Home should be a castle, not a prison

Published 12:22 pm Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Last year, Jim and Carol Howard were typical Shelby County homeowners, moving into a beautiful home in Dunnavant Valley. It was the home in which they were going to retire and enjoy life together.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

Not long after moving in, the Howards began having problems with their air conditioner. They didn’t think much of it until discovering many people in their neighborhood were having the same problem. At that point, they knew things were terribly wrong.

Their home had been built using defective Chinese drywall, which gives off gases that cause silver and copper to turn black, breaks electronic appliances and gives off a rotten egg smell.

Now, for the Howards, their home has become a prison -— beautiful, but a prison all the same. The same can be said for at least 15-20 other houses in their neighborhood, which were also built with Chinese drywall.

Sadly, the Howards have been continually ill since moving into their home. Carol Howard suffers from asthma, which continues to worsen, and skin lesions. Even worse, since the Howards are the second owners of the home, they have no real legal recourse.

Instead of enjoying their house, they’re left to try to figure out what they can possibly do with it. Yes, the house can be fixed, but only at the exorbitant price of $89 per square foot —which likely means it would cost almost as much to fix the house as it was to buy it.

In their neighborhood, many of those gorgeous homes are sitting empty as owners simply give up and move away.

This sad story serves as a cautionary tale for all prospective homeowners. Take full advantage of your opportunities to learn everything about the homes you consider buying.

My husband and I have not yet bought a house, but you can bet when we do, we’ll get it checked out for everything possible — including Chinese drywall.