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The Drywall Volcano.

              The Not Your Times

     REKYJAVIK―Recently it was announced that Iceland would be on the hook for all the chaos it inflicted on the planet by letting one of its volcanoes get out of control.

     Now I don’t know if you have ever tried to control a volcano but it ain’t that easy.  For one thing they are relatively unpredictable, Ice Landnon-communicative, un-cooperative, and down-right cantankerous----not to mention volcanic!

     So why shouldn’t those damn greedy Icelanders pay for the extended “holidays” of stranded travelers and pay for the spoiled sushi that couldn’t get off the ground in route to Tajikistan?  And what about all those insulated lunch boxes full of human organs that couldn’t get where they were going?  The economic impact, of the criminal spewing of volcanic ash all over Europe----especially the impact on the airline industry----is expected to be in the billions of dollars----or is that Euros?  Perhaps the worst “fallout” from this crisis is the disruption of European Futball schedules (That’s soccer to all us on this side of the pond)----now that is a real pain in the ASH!

And now on a different volcano----here in the States.

WASHINGTON―According to government statistics somewhere around 293,000,000 sq ft of Chinese drywall came into this country  during a period of peak demand after Hurricane Katrina.  Let’s “assume” (and you know what they say about ass-u-me) that all of this drywall went into residential construction----which it likely did not; and, that all of it was defective----which it likely was not.  At an average of 5000 sq ft of drywall per house, that amounts to about 58,600 houses with Chinese drywall.  Now of course there will be houses that were remodeled that ate up some of the stuff as well----but still----more or less----we are talking about .00045% of the total housing stock of somewhere around 129,000,000 units (2008).

     So let’s say that we have to throw $90,009.00 at each of these houses for repairs----that amount would be about $5,200,000,000  (that’s 5.2 billion dollars, for those of you that don’t want to count zeros)----a very large number in my mind----and equal to a very large number of college educations and/or “double-short-extra-tall-soy-chai-lattes.”  But, to put it in perspective we could pay to have all these homes fixed for the cost of running the Iraq war for one month. It is always about priorities after all.

     The “average” CEO of the top 500 companies in this country makes over $8,000,000 in pornographic bonuses----over and above their salaries----close to the amount that will supposedly be necessary to put a cork in the drywall volcano. 

     Repairs will be created for a jobs-starved economy.  Will it create hardship for some?  Of course----and that does not get past the fact that the Hot Icedrywall is here---it has been “screwed” in place----and consumers have been screwed----and it is not going to go away by itself.

     Some would argue that unlike problems created in the housing market by US companies, there is no recourse when it is a foreign country that creates the problem. 

     I think there is always recourse between any two countries that want to continue doing business with each other----whether they choose to act on that recourse is a “whole nuther” issue----not unlike whether an American company chooses to do the right thing----and how much of the right thing.

     So when the Chinese Volcano stops spewing its sulphuric gases----some new “opportunity” will rear its ugly head and attempt to ruin the US housing industry-----and someone will again lose their ash----while others make a fortune. 

     This is as American as Apple Pie.

 

Charles Buell

 

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Seattle Home Inspector

 

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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board

Comment balloon 35 commentsCharles Buell • April 22 2010 08:34AM

Comments

I think a few years down the line the CDW days will be remembered as the issue the started the change of the way we do business with China. I keep wondering how many homes in China have CDW and what their govt is doing about it, if anything.

As for CDW being the financial ruin of the American Family, just isn't so. There are too many untouched by the problem. Some people in fact, still have paneling.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 8 years ago

Charlie,

Good read, it gets a guy thinking. You are right that it is as American as Apple Pie. There will always be a few that make their bajilions off others suffering. We should all strive for win-win deals, that is also Apple Pie to America.

Posted by Dennis Chamberlain, Eastern WA Home Inspections (Eastern WA Home Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Glenn, man are you optimistic about foreign policy :)   Would be nice.

Dennis----when all else fails :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

The CDW issue has my blood boiling. We are WAY too dependent on the 'goodwill' of other countries, and this affects our ability to make things right...not that it should, just that it does...

Posted by Debi Boucher, "Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours ( Real Estate Showcase Photography) over 8 years ago

Debi, unfortunately lack of good will knows no borders.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Do you suppose if we pushed China too hard they would close our "line of credit"?  Thankfully my drywall was made locally :)

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 8 years ago

Charles - but the impact of this will be felt far beyond the arrived at 58,600 housing units. It appears that some locations have been receiving this tainted drywall since 2000 (i.e. Florida). But even if the number is twice that, it is still a small number relatively speaking.

Remember the lead paint issue with Chinese toys. That resulted in knee jerk regulations that had the potential to put the majority of American craft workers out of business. Just look at the potential impact that the recent ruling in Virginia might have on costs. And some lenders are now requiring testing for Chinese drywall before underwriting loans. Combine these with the new EPA lead paint abatement requirements that go into effect  today and costs for homeowners are going way up.

Posted by Mike Saunders (Lanier Partners) over 8 years ago

Tammy, we are one big economy now.  We are all dependent on each other whether we like it or not.

