Buying an EIFS home
Buying an EIFS home; what to look for
When buying an EIFS home you can real hit a home run if you know what you are looking for. I don’t think it is any secret that the EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) industry has an applicator problem, and that cannot be good. I think most professionals, if not all, would agree that the Exterior Insulation and Finish System product is a very good one, and when applied correctly is an excellent product (The Department of Energy’s testing by Oak Ridge National Laboratory concluded that Exterior insulation and Finish System out preforms brick, stucco, concrete block and cementitious fiber board siding). The question is how can you tell, when buying a Synthetic Stucco home, that the cladding was done correctly. Actually, for the trained eye it is a pretty simple process. There are a few basic things to look for. One of the most important things to look for is kick out flashing. If the house has kick out flashing that is a real good sign. The second thing to look for is the termination at the grade. The Exterior Insulation and Finish System should be at least 6 inches above grade. If the bottom of the Synthetic Stucco has a weep track then you know the home has a Water Management System. These two things are key to a good job, and when buying a Synthetic Stucco home they are the most important things to look for. The third thing to look for will really tell you that you have a winner, and that is around the windows and doors. The windows and doors should have an expansion joint around them, and the joint should be caulked. That caulk will fail one day, and has to be maintained, but we know that, and that is not really what we are looking for, what we are looking for, is if the Base Coat material goes back to the substrate in the expansion joint. If the material goes back all the way to the substrate, then when that caulk fails, there will not be exposed foam for water to soak into. You can be pretty confident when buying a EIFS home that you have a winner if the windows and doors are done this way.
One of the major things you want to make sure of is that the home has a moisture barrier like tyvek, tar paper, or a painted on barrier. Without a moisture barrier if the system fails it will rot the substrate. This can be very devastating if the substrate is wood. Unfortunately, the only way to know if there is a moisture barrier behind the system is to cut a hole in the system, and take a look. The reason this is so important is that if there is a moisture barrier the only damage will be to the Synthetic Stucco, and not to the substrate, so you will know what you are getting into for repairs, and not have major surprises trying to replace the substrate, and even the structure itself.
In closing, with an educated buyer the product can be a very attractive investment. If you can find an Exterior Insulation and Finish System home that was built by a high quality contractor that knew what they were doing, and did not cut any corners, you can buy a really great home for a steal of a deal. The problems in the residential Synthetic Stucco industry have lowered the prices of these homes, and for the ones that were done correctly they are very much worth the investment.
Exterior Insulation and Finish System also known as Synthetic Stucco or Dryvit ®