Wall St Journal does feature on Chinese drywall ‘prison’

Beginning with the unfortunately typical story of a family looking for a new home to raise their family, the Wall Street Journal’s poignant piece on the uphill battle faced by families dealing with Chinese drywall brings more attention to the unfortunate situation. The piece opens

Shortly after buying their home in Cape Coral, Fla., in 2006, Keith and Denise Cramer noticed a peculiar acidic smell they thought was wet paint. The odor never left.

There were other strange occurrences. Chrome-plated faucets and showerheads became pitted or turned black. The central air-conditioning unit faltered and failed. Their baby son, Gavin, suffered frequent ear and upper respiratory infections, and Gavin and Denise got rashes.

The Cramers—along with thousands of other homeowners in Florida and elsewhere—now believe that imported Chinese drywall is making them sick and destroying their property. The drywall, which is used in walls and ceilings, is emitting sulfur-compound gases that homeowners have described as giving off a sour or “rotten egg” odor. Many blame the fumes for eye, skin and breathing irritation and nosebleeds, as well as the corrosion of copper pipes, electrical wiring and air conditioners.

The Cramers say if government tests conclude the Chinese drywall is a health hazard, they will be left with a difficult choice: “We will have to either ruin our son’s life by staying, or ruin our credit by walking away from the home,” says the 34-year-old Mr. Cramer.

An interesting item included notes the plight faced by the new attempts to sell homes that are bogged down by Chinese drywall and the neighbors who were not so fortunate

In Cape Coral, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Mr. Cramer, a youthful-looking man in a baseball hat, says he feels trapped. He says he has been unable to get the builder, locally based Aranda Homes Inc., to make repairs. The builder didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

Mr. Cramer and his wife, who is 37, paid nearly $315,000 for the property and home, but similar properties whose owners disclose the presence of Chinese drywall, as required by law, are selling for as little as $19,000 online. Mr. Cramer says he doesn’t have the money to tear out the drywall or to relocate while the home is repaired.

He can’t refinance, and his bank has indicated it won’t allow homeowners with drywall problems to skip mortgage payments while they seek a remedy. Homeowner insurance generally doesn’t cover construction defects. “If something happened and we had to walk away from this home, we’d lose every penny we had,” Mr. Cramer says.

An all-out mess but the more papers like the WSJ feature the problem the more those involved can hope that a plan and solution will emerge.

Contact Information