Stucco is the plaster used on top of the masonry and wood frames for many houses. It is found on homes especially in the southwest, Texas, and southern states like South Carolina down to Florida. A material that is made of cement, sand, and water, it is found readily in these areas. In addition, it is easy to paint over and does well in areas of the south that are dry regions.
However, it is also used in homes built in wetter climates and can have issues no matter where you live. What is a stucco inspection? It is an inspection of the stucco that consists of 3 parts: Siding identification and preliminary visual inspection, non-invasive inspection, and moisture probe and invasive inspection.
Let’s take a look at why this is important, cost of home inspection versus stucco inspection, what a stucco inspection is (3 Phases), how to fix it, what happens after the stucco inspection, do you need it, and why have a stucco inspection.
Why This is Important
Stucco is an easy application and cheap for installation. It is important that when building the house, the stucco was applied correctly and given the appropriate dry time. Many homes are built with improper stucco applications so it is important to speak with your home inspector about your stucco siding.
However, it is difficult to see this inside the walls. Sometimes staining on walls and cracks will give us a good indication that moisture is inside the walls, but more investigating is needed. If your realtor recommends having the inspection or you see stucco issues with neighbor’s houses, then an inspection is definitely worth it.
Stucco is Checked During a Home Inspection
During a home inspection, an inspector will do a visual inspection of the home and use a moisture intrusion meter or an infrared thermography camera to check for moisture in the stucco. An inspector will also look for cracks and bulging stucco.
However, it is not as extensive as a stucco inspection. A home inspector would advise you to have a contractor further evaluate if there is enough evidence of problems.
Cost of a Stucco Inspection vs. Home Inspection
A stucco inspection ranges from $600-$1200 depending on the square footage of the home, the area where the house is located, and other factors such as ease of access.
A home inspection will check all areas of the home and is about $250 and higher depending on the same factors listed above.
What is a Stucco Inspection: 3 Phases
A stucco inspection consists of three phases:
Phase 1: Siding Identification and Preliminary Visual Inspection
This is the early phase and allows the inspector to identify the type of stucco on your home. In addition, the inspector can get information about any deficiencies that may be known about the type of stucco or any faults in the siding installation.
Phase 2: Non-Invasive Inspection
This is “walking the property” with the inspector to do a visual look of the stucco. Things such as cracks, staining, also if there is head flashing above the windows or kick out flashing by the roof and wall intersections will be looked at.
If these are missing, this could lead to an issue with water coming into the home. The inspector will also ask the homeowner if there have been other issues with water coming in, such as through a window or through the home in other places.
Let the Inspector Know About Water Issues in the Home
This is the time during the inspection to let the inspector know about water in the home. Maybe water has been coming in from the roof because the downspouts aren’t far enough from the house . They should be 4 -10 feet away and if not, water may have come in through the home.
Many companies will use a thermal imaging camera in order to get a good idea of how widespread the moisture intrusion is in the home. This should be done in the evening when the house has cooled down to get the best reading.
However, it will only pick up the water that is on the surface area. Thus the moisture probe is needed to find where the water is inside the home. The inspector doing the thermal imaging must be trained to do this. It requires knowledge of the process to make sure the readings are correct.
Whatever it is, letting the inspector know is important as many of these issues are caused by cracks in stucco or poorly installed stucco but can be fixed.
Phase 3: Moisture Probe Testing or Invasive Inspections
In this phase of the inspection, two small holes are drilled into the stucco. A moisture probe is stuck into the holes and goes behind the stucco . This probe checks for moisture in the wooden part of the wall.
The inspector will also test areas near the first floor windows, roof, and wall intersections. Furthermore, the inspector will look to see if there is any decay present. Then, the wooden part, also known as the substrate, is checked to make sure it is dry and solid. After this is done, filling the holes with sealant and paint is next to match the home.
In this phase, if the inspector is able to get into the interior areas of the home, such as the basement, he/she will check for water intrusion. The areas the inspector will look at are near the windows to see if water has come in.
How to Fix it
If there is evidence that water has come in, then checking that the fascia is angling away from the home is important. If there is missing flashing, then adding flashing as well as cleaning the gutters too are important. All of these things can lead to mold in the basement, which will create bigger issues for you.
After the basement, the inspector will check the attic; looking at the roof for leaks and also in the areas near the vents for any evidence of moisture. It is important to keep this area dry so mold does not grow here.
What Happens After the Stucco Inspection
A report is made on the findings and the visual views of the moisture intrusion are noted. Then there is a summary checklist, a mapping out of the issues, and recommendations of the next steps.
If there are a lot of issues, the removal and replacement of stucco on a 3,000 square foot house can cost about $35,000 and up! It is even higher, at $75,000 and more if the sheathing needs replacing.
Do You Need a Stucco Inspection
Well, you can look around the outside of the home and see if there are any moisture issues. These will show as staining on the walls, cracks, or improper flashing.
If you see this, you may want to hire a professional to do a stucco inspection. A professional can use a moisture probe to check the moisture levels in the walls. Then a thermal inspection is done to check the moisture on the surface. A report then is written for you for the next steps.
Why Have a Stucco Inspection
Awareness of Issues
- If you are selling the home, you are able to provide potential buyers with a moisture free home. This will be a great selling point and will attract offers.
2. If there is damage, it is found early. Finding damage early can save you a lot of money and also headaches down the road. Maybe there isn’t damage but the inspection uncovers other issues in the home that can now be fixed. Having this knowledge will allow you to be stress free.
3. Even if you are not selling the home, knowing what is causing problems will make you feel better.
Stucco is a very popular building material, but like all things, application needs to be done correctly. Unless we are there when the stucco application is done, then it is a guessing game for any homeowner whether it was done correctly.
If you are having issues in the home, contact us or leave a reply below. We are professionals and can do the stucco inspection and help you resolve the problems!