Recently, an IT software engineer with the surname He from Shandong, told his “heartbreaking” home buying experience on the internet. He spent nearly $1.5 million (10 million yuan) to buy a beautifully decorated house in Shanghai and discovered 52 construction errors during the construction. Because he moved to his new house to monitor the progress of building, he was plagued by various diseases due to the excessive amount of formaldehyde used. His health has not improved even after four years of treatment.
New Yellow River reported on August 1 that He reported that in September 2016, he signed a contract with the Lujiazui Group and spent $9.45 million to buy an apartment about 1,400 square feet (132 square meters) with basic furniture in Jinxiu Qiancheng residential area, Pudong New Area, Shanghai. According to the investor’s advertisement at the time, all the furniture and decorations in the house are made of high-grade environmental protection materials, and the interior decorations cost is as high as $592 a square foot (4,000 yuan per square meter).
In early January 2018, He and his wife moved to the new house. They felt good overall, but upon closer inspection they found many problems. “The toilet is almost attached to the side wall, there’s only a 3-inch space on the right side. I can’t even sit. In many places the marble is cracked, the paint is peeling, the wallpaper has bubbled, the laundry room has no electrical outlet, and the children’s rooms have no electricity, etc.” After a thorough inspection, He discovered that there were 52 defective construction problems. He recorded them and took pictures of each error.
He then met the contractor to report the situation, and until early March 2018 the contractor sent workers to repair the house. To ensure the quality of this remodeling work, He decided to stay in the new house to supervise the repairs. “At that time, there was always a strange smell in the house, but considering that the house has been lived in for 4 months, there was no problem. He said, “So I moved in by myself to live there.” But unexpectedly, after a few days, he developed bloody stool and a sore throat.
On February 7, 2018, He went to the hospital and was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection. The doctor said his disease could be related to toxic gases such as formaldehyde. After that, He symptoms grew to include nosebleeds, dry throat, cough, difficulty breathing, hair loss, painful joints, and swelling. At other hospitals, he was also diagnosed with a swelling of his nose , bronchitis, abnormal liver function, hemorrhoids, gallstones, gastritis with acid reflux disease, systemic polyarthritis, and a whole host of other issues.
Because he suspected that the decoration materials were not environmentally friendly enough, on April 28, 2018, He spent about $500 of his own money to have the Shanghai Institute of Test and Measurement Technology, a professional environmental assessment agency, test the house’s air quality in the presence of the person in charge of the interior decoration company. The test report showed that the amount of formaldehyde in the secondary bedroom exceeded the standard, and the volatile organic compounds in the master bedroom, secondary bedroom, and living room all exceeded the standard.
However, Lujiazui Group did not approve this test report. Entrusted by Lujiazui Company, Lanxin Environmental Monitoring Technology Co. Ltd. (Shanghai) also conducted an indoor air test report on April 25, 2018. The report concluded that everything in the house met the standard.
Regarding the inspection report by Lujiazui Group, He also disagreed as he suspected the report was fake.
In desperation, He filed a lawsuit with the Pudong New District Court stating the excessive amounts of formaldehyde and the volatile organic compounds that exceed the standard, in the homes built by the Lujiazui Group.
Lujiazui Group argued in court that He’s physical condition and document evidence could not determine that He’s poisoning was caused by formaldehyde. The company also conducted an air test and found that the formaldehyde is not above the standard. Moreover, He lived in the apartment during the renovation, so he is responsible for his infection. The Lujiazui Group decided to replace the interior décor up to $750 in compensation for humanitarian reasons.
Due to disagreement between the two sides, He made an application to the court for a forensic examination but was denied.
In July 2019, the Institute of Forensic Science issued a dispatch, stating that arguing that the matter exceeded the technical conditions and the ability of the court to determine, so it revoked the assessment. Although the court dismissed He’s lawsuit, it agreed that the defendant voluntarily paid He the $750.
He did not accept the verdict and appealed to Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate Court and the Shanghai High Court but was again rejected.
He told a reporter of New Yellow River, “This kind of result for me is unacceptable.” Due to excessive formaldehyde poisoning, which caused severe damage to his body and he was left with many abnormal health issues. After four years of treatment, he still could not get rid of it, so he complained to many departments.
In October 2021, after reporting to the Sixth Supervision Team of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, the case was referred to the Education and Correction Office of Pudong Court, but results are pending.
At the end of July, a reporter from New Yellow River called the Lujiazui Group to ask about the incident, and an employee said that it is necessary to contact Gong, a construction manager in the Jinxiu Qiancheng area. The reporter called Gong, but the person on the other end declined to answer.
Netizens said that there were 52 construction problems during the inspection of the house and the contractor only offered $750? “What they call humane here means nothing to me! The amount of money given depending on their mood.”