Back in 1997 before ANY realtors in Atlanta were even aware that EIFS (fake) stucco was going to be a major issue in home re-sales; I sent an email letter to agents that I knew personally.
I told them of the problems with EIFS that were coming to light in the coastal areas of North Carolina. At this time, most inspectors here had not run into major problems with stucco nor had realtors experienced the bias against stucco that is common now. Some of you may think, what bias? Well ask any experienced realtor and they will tell you that many buyers do want stucco homes, many realtors steer their buyers away from stucco homes, and some company relocation programs disqualify stucco homes from being eligible for the buyback program.
At the time of my letter all of this had not existed. Somehow my letter found its way into the possession of EIMA; the national EIFS stucco manufacturers association. They threatened to sue me if I did not “cease and desist” with my efforts to letting my realtors know of the coming conflagration with their product. Since my attorney firm was one of the five name firms that had the backing of the Georgia Association of Home Inspectors, who wanted the publicity of a lawsuit, EIMA never made good on their threat.
At that time I was new inspector and this was my introduction to the “big time” as some would say.
Since then I have inspected and seen the damage caused by poor stucco installation. In fairness to the EIFS stucco manufacturers; I will say they make good products. Stucco has been around since the 70’s in commercial construction and has had few problems. However, in the low budget, low bidder, fly by night sub-contractor environment that was and IS residential construction, problems arose.
All stucco problems in residential construction can be traced to poor installation and failure to follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
I have been doing stucco inspections since 1997 and was among the first to buy the more expensive moisture meters that use radio waves to read moisture below the surface of materials. I already had the common pin type meter all good inspectors carry.
I use both, along with my eyes (and years of experience) and ladders. I do not use a thermal camera from 50 feet away as some do today. There are technical reasons for this and if I thought it was a better method, I would have purchased a thermal camera years ago. New is not always better.
I have saved clients tens of thousands of dollars by discovery of hidden stucco damage which allowed them to find another property to buy. In just one example, my client walked from a home which I guessed had 40k worth of hidden stucco damage, (I was guessing because damage is hidden and I am not allowed to tear open walls during a home inspection). My buyer purchased another home just down the street. They later met the buyers who did purchase the home. The latter party spent over 60k to repair the damage and their home inspector missed it all.
This was just a normal home inspection; I did not even perform a stucco inspection on this house. I knew the damage was there from the signs I pieced together based on years of experience. For me it is like connect the dots, when some inspectors do not even see the dots.
Nothing beats eyes and experience. I have that, and two forms of technology to help me.
Northern Inspections is an Atlanta, GA based Building Inspection company. We perform inspections all around the Atlanta metro area and the North Georgia region. If the zip code begins with 30 we probably go there, or will for a small additional fee. If in doubt, call us at 404-274-9435.