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! 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. Continue reading this blog on stucco damage in Houston brought to you by the Brilliant Day Homes Team!
A Stucco House
We owned a stucco townhouse for 4 years before we decided to move. We listed our house around September 2015 and accepted a full price offer around November. We went under contract and he had the inspection. 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.
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, small cracks in the stucco, 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.
- They create an inspection report like the one below.
Stucco Repairs Can Be Expensive
We had damage all over the front of our townhouse. However, 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.
The first quote – $23,290.00
The second quote – $20,700.00
The third quote – $20,900.00
Insurance Stucco Claim
After seeing the costs we decided we had to call our insurance company who was Nationwide at the time. The process of dealing with our insurance company is a whole other story altogether, and I personally recommend finding another insurance provider. 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.
Our townhouse was not that old, in fact, it had not fully reached the 11-year mark at the time. A typical builder’s warranty is 10 years. The builder had been friends with one of our former neighbors and we had heard they came out and fixed some issues at one point. 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 and the builder’s warranty was expired.
After our insurance claim was denied and we learned the builder was no longer in business. We talked to an attorney to see if there was anything we could do. We found that unfortunately, the cost of legal representation would cost the same, if not more than the damages. At this point there really wasn’t much other option than to pay for the repairs and take the loss.
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.
The repairs consisted of:
- Cutting out the stucco above the damaged area
- Replacing the damaged sheathing
- Adding drainage points
- Adding flashing
- Adding new stucco and matching surface texture
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.
Stucco Damage Signs to Look For
The severity of the damaged stucco can’t be seen from the outside. However, there are small things you can look for that will at least let you know there are issues going on.
Wood debris around the foundation of the house
Staining of walls
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 damage 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 in the past decade, there is a good chance that it will still have the builder warranty on it.
- 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.”