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  1. #1
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    Default How bad is a Stucco home?

    I was looking at a house I really liked but the exterior is stucco. The house was built in 1960. I read a lot of people saying it is dangerous to buy a stucco home, is this true? From what I understood this was mainly for homes in the 80's and 90's.. were the 1960's (in Ohio) typically a problem? This house has a nice brick foundation but the home is stucco. Any information would be greatly appreciated! I posted some pictures too.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Actually, there is not much stucco on that house ...

    The least problems with stucco are with stucco on masonry (concrete block) structures.

    The next least would be stucco on frame - *when done correctly* - ... which is not always the case.

    The more problematic ones would be stucco on frame with ... well, with wood trim like shown in your photos - those are probably done incorrectly more often than they are done correctly.

    Besides, there is a lot of lap siding (wood or ??? siding?) and not too much stucco in those photos.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Thanks for the information. I guess I was a little confused on what stucco actually was. The attached garage is all brick, and the side/back has the wooden panels. Would that typically be a problem?


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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Alex View Post
    Would that typically be a problem?
    Referring to the 3rd photo:

    The best way to do that wall would be to stucco and paint the entire wall as though it was going to be a stucco wall. Then, and only then, attach the wood trim piece to the stucco, and because the wood trim pieces are 'projecting wood trim', a flashing should be installed along the top of each piece of wood trim.

    As you can imagine, doing the above would be a lot of work, especially for all that stucco that you will not see.

    So ... the typical way would be to install the wood trim ... then install the stucco, in which case it is impossible to install the stucco properly and have a proper drainage plane and weep screed along the bottom of each stucco section. Not only that, but the wood trim would be half-way buried in the stucco, which could easily lead to rotted wood trim, and rotted walls being the improperly installed stucco.

    From the photos, *I* do not know how it was installed, just answering your "Would that typically be a problem?" question.

    I see a lot of "potential" problems, which does not mean those problems exist there - that would need to be determined by the inspector you hire to inspect the house for you.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    1960 stucco is generally a good product, in my area, at least. I see a lot of it from that era and it holds up well. It was applied in 3 coats by people who took pride in their work. I believe on this house the wood trim was added after the stucco. Keep the wood painted and it should be fine, but that's just my opinion from 7,000 miles away.

    Have your inspector check that cantilevered window bumpout. Check for moisture damage or rot in the ends of those 4X4 supports and that plank with the enlongated holes in it. People will often paint over rot and it can fool you but it won't fool a sharp screwdriver. Make sure moisture isn't seeping in along the top of that brick veneer.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Are you sure it's actually stucco? To me it looks like it could be the stucco look fiberboard siding.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    The third photo looks like fiberboard siding made to look like stucco. A sure way to tell is to knock on it.


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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    The third photo looks like fiberboard siding made to look like stucco. A sure way to tell is to knock on it.
    Great minds think alike

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    I relooked the pics and agree, fibreboard.
    1) It is very smooth, too smooth for stucco.
    2) The fake 'half-timber' trim planks are an easy way to hide the seams.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Thanks for all the advice. The auditor website lists the walls as Stucco, that is where I got the information.


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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Alex View Post
    The house was built in 1960.
    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    I relooked the pics and agree, fibreboard.
    1) It is very smooth, too smooth for stucco.
    I dunno - that fiberboard stuff in 1960?

    Back then smooth stucco was an everyday thing - the stucco contractors (plasterers) were still qualified craftsmen and doing that work was, for them, just another plastering job.

    Now, if the house was from the mid-1970s and newer, yeah, I would agree with fiberboard (as in hardboard).

    In 1960, heck, even in the mid-to-late 1970s in Gainesville, FL, there were craftsmen plasterers working on every type of job, and they would properly cure the stucco by hanging burlap over it and keeping it moist with misting sprinklers. It was about the mid-1970s that the work started going to crap.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    I bet if Sam hired a good home inspector they could tell them what it is!

