Chinese Drywall Fix Coming for Florida Habitat for Humanity Homes

Habitat for Humanity says it will be gutting about 24 Florida homes it built with defective Chinese drywall. The homes were built between 2006 and 2009 in Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral, North Fort Myers and Bonita Springs with Chinese drywall donated through Habitat’s national organization.

This isn’t Habitat for Humanity’s first run-in with Chinese drywall. Earlier this year, the Sarasota-Herald Tribune, in cooperation with ProPublica, reported that Habitat built more than 200 homes with Chinese drywall in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans and then ignored homeowners’ complaints about corrosion and other problems in their homes.

For its part, Habitat denied that Chinese drywall was causing problems in any of its New Orleans homes. According to ProPublica, the nonprofit continued using Chinese drywall in its houses long after news of its defects had spread throughout the nation and long after most builders had stopped using it. Habitat didn’t start testing 280 homes it believes it built with Chinese drywall until ProPublica and the Sarasota-Herald Tribune began covering homeowners’ complaints.

Finally, Habitat began notifying New Orleans homeowners in August that it would gut the affected homes and move the residents into apartment complexes where they can live rent-free until the construction is finished. Habitat will also pay to store their possessions.

According to the Associated Press, the Florida Chinese drywall fix will cost Habitat $750,000, with renovations slated to begin in November.

Since late 2008, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received more than 3,600 reports from residents in 39 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico regarding defective Chinese drywall. Sulfurous gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. Some people living with the wallboard have also complained of health problems. The CPSC has recommended that homes built with defective Chinese drywall be gutted.

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