Chinese Drywall talk is riddled with hearsay.
Is it or is it not bad for your health? Must the drywall be replaced completely, or can a filtration system solve the problem? Will the corrosive elements cross-contaminate into other components of the home, or is it isolated in the drywall only?
These questions certainly have practical implications. After all, the answers to some of these questions will dictate how the drywall is actually repaired.
However, the questions also have implications in the legal arena.
Most notably in Louisiana, the severity of the damages related to corrosive drywall will be a large factor in deciding the question of whether the builder is or is not liable to homeowners for the installed drywall.
In previous posts here at the Chinese Drywall Blog, we discussed the Louisiana New Home Warranty Act and whether it will or will not create liability for builders who installed Chinese Drywall. Because of the Act’s wording, it may simply come down to how severe the Chinese Drywall damages are.
Under the NHWA, builders are liable to homeowners for any “major strucutral defect” for a period of 5 years. The question becomes, therefore, are the Chinese Drywall damages major structural defects?
If the damages can be remediated with a simple filtration system, you can count on the builders using this as evidence that the defect was not a major structural defect. If they are successful, the 1 or 2 year warranty period, as opposed to the 5 year warranty period, would apply, and many of the currently filed claims would be considered as tardy.
If the damages cannot be easily remediated, however, and require the replacement of all sheetrock, and even the replacement of some elements of the framing…the homeowners will argue that this more closely resembles a major structural defect. Accordingly, the 5 year warranty period would apply.
While knowing the severity of the damages is important to estimate the damage itself, and to understand how to fix the damages….the severity and scope of damages plays an even more important role in the litigation against builders who installed contaminated drywall. It may be a very important question to answer when deciding whether the 5 year NHWA period applies.