Court-ordered Chinese drywall inspections begin


ALLISON ROSS

PALM BEACH POST Homeowners’ efforts to get relief from their Chinese drywall problems are moving ahead as court-appointed inspectors began examining a handful of affected properties this week.

A house in the Cobblestone Creek subdivision west of Boynton Beach will be inspected next week. It and 14 other Florida homes will help set a protocol for other affected homes.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in New Orleans, who is overseeing consolidated drywall lawsuits, ordered the inspections. Thirty homes – 15 in Florida, eight in Louisiana and seven in other states – will be examined by Atlanta-based firm Crawford & Co.

Paul and Alli Sirota’s home, slated to be inspected Wednesday, is one of them. The couple has previously received independent confirmation that their home contains the tainted material, but this court-ordered inspection is meant to be an unbiased, consistent way of examining homes.

“I’m actually kind of excited, because hopefully that means that there will be a quicker resolution for us,” Paul Sirota said. “I would like nothing more than to put all of this behind us.” The inspections will not address health concerns. They will document odors, corrosion and other symptoms, as well as markings that may help identify the drywall manufacturers, distributors and suppliers.

Some Chinese-made drywall brought to the United States between 2000 and 2008 gives off a sulfuric gas that corrodes such metal components as air conditioning coils and bathroom fixtures. The gas has also been blamed by a growing number of homeowners on health problems.

Paul Sirota says he wishes that he had paid more attention when his wife complained of a strange smell in the brand-new house they bought two years ago in Cobblestone Creek.

“Since the day we moved in, she said that she smelled something,” said Paul Sirota, whose wife is pregnant with their third child. “I just thought it was new construction smell.

” Chinese drywall drove the Sirotas out of their $700,000 house last spring. Judge Fallon has said he expects to begin hearing drywall cases as early as January.

To date, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has documented 1,174 reports of defective drywall from residents in 24 states and the District of Columbia.

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By ALLISON ROSS Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


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