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Urgent EIFS advice

Anna Smith
November 8, 2019

Hello, we’re building a new house and chose eifs as exterior finish. We got it inspected by an eifs inspector as “it just didn’t look right“ to our gutter installer. The inspection report confirmed our doubts and it said the soffit j-channel shouldn’t have been buried by eifs layers. Now it’ll be impossible to repair or replace the soffit, if there was moisture, animal invasion or any other damage. Also, the second picture says that they used wrong termination channel and now the moisture will not weep out from behind because the mesh is wrapped inside the channel. Please advise!



Comments (34)

  • PRO
    PPF.

    What does your builder say?

  • Anna Smith

    Builder is quite clueless and says he didn’t know the superintendent got an installer that was uncertified. The installer won’t pick the phone or reply texts. There’s no way of telling what type of termination track is used unless we cut 6” out. Only an untrained unprofessional would do such a poor job. The windows have no backer rod and the sealant is poorly done. The lamina is inconsistent and dirty from red clay stains. The builder wants the same installer to repair it but we’re fighting to get it done by a pro who will give us a perfect eifs system with authentic warranty.

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  • DavidR

    It sounds to me as if you already know what has to happen here, without needing any advice from the GW community. Good luck with getting it (re)done properly.

  • Anna Smith

    We met two eifs professionals yesterday who told us to wait with the repairs since it’s cold up here in Tennessee. Do periodic moisture tests to make sure it’s ok. But I’m worried that a defective eifs system will allow moisture to seep in and rot the house.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Were there construction details and/or references to detailing standards in the contract? Was the installer required to be certified? What certification was the installer required to have?

    This will come down to what is in the contract and we have no idea what that is.

  • Anna Smith

    Per our request the builder was supposed to get Dryvit DPMR system with 30-yr residential warranty. We paid $12/sqft. However this is a make-shift eifs system and Dryvit lamina was used only as the top most layer. Now we have no warranty, not even product warranty, and the installer has disappeared. Now we need to pay approximately $30k in repairs to bring it to function. Repairing may also cause ‘cold joint’ in the long run so they have to redo the entire on certain walls. Southside walls are already reading 18 points moisture reading, which is just at boundary. Eifs is just 6 months old. My question is: by visual inspection, does it seem alright? Can we wait for a few years and repair after moisture readings are higher? How long before moisture gets to the frame and starts rotting?

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor

    The improper metal at the bottom of the system is a red flag.

    Anna Smith thanked Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
  • Anna Smith

    One certified installer recommends drilling holes every few inches in the bottom track to let moisture weep out. That way we don’t have to cut 6” to put new track (except in back patio where concrete has already been poured). Will that work?


    Another area of concern is the second floor roof line where they havent used step flashing nor kickout flashin. The rain will run down inside the eifs. We have gutters, but how much can gutters prevent?

  • millworkman

    Who hired the EFIS installer? Where is the builder or GC in this process? From the sounds of it you hired the installer yourself?

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor

    You might be able to repair the bottom metal channel by drilling holes typical of the proper drainage track. Right now water will either back up or run out corners and joints. The drainage media is usually installed over the track, not between the track and sheathing so that is correct in my world depending on system. The acrylic finish is actually a water barrier so if working properly, most often the channels won't see much action.

    The soffit is buried. The detail provided also shows a buried soffit but doesn't account for vinyl. With normal rainfall (not horizontal) this channel doesn't get tested.


    Anna Smith thanked Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
  • Anna Smith

    @millworkman No the installer by hired by GC’s superintendent. We only hired the inspector to examine it when our gutter installer told us that the buried channel could be a future issue.

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor

    I've made this comment elsewhere.


    Unlicensed, untrained "technicians" are becoming commonplace in areas of CA and I'm sure elsewhere. Heavily enabled by "owner builder" laws and DIYTV. Building departments have eliminated inspections of early sequences of window installations, waterproofing walls, roofs and decks and often only see the finish product where flaws can easily evade eyes. I drive by hack projects seeing water barriers installed with scrap pieces, inadequate overlaps, etc. Roof tile, acrylic stucco and deck overlays will keep it good for a few years but are not designed to do all the work long term.


    Good luck out there!

    Anna Smith thanked Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
  • Anna Smith

    @Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor, Going by your judgement, the missing flash on 2nd floor will not be a moisture issue, nor the buried j-channel of the soffit.


