Nick discusses the EIFS insurance problem, among issues with the exterior cladding.

Dolly Parton once said, “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” It’s always been a favorite quote of mine because it is both positive and realistic. I recently came across another quote: “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.”

When one comes across wisdom so honest, it is easy to apply it to one’s personal experience. The big picture is what is important and is the sum total of how we treat its components.

Working on Walls & Ceilings exposes me to different facets of this industry’s hearts and souls. In this month’s Face-to-Face with Floyd Gordon Jr., president of the Carolinas Lathing and Plastering Contractors Association, I got (and the readers will get) the reality of CLAPCA’s members’ hardships obtaining insurance coverage to perform their trade. A tangling quagmire of red tape and big payoffs threatens the craftsmen and manufacturers of a perfectly good product. However, even at this hour, Gordon and CLAPCA can see the rainbow for the rain. They are proactive in their mission to convince insurance companies that EIFS is insurable. They’ll need to convince insurance companies that neither the EIFS industry nor the insurance industry can no longer “do what they always did,” to ensure that the result will not be “what they always got” (which actually means a great product with a few bad residential installations besmirching an industry).

The cover story, about EIFS simulating brick, is a product that is a good example of a cladding that may appeal on a more basic level. Simulated brick has always been popular, whether as wallpaper, “Z-brick,” or other materials. Its conservative appeal may help offer a different concept of an EIFS appearance.

Also contributing to the big picture are the results of a survey conducted by W&C and the EIFS Industry Members Association that got an impressive response, and the results are in this issue (read "Survey Says" in this issue). I think they show that neither the product nor the manufacturers nor the competent installer are solely to blame for the current insurance crisis. Rather, the problem was sort of a “team effort,” just like the solution must be.

The message I get is this: Manufacturers must ensure end users and insurance providers that they are only allowing their product to be installed by competent professionals. Installers must ensure manufacturers that they are indeed worthy of selling and installing the product, and installers must also ensure insurance companies and end users of this worthiness through accountability. Accountability is through evidence of past successes, manufacturer endorsements and referrals. The product itself is blameless.

If this chain of execution is maintained, from manufacturers selling to approved contractors who perform the installations successfully (as most have always done), it seems irrational on its face that an insurance provider would not cover this product. As I mentioned previously, here is a huge market providers are reluctant to touch. The first one to come up with reasonable requirements of its contractors is going to cash in.

“It may be raining but there’s a rainbow above you.”