Association and manufacturer outline new plan to redeem the reputation of EIFS ...

Over two years ago, the National Association of Home Builders, the NAHB Research Center and Senergy undertook the development of a plan for improved quality construction on one and two family homes clad with exterior insulation and finish systems. They have now introduced that plan to the building community.

According to Bill Egan, developer and Senergy VP of Engineering, "The purpose of this document is to establish a Quality Plan for the construction process that results in long-term performance of dwellings. And while this program focuses upon EIFS claddings, the document addresses the entire building envelope so comprehensively that it could be the model for quality plans for other wall systems."

The plan outlines key quality control points for builders and installation contractors using EIFS cladding for residential construction. The recommended construction process involves confirming that the building is suitable for EIFS installation, selecting the right EIF System, verifying that the building substrate, weather barrier, flashing and sealants have been properly installed, and using a check list to ensure the proper installation of the EIF System. The EIFS installation process includes attachment of the insulating board, and application of the reinforced basecoat and finish coat.

Egan pointed out that a very important aspect of the program is its attention to responsibilities of the trades and of the builder or general contractor whose job is to coordinate their work. "We have included measures that encourage all parties to clearly define and contractually assign responsibilities for covering all work to all who are involved in any project. Each subcontractor must know exactly what he is responsible for and the builder or GC must coordinate the timely sequencing of each trade."

In announcing the availability of the plan, Senergy President and CEO, John Salvatore emphasized its importance: "A team of very talented construction professionals and researchers from NAHB, the NAHB RC and Senergy developed the EIFS Quality Plan. Builders who follow this plan will be able to deliver homebuyers the look they want with the confidence that it will perform for years to come. We can also take this plan to insurance companies, real estate companies and relocation companies and show that we have taken measures to establish EIFS as the very best value on the market today."

The plan applies only to water-managed or drainable EIFS which it defines as, "EIF Systems, just like brick, stucco and vinyl siding that are designed to allow drainage of incidental water that may leak behind the exterior cladding. These systems typically have a building code recognized weather-resistive barrier over the sheathing, flashed and protected openings, and a drainage mechanism/provision between the exterior cladding and the weather-resistive barrier. These design elements are intended to prevent water from contacting the sheathing and provide a path for water to drain away and evaporate from the structure."

The objective of the EIFS Quality Plan is to prevent construction defects, ensure compliance with manufacturers' requirements, and reduce variances. The EIFS Quality Plan identifies important factors to consider before selecting and installing EIFS:

o The EIF system selected must meet applicable regulatory requirements.

o The EIF system selected must be a drainage-type system.

o The EIF system selected must be capable of performing for the intended application and meet the performance attributes described herein.

o EIFS materials from one manufacturer's system must not be substituted for materials from another manufacturer's system.

o Building designs must not exceed limitations specified by the EIFS manufacturer.

o Workmanship requirements must be clearly defined.

o Craftsmen must be trained and qualified to perform the work.

o EIFS contractors must be approved by the EIFS manufacturer for the system being installed.

o EIFS installation contract must define responsibilities of the builder, trade contractors, and sequencing of work.

o Purchased trade contractor services, products and materials must conform to specified requirements of the EIFS manufacturer.

o Selection and installation of building materials, such as flashing, weather barriers, windows, etc., must be integrated with the EIFS manufacturer's specifications.

o The EIFS contractor must have a qualified crew leader on the job-site during installation.

o The EIFS contractor must conduct job-ready inspection before installation and issue corrective actions to the builder when non-conformances are identified.

The plan discusses each of these areas in greater depth, and provides a checklist that can be used as a construction quality management tool on every job site.

Since 1998, Senergy remains the only EIFS manufacturer to require the use of water-managed EIFS on all one and two family framed residential construction. It has also undertaken initiatives with the insurance industry to ensure that contractors using EIFS are able to obtain liability coverage at reasonable rates.

Egan and two other Senergy employees (Randy Donovan, Director of Technical Services and Kent Stumpe Director of Marketing Communications) subsequently wrote an article titled, "Lessons Learned from Wilmington," that outlined actions that would be required of manufacturers and builders in order to avoid further problems related to moisture in framed residential construction, regardless of cladding type. According to Egan, "Senergy is very pleased that we were able to work with the NAHB and the NAHB Research Center to create a comprehensive document that will go a long way to preventing any repeat of those lessons we learned about construction in the late 90s."

Copies of the plan are available from Senergy, the NAHB Research Center and the NAHB.