What should I expect in a masonry stucco inspection?

  • If you think your residence has a stucco cladding issue; an inspection report  should be based upon a recognized stucco cladding protocol.
  • If you think your residence should participate in a class action suite; the inspection report should specifically address any and all direct issues called out in the class action, as compliant or non-compliant with respect to each site. (Recommend: if you have a concern contact the main class action suite attorney or designated official)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

  • VISUAL INSPECTION BY PROPERLY CREDENTIALED STUCCO INSPECTOR
  • INVASIVE PIN MOISTURE MAPPING OF SUSPECT SITES
  • PHYSICALLY INVASIVE CORE SAMPLE (12”X12” open cladding)
  • CONCLUSION / REMEDIAL ACTION RECOMMENDATION IF PERTINENT

 READ FURTHER FOR MORE DETAIL

 Stucco plaster panel evaluations can be performed on residential properties. Each investigation should include / address / compare common construction deficiencies’ and possible mechanisms for moisture intrusion as relative to a recognized industry standard or specific plaster (system). Stucco inspections should be organized around three general methods, each of which may be performed with additional services such as architectural design, personalized qualified technical written reports, and/or more aggressive invasive moisture mapping and core sample.

 RECOMMENDATION

 Report visual observations as compared to basic standards such as ASTM C-926, ASTM C-1063, and ASTM E-2112. An alternative plaster panel cladding system evaluation REPORT may already exist, and may be considered upon investigation. A visual investigation by a qualified assessor / approach provides and identifies mechanism(s) for moisture management / mismanagement.

  1. Infrared thermal analysis support (optional) could assist with a mandatory invasive pin probe moisture mapping survey; providing an anomaly confirmation / indication of unusual site condition as a cladding performance result. Respective moisture content comparison and/or structural members’ integrity (soft or firm) would require invasive moisture probe and / or core sampling.
  2. Invasive – strategic locations evaluate physical site characteristics:
    1. Remove (example minimum 12”x12” plaster panel, exposing structural members) sections of plaster cladding panel
    2. Lath – accessory – fasteners
    3. Weather-barrier(s)
    4. Sheathing, sheathing fastening
    5. Structural framing
    6. Flashing – concealed and through-wall
    7. Weep system
    8. OPTIONAL – Petrographic Analysis (method represents the most definitive approach to identify plaster – plaster samples are submitted to an independent laboratory for petrographic analysis, which provides detail of physical characteristics such as types of aggregates and binders, layer thickness, and layer composition)

 CONCLUSION

 The written report  concludes with remedial recommendations.

What code controls the stucco cladding inspection?

ADVISORY: EACH AND EVERY PARTICULAR CONSTRUCTION PROJECT REQUIRES SITE EVALUATION/APPRAISAL

Why did the code oficial allow one half thick stucco cladding installation?

  • Official municipality adopted code, at a respective point in time (for the respective point in time – building/construction) should contain general language similar to:

The building official is hereby authorized and directed to enforce the provisions o f this code. The building official shall have the authority to render interpretations of this code and to adopt policies and procedures in order to clarify the application of its provisions. Such interpretations, policies and procedures shall be in conformance with the intent and purpose of this code. Such policies and procedures shall not have the effect of waiving requirements specifically provided for in this code.”

Refer to ICC Evaluation Service, A Subsidiary of the International Code Council (www.icc-es.org) free downlaod example: ESR-1607

  • Some one coat stucco plaster (3/8” or ½” thick) contains fiberglass and is referred to as (FRS) fiberglass reinforced stucco and is recognized as an alternative exterior wall covering to those specified in chapter 25 of both the 1997 uniform building code™ (ubc), the 2000 international building code™ (IRC), and section r703 of the 2000 international residential code™ (IRC). The plastering system is a proprietary cementitios mix (pre-mixed in manufacturers’ bags) for use on as an exterior coating reinforced with wire fabric or metal lath. It can be applied to substrates of fiberboard, plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), gypsum sheathing or expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation board on exterior walls of wood or steel stud construction.

