EIFS are visible on the exterior of your house. This means that you may have water damage throughout your home.
EIFS stands for Exterior Insulation and Finish System. It’s commonly called “stucco”, but it’s not real stucco. It is synthetic stucco. The terms EIFS and stucco are interchangeable in this article.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution published an article on November 4, 2008, about Post Properties, which is based in Atlanta. Post has apartment complexes across the USA. Post will spend $40-45 million dollars to repair over 11,000 apartments with water damage from improperly installed EIFS.
This was a popular construction method in the 1990s. Post’s CEO and President David Stockert told analysts Tuesday that they no longer use this method. Stockert stated that insurance will only cover a small portion of the damage.
The $45 million cost is a small fraction of the damage that synthetic stucco can cause to single-family homes across America.
In the past twenty years, millions of single-family homes have been built with stucco exterior finishes. Stucco is beautiful, easy to install, and has energy-saving features. It can also look like stone or other masonry finishes.
As a claims adjuster, however, I have seen very few residential stuccos that were properly installed. Nearly all EIFS-clad houses I have ever seen had water, mold, and termite damage to the stucco. Sometimes, the damage is so severe that the houses must be condemned and torn apart.
Construction Defect liability claims that involved stucco were a lot of my time. There is no building material that has caused more bankruptcies of American builders than stucco. As stucco products age, more home damage is being discovered.
A few years back, I was able to inspect a large, three-story stucco exterior home with a wood frame in Athens. The damage was discovered by the owners when their wife walked up to the bay window of the dining room and fell through the wooden floor.
Water damage was found on all four sides and at every window and door opening. Worse, termites had been living in the house for years and the water behind them made it a perfect breeding ground. The home was estimated to be worth $439,000 and was valued at $500,000. The foundations were rebuilt and the house was demolished. The claim was paid by the builder’s insurance. The exterior of the new house did not have stucco.
EIFS manufacturers provide shop drawings for builders to follow when installing EIFS. Flashing must be applied around any door or window opening, according to the shop drawings. Flashing is a metal piece that prevents water from entering the stucco. In millions of homes, however, the builder just puts the stucco on top of the door or window, and then seals it with caulking. This saves time and money on flashing.
It takes only a few months for exterior caulking crack and to separate. Water will seep through the stucco when it rains.
Water can get trapped behind EIFS if it is not careful. Many homes have a layer or “housewrap” of plastic sheeting that acts as a vapor barrier underneath the stucco. Vapor barriers that keep moisture out can also keep moisture in. The EIFS traps water behind it, creating the ideal habitat for termites. It provides food and water. They will stay until they run out of food and water.
Unprotected homes can be destroyed by termites. Termites can also cause damage to or complete destruction of a home that is protected. To survive, termites need only three things: Access…a way in.
2. You need moisture to drink.
3. Wood is the main ingredient in food. All wood products can be found on the termites’ menu: walls, floors, plywood and trim, windows and doors, as well as walls, floors, plywood and trim.
Another problem with stucco is the fact that builders run the product along the exterior wall, then landscape up to it. Termites can easily infiltrate stucco that has come into contact with the soil.
What’s the point of telling you about stucco-covered homes? Your homeowners insurance policy will not cover your damages. Your homeowners policy will not cover wet rot. Exclusions are also included in the standard HO-3 policy for insect damage. Mold and mildew damage are also excluded from the policy, which is often found near water damage.
It is a good idea to have a contractor or home inspector inspect your home. Pay attention to the trim around your windows and doors. If there is no metal flashing between stucco and door or window trim, it means that the stucco was not properly installed by the builder. There is a good chance that your interior water damage has already begun.
Last but not least, you won’t be able to sell your house without first making repairs.
If you discover damage and your insurance company refuses to cover your damages, you will need to inform the builder of your home that you are making a claim under his Liability policy. As you start the process, I recommend you consult an attorney.
EIFS that are not properly installed in any building can cause financial ruin and nightmares. Do not be a victim! Find out your rights and fight for them!
Two special reports are available at no charge. The first is “5 Things to Do When Shopping for Car Insurance” and the second is “5 Avoidable Things When Shopping For Car Insurance.” Each of these are worth $9.95, but you can get them all for free by signing up for my newsletter below.