Toxic drywall leaves family with 'worthless' home - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Toxic drywall leaves family with 'worthless' home

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RIVERVIEW, FL (WFLA) -

Perry Garcia was thrilled to be able to buy his first house at the age of 21. He saved and started his home search for his growing family of four, including an 18-month old baby.

He found a listing for a townhouse in Summerfield in Riverview. He purchased the foreclosed home from Fannie Mae and began renovations.

"I thought I was doing the right thing," Perry said. "I was accomplishing things, providing for my family, going to work, get a house, pay the bills. I thought I was living the American dream."

But one day into remodeling his kitchen, he found toxic Chinese-made drywall, known to off-gas sulphuric gas that destroys appliances and could make people sick.

The drywall in the kitchen is stamped, "Made in China." Then he removed electrical outlet covers, exposing corroded wires.

"I saw the face on my stepfather and it was just white, he went completely pale, and he was just scared," Garcia said.

The home was built by Lennar in 2007, during the housing boom, when numerous builders, including Lennar, used drywall from China. Thousands of homes in Florida were built with the bad drywall. Many builders, including Lennar fixed homes or negotiated settlements. Others walked away.

But the big question is what happens to the homes that weren't fixed. Who is making sure new home buyers like Garcia don't get stuck with them? And what about the home inspection?

Garcia paid $325 to Zoe Fackler, of Fackler Home Inspection. Her inspection made no mention of toxic drywall, and she didn't recommend further drywall testing.

Fackler explains she does only a visual inspection and was not hired to check drywall. She says homebuyers worried about Chinese drywall should hire an inspector to check just for that. She doesn't conduct those types of tests.

"Chinese drywall inspections do include, and require, dismantling units, cutting holes in walls, lab testing," she said.

General home inspections, she says, don't include removing electric panels or outlet covers, so she didn't see what Garcia found. Garcia removed the cover on the A.C. unit to reveal blackened coils, a sign of possible Chinese drywall.

No one suggested Garcia might need a more comprehensive inspection. Not Fackler. And not his real estate agent, which also represented Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae spokeswoman Keosha Burns said Fannie Mae would never knowingly sell a home with toxic drywall. She said every home taken back in foreclosure is inspected. If an inspection showed this problem, the home would not have been sold, she said.

Fannie Mae's inspection missed the bad drywall, and so did Garcia's. So what now?

"We can't disclose something we don't know," Burns said. "It's not our property anymore."

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.



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