Volume 48, Issue 5 - September/Ocotber 2009

Window Guy

The Great (Dry) Wall of China
Why Was this Inferior Product Used?
by R. Mark Reasbeck, owner of Coyote Springs Window and Door in Las Vegas. Mr. Reasbeck’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.

As if the home-building industry doesn’t have enough problems, along comes another IMPORT-ant problem. The walls that hold your family portraits, are emitting sulfur-based gases, corroding electrical wires and consuming the copper in HVAC systems, mostly in Florida, but probably in as many as 25 states. If you do a Google search for “Chinese drywall,” you will see the many civic-minded attorneys who have just been given the “green” light to yet another P/I ambulance ride.


Up Against the Wall
Hardest hit in this drywall crisis is the Florida market. Lennar Homes is mentioned in most of the reports. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida’s 13th District is getting to the bottom of the problem by asking the Federal Trade Commission, The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to find out how the Chinese drywall got into the country. I’m going out on a limb here and guessing, “By ship?” There, I just saved a huge amount of paperwork and investigation.


The Walls of Fame
The big guns, Environmental Administrators Inc. (EAI), were called in to investigate the drywall problems. A gentleman named Rick Hollister of EAI issued an initial report on April 9, 2009. Included were these phrases: “premature to put a number on the event,” “have not determined a remedial protocol to clean up the mess,” “good luck getting money out of the Chinese,” “some contractors are not insured for this,” “Hell, we don’t know if it has embedded into the wood,” and the ever encouraging phrase, “I have met with the top experts.” The all-important question he didn’t ask is: “How did it get into the country?”

The bulk of the Chinese gypsum arrived before the release of the Import Action Safety Plan (IASP) written in July 2007 and released on November 6, 2007. By the content of the 68-page report and the 14 points of recommended action, the Chinese drywall would have still found its way here. Some of the inspired recommendations are as follows:

• Safety standards: create new and strengthen existing safety standards;

• Certification: verify compliance of foreign producers with U.S. and safety standards through certification;

• Good importer practices: promote good importer practices;

• Penalties: strengthen penalties and take strong enforcement action to ensure accountability;

• Common mission: harmonize federal government procedures and requirements for processing import shipments;

• Information gathering: create an interactive import-safety information network;

• Recall: maximize the effectiveness of product recalls; and

• Track-and-Trace: expand the use of electronic track-and-trace technology.

Now you see why I said the Chinese drywall would have made it here anyway. I don’t know. Call me silly, but how about something as simple as making the imported product pass the same ICBO or UL testing that American products must pass?


If These Walls Could Talk
So how did the Chinese drywall really get into the country? Answer: the U.S.S. Greed, pure and simple. I have sympathy for the poor homebuyer/owner, but disgust for all of the Wall Street builders, whose primary requirement is the low bid. This forces subcontractors and suppliers to find the cheapest products, so they can survive. So how is it profitable to ship a $5.00 sheet of drywall half way around the world to the Florida Peninsula, without it being inferior to any degree? It’s another mess that could have been avoided.

I am passionate about “Gettin’ America Back in Business” and invite you to visit my new project www.USAonly.us a website for American-made products.

Copyright 2009 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.