Stucco siding, the once crowning jewel of luxury homes, has recently become the villain in what is transpiring to be one of the gravest construction atrocities yet. Hundreds of southeast Pennsylvanian homes have been struck by stucco siding issues that were once thought to be merely cosmetic.
However, beneath the edifice of these grand households is an ugly truth: the water has been seeping in since the beginning, causing extensive wall rot. With the situation growing progressively worse as more issues with stucco siding in Pennsylvania are being uncovered, a serious question is raised?
How did these issues happen? And how can contractors stop such a problem from happening in the future?
The Stucco Siding Fiasco
In 2018, more than 40 people came forth to The Inquirer to talk about the thousands of legal proceedings underway that pertain to the collective crisis of shoddy home construction that took place in Pennsylvania during the early 2000s. Research done by The Inquirer alone was enough to find the following issues:
More than 650 homeowners across 55 different PA zip codes had suffered through repairs from water damage that cost anywhere from $10,000 and up. Some extreme cases had even spent over $100,000 in repairs.
The households affected in Pennsylvania are not an isolated incident but the epicenter of a nationwide surge of homes that were constructed hastily by inexperienced workers, low-cost materials, and lax project management by the contractors and code inspectors.
Although the exterior of the building might be unblemished, thin coats of stucco and other causes have caused the interior of these homes to rot. Some have become so unstable the residents were forced to leave. As you can imagine, for those who purchased luxury homes, the results of this water damage and the cost of repairs has been devastating.
Understanding How The Stucco Siding Problems Unfolded
But is faulty craftsmanship the only place to lay the blame for this water-logged building epidemic? Professional builders and inspectors agree that, yes, the problems have been developing since the time of installation. In most cases, the layers of stucco were so thin that moisture seeped right in; and with buildings being constructed differently than they were in the past, less air circulation through the insulation caused that water to collect for longer periods of time.
The correct way to install stucco involves several layers of materials, including asphalt paper, a single rain barrier with an air gap for circulation, a mesh layer, and then a few layers of stucco. Where roof edges meet, flashing needs to be installed to reduce the chance of seepage and direct water away from walls. Gutters, downspouts, and seals are also essential to constructing a water-tight building.
However, in the event, the flashing is improperly placed, or if the contractor is rushing to complete the job and cuts corners, or if any of the insulation and stucco layers are overlooked, there is only a matter of time before water starts to leak in. Furthermore, stucco naturally absorbs water.
These errors are the root cause of the stucco siding issues in southeast Pennsylvania.
Signs of Stucco Siding Problems
Much like the current problem unfolding in PA, the signs of internal damage because of stucco will go unseen for several years. Only when damage has occurred with the signs start to appear. For example, you might see exterior discoloration beneath the windows of your home, known as “stucco tears.” These tears are caused by mold and mildew.
Other issues include:
- Exterior cracking and flaking
- Missing or chipped caulking
- Stucco tears and other discoloration around windows, doors, electrical boxes, pipes, meters, and spotlights
- Pervasive scent of wood rot
- Water leaking into the house, damaging the ceiling, walls, and flooring
- Dry rot around windows
- Mushroom growth
Repairing The Stucco Epidemic
Many of the homeowners in Pennsylvania are now left with a choice of seeking retribution for their faulty and failing stucco siding, or do they move out of a home that could continue to give them trouble for as long as they live there?
This is why putting your trust in a professional, reputable contractor and ensuring your home has been inspected and is up to code is absolutely critical. When you are purchasing a luxury house, anything but the best is inexcusable.
There are ways to amend this stucco siding issue—and many Pennsylvania homeowners are already seeking repayment for their troubles from multiple contractors involved with the slipshod construction. However, if you suspect that your home could be hiding damage from faulty stucco siding, get an inspection done as soon as you can to find the structural issues before it is too late. Waiting even a year could exacerbate the problem and double, sometimes triple, the cost of repairs. Make sure your home has flashing, at least 3 layers of stucco with a 7/8” thickness, drainage paths, moisture barriers, and exterior sheathing. These elements should all come together in a seamless matter.
Fortunately, if any troubles are located during an inspection, stucco resurfacing can be done by professional contractors to aid in the prevention of further damages.
The takeaway from this stucco siding issue is this: that construction should never be rushed, and only high-quality materials should be used in the fabrication of new, luxury homes. When contractors aren’t given the time and corners are cut, disasters are only waiting to happen.
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