Toxic Torts

How to Get Help If You Have Chinese Drywall Damage

A significant shortage of drywall during the US housing boom from 2004 to 2007 caused many builders to import drywall from Chinese manufacturers to meet the higher demand. Most houses containing defective Chinese drywall were built during this time period. Florida is estimated to have the most houses built with defective Chinese drywall, although many other states are affected, including California, Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina.

What Makes the Chinese Drywall Defective?

Millions of pounds of Chinese drywall used in the building of houses were contaminated with waste material. This waste material can emit harmful sulfur gasses and other fumes causing major problems to the home and the homeowner.

Symptoms of Defective Chinese Drywall

If your house was built during this time, you might be wondering whether your house has tainted drywall. Houses have various signs that indicate it's built with defective Chinese drywall:

  • Rotten egg odor
  • Corrosion of air conditioning and furnace coils
  • Corrosion of electrical and plumbing components
  • Corrosion of jewelry and guitar strings

Homeowners also experience health problems from the harmful sulfur gasses that are leaking into the air from the defective Chinese drywall:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Nose bleeds
  • Irritation of throats, eyes and sinuses
  • Sleep apnea
  • Coughing
  • Asthma

All of these problems force many homeowners to spend thousands of dollars trying to remove the tainted drywall and replace personal property that's been contaminated.

What Do I Do if I Have Defective Chinese Drywall?

If you're experiencing any symptoms of defective Chinese drywall, ask a qualified air conditioner technician or your homebuilder to conduct a visual inspection. If defective drywall is discovered, talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Prompt action is important since many builders and developers are filing for bankruptcy protection or closing their businesses. Any delay may make it more difficult to receive satisfaction on a defective Chinese drywall lawsuit.

There're multiple class action lawsuits that have been filed over defective Chinese drywall. Discuss with your attorney the possibility of joining in one of these lawsuits.

Fraudulent Schemes Related to Chinese Drywall

You must be careful of scams that take advantage of consumer fears of Chinese drywall problems. The schemes usually involve false tests to determine defective drywall and quick cure remedies. The presence of defective drywall can't be determined by testing the air. It can only be determined through visual inspection.

Also, if defective drywall is found during a visual inspection, it can't be fixed with quick-cure remedies. These remedies may actually make the problem worse. Hire a licensed contractor with a good reputation to find and remove the defective drywall.

Tax Deductions for Damage

Homeowners can now claim a federal tax deduction for Chinese drywall damage. Amounts paid to repair drywall damage can be deducted as a casualty loss on federal tax returns.

Here are a few details about taking the deduction:

  • The deduction applies to losses caused by imported drywall installed in homes between 2001 and 2008
  • You may claim the deduction for drywall damage repairs to your personal residence or household appliances
  • You may take the amount paid for repairs as a casualty loss in the year you made the payment
  • You generally have three years to file an amended return to claim the deduction if you already filed your income tax return for the year you paid for the repairs
  • If you aren’t seeking coverage for the loss through insurance or a lawsuit, you may claim a tax casualty loss for all unreimbursed amounts paid for the repairs during the year
  • If you do have a pending claim for reimbursement, you may claim a loss for 75 percent of the unreimbursed amount paid during the year to repair the damage
  • If you’ve already been fully paid for the damages, you can’t claim a loss

To learn more about the deduction, read Revenue Procedure 2010-36 at the IRS website.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What should be my first step if I think my house was built with defective Chinese drywall?
  • Is there a Chinese drywall class action lawsuit that I could join or do I have to file an individual lawsuit?
  • Could my house have defective Chinese drywall even if it was built before 2004?
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