St. Bernard couple finds Chinese drywall in home after it passes inspection

Published: Sep. 22, 2012 at 2:14 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT
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Elphage Kaufman walks through his gutted home
Elphage Kaufman walks through his gutted home

A St. Bernard Parish couple finds Chinese drywall in a newly purchased home after it passed inspection. Now, they want to know who should be held responsible.

Kristy and Elphage Kaufman purchased their three-bedroom home in Meraux last year. It was flooded during Katrina and rebuilt in 2008.

Within months of moving in last year, the Kaufman's were dealt a crushing blow. They learned the home had Chinese drywall.

"The guy came and he checked everything. He was pulling out receptacles and he told me, you're honestly getting a really good house for your money," Kristy Kaufman said of the inspector.

The home inspector did note in his report that he didn't do a check for sulfuric acid, which Chinese drywall emits. But being, first-time homebuyers, the Kaufmans didn't know they should hire another inspector to look specifically for that.

So, they thought everything was fine and purchased the home. Then, they got sick.

"I was pregnant and I had a miscarriage.  My oldest one kept complaining of sinuses," Kristy Kaufman said.

The Kaufmans want to know if the previous owner of the home knew it had Chinese drywall.

State Senator A.G. Crowe says anyone selling a home must sign a property condition disclosure, stating what may be wrong with the house.  If the owner lied about the condition of the home, they could be held responsible.  But in this case, two different inspectors also seemed to have missed it.

"If in fact they did get two different inspectors coming out and they did not find any Chinese drywall, and those people are the experts, trained if you will, I don't see how the homeowner in this case, the seller, could be held criminally liable," Crowe said.

At this point, the Kaufmans don't know who they should go after. Their insurance company won't pay for them to gut the house, so they're using whatever money they have to try and fix it.  They're hoping one day, they'll be able to move back in and finally feel safe.