Cracked cultured stone. House exterior

Hello I am here for your HELP!

**I was only able to upload one picture because I am a new user
****This one isn’t the best shot of the crack but it shows you where the water is entering from the wooden cap.

Attached are photos of a cultured stone project I did September, 2018. The stone has cracked down two of the corners. Both of the sides that cracked have gaps in the wooden cap on top of the cultured stone. The cap was originally supposed to be a concrete cap that I would have installed with mortar… Instead the builder told me that they would install their own cap because the concrete caps were too expensive. The wooden caps have now shrunk over a winter and a summer and corners have cracked. Not only did it shrink, there is also no caulking/sealant to close the gap between the top of the stone and the wooden cap, leaving up to 1/4 inch gap in spots. This wooden cap non-sense was done after my job was inspected by the project manager and I was fully paid.
My back ground before my 7 years in stone masonry is stucco prep/ waterproofing. I know how to water proof a building. I use 2 layers of tar paper, I always overlap my lath(MESH) and fasten to every stud. I prepped this job like every other one I have done. I haven’t had any problems with any previous job.
Another thing I should mention is that this particular cultured stone, Eldorado Stone - Quartz Stacked Stone, is unique to any other cultured stone I’ve used. It is extremely soft and doesn’t seems to have an exterior (for example black cultured stone has a black exterior but the inside is light cement color…the white stone that I used is the same throughout, a cut edge looks the same as the facade. Its so soft that you can carve the stone with a trowel.
So now I have been contacted by the builder, who has been in contact with the supplier (EldoradoStone) and they want all of this to be my fault. Eldorado stone’s message to the Builder was they presume that the lath wasn’t wasnt overlapped properly at the corner. (which I always do)
Who do you think is at fault here?
Am I liable?
If this really does come down to being my fault I will take responsibility for it, but I don’t think I am.
Any Advice on How to Proceed?
-The base of these cultured stone planter beds is on about 10-12 foot tall foundation wall in an area of town that has already had problems with ground movement.
-Builder was cutting corners on this house due to a big foundation screw up that happened earlier and need to be re-done. They ate up too much of their budget early on. (hence no concrete caps as per the plans)

I am a small masonry company so this is a very stressful situation. Any help is appreciated, Thank-you.

Surely they told you “why” they believe it’s “your” fault, which you have conveniently decided not to share with us!

Use this & contact an attorney for help. If you did your part of the job correctly (I assume you followed industry’s best practice), I don’t see how you can be held responsible. Perhaps the builder & the stone manufacturer are saying you did something incorrectly, which like I said above, you left out!

It sounds like the builder took it upon himself to change the plans and, in doing so, this mess may have resulted.

What does the manufacturer say regarding caps on their cultured stone?

I was just notified yesterday that the supplier says its my fault. They said they presume that the corners weren’t overlapped properly with lath. Which I always do. It is all very much up in the air right now because nothing has been pulled apart.

Tell the builder and manufacturer to meet you out there and videotape the dismantling of the corners. If they aren’t overlapped, you will fix BUT if they are overlapped they can fight it out.

You probable should take notes of who said what and when and talk to an attorney.

Tell the builder and manufacturer that they can email you for anything they have to say. That way you have a record.

I’m not an attorney so your best bet is find a construction law attorney.

I have had zero communication with the supplier at this point, only heard from the builder what they said was wrong. So im not sure if they mentioned the wooden cap. Thankyou for the advice, I will contact the supplier and get the information first hand and also consult an attorney.

Not much that can be said and done at this point until it is removed and inspected. Obviously I would recommend you remove it or be there for the removal and have a digital camera on hand.

Was that a design change from what you were suppose to provide and install by sub-contractor/Contractor agreement?

If by design, the concrete cap would be part of the system and any changes to that system could impair the integrity of the wall system below.
The Contractor has obviously made a change in the design and now there is a problem with the finish product below.
It is obvious to me that a concrete cap installed by the contractor of the facade would be more suitable than a wood cap.
If the only way to solve this problem is to remove the product on the claim by the manufacturer that the wire mesh was not overlapped, I would want to make sure that all my work was in full compliance with all the installation guidelines of the product as shown here;

If it was part of your contract to install the coping concrete caps and the Contractor changed it, he has accepted the responsibility and consequences of the damage below. You have a case against them for having made the change. Unless it was authorized by the designer, in which case would be a little more difficult.
I would definitely push on the fact that the water infiltration at the corners caused the problem.
If you feel that you did the installation correctly and by the book, stick to your guns.
I would recommend that a representative from Eldorado Stone be present if you have to take the product apart and as said above, take pictures.
My personal opinion on this would be that the Contractor making the change on the Coping Cap is responsible. JMHO

1 Like

Sounds like the supplier is only going off what the builder tells him and I’m sure he’s not saying anything that would put himself at fault.

It does show concrete caps on the blueprints and I quoted it as such, but then I was asked to do another quote without the concrete caps to reduce the price. That is the one they went with and said that we would talk about the caps after the rest of the work is done so they can see how much money is left. They still weren’t willing to pay for the concrete caps at the end and went their own way with it. So the concrete cap work was never in the contract/scope of work that was used unfortunately.

That could be true. Im going to contact them myself tomorrow… I will post updates with new information. Thanks.

Looking at the installation guide that Marcel cited, which is extensive, there is no detail I see that allows any but either a full masonry cap or continuous metal cap for AMSV walls. Moreover, other transition details showing stucco or other wall materials above an AMSV lower part of a wall show the AMSV bedding joint covered at the top with flashing. The implication is that the top of an AMSV wall cannot remain unprotected, and therefore the existing uncaulked and warped wood cap did not provide the required protection and allowed water to enter the wall behind the AMSV.

Moreover, the industry standard on architectural detailing, Edward Allen’s Architectural Detailing, begins chapter one, point number one with the requirement that every horizontal surface must be protected by a “wash,” defined as “the slope given to the horizontal surface to drain water away from the vulnerable areas of the building. In general, every horizontal surface of a building should have a wash.” Obviously, an uncaulked wood cap with a shrunken, wide-open miter at the corner does not meet the requirement of draining water away from the vulnerable areas of a AMSV wall.

Thanks for the in depth look at that. Very Helpful. I agree,

I would document what you described here and make sure you have photos. If you are confident in your work, offer to tear it off with the builder and homeowner present. Tell him if the lath job is improper, you will replace it at your cost. If it’s correct, he will pay you for your time and pay you to rebuild (if he wants you to rebuild it) and notify the homeowner in writing that the issue was not due you any deficiency in your workmanship. Have it video taped and photographed.


Excellent recommendation! :face_with_monocle: :sunglasses: :cowboy_hat_face:

1 Like