(Recommend: ask your inspector to identify if your applied plaster is a manufacturers’ bag frs material).

  • PER TECHNICAL BULLETIN ISSUED BY THE PLASTER COUNCIL; Crack Policy:
  • EACH PLASTER MANUFACTURE SHOULD HAVE A PUBLISHED POLICY
  • THERE ARE TWO FUNDAMENTAL TYPES OF STRESSES THAT CAUSE STUCCO PLASTER CRACKS – INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL.
  • INTERNAL : NATURALLY OCCUR – STUCCO PLASTER DURING DRYING NATURALLY HARDEN AND GAIN STRENGTH
  • EXTERNAL: STRESS TRANSFER DUE TO OUTSIDE FORCES IN THE STUCCO CLADDING ASSEMBLY:
  • MOVEMENT OF FRAMING
  • IMPROPERLY APPLIED WOOD-BASED SHEATHING
  • SOIL MOVEMENT
  • LOADS ON BUILDING
  • CONSTRUCTION PROCESS – INCORPORATE CONTROL JOINT AND ACCESSORY INSTALLATION PER ASTM C1063
  • PER RESOURCE GUIDE ISSUED BY NORTHWEST WALL & CEILING BUREAU(NWCB); Portland Cement Plaster S•T•U•C•C•O
    • The NWCB is an international, construction trade association for wall and ceiling industry, representing the United States and Canada.
    • The NWCB has been serving the construction industry for over fifty years. It is recognized as a technical authority, educational body and spokesperson for wall and ceiling industry. It provides services to architects and the construction community on all matters relating to the diversified wall and ceiling business.
    • The basic scope of construction in the wall and ceiling industry consists of gypsum wallboard systems, fireproofing, lath and plaster systems, exterior plaster systems (stucco), exterior insulation finish systems (EIFS), ceiling systems, cold formed steel framing systems and other related products and systems.
    • THICKNESS ……..“PLASTER THICKNESS TABLES” refer to page 17. E. Basic stucco system should have a minimum thickness of ¾ inches (19mm), which can include a 1/8-inch (3mm) stucco finish. F. If a fire-resistance assembly is required, the minimum thickness of cement plaster must be 7/8 inch (23mm), which can include a 1/8-inch (3mm) stucco finish coat. If the finish is an acrylic finish coat or some other approved coating, the basecoat of cement plaster must be a minimum thickness of 7/8 inch (23mm). I. The soffit framing construction options for the basic stucco system are: 1) direct to a joist system, 2) suspended system, and 3) furring/sheathing system.
    • FIRE RESISTANCE ……. refer to page 11. “The fire-resistive stucco assemblies described in this guide are for reference only. They do not identify fire-resistive assemblies for a particular project. Proper selection of an assembly depends upon project and applicable building code requirements. The NWCB makes no representations as to the characteristics, properties or performance of any assembly.”
      • 1. For fire-rated wall assemblies, stucco must be 7/8 inch (23mm) thick or greater, measured…..”
      • 2. Fire-resistive ratings are based on total wall assembly (interior and exterior surfaces).
      • WATER RESISTANT BARRIER …. (Refer to the Guide Specification section 3.38-B. The recommendation is for two layers.)  Refer to page 51. B. Install a water-resistant barrier “WRB” as part of the stucco assembly. Water-resistant barrier, per F.S. UU-B-790A grade D 60-minute: spunbounded olefin housewrap for stucco system, or an approved weather-resistant barrier designed for a stucco system.
        • NOTE:
          • This guide requires two layers of Grade D 60-minute building paper or two layers of olefin house wrap over the wood sheathing. A combination of these two water-resistant barriers can be used. The first layer is to be the housewrap water-resistant barrier.
          • All flashing and water-resistant barrier to be installed in such a manner so as to prevent moisture from entering at all edges (tops and sides).

