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Stucco Part 5: As a new homeowner, stucco remediation could be significant


The 22-acre property nestled in Buckingham Township was a dream come true for Lee and Carole Schram.

With acres of pasture for their horses and the allure of an old stone Bucks County farmhouse dating to about 1740, the property included a two-story stone barn, garage, and stucco pool house. Carole Schram, an avid equestrian, was hooked.

But the road to realizing their dream included significant stucco remediation on additions made to the main house in 2004, a renovation to the barn, which will be used to move the horses quartered in Stockton, New Jersey, a roof that needed replacing, and other outbuilding repairs.

“When we came to look at the house, we noticed on [first] sight that there was a roof problem, and a stucco problem. In parts, there was a siding problem, too,” property owner Lee Schram explained.

He said the primary issues were in the newer part of the house.

Schram had a vision of what the renovations and repairs to the 8,800-square-foot home could achieve, and while it was a big task the couple committed to the property’s reclamation.

He assembled a team to survey the work on the house, outbuildings and barn, with one vendor contact being a critical component of the project.

“With the stucco and roof problems, I wanted somebody who could do the whole thing,” Schram explained.

That meant finding a construction professional that was not only skilled in stucco remediation but someone he could trust to build the right team to include roofers, carpenters and painters, and any other skilled trades people.

Building rapport with his construction team was another critical piece of the project’s success, Schram said.

“I was interviewing [and] checking references… to determine if they could do the extensive work that needed to be done,” he said. The Schram’s home involved failing siding as well as stucco problems.

The rehabilitation process took about six months to complete.

With any home repair project, it’s essential to know and understand the terms and lingo.

For example, re-siding only refers to the replacement of existing siding and does not correct any underlying causes or problems. That means residing a failing system won’t correct the failure.

With stucco, failure factors include incorrectly applied material, seams that allow moisture an entry point, improperly flashed openings like windows and doors, and not having a system in place to account for water, moisture and evaporation or air circulation. Failing any or all of these essential elements spells trouble.

“If there was stucco [on the buildings] there was varying degrees of moisture,” resulting in varying degrees of problems, Schram said.

Remediation corrects the problem and underlying failures. During remediation, the failing stucco or siding is removed, underlying structures are repaired or replaced, moisture systems are incorporated to prevent future problems, and new exterior material is applied.

Addressing roof line seams, gutters, windows, doors and flashing is essential in correcting water infiltration problems.

At the Schrams’ “every window and every door [was] taken out, reflashed” and reinstalled, Schram said.

He said stone masons were brought in to save the 1,500-square-foot stone barn. On some surfaces, like the chimneys or exterior walls, failing stucco was remediated and new siding or stone was selected to replace it.

Schram said lower stucco foundation spaces were repaired and windows were removed from a storage garage and replaced with cinderblock, which received correctly applied stucco treatments.

“The home is beautiful, and we’re happy with the results,” he said.

Think you know stucco?

Bucks County Herald presents The Greater Philadelphia Stucco Remediation Forum held March 18 to address industry concerns and provide education and information to the public.

Two sessions will be tailored to accommodate industry professionals and consumers. Morning and evening forums will be held inside the Life Sciences Building Auditorium at Delaware Valley University.

The public service forums were prompted by the staggering number of failing stucco homes and impact to homeowners and the real estate market in southeastern Pennsylvania, and across Bucks County.

The forums provide access to nationally recognized experts to raise awareness around stucco façade problems and best practices to address them. William Penn Bank is the forum sponsor.

Tickets are not required for either forum but seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.

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