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    A good inspector could def tell me but I don't even want to get to that point if Stucco is that bad.

    I did contact the seller and they said that a majority of the house is Cedar Siding with a small amount of beige that MAY be a type of stucco. Seems pretty accurate but the auditor page does say Stucco. BTW attached a picture. The front is the only part with beige. The whole sides/back are the cedar type paneling. I'm not sure how big of a deal this is.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    As I said before, stucco is not a bad form of siding. In fact, it is better than brick or wood in many cases.
    Fibreboard which looks like stucco, which could have been installed in the 80's, is not good if the edges have gotten wet. But if the wood trim has been kept painted and sealed, there may be no problem. I see no reason to walk away from this house in the pictures you've posted here.

    We see errors in property descriptions all the time. These people are not very knowledgeable as a rule, but may think they are and will just make an assumption to get the sheet filled in.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Let me ask you this... Will the small amount of stucco this home has have any effect on replacing the K&T wiring? Sorry if these are silly questions but it is an expensive home that does need work but I really like it. I don't want to put in an offer and get an inspection if it will be too costly to get fixed up.


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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    1960 with K&T wiring? That doesn't sound right. But anyway, siding type shouldn't affect any wiring work.

    There is lots and lots of stucco around here, some of it 100 years old or more, plenty of it not installed with the "correct" flashing, etc., and it still seems to hold up well. There is also a lot of stucco with wood embedded in it, probably totally improperly by today's standards but fine a century later.

    I often wonder where we got off track in home building. The old homes were leaky, but at least they lasted.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Alex View Post
    Let me ask you this... Will the small amount of stucco this home has have any effect on replacing the K&T wiring? Sorry if these are silly questions but it is an expensive home that does need work but I really like it. I don't want to put in an offer and get an inspection if it will be too costly to get fixed up.

    It is an expensive home, you know it needs work and you do not want to get an inspection?

    Sorry but this just does not make any sense.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    It is an expensive home, you know it needs work and you do not want to get an inspection? Sorry but this just does not make any sense.
    My take is that he is looking for information before he makes an offer. Does not want to waste time or money if the house is obviously a problem.

    My understanding is that K&T wiring was used in San Francisco as late as the 1960s. This could be true elsewhere as well. Unusual, but not unheard of.

    Sam,

    Unfortunately, we are not going to be of much help with just a few pics. It kind of depends on the general quality of stucco in your area. In my area, stucco homes are a bit of a concern, but I believe that is largely due to the lack of experienced tradesmen. I grew up in So. Calif. and stucco homes were pretty standard there. Lots of good stucco.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    As always thanks for all the help. I certainly would get a home inspection but I'm saying I don't want to waste my time/money putting in an offer on a crap house. I was down that road a few months ago. I offered on a house then my home inspector ripped it apart. Many of the things he pointed out I should have caught. I've also posted a picture of the K&T wiring; one time I posted about houses in the 60's up here having K&T and no one believed me! I wish they didn't but fact of the matter is most of them do

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Alex View Post
    As always thanks for all the help. I certainly would get a home inspection but I'm saying I don't want to waste my time/money putting in an offer on a crap house.
    After all of your posts, it would have saved you a lot of time to have hired a home inspector to give it a 'quick walk around/through' and then follow up with a full inspection if you proceeded from that point on.

    A) You would not have made an offer yet.
    B) You would have answers to many of your questions.
    C) You would know whether or not to proceed with a full inspection or run.

    Not sure why you would rather waste your time on something which we simply cannot answer your questions on.

    Regarding the previous house and previous inspection - you should not be considering that a waste, you should be considering that money well spent ... would you rather have been stuck with that other house? THAT would have been the waste you are referring to.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    After all of your posts, it would have saved you a lot of time to have hired a home inspector to give it a 'quick walk around/through' and then follow up with a full inspection if you proceeded from that point on.