TERMINATION OF STUCCO at FOUNDATION …. Refer to page 97. NOTES: 1. At the foundation plate line and/or where the bottom of the stucco wall terminates, a continuous trim accessory consisting of a foundation weep screed is required. A specific design may provide for a casing bead or special trim. 3. The foundation trim accessory is to be installed just below the floor line wherever the wall is supported by a floor or foundation. 4. The water-resistant barrier (paper) is to extend past the floor line, overlapping the foundation screed flange.

How many layers of vapor barrier are required for stucco cladding?

  • PER 2003 INTERNATIONAL BUILDING CODE®

2510.6 Weather-resistant barriers. Weather-resistant barriers shall be installed as required in Section 1404.2 and, where applied over wood-based sheathing, shall include a weather-resistant vapor-permeable barrier with a performance at least equivalent to two layers of Grade D paper.

1404.2 Water-resistive barrier. Where required by Section 1403.2, an approved continuous water-resistive barrier shall be provided behind the exterior wall covering, or a secondary drainage system shall be provided to divert water out of the wall system to the building exterior. Where asphaltic felt is used, it shall be a minimum of one layer of No. 15 asphalt felt, complying with ASTM D 226 for Type 1 felt, and shall be attached to the sheathing, with flashing as described in Section 1405.3, in such a manner as to provide a continuous water-resistive barrier behind the exterior wall veneer.

1403.2 Weather protection. Exterior walls shall provide the building with a weather-resistant exterior wall envelope. The exterior wall envelope shall include flashing, as described in Section 1405.3. The exterior wall envelope and its drainage system shall be designed and constructed in such a manner as to prevent the accumulation of water within the wall assembly by providing a water-resistive barrier behind the exterior veneer, as described in Section 1404.2 and a means for draining water that enters the assembly to the exterior of the veneer, unless it is determined that penetration of water behind the veneer shall not be detrimental to the building performance. Protection against condensation in the exterior wall assembly shall be provided in accordance with the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code.

Exceptions:

1. A weather-resistant exterior wall envelope shall not be required over concrete and masonry walls, designed to resist water penetration and detrimental effects from freeze/thaw cycling and in accordance with Chapters 19 and 21, as applicable.

2. Compliance with the requirements for a means of drainage, and the requirements of Sections 1405.2 and 1405.3, shall not be required for an exterior wall envelope that has been demonstrated through testing to resist wind-driven rain, including joints, penetrations and intersections with dissimilar materials, in accordance with ASTM E 331 under the following conditions:

2.1. Exterior wall envelope test assemblies shall include at least one opening, one control joint, and where required one wall/eave interface and one wall sill. All tested openings and penetrations shall be representative of the intended end-use configuration.

2.2. Exterior wall envelope test assemblies shall be at least 4 feet by 8 feet (1219 mm by 2438 mm) in size.

2.3. Exterior wall envelope assemblies shall be tested at a minimum differential ressure of 6.24 pounds per square foot (psf) (0.297 kN/m2).

2.4. Exterior wall envelope assemblies shall be subjected to a minimum test exposure duration of 2 hours. The exterior wall envelope design shall be considered to resist wind-driven rain where the results of testing indicate that water did not penetrate control joints in the exterior wall envelope, joints at the perimeter of openings, or intersections of terminations with dissimilar materials.

1405.3 Flashing. Flashing shall be installed in such a manner so as to prevent moisture from entering the wall or to redirect it to the exterior. Flashing shall be installed at the perimeters of exterior door and window assemblies, penetrations and terminations of exterior wall assemblies, exterior wall intersections with roofs, chimneys, porches, decks, balconies and similar projections and at built-in gutters and similar locations where moisture could enter the wall. Flashing with projecting flanges shall be installed on both sides and the ends of copings, under sills and continuously above projecting trim.

What is a weep screed? What is the weep screed purpose?