Mike----perhaps so----but it will never reach the levels of homes with lead paint.  I have a sense that in terms of home buyers these costs are going to most affect those at the fringes of being able to buy a house----you know the ones----the renters pretending to be home buyers :)  What was the "Virginia" ruling?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Virginia Chinese Drywall Court Ruling Link.

Posted by Mike Saunders (Lanier Partners) over 8 years ago

Thanks Mike----ouch.  Pretty much an entire interior gut----such a waste.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

My only comment:  They eat sushi in Tajikistan?? 

Well, not my only comment.  The stats are true, but for that local area, it does impact them more than it would us, here in the Great Pacific NW.  We've had our volcano, can we say "L-P siding"  Not all of it was bad, but when it was, it was horrid. 

Good post!! 

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 8 years ago

Carla----a little artistic license with Tajikistan :)  LP affected 800,000 homes in the US, Lead is estimated to be in 38,000,000 homes.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

A round of applause for you Charles!

This blog hits the nail on the head on so many levels.

Well, except for the Iclanders part of course!

Posted by Craig Rutman, Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor (Helping people in transition) over 8 years ago

Have you seen any effects of Chinese Drywall in the Pacific NW? My type of humor post!
I hope this has been a great day Charles!
Paul

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Professionals.) over 8 years ago

I wonder how many homes have asbestos.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 8 years ago

Craig, thanks----you gotta watch them damn Icelanders :)

Paul none yet---knock on wood----unless the import figures drastically change the stuff can't be everywhere.

Glenn, my guess would be that it would be similiar to the number with lead paint---maybe more

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

It is a tough situation all around and not an easy one to solve. I wonder how the diplomats will approach this. I believe if China were smart they would step up and act before they are asked to act (if they haven't already). They could buy themselves a tremendous amount of good will in the process while fixing a difficult problem.

Posted by John Thomas, EcoBroker, MSEE, MBA (E3 Green HOMES) over 8 years ago

Great article Charles. Judge Fallon in Virginia's ruling is just short of a full teardown rebuild and I think that's what it'll take. We're ground zero here in SW Florida, and I can tell you, this stuff is bad...it ruins A/C units, electrical wiring, appliances, jewelry...basically anything metal in a new home....The smell?...like a house of rotten eggs, and it gets into everything. A homeowner has no choice but to throw away everything they own. It's a real tragedy.

Posted by Jay Lloyd, Allpro Home Inspection (Cape Coral Florida) over 8 years ago

Charles, Great post.  It really does make you stop & think.  Iceland and their volcano makes it sound like a dog they didn't have a leash on.  I am stunned at the amount of Chinese drywall used after Katrina.  I'd be interested to hear what the drywall type & amount was after Ike here in Houston.   

Posted by Susan Brown (Keller Williams NE, Kingwood Texas (Humble & Atascocita too)) over 8 years ago

John, it will indeed be interesting to see how this all unfolds

Jay, sounds dang nasty for sure

Susan---kind of like the drywall they didn't have a leash on :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Charlie,

Looks like you stirred up nearly as much controversy as the time you posted the scantily clad photos of yourself here at AR. That was more alarming in my book.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Steve, I am sure everyone can agree on that.  However 22 comments is not much "controversy."

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

CDW is obviously a huge problem to those who are affected, but the media has made this issue seem so much larger, grander and to some degree sinister.  To play devils advocate for a moment, I would not equate CDW to the lead or asbestos known to be present in a vast numbers of homes across the country. CDW is a destructive element. You can not live in a home where it is present, you can live with lead paint and asbestos as millions do at this moment.

You have certainly put the problem into proper perspective; .00045%. Unfortunately such a small number does not have much media pizazz. An ant hill made into a cantankerous volcano is way more sexy and alluring.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jim, a very good point about the difference.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

I can't tell you how glad I was to read that it was "not my time".

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 8 years ago

Alan, you "New Your Times" will be coming :) (not sure even I can get my brain around this comment)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Charles - this is your times, this is your times on drugs.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 8 years ago

its about times

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Your 5000 square feet per house might be a bit weak.  I just added up my LR/DR (where I put the hardwood flooring) and they look to be about 1550 together.  So your 58,600 might be a bit weak too!  But, wow, it isn't weak if it's our house!

BUT WHAT ABOUT ARSENIC IN PRESSURE-TREATED DECKING!

I don't have a problem with CEO bonuses as they actually contribute something to our lives.  Now Tom Cruise making $83 million for "War of the Worlds" is a bit pornographic, but that is just me!

Absolutely volcanic!  Volcanic I tell you!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay, I agree with you about Tom Cruise----and would happilly add put him in the same boat as the CEO's

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Well, this too shall pass.  Unfortunately for the homeowners it will be difficult to head'em off at that pass.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Charles, wow! This is very well written & an enjoyable read. It amazes me that there are so many people in the "entitlement" age who expect the free ice cream cone if something goes wrong with life.

Posted by Don Wixom, "Looking out for your next move..."tm (RE/MAX Advantage Nampa, ID) over 7 years ago

Hi Don, thanks---man you are digging WAY back in the archives :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago
Take all that CDW and use it to cork those Islandic volcanoes, there by using one problem to solve anoher. If that don't work, just vulcanize the drywall. That seemed to work onall that rubber.
Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 7 years ago

Robert, you are digging deep in the archives today :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

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