Are You Purchasing A House With A Stucco Exterior?
Stucco in the Houston area
Stucco veneer walls offer a highly sought after visual aesthetic to many high end and luxury homes in the Houston area. While this visually aesthetic material is very visually pleasing it is paramount that it be properly installed.
Average yearly rainfall of roughly 50 inches, high humidity, and ambiant air temperature averages above 75 degrees. These three conditions make organic growth highly conductive in the greater Houston area. If moisture has penetrated behind a stucco veneer it is only a matter of time before costly damage occurs. Think of a stucco home as a wood structure with a cement exterior. If moisutre penetrates the cement exterior and cannot escape it stays trapped in the wood structure leading to rot, decay, organic growth, and indoor air quality issues (mold). This damage can be extremelly costly to remediate. Morrow Inspection Services has uncovered stucco damages on different properties that when quoted by repair specialist ranged from $10,000 all the way to $57,000.
Stucco failure and damage is not found on every home we inspect, but as a buyer or home owner having stucco thouroughly inspected is recommended as part of your due diligence.
Types of Stucco
Did you know not all stucco is the same? When purchasing a stucco home it is likley that you will just see the term "stucco" used for exterior cladding. There are actually several types of stucco claddings, but generally they can be broken down into three primary catagories.
A longlasting cladding system that is generally the most time and labor intensive of stucco veneers. This type of stucco includes a scratch, base, and finish coat that creates a 7/8 inch to 1 inch thick cladding.
Sometimes refered to as "two-coat", this system generally has a single base coat roughly a 1/2 inch thick with a thin finish coat. This style of stucco requires less labor and time to install.
Exterior Insulation and Finishing Systems (EIFS)
Sometimes referred to as sythetic stucco is essentually a "one-coat" system. EIFS is a combination rigid polystyrene insulation coated with a synthetic stucco.
The visual appearance of these three types of stucco veneers is very similar, but it is very important to know what type you are actually buying.
Types of Stucco Inspections
When purchasing a home with stucco cladding you have two choices when it comes to stucco inspections, visual or invasive.
Visual inspections are just that a visual inspection and written opinion of the performance of the exterior cladding. Red flags during this inspection are cracked stucco, poor grading (soil height), mildew growth, exposed wood substrate, improper weep screed terminations, missing weep screeds, missing flashings, caulked flashings, unsealed wall penetrations, sprinkler systems in need of adjustment, rust staining on exterior finish, etc. Morrow Inspection Services includes visual stucco inspections with all full home inspections.
Invasive stucco inspections are much more in depth than a visual inspections. Invasive inspections should only be performed by vertified stucco inspectors. Generally this type of inspection requires written conracts with both the buyers and sellers as it is "invasive" and requires holes to be drilled in exterior/interior walls. After holes are drilled specialized tools are used to determine the condition of the wood substrate. Both moisture and resistance readings are collected at various points of concern. If stucco damage is uncovered the final invasive report can be used by qualifed stucco contractors to deliver a quote for needed repairs.
If areas of concern are found during the visual stucco inspection Morrow Inspction Services can provide you with a list of qualified and certified stucco inspectors that specialize in invasive stucco inspections.