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VA Lawmaker Visits Abandoned Chinese Drywall Home, Promises Action

May 18, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Virginia homeowners plagued by defective Chinese drywall received a visit from  U.S. Representative Glenn Nye, D-Norfolk, on Saturday.  According to, Nye met with about two dozen such homeowners after touring a home that one family recently vacated because of Chinese drywall.

Chinese drywall reportedly emits sulfur fumes that produce a “rotten eggs” odor and cause metals, such as air conditioning coils, to corrode. The fumes have also been associated with respiratory and sinus problems in some residents.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the U.S. imported roughly 309 million square feet of drywall from China during the housing boom from 2004 to 2007. While the first Chinese drywall complaints came from homeowners in Florida, it has become clear that the problem is a national one. Reports of defective Chinese drywall have now been recorded in Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

In Virginia, the construction supply firm Venture Supply has said it imported 100,000 sheets of China-made drywall between March 2006 and December 2008.   According to a lawsuit filed by a group of Hampton Roads homeowners, some of that drywall made it into the 240-unit Harbor Walk condo complex in Norfolk.  

One  builder in Virginia, The Dragas Companies, has acknowledged some of the homes it built have been the subject of drywall complaints. As we’ve reported previously, the firm is inspecting nearly every home it built in The Hampshires at Greenbrier in Chesapeake and in Cromwell Park in Virginia Beach. Dragas is also paying to fix homes with imported drywall and helping residents relocate for a few months while the work is being done.

Prior to meeting with homeowners at a church in Virginia Beach, Nye toured the home of the Nguyen family.  The family of five has been living in a trailer parked in the driveway of their  home for the past month.  According to, the family abandoned the home on the advice of their doctor after experiencing health problems that they blame on  tainted Chinese drywall. 

The homeowners told Nye that since moving into their borrowed trailer, their children have recovered from nose bleeds and other ailments.  During the tour, Nye saw first hand how metals in the home have corroded, ostensibly because of the fumes coming from the drywall.

Like many homeowners, the Nguyens  filed a lawsuit last week over the tainted drywall, but know it could be years before it is resolved.  According to, the Nguyens told Nye that they simply can't wait that long.

Following his visit with the Nguyens, Nye met with about two dozen other homeowners dealing with similar problems.  According to, they urged him to pass legislation to roll back taxes on their possibly contaminated homes, put their mortgages on hold, and stop the importation of Chinese drywall.

According to, Nye promised to work in Congress to find a way to help homeowners affected by Chinese drywall.  "Obviously it's a serious problem when you can't live in your home," Nye said. "This is a problem we've got to get on top of."

The Chinese drywall debacle has caught the attention of many other lawmakers in the U.S. Congress.  Legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate that would provide some relief to affected homeowners.  A Senate subcommittee has also scheduled a hearing on the drywall problems for Thursday.

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