    A) You would not have made an offer yet.
    B) You would have answers to many of your questions.
    C) You would know whether or not to proceed with a full inspection or run.

    Not sure why you would rather waste your time on something which we simply cannot answer your questions on.

    Regarding the previous house and previous inspection - you should not be considering that a waste, you should be considering that money well spent ... would you rather have been stuck with that other house? THAT would have been the waste you are referring to.
    Take it easy.. My inspector lives about about 45 min away from this house so no it wouldn't have been easier to spend an hour and a half driving to get a "quick walk through." I thought the whole point of this site was to discuss homes. I appreciate all the help everyone has been, no need to be rude.


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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Don't mind Jerry--he comes across as rude or at least terse, but often means well.

    Getting back to the house, any more info on some of the other things you know it needs? I think that "fragmented" roof and its potential problems would be more of a concern than the stucco issues.


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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Not sure what Jerry was on about - seems like you posed a legitimate question to me - but I don't think he meant to be rude. Around here we're used to speaking our minds with no sugar coating and to the uninitiated posts can seem rude even if they weren't intended that way.

    I think some people got the idea you were asking if your stucco (or whatever it is) was OK, but I took your question generally. Unfortunately they are both difficult to address definitively, since, as Gunnar pointed out, the quality may vary regionally. Generally, though, I think stucco is a very good product when installed correctly and maintained well.

    I'd be concerned about the wood trim, though. The plank at the bottom of the cantilevered bit appears to have holes that look at lot like woodpecker holes, which could be a sign of insect presence. It doesn't look like anything was caulked. Not only could the wood suffer, water might get into the wall if the trim is covering seams.

    I wonder if you were hearing warnings about EIFS, which is a newer method that involves application of stucco over rigid foam insulation. It has had a lot of problems, but it wouldn't be on a 1960 house anyway.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    With that Tudor style most of the time the builder did not use real stucco. They used a hardboard product with a stucco look covering, it was called Stucato board.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    With that Tudor style most of the time the builder did not use real stucco. They used a hardboard product with a stucco look covering, it was called Stucato board.
    This must vary geographically, it's not true at all in Minneapolis. And what time frame are you talking about?

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    With that Tudor style most of the time the builder did not use real stucco. They used a hardboard product with a stucco look covering, it was called Stucato board.
    Thus the reason for my question back in post #11:
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I dunno - that fiberboard stuff in 1960?
    Did they even have that stuff back then? I sure do not remember it.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kristi Silber View Post
    This must vary geographically, it's not true at all in Minneapolis. And what time frame are you talking about?
    You'll see it all over in the first and second tier suburbs. Generally mid to late 60's up until the 80's. Shoreview, Arden Hills, Hopkins, Brooklyn Park and Champlin is where I see it the most.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    It looks like painted plywood.


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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Thus the reason for my question back in post #11:


    Did they even have that stuff back then? I sure do not remember it.
    It came out in the mid 1960's and was popular for about 10years. I think Masonite stopped making it in 1975.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by BridgeMan View Post
    Don't mind Jerry--he comes across as rude or at least terse, but often means well.

    Getting back to the house, any more info on some of the other things you know it needs? I think that "fragmented" roof and its potential problems would be more of a concern than the stucco issues.
    Well besides the K&T (which may be OK but eventually I'd like to replace it) I saw 2 cracks and something weird above the fireplace (posted pics). The roof looked questionable to me as well, the seller said it was replaced 14 years ago though (so technically it should have a bit longer). I think it's just overpriced for the work it needs. It's a beautiful 2000 sq foot home though but I think It'd need to be significantly cheaper to warrant a purchase (which is probably why its been on the market for 18 months). BTW that vertical crack I posted in the basement is the only one.. the rest of the basement is pretty much perfect.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Hello Sam. The stains and cracks around the chimney call for further investigation, but it is likely that the chimney flashing is or was leaking. Expect to see old rusty metal that should have been replaced with the last reroofing.
    If the house is 52 years old, you can estimate the lifespan of each roof like this: 19 +19 +14 = 52. You might have about 5 yrs left on this layer, assuming 3 asphalt roofs.

