Family: Chinese drywall in home made daughters’ toenails fall off

Nov 18, 2011

The following article was posted to the website on November 18, 2011:

Family:  Chinese drywall made daughters’ toenails fall off

By Shannon Behnken


When the toenails of Patrick and Ilknur Bradshaw’s two young girls fell off this summer, they say their doctor blamed their house.

The Chinese-made drywall damaged their air conditioning unit and appliances, and they think it contributed to a multitude of other health problems. But the toenails were the last straw. They moved out weeks later.

“The doctor recommended we move out as soon as possible,” Patrick Bradshaw said. “Now, the house is going to sit here, unlivable.”

A month later, the kids’ toenails were back, and their respiratory problems were gone.

Thousands in Florida have toxic drywall, imported during the housing boom. While there has been no government link between the building product and health problems, the material emits a sulfur gas, which corrodes metal, smells like rotten eggs and makes homes worthless.

But what makes the Bradshaw’s story stand out is the timing. They bought their home in Tampa’s Easton Park neighborhood in late 2008 – after the drywall scandal hit the news. That’s part of the reason they say they chose to buy a new home instead of one that was a few years older.

“I was happy at the time, thinking, “Oh, they found the Chinese drywall problem and so now the builders won’t be putting it in houses anymore,” Patrick Bradshaw said. “It never occurred to us builders could still be using it.”

Most of the defective drywall was used during the housing boom, from 2004 to 2007, although some homeowners have reported bad drywall installed years earlier or later. The U.S. Department of Consumer Safety reported seeing some cases as late as 2009, although, that’s not as likely as during the peak years.

Not all cases are dealt with the same way. Some builders have chosen to replace the caustic drywall, some have done nothing, and others went bankrupt, leaving devastated homeowners to pick up the enormous bills.

Homeowner’s insurance typically doesn’t cover defective drywall and often drops insurance policies all together when homeowners report the bad drywall.

The federal government recommends replacing the drywall. Some homeowners have sued and won individual cases. Some joined class action suits and won, but didn’t get enough to fix their homes. Others are still fighting in court.

Builders say it costs, on average, about $100,000 to replace the drywall on a typical home. That’s because the home has to be stripped down the studs and rebuilt from the inside.

In the Bradshaw’s case, their builder, Mobley Homes, doesn’t agree that the drywall needs to be replaced.

The couple has ripped out walls to find the “made in China” stamp to prove their drywall is bad. But Mobley lawyer Len Johnson says that doesn’t prove anything.

“Not all Chinese drywall is bad,” Johnson said.

He said Mobley will offer homeowners, “a fix” for bad drywall, but only if the builder agrees it’s bad. He wouldn’t elaborate about what kind of “fix” the builder may offer but said it likely would not need to replace all of the drywall in home.

Mobley said it has fewer than a dozen homes where buyers think they have defective drywall.

In Easton Park, the Bradshaw’s next-door neighbor, Danny Dekle, is dealing with drywall issues, too.

“I have the black coils in the air conditioner,” Dekle said. “My ground wires are black, I’m just positive I have it.”

When the builder told the Bradshaws they don’t have a problem, they say they hired a private inspector, who took additional samples and advised the Bradshaws to move out.

But first, the neighbors tried to shame the builder by taping signs on their garages, informing passersby of their drywall troubles.

Mobley tested both homes and said the corrosion is indeed caused by sulfur in the drywall. However, the builder insists there’s not enough of it to cause a problem.

“In some homes, you have a mixture,” Johnson said. “Some rooms are bad, some are not. If we see there’s clearly a problem, we’ll offer a fix to the homeowner.”

Johnson said the home builder plans to offer to retest homes in Easton Park and test drywall for other concerned owners.

A representative for the other builder in Easton Park, MI Homes, said that builder does not currently have homeowners with toxic drywall in the neighborhood.

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