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March 26, 2012

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Apartment owners in 'made from paper' shock

Fittings in high-end apartments costing up to 4 million yuan (US$635,000) were made of "paper," it has been claimed.

Vanke Group, China's biggest property developer, admitted during the weekend there were problems in its newly-sold houses in the southern city of Shenzhen and promised to fix them.

The complaints come one month after flooring in Vanke houses was found to contain excessive formaldehyde, a substance which can be hazardous to health.

More than 140 buyers in Shenzhen said that wardrobes and shoe drawers in their apartments were made of "something like paper," which led to the items being damaged and prone to mildew, Xinhua news agency reported.

Other problems included chipped floors and excessive formaldehyde readings in some rooms, probably from the low quality of the materials used, Xinhua said.

The apartments became known as "paperboard" houses after the residents' complaints were made public on online forums.

Each of the owners paid 2.5 million to 4 million yuan to buy the apartments from Vanke, which claimed to have spent an average of 3,000 yuan per square meter on the apartment interiors. Vanke advertised them as the "best decorated houses in Vanke's history."

The owners got their houses from Vanke in December and January but soon found problems.

"We have found the problems in the apartments and we will change materials and furniture for owners," Yu Liang, Vanke's president, was quoted as saying yesterday.

The materials in question weren't used in any of the company's projects in Shanghai, Vanke told Shanghai Daily yesterday. The boards were used in a total of 300 apartments in six residential buildings in Shenzhen.

The paperboards were low-end products made from cheap materials which were vulnerable to water, experts told Xinhua.

Last year, Vanke saw its net profit rise by 32 percent compared to 2010, to 9.6 billion yuan, despite government curbs on the property market.

A month ago, formaldehyde content in A&W's Anxin flooring installed in one of Vanke's properties in Foshan, Guangdong Province, was found to exceed the national standard.

At the time, A&W apologized to consumers and said it was immediately destroying the flooring and replacing it.


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