Uh oh, is that Stucco in the Pacific Northwest?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors

Uh oh Stucco (EIFS) in the Pacific Northwest

EIFSWe found the perfect home for my buyer yesterday. It’s a sprawling one-level home that’s been updated with top of the line appliances. An abundance of large windows let in natural light and open up to forever views. A neutral palette of tiles, paints, and carpet blend well with the gleaming hardwood floors and cabinetry. 

The .62 acre lot is ideal for this buyer’s active dog, and the large deck is suitable for soaking up the views, entertaining, and placement of pots filled with flowers and veggies. The Camas address, on Prune Hill, is a good one and the neighboring homes are all high quality. A fifteen minute drive gets you to Portland International Airport.

EIFS ( exterior insulation finish systems) - Synthetic Stucco

with DrainageThe only problem with this home is the synthetic stucco siding. In the 1980’s, a number of homes throughout the country were clad with EIFS. In fact, it’s common in Europe, where the systems are applied to masonry. Here, they are often applied to wood or gypsum - and the system can allow moisture to intrude through tiny openings around windows and doors.

The particular home was built in 1998, long after the controversy concerning rotting wood under EIFS. It makes one wonder why the builder chose this particular siding. Apparently, around the time this home was built, newer, drainable EIFS systems were introduced, and if installed properly tend to perform better.

However, we get a lot of rain in Camas, and the Pacific Northwest in general. Add driving winds, and in my opinion, it’s a recipe for problems. The listing agent insists this EIFS was installed properly and has been meticulously maintained by the home owners. In addition, she says an inspection failed to turn up any issues. 

In my opinion, the jury is still out. I’ve warned the buyer that the siding raises a red flag and could result in future costly repairs and replacement. At the very least, if she decides to make an offer on this home, it must be contingent upon a thorough inspection of the siding performed by a professional with a track record, specific training, and a solid understanding of EIFS.

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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

It is also important to keep in mind that traditional hard coat stucco and EIFS (or synthetic stucco) are not at all the same animal.  Each can have its own issues but should not all be discussed as "stucco."  Typically the word "stucco" when used alone as a word, means "traditional hard coat stucco."

Aug 28, 2014 10:57 PM #37
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Will and Belinda - Colorado, maybe - here, it seems like a curious choice, but I do see it quite often. 

Anita. Quite right - the same prescription I recommend.

Dick, it can be - we shall see, she is thinking and I'm researching comps. 

Aug 28, 2014 11:42 PM #38
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

If it is true EIFS then looking for the weep holes at the bottom of the wall will give an indication if it's a drainage system. There are EIFS specific inspections. They use specialized moisture meters and will also core if needed.

Aug 28, 2014 11:43 PM #39
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Francine - it is a good link and one I send to clients. I do know what you speak of...

Debbie, that true fact always saddens me.

Yolanda - it can be an okay option, especially genunie stucco - as with all siding, proper install and maintenance are critical. 

Aug 28, 2014 11:44 PM #40
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Aww, thanks  much Mimi. 

Joan, she is actually a good agent. The sellers, are quite meticulous with the home, and it does show in the condition. Apparently, they have had it inspected on a regular basis during their ownership. Most all inspectors say if there hasn't been a problem, it's not likely to develop. But, I get your point, tough to guarantee, huh?

Aug 28, 2014 11:48 PM #41
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Interesting analogy, Mike. I'm still doing research - and we'll see what she wants to do...

Aug 28, 2014 11:48 PM #42
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Debb, It was a big problem back in the 80's but I haven't seen any in years. You were wise to let the buyer know of the possibilites of a problem.

Aug 28, 2014 11:48 PM #43
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I'm on my second stucco home and it's my finish of choice.  I love it.  Knowing the product is key.  

Aug 29, 2014 12:40 AM #44
Barbara Altieri
Kinard Realty Group - RealtyQuest Team, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Debb -- Your direction to make the offer contingent upon an EIFS inspection is best. Good luck!  Hope it works out.

Aug 29, 2014 01:33 AM #45
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Yes, I cringe when I see stucco . . . but oddly enough, I grew up in a stucco house.  Only differnce was that was in So. California.  A good inspection should do the trick.  

Aug 29, 2014 02:39 AM #46
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

We had so many bad issues with EIFS in the Charlotte area, it's never used in construction any more. In our area, EIFS houses can sell at a good 20% discount to comparables who don't have synthetic stucco. There were builders in town who used EIFS who reclad those houses at their own expense rather than face potential lawsuites.

Aug 29, 2014 02:51 AM #47
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Debb, loved this title, as I would have that very same question! Also, you're such a smarty already being aware of the potential long-term issues that could be raised. An eye-opener for me and for your client who is totally in the right hands. 

*Feature*, missy, good for you! 

Aug 29, 2014 07:06 AM #48
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, GRI, WLS
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ

Debb I can see why there could be issues in a rainy climate combines with stucco.  As for my area stucco is the norm here.  I've had stucco for years and it's easy to maintain and to repair when needed. But....we don't get a lot of rain.

Aug 29, 2014 09:55 AM #49
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Geneva Financial, Llc. - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Debb: You know eventually the Feds will force a recall and there will be a class action suit, just like what happened with Masonite in the 60's. That or the EPA will declare it an environments disposal hazard and high tech and VERY expensive teams of remediators will need to be hired by homeowners to remove it. Just follow the money!

Aug 30, 2014 12:04 AM #50
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Debb, great post on the EIFS stucco, and one that buyers need to know about going forward into an inspection. 

Sep 01, 2014 11:07 PM #51
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Hi there, thanks for the recent comments. Stucoo and EIFS are different animals - stucco is actually preferable, in my book. EIFS is a sythetic stucco - but I'd make sure both types of siding were carefully inspected prior to any purchase. 

Sep 02, 2014 01:15 AM #52
Jack Tenold
Jack Tenold LLC - Spokane, WA
Specializing in Reverse Mortgages

Hi Debb.....Very sound advice.  I think of stucco as a southwest kind of siding material not a northwest.  Rain combined with wind sounds like the perfect storm that could spell trouble. I hope your client listens to you. 

Sep 03, 2014 03:07 AM #53
Marco Giancola
Beachfront Realty - Miami Beach, FL
Realtor (305)608-1922, Miami Beach Florida

Hi Debb-the case has been well presented and it is up to your buyers to proceed. I like to provide the facts and say "now you are aware-it's up to you"

Sep 05, 2014 11:11 PM #54
Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

My grandmother's 1930s house had a tan stucco surface.

Sep 09, 2014 08:25 AM #55
J P Moore

Without some kind of rain screen system, EIFS relies on a complete seal to keep rain out, but even then, there may be problems with moisture from inside the house getting trapped in walls and resulting in problems. With a properly installed rain screen system, you figure that rain will get past whatever siding is there, but build into the siding system a way for any moisture to escape through evaporation. The problem your buyers face is daunting. Destructive testing will reveal what's underneath, but if it's not a rain screen system, but there's no damage, then it's possible that the siding was properly sealed - but the destructive testing, by its very nature, breaks that seal. EIFS was popular, in part, because of the type of architectural details that could be created; changing to different siding can really destroy the beauty of the home, if the wrong type of siding is used as a replacement.I saw one home where an estimated $30,000 repair turned into a $360,000 remediation, and another where the purchaser negotiated a huge discount, had the siding torn out and replaced, and there was no damage under the siding.

Nov 11, 2018 06:23 PM #56
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