Another Chinese Drywall Remediation WarningJul 24, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Chinese drywall victims should very careful about any remediation that is done on their homes, a leading forensic investigator is warning. That's because remediation protocols have yet to be established, and if not done correctly or adequately, remediation of homes with Chinese drywall could lead to even more problems.
The warning follows another caution about remediation issued by Parker Waichman LLP last week, the Bonita Springs law firm that filed the first Chinese drywall lawsuit in federal court. The firm said it had been hearing from Chinese drywall victims who had been harassed by builders into signing unfair, one-side remediation agreements.
In most cases, builders are refusing to do any type of remediation on Chinese drywall homes unless homeowners agree to their terms. And in most every case, those terms are proving costly to the homeowner, as they are required to give up almost all of their legal rights. These agreements release the builder from all current and future claims of liability. They also assign all of the homeowner’s rights to sue other responsible parties – such as drywall manufacturers – to the builder. The agreements do not provide for compensation for many of the homeowner’s losses including damage to personal property, reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, diminution in market value, inability to refinance, detriment to credit resulting from default and/or foreclosure, and loss of enjoyment. And while homeowners are paid a per diem to cover the cost of alternative housing while work is being done, they are not reimbursed for any mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, insurance and/or Home Owners Association fees, or other expenses that accrue during that time.
Builders are apparently making a lot of empty promises and other oral representations about the scope and nature of the remediation that are simply not reflected in written agreements homeowners have signed. Many homeowners also claim they were told that permitting their builder to remediate a home is the only legal remedy available to them – something that is just not true, according to Parker Waichman.
Now a new warning issued by Spiderman S. Mulholland, senior forensic investigator and national consultant with US Building Consultants and US Building Laboratories Inc., has provided another reason for homeowners to take a cautious stance when it comes to remediation. Mulholland is a leading forensic expert on building envelope, water intrusion, toxic mold, and Chinese drywall.
A press release issued by Mulholland's firm warns that remediation protocols have not been established, and cross-contamination is occurring. Even after Chinese drywall has bee torn out and replaced, out gassing of sulfur compounds and other elements continues to occur. In fact, remediation further jeopardizes public health when it is done without adequate safeguards or by unqualified individuals, the press release said.
"In our opinion, if people are remediating now, they are probably doing it wrong," Mulholland said in the release. "We have been warning builders, remediation companies, and homeowners for months not to start the remediation process yet. Without a proven standardized protocol for remediation, a secondary crisis can occur on top of the main crisis, essentially having to remediate a second time."