Townhome owners battle toxic drywall

(Chinese drywall update; FL) KB Homes claims there is no Chinese drywall in the homes, but tests confirm there is. KB and other builders want homeowners to sign a release to get repairs, with no guarantee the repairs will be adequate.

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by Warren Elly

BRANDON - Three years ago, Palm River Townhomes sold fast. The prices were great, and so was the location, right off the Crosstown Expressway to downtown.

But just over a year ago, many homes started smelling like sulphur. Pets and humans got sick, and those who could afford to started leaving.

Toni Acquaviva was among them.

"I moved out, my choice. I'm still paying my mortgage, but I can't take the smell," she said.

Many of the people who bought here were young people, and this was their first home, their American dream that has turned into a nightmare. Acquaviva's silver jewelry has turned black, and some others say they've had AC units replaced four times after the copper coils turned black.

The number one suspect is toxic Chinese drywall, but at first, Palm River Homeowners' complaints brought a letter from builder KB homes that declared, "no evidence of Chinese drywall."

Yet when Carol Greco went out of town, her symptoms went away.

"I came back and I was here two hours, and I had a headache and I was sick, it's just awful," Greco said.

Greco's neighbor' tests have come back confirming defective wallboard that's emitting sulfide gas.

But KB, in a statement to FOX13, says they "received a relatively small number of claims, KB has the resources to make the necessary repairs, we will stand by our homes."

Yet KB and other homebuilders want the drywall victims to sign a repair agreement that they say gives homeowners no recourse if the repairs don't work.

"You get a one year warranty and that's it, they're exempt from everything," Acquaviva said.

"I say don't sign it", says attorney Michael Goetz. His firm, Morgan and Morgan, is lead counsel in Florida for a federal class action suit.

"They're providing only a very limited warranty and at the present time there is no approved protocol to remediate a home that has Chinese drywall," Goetz said.

It's a toxic problem then, that no one understands how to safely fix -- yet as many as 30,000 Florida homes may be affected.

http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/dpp/news/local/Chinese_drywall_081809