The Return of EIFS
If a company is willing to warrant EIFS repair, insurance companies refusing to insure such work become unnecessary. Moisture Warranty Corp., of the Charlotte, N.C. area, has a simple solution to the state of EIFS repair restrictions due to insurance unavailability issues: Become a certified Moisture Warranty EIFS repair contractor and agree to have work checked by a certified Moisture Warranty EIFS inspector. The company will then warrant the repair work allowing homeowners and contractors to feel secure in the work performed.
“Given the state of litigation in the EIFS industry today, we are the solution and perhaps the salvation,” says Chris Burton, president of Moisture Warranty. “Instead of getting hammered with lawsuits and doing tear-off and reclad, this option is available and approved by the courts (Moisture Warranty was the “official” warranty QC coordinator in recent legal settlements), and that these systems can be salvaged and restored to the cladding that the manufacturers originally made.”
Warrant not insureThe amount of attention given to the Moisture Warranty option has been limited.
“Some repair contractors have been leery of us due to the fact that any time you involve inspectors, alert signs go up in contractors,” Burton continues. “That’s because anyone involved with inspections is often bound to bring bad news. Some contractors saw us as potential police of their work—which we are—but not to take them to court or encourage people to sue them but to correct any mistakes made, sometimes through no fault of their own. Additionally, we want to offer homeowners a non-litigation solution to potential problems.”
Mike Minigh, quality control consultant for Moisture Warranty, also laments the “worst-case scenario” solution usually given to homeowners with problems.
“Homeowners are often told they have no solution outside of stripping the entire home,” he explains. “The saying is, ‘If you got EIFS, you got to tear it off,’ and that’s not true.”
“Keep in mind, only sometimes is the reaction negative to the idea of inspection,” adds Kay Candler, marketing director. “In different parts of the country, contractors are in areas where we can really help. We are looking to fix these homes with a lasting repair. Where it needs to be stripped, of course we’ll say so, but it is highly unlikely.”
The predecessor company that spawned the idea for the moisture-free warranty was originally called Stucco Pro, and formed as an inspection company that licensed a specialized testing and recording procedure to home inspectors across the country. Fifty-five affiliates tested and documented, and instead of inspectors producing reports, they actually did the fieldwork and sent photos and documents to the main office, which passed the information as a finished report to the homeowner. It gave the company a chance to capture a wealth of data on what was occurring in EIFS home construction.
“In 1999, when we started working on the Moisture Warranty program, not only did we discover what a tremendous amount of data we had but also that the problems were not nearly as severe as homeowners were led to believe,” Burton says. “The data also showed that when proper repairs were performed, the repairs worked. When fixed properly, they rarely fail. Bottom line: If you inspect and repair a certain way, we’ll put a warranty on it.”
This might mean huge opportunities for contractors. Now, general liability is all that is needed to cover potential mishaps that have nothing to do with EIFS repair coverage.
Both sides of the Dryvit class action case approached Moisture Warranty. The homes in the case needed to be fixed with a warranty to back the repairs. It took two years of negotiation but finally, everyone agreed to a settlement. Both the plaintiffs and defendants approved the warranty in court. Now that the settlement has put the official stamp of approval on the repair warranty, the company wants everyone to know what it is and how it works.
“We want to involve everyone in the transaction a solution process,” Burton says. “Not just a warranty but we are also letting people know which inspectors and repair contractors are good, what they should and shouldn’t do to a home, etc. All this is part of the solution process. It’s typically about two to three months from first inspection to warranty issued.”
Contractor’s prerogativeThe process is that first, a contractor goes through training to be a repair contractor. It’s around $595 for manuals and videos that will certify two people in the company to do the repairs. The certified individual is required to be on the job every day—if not all day—to inspect on the daily progress. The failsafe for Moisture Warranty is that a second inspection is done after the repairs to ensure that everything stated to be done in the initial inspection has been performed.
Currently, the company is only warranting existing construction, not new projects ... yet. However, plans are in the works for both new residential construction and commercial warranties. Certified repair contractors are in high demand, in addition to certified inspectors. Any repair contractor in good standing with Moisture Warranty will get a lot of the work currently awaiting repair.
Frank Guidera, CEO of Performance Exteriors, a repair contractor in Charlotte, N.C., and current vice president of CLAPCA, chairman of its technical committee, and past chairman of AWCI’s EIFS committee, is a Moisture-Free certified repair contractor. Guidera was instrumental in working with Dick Hopkins on the EIFS Doing it Right Program, and an instructor for the inspectors and applicators.
“I knew about this program, I’d been following it since the class action suit,” says Guidera. “I became a certified repair contractor in early 2003. I thought it was well written and it was right along the lines of what they have in their textbook and the tapes they give you. And if you have any kind of job experience, in addition to the text and videos, you should pass it. But it’s not a giveaway, I’ll tell you that. You have to know what you’re doing.”
Guidera looked at eight to 10 houses that have been inspected by certified inspectors and he gave the repair price based on what they said and has agreed with them across the board except on some incidental things. He is still waiting to proceed as the houses he’s bid on must go through the process at headquarters before work can begin.
“All the ones I’ve looked at have been inspected but I’m still waiting for the green light,” he says. “I fully expect to get the work, bar none.”