    The interior crack doesn't surprise me, if you look at the span of that arch, the fake beam and the ceiling. A supporting wall or post would have been good there, right under the beam. Sure, it won't fall down, and it has been like that since wrought iron railings were popular. But there is stress there and it lead to a crack.

    Wood paneling can make rewiring easy. That old wood panel is stiff and hard as nails. It will pop off the wall in one piece if you're careful with the edges.

    I wonder if the original house was smaller and additions came later?

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Hello Sam. The stains and cracks around the chimney call for further investigation, but it is likely that the chimney flashing is or was leaking. Expect to see old rusty metal that should have been replaced with the last reroofing.
    If the house is 52 years old, you can estimate the lifespan of each roof like this: 19 +19 +14 = 52. You might have about 5 yrs left on this layer, assuming 3 asphalt roofs.

    The interior crack doesn't surprise me, if you look at the span of that arch, the fake beam and the ceiling. A supporting wall or post would have been good there, right under the beam. Sure, it won't fall down, and it has been like that since wrought iron railings were popular. But there is stress there and it lead to a crack.

    Wood paneling can make rewiring easy. That old wood panel is stiff and hard as nails. It will pop off the wall in one piece if you're careful with the edges.

    I wonder if the original house was smaller and additions came later?

    Thanks for the observations. What did you think about that one vertical basement crack? I still think I'm in the "Wait and see" boat on this house. I love the look and location of the house but I can't see spending my whole housing budget on something that needs this much work. I considered offering about 15-20% less but with the time on the market and slow price cuts they might not go for it. Basically the owner passed away and a family member moved in and is currently occupying the house; I don't think they are in any rush to get rid of it. While I watch this one I will continue to monitor the market to see if something else pops up.. I'm hoping with spring rolling in there will be a lot more on the market.


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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    I can't comment on the basement crack. We don't do block basement walls here. It's always poured concrete or nothing. One vertical crack wouldn't scare me, but I'd have the perimeter drainage checked in any house that age. A drain inspection with a closed circuit camera costs about $200 here.

    I see new plastic drain pipe and sealcoating in one your pics. That's a good sign, but sometimes it was just a partial repair of one side.

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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    If that basement crack is near a corner of the foundation (as opposed to being near the middle of the wall), there's a good chance it's not as serious as it looks. Based on the facts that no additional cracks were observed and the one shown is significantly wider at the top than farther towards the bottom (meaning that just this corner of the foundation is settling and rotating counter-clockwise), this could be an isolated event with a relatively simple fix. I've repaired several similar cracks over the last 25 years, at least one of which that looked a lot worse than this one.

    A common cause of corner settlement is insufficient subgrade compaction in the corner before the footings are poured. I've seen it done dozens of times by contractors who should know better, but are in a hurry to get concrete in the hole before the rains show up.

    If I were looking to buy the place, I'd make a list of things needing repair and assign a realistic cost to each one of them (either by getting quotes for having the work done, or doing it myself on a materials-only cost). Then I'd make an offer, starting with the asking price but deducting all of the estimated repair costs. And make a point of presenting my cost list to the seller at the same time, so he/she knows where I'm coming from. It's not exactly a sellers' market out there yet.


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    Default Re: How bad is a Stucco home?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    You'll see it all over in the first and second tier suburbs. Generally mid to late 60's up until the 80's. Shoreview, Arden Hills, Hopkins, Brooklyn Park and Champlin is where I see it the most.
    Ah, well that's suburbia! No, I'm kidding, that's interesting. I may not see it much because I don't get a lot of cases in those 'burbs, or in that time frame.

    Aha, here's a photo of Masonite Stuccato. And another, somewhat different.

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