Stucco damage can be one of the most expensive repairs to your home. The bill for our stucco damage cost us more than a new car! This ended up being the single biggest loss of money I have ever experienced. Let me tell you what happened to us, and tell you what you should do if you want to buy or sell a house and stucco is involved. This is Houston House Problems Stucco Damage.
In 2011, Savannah and I were looking to purchase our first home. We were young and didn’t have any children at the time, so a big yard or living further out of town was not appealing to us. We liked the general area we lived in, and only being in the city for a couple of years, we developed our little “bubble” that had all the places we liked.
Over the course of a month, we had looked at a couple of houses, but just didn’t like them. Then one day Savannah called and said she really wanted me to come see one. It was stucco.
Fast forward 5 years later
At this point we now had our daughter who was one and half, and we had just found out my wife was pregnant with my son. I didn’t mention this earlier, but the townhouse was three stories tall, had no yard (at all) and was not in a kid friendly neighborhood.
We listed our house around September, and got two offers right out of the gate. We chose one of two buyers and accepted the contract. Then, we got our first taste at how inconsiderate people can be through the process. Long story short, the buyers strung us along for 3 weeks then backed out.
It wasn’t for another month and half that we got another offer. We went under contract and he had the inspection. This was the first step to a very painful journey. The inspector had a FLIR infrared camera that is useful in detecting moisture behind walls. He noted that he saw moisture behind the stucco and recommended that the buyer have a stucco inspection.
We didn’t even know that existed.
A Stucco Inspection
Here is what happens in a stucco inspection:
- An inspector comes out and visually looks at the property for various signs of damage on the exterior. Things like stains on the surface, or pieces of wood debris on the ground.
- Then they drill 1/8” holes in many different places throughout the stucco, and feel how much resistance they get from the wood underneath.
- They stick a moisture meter into the holes and detect how much water is back there.
The results were in – we had damage all over the front of our townhouse. But how could that be? We never saw any leaks, or had any idea this was going on. The inspector gave us a list of companies that do this repair. We sent the inspection report to all of them and waited to see how much it would cost. I had never dealt with stucco repairs or knew of anyone who had, so I had no idea what the cost would be.
Stucco Repairs Can Be Expensive
The first quote – $23,290.00
The second quote – $20,700.00
The third quote – $20,900.00
My heart sank. How is this possible? We decided we had to call our insurance company. The process of dealing with our insurance company is a whole other story all together, but to sum it up in one word – heartbreak. After two months of waiting and having almost no communication, our insurance company denied our claim based on the premise that it was caused by poor workmanship from the builder.
We tried to see if we could get the builder to make the repairs since the house was only 11 years old. Unfortunately, the builder had gone out of business several years before.
We talked to an attorney to see if there was anything we could do, and found that the cost of legal representation would cost the same, if not more than the damages.
We were in a very tough place. I hadn’t mentioned this part yet, but we had already bought our new house and had been paying two mortgages, property taxes etc. At that time, the only solution we knew of was to come out of pocket and make the repairs, then relist it, since a bank would not lend on a home with this level of deficiency. At that time, we didn’t know about a company like ours that would have just bought it.
It took another two months to get the contractor lined up and get the job complete. When they cut out the stucco, we found the inspection had been accurate – there was extensive damage.
We found that the builders had done an absolutely TERRIBLE quality level of work. There was inadequate flashing everywhere, and no drainage points had been built-in to allow for water to drain out.
When we finally sold, six months after the initial inspection, the costs of repairs, taxes, insurance, interest and utilities ended up totaling over $33,000!
I would like to tell you that this was the only instance of this I have heard of in Houston, but that wouldn’t be true. Speaking to realtors and other investors around town, this has become something that is all too common.
What You Should Do
Here is what I would recommend if you are considering purchasing a stucco house:
- Get a stucco inspection! These aren’t cheap, around $1,000, but that is a LOT cheaper than the alternative.
- Make sure to talk to the inspector and get his opinion. If this type of house has had issues in the past he will be able to tell you.
- Make sure that your insurance EXPLICITLY states that you would be covered in the event of damaged to the UNDERLYING structure from moisture.
Here is what I would recommend if you are trying to sell and have found you have stucco damage:
- Do some research and try to find the builder of the house. If it was built after 2009, there is a good chance that it will still have the builder warranty on it. Of course, this assumes that the company is still in business.
- Check out your insurance policy to try and determine if it will be covered. Sometimes this will be cut and dry. Other times it can be worded in a way such that the insurance company can deny it based on something like poor workmanship (our case)
- Consult an attorney. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, this probably isn’t a great option, but you never know.
This was an expensive and painful learning experience for us. The 8 months from when we first listed our house, to when we finally sold was one of the most frustrating and exhausting periods in our lives. Savannah had our son Isaac one week before finally closing on selling our house. I had to go to closing by myself and sign for her with a granted power of attorney. I truly hope that none of you have to go through something like this.
If you are trying to sell your home and have found you have stucco damage or some other issue, please reach out to us. Brilliant Day Homes
In Case You Missed It – Check out our last article “Sell My House Fast – Your Paint Is Holding You Back.”