The Stucco Quandary

The Stucco Quandary

Over the last twenty years, many stucco homes have been built in the Philadelphia suburbs. Some have stucco on all sides, others have stone or brick on the front and stucco on the sides and back, and some have stucco on just a small section.

The Problem with Stucco

Though the stucco look has been popular, many buyers who purchased stucco homes have had problems with moisture penetrating behind the stucco. In some cases, the water has resulted in mold and rotted wood, which can be extensive and very expensive to address. Some homes may need only part of the stucco replaced, but others may need the entire exterior replaced.

Stucco Inspections

Because of the prevalence of these problems, stucco inspections have become a common part of purchasing a home. In most cases, the stucco inspection is separate from the home inspection. Inspection costs can be high, depending on the size of the home and the percentage that is stucco.

Some buyers won’t consider stucco homes at all, unless they receive documentation in advance that the stucco has already been inspected and remediated. This is more likely to be the case if the buyers terminated a previous sale because a stucco inspection revealed problems the sellers would not fix to their satisfaction.

What Happens If a Sale Falls Through?

Buyers and sellers often disagree about the extent of remediation needed to address stucco problems, and those sales usually fall through. If that happens, sellers will often have the stucco remediated to some degree before putting the house back onto the market. Potential new buyers are likely to want a copy of the inspection report and documentation detailing the remediation work to determine whether the remediation was thorough enough.

Proactive Testing

Some homeowners have their stucco tested in advance of listing so they can correct any problems, making their home more attractive to buyers.

Even homeowners who are not planning to sell may decide to have their stucco tested to catch problems before they become severe. If an inspector recommends replacing the stucco, many of these homeowners decide to replace it with something else, such as fiber cement siding like Hardie board. Those homeowners will be better positioned when they decide to sell.

Stucco Today

Though some builders no longer use stucco, others may still offer it, claiming that the superior installation process they use today will prevent future problems. Buyers would do well to remain skeptical of this claim, however, given the industry’s track record. Though better standards may be in place today, there is no guarantee that they are good enough and no guarantee that subcontractor oversight will be sufficient to ensure that subcontractors adhere to them.

If you’re planning to buy or sell a home, contact Annette Nelson at (610) 247-7892 or

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