Wall Street Journal Summary

According to an article published in the 07/24/98 edition of The Wall Street Journal, the fund set up to compensate homeowners with defective LP siding is out of money. 

LP had agreed to pay up to $275 million dollars through the year 2002, and has put up $195 million so far.  As of this past March, claims had reached $365 million.  Lately, payments to homeowners have “slowed to a trickle”, and the fund will probably be depleted by the end of this month.  An estimated 48,000 claimants have received no money and new claims are pouring in at the rate of about 800 per week.

It’s unclear if the company will deposit any more money into the fund, and under the agreement, homeowners can’t sue until 2000.

So, what does this mean for you LP owners?
(This part is my opinion and does not reflect the article)

Well first, if you submitted your claim early and have been paid.. congratulations on reaping the rewards of being prompt.  Be sure and keep all of your records concerning the repairs in case you sell your home in the future.

If you’re in the middle group, who have filed a claim but haven’t been paid, you’ll have to sit back and hope for the best. You may be compensated, but I wouldn’t spend my days sitting on the porch waiting on the mailman.   If your home is on the market or about to go on the market, be ready to either get out the checkbook or discount the price of the property.  Many real estate disclosure statements require you to disclose if your house is clad with LP.  Even if you’re not required to disclose, you need to anyway.  If you’ve got LP and you sell the property without disclosing this, you may well wind up on the wrong end of a lawsuit, whether you know it’s LP or not.  

Finally, if you’re in the last group…those who have put off making a claim, it’s probably too late.  You may still have some recourse against LP, but probably not if they live up to the settlement terms.  It looks as though you’ll be footing the entire bill.  If you simply can’t afford to have it all replaced, I’d recommend that you replace any damaged siding before it allows water to damage the framing of your home.  If you’ve got siding that is functioning, take really good care of it.  Keep it meticulously caulked and paint it thoroughly, with a first class paint.  You’ll need to do this on a regular basis.

I suppose that if there’s a moral to this story, it’s “Investigate and Don’t Procrastinate”.  Sometimes products just don’t perform as intended.  If you find that you have one that doesn’t, pay attention and act quickly.  And remember, it could be worse.  You could have a home with asbestos insulation, radon seeping through the floor, Polybutylene water piping, LP on 3 sides and EIFS on the other, failing double paned windows, aluminum wiring, fire retardant roof sheathing, and the whole structure built on a trash heap.

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