Chinese drywall homeowners to receive settlement

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

Shelby County homeowners dealing with Chinese drywall may finally have some good news.

The German company that manufactured the Chinese drywall, Knauf, agreed to a pilot program in October 2010 in which the company would remediate 300 homes with Knauf Chinese drywall. In the summer of 2011, Knauf expanded the program to 1,000 homes, according to attorney Eric Hoaglund of the law firm of McCallum, Hoaglund, Cook and Irby in Birmingham.

“As of yesterday (Dec. 15), Knauf, the manufacturer who was doing the pilot remediation program, announced a global settlement of all pending suits against Knauf, which involves three choices for homeowners,” Hoaglund said.

First, homeowners can choose to participate in a remediation performed by Moss Construction. The second option involves the homeowners hiring a contractor separate from Moss Construction.

“You can hire your own contractor to fix the home, to do remediation work, with some limitations,” Hoaglund said. “I don’t have the settlement documents yet, so there are a lot of questions about that portion of it. We’re not real sure how that step is going to work yet.”

The last option is a cash-out option.

According to Hoaglund, the cash-out option will not include the $8.50 per square foot for move out cost. Also, this option provides a $4-per-square-foot discount from the remediation cost, which is discounted off the actual square footage of the home.

According to Hoaglund, at least 50 to 100 Shelby County residents will be affected by the settlement.

Jim and Carol Howard, whose Dunnavant Valley home was built with Knauf Chinese drywall, think they qualify for the settlement due to numerous inspections. are unsure of what settlement they’ll receive.

“We are delighted there will be something going on,” Jim Howard said. “It addresses the structure of the houses and doesn’t address the pain suffering and obvious ill health that some people have had.”

Carol Howard said the settlement is “the greatest Christmas gift for people like us.”

“We have mixed feelings about all this. At this time, we don’t know what the right decision will be,” Carol Howard said. “If they pay the money to us, we may go and leave the house. That would be unfortunate for those who live around us. It’ll be difficult for us to leave a house we both wanted.”

Hoaglund said construction will begin in six months to a year.

“I think they will begin to fix some homes in Alabama the first quarter of next year, but I have no firm dates for when construction starts,” Hoaglund said. “We have a whole lot of legal hoopla to go through before the settlements are final.”

The settlement is only available for homeowners who filed claims against Knauf prior to Dec. 9, 2011