Your HomeTeamKC Report
April Issue: Stucco Problems
Welcome to the April issue of The HomeTeamKC Report. This monthly report provides REALTORS® and Homeowners with helpful information about residential homes from a home inspector's perspective.
On April 10, the Kansas City Star ran an extensive article about the problems homeowners in this area are encountering with stucco-finished houses. This issue of the HomeTeamKC Report includes two lengthy excerpts from that article.
We believe the problem of bad stucco is so important to understand, both for REALTORS® and Homeowners, that we are devoting the entire April HomeTeamKC Report to it.
Also, be sure to view previous issues of The HomeTeamKC Report. They are archived on our website. Over time we are collecting there an extensive library of top-quality information on the workings of a typical house.
It's been a busy Spring! Thanks for your interest and call or email us anytime with any questions you may have.
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What you’ll find in this issue of
the HomeTeamKC Report:
·Excerpts from the KC Star Article on Bad Stucco
·Quick Access to Our Current (January 2005) Pricing Sheet
·Monthly List: What to Do if You Find Stucco Problems
·Knowledge is Power: Stucco Installation and Potential Problems
EXCERPTS FROM THE KC STAR ARTICLE ON BAD STUCCO
- The stucco problem only recently surfaced across the metropolitan area. Elsewhere in the United States, it already has spawned class-action lawsuits and spurred home inspectors, city building codes officials and homeowners to take corrective measures before houses are destroyed.
Bad-stucco problems began to be noticed in the Kansas City area about two years ago. Because there were no codes that addressed stucco application, area codes inspectors said they seldom even looked at stucco on new homes.
“No one was going by any standard; there was no one way to do things right in everyone's mind,” said Jerry Mallory, director of the Johnson County building contractor licensing program.
But many today agree, Mallory said, that “we don't think it was being done correctly.”
In October, Mallory's group began holding seminars for contractors to call attention to stucco problems. Building officials have joined with the Home Builders Association to write a “best practices” guide to promote standards in applying stucco.
Stucco is widely recognized as a strong exterior covering for homes. Experts estimate that half or more of all homes constructed nationally and locally since 1990 were built with stucco.
If stucco is applied incorrectly, however, moisture can seep in through cracks, become trapped inside walls and result in rot that devours structural wood.
Gary Maylon, an Alabama stucco expert and owner of Metal Lath & Stucco Consulting Co., said that based on his experience and a review of some of Johnson County's newer neighborhoods, 20 percent or more of newer homes built in the Kansas City area with stucco may need substantial repairs.
- Seasoned builders say problems can develop when houses are put up too quickly. Other builders simply cut corners. But inspectors said workmen often just aren't aware of the complexity of applying stucco in such a way that keeps water out or allows it to escape if it seeps in.
More crews also began using a synthetic stucco that has an acrylic coating and looks like the more traditional and heavier Portland cement stucco that has been used for 50 years or more. Synthetic stucco, however, is spread more thinly, making it more susceptible to cracking if it is not applied correctly over fiber mesh used in securing it to the house.
In addition, the synthetic stucco — known as an exterior insulation and finish system, or EIFS — uses an insulation foam board that can trap moisture inside a wall. If the installers don't create a drain system for moisture to escape, it remains trapped and begins to rot the structural materials. Oriented strand board — a composite of glue and pressed wood commonly called OSB that's used in many new homes as structural siding — can soak up moisture like a sponge and crumble into chunks.
Inspectors in Overland Park so far have found improper or missing flashings around windows, bad or missing caulking, poorly installed window assemblies and incorrectly joined lathing under the stucco that causes it to bulge and buckle. New standards call for installing multiple sheets of special paper that allow water to drip away from the wall.
Builders said the problems are more common in newer homes because they are built to be tighter than older homes for energy conservation reasons. Older homes have the advantage of allowing moisture to vent more easily.
Inspectors also note that some newer homes are constructed with softer woods that, if not primed and sealed properly, are more vulnerable to moisture.
©KC Star, Problems Lurking Behind Bad Stucco Return to Table of Contents
If you find stucco problems:
- Have your house tested for moisture. Hire someone certified by one of the national construction inspection organizations. Prepare to pay $300 to more than $600.
- If you find damage, document it with photos and a written home inspection.
- Fix the home if the radon level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.
- Give the builder a chance to fix the problem. Many states require that you notify the builder in writing. Take advantage of any warranties before they expire.
- Get a correction plan in writing. If your builder fails to respond, follow up with complaints to county and state building and regulatory authorities.
- Seek advice from groups such as Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings at www.hadd.com or Home Owners for Better Building at www.hobb.org.
- Your last resort may be to contact a lawyer who specializes in construction-defect lawsuits.
©KC Star, Problems Lurking Behind Bad Stucco Return to Table of Contents
Knowledge is Power
STUCCO INSTALLATION AND POTENTIAL PROBLEMS
- The Three Coat Process
- Stucco Cracking
- Tudor Style Stucco Problems
- Synthetic Stucco - EIFS
- EIFS Installation Details
- Exterior Inspection Strategy for EIFS
- Interior Inspection Strategy for EIFS
The Illustrated Home Return to Table of Contents
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