Updated: Oct 29, 2018
What You Need to Know BEFORE Buying or Selling a Stucco Home | Houston, Texas
In the Houston / Gulf Coast area, one of the best building materials to use is stucco. It’s also one of the worst building materials to use. How does that make sense? Let me explain.
Stucco is NOT the problem. In commercial construction, there are inspections conducted during each phase of construction. Thus, these structures are held to higher quality standards. In residential construction, a whole-home inspection is typically conducted once - when the home is almost complete. Since the bulk of these are 'visual' inspections, the underlying issues are covered and not detectable until years go by and the mold, cracks and leaks appear. For this and other reasons, it is imperative that new construction buyers conduct a framing inspection prior to the installation of sheetrock. At this stage of construction, an inspector can ensure the electrical wiring, plumbing, ductwork, and correct installation of window flashing have occurred.
Stucco is concrete and concrete is porous. It is an amazing building material for its durability. Behind the stucco is a moisture barrier or drainage plane that keeps water out of the home. The water drains to the bottom and out the weep screed - a metal trim-piece with holes for drainage.
The main culprit often lies with the correct and proper installation of window flashing, moisture barriers and kick-out flashing.
Keep in mind, the frame around the window itself leaks. Two pieces of metal come together at a corner, thus it is inevitable that water penetrates out. The purpose of the moisture barrier is to catch and divert this moisture.
When the home is wrapped in this moisture barrier - commonly Tyvek - there are some trouble areas that may not be properly cut and installed such as around window corners, roof-to-wall joints (require kick-out flashing), balcony-to-wall joints and improper sealing of exterior penetrations.
All Buyers should have a stucco inspection conducted. An inspection will take 1-3 hours and the cost depends on the amount of stucco and square footage of the home. A very rough estimate would be anywhere from $350 for a single stucco wall townhome to about $2500 for a 7,000 square foot home. Part of the inspection will require drilling small holes into the stucco for moisture readings - which will require the Seller's written consent. If signs of rot are detected, an invasive stucco inspection will be advised.
Homeowners should conduct a visual inspection every two years by walking the perimeter of the home and look for signs of compromised caulking, cracks, or dark stripes of vertical discoloration. For more information on buying or selling your next home, please feel free to call or text me at 832.577.7764. My highest priority is serving you!