I have been in the stucco business for 15 years and in the inspection business for about 15 minutes. However, I have been inspecting stucco since I walked on my first job.
A few years ago, I worked on a job that required an independent third-party inspector. This seemed like a good idea to me in that so much is at stake with the installation of an EIF system. Sometimes contractors are tempted--or forced by schedule--to take shortcuts. Often in training, apprentices will leave out a critical component of the system, and once it is covered up it may not surface until remedial work is required. In mid-Missouri particularly, very few general contractors or superintendents know what to look for in regard to such oversights.
I decided to research the field of EIFS inspection and its properties. I have found that the residential market is most in need of inspections of existing, as well as newly installed synthetic stucco. Many of the inspectors I spoke with were people I had never heard of, most of whom had no experience as installers or any formal training in the inspection of EIFS installations.
This seemed surprising to me, considering the number of plasterers and contractors I have come in contact with in my travels as a mudslinger. Some EIFS inspectors are engineers, some are home inspectors, but very few are plasterers. It would seem to me that plasterers, with the proper training, would make excellent EIFS inspectors. Most EIFS inspectors claim to be unable to do any of the repairs they suggest due to conflict of interest. The logic is that if they were to offer the services, it would reduce the credibility of their report. Or it might suggest that they were dishonest and just trying to create work for themselves. This seems impossible to me because any inspection should be based on the EIFS Industry Manufacturers Association guidelines, which could not be clearer; they even have pictures of each requirement.
My certification at the Mid-West Inspectors Institute taught me to refer to these pictures for each area that does not comply and to include such guidelines in the inspection report. This practice makes it nearly impossible to fabricate needed repairs or falsify the inspection report in any manner. Many books, seminars and certifications can be very informative, as was the one I attended.
Ask for references and always be cautious when paying someone for his or her assessment. As everyone knows, there is an abundance of knowledge that can only be acquired through hands-on experience. Don't discount an inspector just because he is willing and able to rectify the problem.
The views stated in this article are exclusively those of the author.
EIMA's Guide to Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems Construction may be downloaded for free at eima.com.