    I’m worried why the builder won’t give us extended warranty-atleast 5 years if he’s confident. He is only providing 1 year. In the state of Tennesse, he should be giving 4 yrs atleast.

  • mackdolan

    If the stucco installer was required to be certified, WHY wasn’t he??? Did he present falsified credentials? Did the builder even attempt to verify his resume? This all should be under your builder’s warranty, which if it’s been 6 months, doesn’t have much time left to correct. He should be the one on the hook for removing and starting over.


    If he won’t do it, you’re going to end up in court. Everything goes back to the written contract, written section details and diagrams from your architect that form part of the contract, written contract specifications for the qualifications of the installer, and the written instructions from the manufacturer of the system, along with documenting photographs and construction communications.


    This is precisely why knowledgeable builders just don’t use EFIS. Especially in a mixed humid climate with actual rainfall.

    Anna Smith thanked mackdolan
  • worthy

    "drainable EIFS are among the most robust and advanced moisture control assemblies available,"* says Dr. Lstiburek, one of the leading building scientists in North America and an expert in EIFS.


    But, yes, the devil is in the details. Many of which were mangled in the OP's case.

    Anna Smith thanked worthy
  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    You said you "asked" the builder for a certain EIFS system. Was the request in writing and did it describe the system, the installation methods and the certification? Were the certifications required to be submitted to you?

    If you had a proper contract the builder would be the one trying to correct the deficiencies in the work. If he could not do that, he would need to replace the whole system.

    There's something strange about this project.

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor

    What missing flashing?


    Is the home under construction or completed? I'm confused by the "6 month old" comment.


    If the builder did not deliver what was contracted for, there is a problem. How you settle is another issue. What is the difference in value between 1 yr vs 30 warranty? What is the cost of repairs or reinstallation? What description was used for the change? There are many systems similar to authentic EIFS used.

  • Anna Smith

    We had no choice in builder and were forced to use this builder by the subdivision developer. House was priced for vinyl siding. We never like vinyl siding and requested premium siding such Aspyre or Nichiha. Builder said Aspyre and Nichiha installers are not available in the area. We asked for brick or stucco. Brick was also denied. After some weeks, We were told by the builder that Dryvit eifs option is open. We didn’t know what ‘eifs’ is but Dryvit sounded authentic. We were sent to a local Dryvit store and asked to select Dryvit finishes and window edges by the builder. Paperwork says Eifs/Dryvit on ‘change order’. We paid $12/sqft. We’re holding back that much amount. Builder wants to get it corrected by the same uncertified installer whom he has paid out and who is not picking his phone now. But we want the repair to be done by certified company. If done right, eifs can last for many many years. We want to get it done right this time so we have no long term issues. Though low probability, if we ever decide to sell the house, eifs shouldn’t become an issue.


    What’s the best repair method for buried soffit j-channel, wrong termination track, and missing/incomplete roof kickout flashing?

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    "the installer by hired by GC’s superintendent" This is an example of what is difficult to understand about the situation. If the superintendent hired an installer, the builder is reasonable for that choice and for the quality of the work performed.

    There should only be two parties involved: the builder and you.

    The person responsible for correcting the work is the builder, not you.

    Anna Smith thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • Anna Smith

    We don’t think getting the same uncertified installer to repair his own faulty work will be a suitable choice. Builder shouldnt have got an uncertified guy in the first place.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Obviously, if the installer did not have the qualification or certification required by the contract, he cannot do any further work on the project.

    Your approach suggests there was no contract or contract documents. If the things exist, enforce them.




    Anna Smith thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • millworkman

    "Builder shouldnt have got an uncertified guy in the first place."


    Then if there were a legal agreed upon contract it should be on the builder to have it completely redone correctly according to the contract. Otherwise he broke the contract. Period. Stop. Wrong is wrong. The builders makes good.

    Anna Smith thanked millworkman
  • Anna Smith

    @RES 3d Sketches We signed on a “Change Order” and paid $12/sqft for Eifs/Dryvit to the builder.

  • millworkman

    Eifs/Dryvit or the enitire process spelled out?

