Historical Criticism of Inspectors in Relation to Stucco & EIFS

When speaking with stucco experts (inspectors who have been trained to perform invasive forensic stucco evaluations), I noticed a common criticism of residential home inspectors.

They criticize the knowledge level and skills of the residential home inspector.

They disqualify their professional ability to correctly identify the type of stucco or EIFS installed on a house, concisely describe defects and concerns, and thoroughly communicate accurate findings in their report.

** Do you think this criticism is valid?


Since a lot of stucco problems are not readily apparent its easy to overlook. Its surprising its not 1 of the top concerns with home buyers etc given the amount of damage that can be done before it becomes apparent.
Home Inspectors have to choose where they will be an "Expert"and where they will be a “Generalist”. Stucco apparently falls low on the list of things to learn inside out.
Also by default you will have far more knowledge about the trades you have worked in the past.
A General Contractor can build anything, but the Stucco Contractor who sees it day in a day out will know far more about a problem because he has seen it countless times before.
They guy doing Invasive Testing gets to see the inner workings on a daily basis and will by default have a strong working knowledge.
Myself I like the sounds of Exteriors and Moisture Problems

A lot of stucco (con) tractors along with the (general) (con) travtors and city inspectors are the problem.

Atleast the home inspectors are trying to get educated.

And what were the EX-perts before they became Ex-perts?


Lets not leave out all the bogus materials and their installation specs.

Do you think this criticism is valid?

yes and no

Most of the homes built in the last 10 years in the Phoenix area are cement stucco finished, only in one subdivision did I actually find an issue with the stucco itself. I have inspected 1000’s of homes.

But I have NEVER inspected a home that the Cement Stucco was Flashed correctly at every location…Never.

There is not one home in the Phoenix area that I cannot find something wrong with the flashing. Water entry is caused by the lack of flashing, the flashing installed incorrectly, or combination of the two…missing and installed wrong.

So I don’t blame the stucco contractors directly for the flaws, it is a combination of the carpenters not installing the flashing correctly, the City Inspector not knowing (or caring) what the manufacturers specifications are for the various applications, and then the stucco contractor simply slapping the stucco on what ever is presented to them not caring if the home is flashed correctly or not.

If a home inspector is inspecting homes in a location of the country where stucco or EIFS is abundant he should certainly be aware of the various applications out there, and study the manufacturers installation recommendations for the flashing and the cement stucco.

EIFS is very rare in the Phoenix area, commercial buildings I have found it a couple times but not often. Most commercial buildings have far less concerns present than residential regardless of what type of cladding is installed.

I have to give some architects credit where credit is do also, some buildings are designed to leak the way the various roof lines dump water on windows, adjoining walls, etc.

Some custom homes make me wonder if the architect may have a drinking problem.

Here is an example of my first inspection yesterday, no Kick-Out, and poor design, which are both common here.

And then we have the Diverters installed incorrectly.

And of course grading issues.

I could go on and on, but the fact of the matter is nobody gives a damn from the beginning of construction to the end. And most laborers (so called carpenters) don’t have a clue how flashing is supposed to be installed because nobody ever taught them.

Home Inspectors should be highly aware that most of the problems with stucco is not the stucco, it’s the flashing.

The problem originates with the subcontractor who either 1.) does not know how to apply the product or 2.) not overseeing his workers to ensure it is done correctly.

The next person is ultimately responsible, that being the GC. As a GC myself I know when I go into contract with a client I am taking upon myself the responsibility to ensure the project is done correctly, bar the manufacturing standing behind their product and its installation instructions of which I have seen some ambiguous instructions (hello Cornerstone) it should still be the GC’s responsibility.

Unfortunately, because many states do not have a standard of testing or qualifying GC and those that do are pretty pathetic, many GC are simply relying on the local code official to catch their mistakes…which is garbage, but I digress.

With that said, it is my opinion that no one else should be to blame unless they specifically state they are an expert AND are contractually obligating themselves to ensure it was done correctly…now that is how it should be in an idea world but we all know better.

Since the government never truly takes responsibility for its actions that leave the loney HI’s who often are figuring out ways to undercut each other while at the same time trying to figure out which courses they should spend their now limited funds in the pursuit of keeping their tails out of court.

I often laugh at anyone who likes to qualify themselves as an expert when all they have done is taken a few courses, a test or two if that, spend a few thousdand dollars when all is said and done and presto!!!..the have a genuine certificate stating they are somebody…please.

Unless that person has an engineering degree within that field…it becomes nothing more than a pissing contest or worse to see you has more creditentials than the other.

90% (if not more) of the problems that we find on the outside are related to moisture management…I don’t care if the product is stucco, T-111 siding, Hardie board, Brick or Vinyl…if a HI will learn the basics of water management then they can spend their education dollars more wisely…be it on Stucco, Radon, Thermal Imaging etc…failing to do that you will end up with a lot of certificates that mean absolutely nothing…other then convincing a client that you have more pretty pictures on your wall then your competition which may come back to bite you.




The problem started along time ago when many of the trades started becoming “specialized” or better put “compartmentalized.” A carpenter use to be able to not only do his own surveying, digging and pouring footers but also do the more detailed work such as dealing with various types of exterior veneers, interior flooring and cabinets etc…unfortunately there are very few that can do it all and with that went the understanding of how dynamically they are all interrelated. Such knowledge often too years if not decades to understand…for any HI who has never been involved in those trades to think they can simply take courses to make up for that relationship then they are seriously kidding themselves.

Add to the fact that you correctly pointed out that some of the architects must be heavy drinker or abuse chemicals…with all these crazy designs which become problematic of themselves…it is no wonder that more inspectors do not get sued…I suspect much of it simply has to do that whatever problem they missed is such that only time will reveal it.




I know exactly what you mean, like you, I grew up with a hammer in my hand, and have done just about everything known to man building everything from dog houses to apartment buildings…like you said, it’s tough for someone who has not actually done something to learn about it in a book or school…there is no comparison.

Sad, sad there is not many Carpenters, true Carpenters left.

Valid thoughts on how the construction industry has gotten to its current condition.

However, the quetion was

Is forensic stucco inspectors criticism of the knowledge level and skills of the residential home inspectors relative to the exterior wall cladding inspection valid?

The InterNACHI Standards of Practice state that the inspector shall:
Inspect (among other items) flashings, gutters, siding, trim, decks, porches, stairs, railings, eaves, soffits, fascias, etc.

“Describe and identify, in written format, the inspected systems, structures an dcomponents of the dwelling, and shall identify material defects observed.”

As a stucco expert, over 50% of the information I gather is the same as that required by the above Standards of Practice. If an home inspector is not properly identifying the type of stucco, visible installation and performance concerns as well as referring the client to a stucco expert for further investigation then I believe the criticism is valid.

However, if the Stucco Expert is criticizing them for not knowing that there was water intrusion and rotted substrate that they confirmed by their forensic testing then I believe the criticism is not valid.

Unfortunately, many if not most of the home inspection reports that I review are in the first group requiring criticism.

How do we get the home inspector to meet their Standards of Practice?

As any blanket statement of any group, it really depends on the individual.
So no, IMO for a group it is not valid.

It may be valid for indivisuals, but again, depends on the individual.