No question about it, Chinese drywall in a house depresses the building's market value. In Florida, a state Senate bill would require local tax assessors to take the bad drywall into consideration when appraising the value of homes, reports the Bradenton Herald (" Fla. lawmakers OK tax break for homes with Chinese drywall," by Duane Marsteller). Some town appraisers are already doing so, the paper reports: "Charles Hackney, Manatee County’s property appraiser, said his office has reduced the value of 80 properties with Chinese drywall by 50 percent across the board. Those reductions have taken nearly $7 million off the tax roll." But the Florida Senate bill would require assessors to go even further, setting the appraised value of the home for tax purposes at zero in cases where "the building cannot be used for its intended purpose without remediation or repair.”
But according to a story in the Tampa Bay Tribune, some houses with the tainted drywall have been able to sell for prices well above zero — if well below the price of uncontaminated houses (" Tainted homes can find buyers," by Shannon Behnken). Home buyer Andres Hernandez paid $280,000 for a 4,000-square-foot home in South Tampa, and paid contractors $40,000 to strip and replace the drywall. Now, Hernandez told the Tribune, he figures his new home is worth about $400,000. "I would never live in a home with the drywall," Hernandez told the paper, "but the problem is totally fixable." The scope of that required remediation is a matter of some confusion, reports Southeast Construction magazine (" Chinese Drywall Remediation Standard Already Evolving," by Scott Judy and Pam Hunter). But official specs increasingly require an extensive and thorough remediation process. An " Interim Remediation Guidance" document published by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, for example, calls for removal and replacement of not just the drywall, but also all house wiring, fire safety alarms, gas service piping, and fire supression systems. And a court order by Federal Judge Eldon Fallon goes even further, requiring the removal of carpeting and some flooring, as well as any cabinetry or other fixtures that hinder contractors in accessing and removing the drywall or mechanical systems. Fallon also ordered drywall makers to pay for replacement of appliances such as refrigerators, microwave ovens, and television sets.