The Foundation Weep Screed is used to provide a weep mechanism as part of the drainage system as required at the bottom of all framed walls; by all major building codes and the International Building Code in ASTM C1063. The larger holes in the ground flange are drainage holes as the entire surface of the sloped ground provides for drainage once the stucco has hydrated and shrinkage has occurred. The 3-1/2″ nailing flange serves as a flashing when water resistant, breathable building paper or paper backed lath is installed over the flange.

Weep screed provides a straight and true screed surface at the base of stucco walls, while allowing excess moisture to escape the back of the stucco membrane. It is important for the water-resistant backing paper and metal lath to overlap the nailing flange of the weep screed in order to guide the water to the exterior. Check with local building codes for the proper clearance above grade. This bead is required by most building codes in the United States.

Several manufactures and several types of weeps, screeds, and casing beads for the exterior plaster industry are available. All are manufactured to tight tolerances using hot dipped galvanized steel that meets ASTM, Federal Specification, and FHA specifications.

Casing beads, sometimes referred to as stop beads, are available in either an expanded or solid flange, and with or without holes for weeping. All casing beads are delivered in cartons to protect the product until installation.

Weeps screeds do exactly what they are designed to do: weep water away from the structure through a series of holes.

How does an inspector determine if lath is proper?

BY WEIGHT – SCALE: ASTM 847 CONTROLS THE LATH INSPECTION PROCEDURE.

What plaster material basic specification controls application?

  • MOST PLASTER MANUFACTURERS’ REFERENCE – ASTM C926
  • MUNICIPALITY ADOPTED CODE
  • MUNICIPALITY ADOPTED ICC EVALUATION SERVICE REPORT (example: ESR-1607) free downlaod at www.icc-es.org

What instruction/site direction controls lath installation?

  • ASTM C926 REFERENCES ASTM C1063 and ASTM E2112
  • MUNICIPALITY ADOPTED CODE
  • MUNICIPALITY ADOPTED ICC-ES EVALUATION REPORT

Does an inspector have to be licensed in the state of SC conducting a stucco inspection?

YES, IN THE SATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/pol.asp) CAN PROVIDE AN INSPECTOR LOOKUP.  ANYONE PERFORMING AN INSPECTION IN THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA MUST HAVE A STATE LICENSE ISSUED BY SOUTH CAROLINA RESIDENTIAL BUILDERS COMMISSION. THE PERSON MUST BE REGISTERED AT THE COMMISSION.

Can an inspector perform work on a home if they have conducted an issued a paid report?

(http://www.llr.state.sc.us/pol.asp) REFERENCE (STATE STATUE ARTICLE 3; SECTION 40-59-500) (per section 40-59-580)

  •  “ (1) makes a false or misleading statement in that portion of a written report that deals with professional qualification or in any testimony concerning professional qualifications;”
  • “(2) engages in an act or omission involving dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation with the intent to substantially benefit a home inspector or other person or with the intent to substantially injure another person;”
  • “(3) engages in an act of fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit in the making of a home inspection;”
  • “(4) pays a finder’s fee or a referral fee to a person in connection with an inspection of a residence;”
  •  “(5) fails or refuses without good cause to exercise reasonable diligence in developing a home inspection report, preparing a report, or communicating a report;”
  •  “(6) accepts a home inspection assignment when the employment itself is contingent upon the home inspector reporting a predetermined estimate, analysis, or opinion or when the fee to be paid is contingent upon the opinion, the conclusions, analysis, or report reached or upon the consequences resulting from the assignment;”
  • “(7) performs work or improvement to a residence upon which the home inspector performed a home inspection within the previous twelve months;”
  •  “(8) employs fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in obtaining or attempting to obtain a license or renewal of a license;”
  •  “(9) commits an act or acts of malpractice, gross negligence, or incompetence in the performance of home inspections;”
  • “(10) practices as a licensed home inspector without a current license;”
  •  “(11) engages in conduct that could result in harm or injury to the public;”
  • “(12) engages in an act or practice violative of any of the provisions of this article or a regulation promulgated by the commission under this article or aids, abets, or assists a person in such violation.”

