Stuart Landscape

The Treasure Coast Discovers Chinese Drywall

Chinese drywall causes problems on the Treasure Coast!

The Treasure Coast's climate is tropical to sub-tropical and humidity is always high. When building in South Florida, it is important to incorporate features that counter the negative effects that humidity can produce. Unfortunately, the combination of the Treasure Coast's climate an the installation of imported tainted Chinese Drywall has caused a nightmare for many of its residents.

Treasure Coast contractors are now aware of the problems that "cheap" drywall can cause. Martin and St. Lucie counties are two of nearly a dozen counties where complaints of possible exposure to the contaminated drywall in new homes have arisen.

The problem may have been sparked by drywall imported during the local construction boom of 2004 through 2006.

The contaminated Chinese drywall may be emitting one of several sulfur compounds including sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide. While exposure to fumes from sulfur dioxide can create irritation and breathing disorders, exposure to hydrogen sulfide can be deadly. Add moisture to that toxic mix and everything in its path starts to corrode.

Some common symptoms are irritated eyes, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and symptoms similar to bronchitis and asthma. Those who have Chinese drywall claims in addition to severe health problems, must also deal with intrusive testing, expensive repairs and the costs associated with finding alternative housing while repairs are made.

Chinese drywall damages nationwide could reach $25 billion with each home costing about $100,000 to replace bad drywall, corroded electrical wiring and appliances. A large portion of that expense will be within Florida. With some builders voluntarily replacing bad drywall and other cases in litigation, it’s unclear who is ultimately responsible for Chinese drywall damage.

In subdivisions governed by a community association that have exposure to toxic drywall the scramble to avoid responsibility is bizarre. One condominium community, The Promenade at Tradition, has more that half of its units containing tainted drywall need to be gutted.

The Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes, charged with handling complaints and resolution for statewide condominiums, holds The Promenade at Tradition Community Association responsible for replacing the drywall.

Still, in June of 2010, despite federal agencies ordering the gutting of homes with Chinese drywall, a Tradition condominium association expected unit owners to continue living with the toxic wallboard while it located a multimillion-dollar loan for their units repairs.

Home builder are feeling the squeeze. One nationwide home builder, KB Home Treasure Coast, has filed a lawsuit charging a local Stuart Florida base company with supplying and installing defective Chinese drywall. KB Home Treasure Coast claims a division of Gateway Building and design Corp. of Stuart, Gateway Drywall Inc., “supplied KB Home with gypsum drywall that was manufactured in China ... and installed the Chinese drywall in residences constructed by KB Home in Orange County Florida.”, according to a breach-of-contract suit filed in September in Circuit Court in Fort Pierce, Florida.

An attorney for the Stuart based drywall supplier, in response to the lawsuit, said "Gateway Drywall Inc. has never used defective Chinese drywall".

The KB Home Treasure Coast tainted drywall suit in only of many being filed. According to a federal Consumer Product Safety Commission report (May 25, 2010), 2,069 homeowners in Florida and 3,602 nationwide have filed complaints about Chinese drywall.

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