    Anna Smith thanked millworkman
  • Anna Smith

    Only eifs/Dryvit. The entire process was not mentioned.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    Yes, but is that all the contract said? Dryvit makes many cladding systems, uses the term "Outsulation" instead of EIFS and the brand name is often treated as generic. The change order should have included a description of the system and the required quality control and assurance measuress as well as references to Dryvit's recommended details.

    Show us what was specified.

    Anna Smith thanked RES 3d Sketches
  • cpartist

    It is on the builder to hire the right people and to fix it so it’s correct and you should not have to pay to get it fixed!

    Anna Smith thanked cpartist
  • Anna Smith

    @RES 3d Sketches Unfortunately we lacked the foresight to ask for the details at that time.

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes

    The OP is building a home, not a multi-million dollar commercial structure with specifications for every bolt, nail, and screw, and specific instructions on how to install them, a bevy of on-site inspectors, and periodic site visits by "experts" who would better serve the owner by staying in their office and not charging billable hours for field visits to the job site.

    I think the simple specification of EIFS/Dryvit is sufficient to require the specific brand (i.e., Dryvit) system be installed and installed as per the manufacturer's guidelines. Here's a link to Dryvit's builder's reference guide:

    https://www.dryvit.com/fileshare/doc/uk/description/duk504.pdf

    If the materials have not been installed in a manner that meets the manufacturer's guidelines, then it is quite reasonable for the owner to expect the builder to remedy the problem at his/her own expense.

    I also think the local municipality should have a process in place for inspecting installation of systems like EIFS which have the (well documented and widely known) potential to cause serious damage to the structure if not installed correctly.

    Anna Smith thanked Charles Ross Homes
  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor

    @Charles Ross Homes I haven't seen a building department inspect the interim waterproofing layers for a few years, only after its covered. In fact, I don't believe they've ever inspected these systems in the last 20 years in my region. Some ask for an installation certificate, listing the responsible contractor, which would be either the sub or the GC.

    Anna Smith thanked Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
  • mackdolan

    You can’t sign a change order for “wood floors” and then gripe about getting engineered with the whisper thin 1/16th veneer layer in a red mahogany color that buckles due to slab moisture content. You have to be a heck of a lot more specific. It’s the same with “EIFS cladding”. If you’re going to end up with something more than a slapped in spray vinyl coat, badly done, you have to be sure of what is being proposed and agreed to being done.

    People agonize and specify in their contracts which of 127 different white paints to use, or which exact marked stone slab, or which super special brand and color wood floors. What they should be delving into and specifying is the window construction, exterior cladding procedures, flashing techniques, and insulation material and practices.

    When you don’t care enough to be very specific about the really important things, that lets too much ambiguity into the contract. Ambiguity always benefits a builder who is inclined to take the easy or cheap way to do things.

    Describing this build as the superintendent being able to choose whatever subcontractors they want instead of having the builder’s approved list is far to loose and non standard. The builder cant be everywhere. But no builder that I know of would allow such a homeowner suggested technique and contractor insertion into a build without vetting them fully. There is something very not right about the contract and procedures on this build. Almost as if it’s being self contracted through one of the you builds or something. And the superintendent works for the homeowners. Because if there were an actual traditional GC involved in this, there would be zero question about the chain of command and who is responsible for making things right here. It’s the GC. Not the site superintendent. If the GC is the homeowners, that’s an expensive lesson to learn about self GCing.

    Anna Smith thanked mackdolan
  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes

    @Jeffery,

    The municipalities in which we build have a separate air barrier/flashing inspection that is required for all types of cladding. It's been quite a while since we did an EIFS project, but if I recall correctly, they inspected the barrier before the exterior insulation was allowed to be installed. It doesn't guarantee there won't be problems, but it helps identify blatant problems.

    Anna Smith thanked Charles Ross Homes
  • just_janni

    After all the misinstalled, poor performing, lawsuit wielding homeowners from the last go 'round - why in the WORLD would any builder suggest this type of stucco unless they were REALLY good at it?


    (and really - why would anyone take a risk and use it in the residential market???)


    Anna Smith thanked just_janni
  • Anna Smith

    We received a quote from an authorized and experienced eifs contractor to repair and bring system to proper functionality and the builder is paying for this. Though we didn’t get 30-yr Dryvit residential warranty, atleast we will have eifs system fixed by a professional and that’s going to work like it’s supposed to. Thank you everyone!

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