What is mold?

  • (http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldresources.html)
  • What is viable mold? Viable mold is another term for “living” microbial  growth. Microbial growth is affected by water. All viable mold colonies’ require a water source. (could be considered an unusual condition)
  • What is non-viable mold? Non-viable mold is the term used to describe mold spores / hyphal fragments – making no distinction between dead and living spores.

What is a thermal image?

Simply a thermal image is a snap shot in time, and depending upon the machines detector resolution, the selected image surveys surface temperatures – radiation of the site image. Thermal image equipment does not not see through building components.

  • Technical non-contact equipment, line-of-sight measurement technology can measure surface temperatures of virtually any surface. Some instruments’ claim absolute temperatures can be measured with accuracies better than 3%, while relative temperatures can be measured with accuracies better than 1%. Advisory: shrubbery obstructing can affect results. Thermal imaging should only be used to supplement / assist in a stucco cladding investigation.
  • What is “emissivity”? That amount of radiated energy is proportional to a factor called emissivity.  The practical effect of lower emissivity is for ir instruments to indicate a lower temperature than the true surface temperature. For this reason most systems and instruments provide the ability for the operator to set them to a value which corresponds to the value of the object being measured. Thus; the instrument operator needs to calibrate. Time of day, weather conditions, wall direction relative to the sun, all affect image results.
  • Thermal imaging should not be the sole source of a stucco cladding inspection. Thermal imaging should support the investigator report conclusion. Wall probing and moisture mapping (not excluding core sampling) should be embedded in any stucco cladding report.
  • Moisture or water vapor moves into building cavities in three ways: 1) With air currents, 2) By diffusion through materials, 3) By heat transfer. (one compelling reason, not to completely rely on a thermal imaging snap shot in time)  Of these three, air movement accounts for more the majority of water vapor movement in building cavities. A vapor retarder and an air barrier serve to reduce this problem, but are not necessarily interchangeable.A vapor retarder change/slow the rate of vapor diffusion into the thermal envelope of a structure. Other wetting mechanisms, such as wind-borne rain, capillary wicking of ground moisture, or accessory intersections , air transport, are equally important in a wall cavity design.The industry has recognized that in many circumstances it may be impractical to design and build building assemblies which never get wet. Good design and practice involve controlling the wetting of building assemblies from both the exterior and interior.The use of a psychrometric chart is useful for determining the dew point of a wall cavity.

Invasive probe mapping and/or core sampling is the only true method to confirm, within reasonable certainty the presents or absence of detrimental moisture conditions.

Why is a thermal imaging camera detector resolution important?

When selecting an inspection using thermal imaging; ask about critical camera technology when evaluating thermal camera use as an investigation tool.

A report will be generated from a camera technology, directly relative to the respective cameras features / precision.

Many infrared cameras have fewer pixels than visible-light cameras, so pay close attention to an inspection cameras detector resolution.

higher resolution infrared cameras can measure smaller targets from farther away and create sharper thermal images, both of which add up to more precise and reliable site measurement / comparisons – relative to each targeted site. (inspection site by site)

Also, be aware of the difference between detector and display resolution. Some manufacturers will boast about a high resolution LCD and hide their low resolution detector when it’s the detector resolution that matters most.

For instance, LCD resolution may spec at 640 × 480, but if the IR detector pixel resolution is only 160 × 120, or 19,200 pixels, then the greater display resolution accomplishes absolutely nothing. The quality of the thermal image and its resulting measurement data are always determined by the detector resolution.

Higher resolution thermal imaging not only provides more accurate quantitative results, it can be very effective in showing findings in finer detail to customers, supervisors, repair crews, moisture investigators and insurance companies which can help move along the decision-making process.

An instrument current calibration / appropriate current chain of custody traceable to the appropriate bureau of standards are additionally compelling to an image report.

Superior IR image quality is also valuable when generating clearer detail site reports.

