The long, drawn-out saga of contaminated Chinese drywall in the U.S. market reached a milestone in December, as worldwide manufacturing giant Knauf offered to settle with thousands of American homeowners enrolled in a consolidated lawsuit in the New Orleans federal courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. Coastal Connection first mentioned the Chinese drywall problem back in March of 2009 (“ In Florida, A Plague of Bad Drywall”). Since that time, we’ve returned to the story dozens of times for updates, as drywall suppliers met homeowner and builder complaints with stonewalling, excuses, and evasions, as experts analyzed the material to understand the source of its corrosive fumes and obnoxious odors, and as lawyers representing manufacturers, builders, and homeowners faced off in a complex three-way process in Judge Fallon’s court. For a retrospective of Coastal Connection’s coverage, search for “Chinese drywall” on the website. The pilot program’s purpose was to demonstrate the efficacy of the prescribed remedies, and to get a better handle on the true costs involved. Now that the pilot program has had time to generate useful information, Knauf has extended its settlement offer to cover more than 4,000 additional homeowners who were not already involved in the remediation program. Bloomberg News has this report (“ Chinese Drywall Maker to Pay Homeowners to Settle Contamination Lawsuits,” by Jef Feeley and Allen Johnson Jr.). However, Knauf has committed to remediate any house whose owners are enrolled in the New Orleans lawsuit class, and who can demonstrate that the house was built using the faulty product, no matter how high the tab for Knauf. The full text of the settlement agreement is now posted as a 264-page PDF file on the federal court’s website (“ In Re: Chinese Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation”). Builder and remodeler Eric Stockland, who runs Charter Bay Homes in the Tampa, Fla. area, has been following the drywall story closely because Charter Bay is actively involved in the remediation business. (Stockland’s videos, posted on YouTube and on his Chinese drywall blog, are a highly useful source of information about remediation business practices and on-site techniques.) In a blog post on the settlement terms (“Chinese Drywall Relief Coming For Many Tampa Chinese Drywall Homeowners”), Stockton called the agreement good news for Florida homeowners: “The announcement is better than many of us who follow the committee even expected.” Members of the court’s class of plaintiffs will have three choices, notes Stockland: They can use the court’s selected contractor from the pilot program, Moss Construction; they can choose their own contractor, who will be paid via draws from the settlement award; or they can accept a lump sum. (According to the settlement document, the lump sum amounts to $8.50 a square foot for houses smaller than 3,500 square feet, and $10 a square foot for houses larger than 3,500 square feet.) But as Stockland points out, not all the bad Chinese drywall came from Knauf. “Unfortunately,” Stockton writes, “those homeowners who have Chinese drywall made by another manufacturer will not be helped by this settlement. Knauf is the most prominent of the Chinese drywall manufacturers, but there are at least nine (9) other Chinese drywall manufacturers which are not part of this lawsuit. Here in Tampa, in addition to Knauf, it is also common to find homes with non-Knauf Chinese drywall.”