Real Estate Group and oversees the brokerage's marketing and social media efforts. She has worked for nearly two decades in the marketing industry and has also been involved in real estate for five years. A passion for branding is driven by her work on such well-known brands as STAR WARS, Dungeons & Dragons, and Capital One. Since 2007, she's been immersed in real estate, gaining perspective on the industry by working on the association side, consulting with nationally-known real estate trainers, and getting the view from the brokerage side.