In the 90's we saw our volume of work decline in the cement stucco industry due to the amount of EIFS being installed on custom homes here in Oregon and Washington. As a company certified to install both EIFS and traditional 3 coat cement stucco, we were trying to figure out how other companies were under bidding us, sometimes by 30% to 40%. We finally figured out that when it came to installing EIFS, they were hiring drywaller's and painter's and paying 30% to 40% less wage rate. A house that would take us approx 8 weeks to complete applying/installing real cement stucco was being done in approx 3-4 weeks by our competitors installing EIFS. Being familiar with the installation of EIFS, we were amazed with the speed of application these companies were providing. On a real cement stucco system, one has to call for an inspection of the lath/vapor barrier prior to applying cement. There was no such inspection required for EIFS. We started to take a closer look as to how these EIFS projects were being put together and it was mind boggling as to the lack of quality control being enforced. No head flashings, backer-rod and sealant joints omitted, gutters embedded behind the system, no divertor flashings to direct water from getting behind the cladding. In most cases it was being directed behind/into the system. In some cases you could see the outline of the fiberglass mesh telegraphing through the finish coat which means they were cheating on the layers of cement coating required by the manufacturer, thinning of the materials to get more square footage out of a pail and the list goes on. We brought this to the attention of the city inspections, but alas, it was to no avail. It now made sense as to why we were being under bid. The old greed factor had taken over with complete disregard for quality and pride in workmanship. One of my old time plaster's/lather's (RIP) predicted what was going to be coming down the road. He predicted massive failures and a system being black listed. I agreed with him on the failures to come, but disagreed with him on the system being blamed. He was right. I was wrong. We have since been involved in removing and replacing 1000's of square feet of EIFS on many of the homes we had originally bid on and were beaten out on price. Some of the same clients still live in these homes and regret the choice they made back then. I remind them they did not choose a bad system, rather, they choose a bad installer. There are EIFS systems out there for 25+ years and are still performing just fine, those that would have been installed by professional applicators. I can attest to the fact that every EIFS project we have removed and replaced had failure due to installer error/neglect and not the system itself. Some of the installers responsible for the degradation of the EIFS system are still operating and are as busy as ever, even though they may have changed their names slightly. There is a lot more that went on in the next phase of the EIFS blog (class action lawsuits, attorneys, contractors) The home owner in most cases becomes the victim.
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