The phone rings and a voice says, "The rocks just blew off my house"- A faux stone disaster.
I knew what they meant. They were referring to faux stone siding. We had had a very windy day. And this house is WAS JUST MOVED IN TO.
The voice went on further, "The builder says it's an easy fix. I'm not so sure."
Let me say this clearly, in my experience ...
FAUX STONE IS THE MOST IMPROPERLY-INSTALLED SIDING MATERIAL
IN NEW CONSTRUCTION.
That is a pretty broad statement. I think it's true.
Virginia subscribes to the International Residency Code. The codes for 2009 and 2012 both specifically address faux stone installation requirements (see R703). Builders are required to meet ASTM standards (American Society for Testing and Materials), now called ASTM International (see 1063, D226, C847 and 926). And ALL faux stone manufacturers have very specific requirements for the installation of their products complete with diagrams and instructional videos.
When something like this happens literally a couple of weeks after installation, there is only one reason why.
The installation standards were not met.
Simply looking at one small area reveals how little attention was paid to proper installation techniques. This is ignorance or a lack of care, or both. IT IS UNPROFESSIONAL. IT WILL FAIL.
This is a national builder very prominent in this area, and publicly traded nationwide. This is inexcusable. NOTHING IN THE FOLLOWING LIST CAN BE SEEN IN THE PHOTO ABOVE.
Without going into detail, what's wrong here? The code and installation standards require:
- A minimum of two layers of grade D paper under everything. Felts do not meet the vapor permeability ratings.
- A designed drainage space, including weep screeds.
- A minimum of 4" above the earth, with foundation flashing included.
- Casing beads providing separation where mortar meets dissimilar materials. Amico EZ Bead provides this separation cheaply and easily.
- A minimum 2.5 pound per sq ft diamond mesh, self furred and NOT flat.
- Mortar not less than three coats when applied over metal or wire mesh. Mortar on the back side of the stone is considered one of the three coats (not done here).
- The second coat of mortar shall not be applied sooner than 48 hours, and the final coat no sooner than 7 days after the second.
- Control joints as specified by ASTM.
Elsewhere on the house these are only two examples of improper installation.
Neither one meets the code.
Neither one meets manufacturer installation requirements.
This is a job set up for failure.
Is it surprising that it has failed literally within 2 weeks of the homeowner moving in, and the first wind storm to come along?
I have spoken (it became an argument) with the administrator in this county who says the County simply cannot be responsible to monitor every installation on every job by every builder.
IF NOT THE LOCAL JURISDICTIONAL AUTHORITY,
THEN WHO WILL?
So tell me, what does that mean? This is a HUGE problem, which has to be happening nationwide. I'm convinced that builders only want their installations to get beyond the warranty period and good luck to the buyer of their product!
My recommendation: this sort of thing is disgusting. It smacks of corrupt cooperation to me! But don't worry, you don't need a private home inspection. The builder inspects the work every day and the County does numerous inspections. The next time you hear that you should visibly choke.
And I have beach property in the southwest for sale.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560