Homes with stucco exterior surfaces can last a lifetime and have a unique aesthetic look that can be very attractive. Many homes are made with a stucco exterior. But because of the unique characteristics of this material homeowners are often unsure of how to address home inspection issues related to stucco. After all, it is a somewhat unconventional type of material when compared to more widely-used exterior building materials such as wood siding, aluminum siding, or brick.
Stucco Issues on an Inspection Report
• Maybe you live in a home with a stucco exterior and ordered a pre-listing home inspection. A more common scenario is that you had a stucco home inspected because you are interested in buying it.
• Either way, the inspector may have found issues that need to be addressed, and this article will help explain what to do to move forward now that you have that information.
• Study the inspection report carefully and if you have any questions, ask the inspector for answers or clarification. In many cases an inspector will recommend that you have a qualified contractor take a closer look at the potential problem to further evaluate it or offer options for remedying any problems they find.
• There are also cases where the inspector will suggest that there is no serious problem, but will recommend that you pay attention to your stucco exterior as part of your routine maintenance.
• That way you can spot any telltale signs of trouble before they worsen and either notify your inspector to return for a closer look or call a reliable contractor for their insight.
Typical Issues with Stucco
• You may see cracking or crazing in the surface of stucco on the outside of your home, but that does not necessarily mean there is problem or premature deterioration. Stucco is a product made from sand and cement applied in rather thin layers. As cement dries it may show surface cracking that is part of its natural character.
• Then again, if the mixture was not prepared or applied correctly, stucco can dry too fast and then deeper structural cracks may develop. These can be problematic because the stucco may chip away, or rainwater and other moisture may seep into those cracks and damage the unprotected building materials such as framing and insulation that are behind the stucco.
• At the bottom of your exterior walls, where the foundation and the walls meet, there should also be something sometimes referred to as a “weep screed.” This is a component that captures water that comes down the outside wall and the safely redirects it away from your foundation so that it does not cause erosion or leakage.
• The inspector may have noticed that these are not correctly installed or are no longer functional. They can sometimes be mistakenly covered up, for instance, which prevents them from working as they should. Installing a sidewalk or patio that was poured too high, for example, or piling landscape dirt against the home could block or bury the weep screed.
What to Do Next
Once you have had the opportunity to have whatever was flagged in the inspection report checked-out by a contractor, you can take action. If only routine monitoring is required, that can be handled yourself or by having the inspector return once every year or two. If a repair is needed, then you should get competitive bids for the job from at least three qualified contractors.
If expenses are involved and you are trying to resolve the issue in order to close a home sale, then normally the buyer and seller will negotiate and reach an agreement. The seller may do the repairs prior to closing, for instance, or give the buyer a discount or cash allowance sufficient to cover the cost of repairs which can then be completed after the sale is finalized.
It is also a good idea to have your inspector return to check on the repairs once they are done and ensure that they were performed correctly and solved any problems.