Do you see what I see?
This is so common it is unbelievable. Improperly finished work.
The house in the photo is new construction. It is not a cheap property.
There is an attractive curbside to the house, and an inviting front porch. All told it is a beautiful home.
The stone on the foundation walls and columns lends an air of older construction to the property.
Stone work, all kinds, has to be done professionally, with experienced installers, using tried and true techniques, or it will not last.
The most common reason it does not last is water. Water invites structural issues behind the stone, along with termites. The termites are well hidden when they enter behind the stone and begin their damage very quietly.
Looking closely on both sides of the porch you would see something like this.
This is so unbelievably incorrect one has to wonder about the training of the installer.
It is unknown if that metal lath is self-furred (IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE FLAT) and 2.5 pounds per square yard (code).
It is unknown if the self-furred lath is attached every 6" with galvanized nails or staples (code). The mesh is supposed to be dimpled to allow the mortar lots of grab-ability, and the ability to provide structural integrity.
It is unknown if the lath was properly covered with mortar. The lath is supposed to be covered with two or three coats of mortar, depending on the kind of stone, which completely covers the lath (code).
It is unknown if the mortar coats dried long enough. Those coats need to dry (harden) as many as 10 days before the application of any stone (code).
The decking has been pushed into a convenient gap apparently because it was applied before the stone.
My recommendation: I don't know if the county/city inspector has seen this or not. I am not the code enforcer. I have no juice to cause anything to happen. All I can do is observe and report. Stone, faux stone, cultured stone, architectural stone - whatever - all has very specific installation requirements or it will not last. The subsequent problems to improper installation can be enormous and expensive.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560