Some other factors affecting camera technology are use capturing reliable report data are:

Hand held / fix tri-pod methods, interfering reflection examples: from the sun and cloud cover, weather conditions, immediate previous weather events, time of day, typical measurement errors – camera position / angle to target, heat or cooling dwelling cycles, wall cavity components which make up – create perm / dew point values – building design science (normally concealed on initial evaluation)

Does stucco cladding installation affect moisture intrusion issues?

  • Yes; some systems are homemade systems and some are manufacture supported systems.
  •  Homemade systems comprise themselves of mixed manufacturer components, general do not have a warranty.
  • Manufacturers’ system comprises themselves of a series of components which create a water management system; general is warranted supported by a cladding manufacturer.

When replacing a stucco cladding system with a masonry system, do the doors and windows have to be removed from the wall cavity rough opening?

  • DEPENDS ON HOW FENESTRATION OPENING WERE ORIGINALLY WATER MANAGED – RECOMMENDED; MASONRY STUCCO CLADDING SYSTEM ARE CONSIDERED AS WATER MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS AND PER MOST STUCCO CLADDING PLASTER MANUFACTURERS’ REQUIRE THE PLASTER TO BE INSTALLED PER ASTM C926, REFERENCING ASTM C1063. (ADDITIONALLY: IF A WINDOW OR DOOR ASSEMBLE WERE ALLOWING DRAINAGE TO PASS INTO THE WALL CAVITY AREA THE ASSEMBLY SHOULD BE REPLACED – INVESTIGATOR SHOULD IDENTIFY APPROPRIATELY)
  • CURRENT MUNICIPAL CODE WILL REQUIRE THE ROUGH WALL CAVITY OPENING BE PROPERLY WRAPPED TO PREVENT DRAINAGE FROM RE-ENTERING THE WALL CAVITY.
  • CONSEQUENTLY ADVISE; WHEN DOOR OR WINDOW IS REMOVED CONSIDER: DRYWALL, INSULATION, REPLACEMENT WINDOW/DOOR, CONCEALED WOOD MEMBER REPAIR, TRADES SERVICE EXPENSE.

How will a stucco class action suit affect the value of my home?

Please contact Mr. Stephen V. Linsday directly @ 843-785-4444 (slinsday@sc.twcbc.com)

As a South Carolina professional licensed home inspector: Property Inspection Service, Inc. cannot value property. (QUOTE)

“However, a certified residential real estate appraiser is qualified to address this issue. Stephen V. Linsday, State certified residential Real Estate Appraiser, #CR51 was asked to reply to this question. His reply is that the owner must first ascertain whether or not the defect in question is a “curable depreciation” or is it an “incurable depreciation”.

A curable depreciation is defined as a depreciation or defect in which the cost to completely repair the defect is less than the market would deduct from proposed sale price that includes the defect. In this case the owner/seller would be better off fixing the defect and then selling the property. He would then be able to net more proceeds in the end.

Incurable depreciation is simply the polar opposite, where the market would deduct less than the actual cost to remedy the defect. In this case, the defect is considered to be incurable, because the seller would net more in the end by not fixing the defect. For example, a crack in a concrete driveway may cost $10,000 to replace the driveway, but a potential buyer would only deduct $1,000 in his offer because of the crack. The owner in case would net more in the end by not fixing the defect.

Comment: The problem with defective stucco is that you typically do not know the extent of the damage until you start taking off the defective stucco. In addition to replace the defective stucco, there could be wood rot, termite damage and/or damages to windows and doors. In my appraisal experience with defective stucco, the homeowner typically replaces the defective stucco and repairs the damages. The main reason for this is that the problem with not replacing the defective stucco, is that any potential buyers will also not know the full extent of the defect or damages. The unknown extent of the defect and/or damages will typically drive the buyers to a home that does not have the defect. In the cases that I have experienced, the owners quickly realized that the defective stucco was curable depreciation and that they where better off fixing the defect and/or damages in the long run.”