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WCI Communities, the Bonita Springs based homebuilder in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings, provided Chinese manufactured drywall to subcontractors who installed the product, according to a subcontractor who oversaw drywall on a WCI development.
Dennis Longley,wholesale nfl jerseys from china who had been a project manager for Distinctive Finishes, a Fort Myers based company, in 2005 and 2006 was told WCI would be supplying Chinese drywall the company was having shipped in by barge.
Longley said his company then had to adjust its contracts to subtract the cost of drywall. Two phone calls to Distinctive Finishes went unanswered this week.
“What a pain in the butt that’s going to be,” he recalled thinking. “It’s easier for the subcontractor to have their own materials. (Otherwise, it adds a) layer of management.”
A half dozen phone calls and e mails placed and sent to WCI spokesman Thomas Mulligan over two weeks went unanswered. The messages offered WCI an opportunity to respond to questions about WCI’s use of imported drywall.
Chinese drywall has been blamed for a sulfur like odor and chemical emissions tied to failing air conditioning units and corroding copper fixtures, such as electrical wiring. Some homeowners have also reported respiratory complications, itching throat and burning eyes.
The Florida Department of Health has received about 30 complaints throughout 10 southern Florida counties, including Lee and Collier.
Distinctive Finishes did 90 percent of WCI’s projects in Lee and Collier counties, according to Distinctive Finishes’ Web site.
Longley was not sure who manufactured the board but recalled Chinese markings on tabs that are used to secure together two pieces of board.
At least one company, Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., has been identified as delivering an unknown quantity of drywall, also called plasterboard, sheetrock and gypsum board, to the United States during the building boom.
Other Chinese drywall may have also been used because some people have reported board stamped with the word “China,” although no company name appeared.
Longley did not remember which WCI community had been built with the imported drywall, but remembered that his installers did not like working with it.
“It was definitely different,” he said. “The finished product looked the same. It was heavier, it broke different. When you’re installing the large sheets, you have to cut it with a razor knife and literally break the board. It’s usually a good clean square cut off break. The China board didn’t break that well; it was more jagged.”
It is unclear if the Chinese product used by WCI was from Knauf, which only made half inch board, said Knauf Tianjin spokeswoman Melisa Chantres. Rothchilt International was the importer.
Longley recalled that the Chinese product had also been used in garages that typically require five eighths of an inch board and fire safety standards. The Chinese product did not have fire ratings.
“That’s where the guy at WCI in charge of construction, he didn’t want it there at all,” Longley said. We stopped using it entirely.”
Several houses passed inspection with the imported drywall, however, he said.
WCI, with developments in Florida, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Aug. 4 as it faced about $2 billion in debt. Monday, according to a Dec. 15 notice published in the Daily News and five Florida and national newspapers.
“If they don’t file a claim, all bets are off,” said Mike Shuster, a corporate bankruptcy attorney for Porter, Wright, Morris Arthur who represents some creditors in the WCI bankruptcy.
While there is no way to know at this point what, if any, payments a creditor could receive, the claim has to be filed to be considered at all, he said.
Builders outside Florida may have used imported drywall even before the boom years created a shortage in domestic product.
After hearing media reports of a sulfur like smell and corroding copper linked to Chinese drywall, a couple from an Atlanta suburb believe they may have found clues to a four year mystery.
“I was just almost like jumping up and down,” said Sue Cardinal of Kennesaw, Ga. “It’s like somebody wrote my story.”
Since 2004, when the Cardinals bought their home in the Burnt Hickory Registry neighborhood, the couple spent more than $10,000 trying to uncover the source of the sulfur smell that permeated their 2,900 square foot home on Registry Lane.
They sought help from a geologist, air quality experts and plumbing companies. They pulled up carpet, painted and searched for dead animals in the walls. They even installed carbon filters and a radon mitigation system thinking it would clear other chemicals from the home.
The previous owners had reported water damage that had been fixed, Cardinal said, and air quality specialists had told her the smell would not have been caused by this.