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Evaluating Synthetic Stucco (EIFS)

Stucco, traditionally is a concrete-like building material. Many newer homes and condominium buildings constructed during the 1980s and 1990s have been made from a type of synthetic stucco known as “EIFS” (e-fis, which is short for Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems), which consists of a thin top coat of a stucco-like material set atop plastic mesh and foam boards. In condominium buildings, improperly-installed EIFShas been the subject of many lawsuits brought by homeowners associations against developers; while these suits did lead to settlements that fund siding repair, often homeowners in a condo development end up living behind protective tarps for months at a time and footing a large part of the bill either for the repairs or for legal fees. It’s definitely worth knowing about a building’s construction materials in advance.

While EIFS as a material has been popular with builders and can be quite study, if improperly installed the resulting water damage can be costly for a few reasons. During the 1990s it became apparent that installers often didn’t create adequate drainage systems to release water that might become trapped in walls made of EIFS, which can lead to moisture penetration. In addition, if windows and doors are improperly installed in a home, the result can be opportunities for water seepage. Thus, if the EIFS as well as windows and doors are improperly installed together, a home can begin holding water and damage can form undetected inside walls.

If you’re interested in buying a home or condominium built with EIFS or synthetic stucco, during your home inspection WIN experts will visually examine your home’s walls, windows and doors to determine whether water seepage has occurred and if there are visible flaws in the EIFS installation.*

*If inspectors suspect hidden damage, an invasive investigation by an EIFS expert may be recommended.

Curious about EIFS?