R D McClure is a court approverd expert on Moisture Intrusion and Construction Defect Analysis. Services in legal assistance include building dianostics, typically problematic conditions associated to moisture infiltration through direct liquid infiltration or vapor transmission. Evaluation of moisture infiltration typically include source determination, effect and repair protocol. Additional services include repair cost analysis as well as detailed evaluations associated to Contractor Responsibilities and Trade Interfacing. For further information refer to either CV Long or CV Short.
Date: October 12, 2006
To: To whom it may concern
I have been self employed in the construction field since 1969 and a California licensed General Contractor for over 30 years. My experience has come from a self started construction company based in Los Angeles, California that generated in excess of 60 million dollars in construction related contracts. I have worked in the capacity of General Contractor in projects in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Hawaii. I retired to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1994 at which time I acquiring both a General Contractor and Building Inspectors License. I became involved with EIFS (Synthetic Stucco.) during the time the problems were first detected in the Wilmington area and have been actively involved in the testing, evaluating and design of detail repairs to EIFS since we first became aware that the condition was typically the same in the Charlotte area. Through my involvement, which include evaluations of more than 6000 structures, I have become actively involved in moisture related construction failure issues presently effecting numerous types of buildings. After providing testing and analysis information on conventional stucco systems I was appointed and actively served on the Charlotte, Mecklenburg Stucco Task Force which was created by the Mecklenburg Building Development Council to evaluate the increasing problems related to Hard Coat Stucco Systems.
Based upon this experience and the final findings of the Stucco Task Force, I along with many other qualified repair contractors, building officials and engineers, have found that the conditions effecting Synthetic and Hard Coat Stucco structures are very much the same and really have little to do with the system material itself. We found that the main problems relate to the lack of builder understanding of code required barrier application procedures and that where code compliant repairs were properly implemented these structures no longer suffer the moisture related problems associated with stucco applications.
I presently provide testing and analysis evaluations for Dryvit, Sto, Finestone as well as a number of other product manufacturers. Additionally, I spent a number of years as an active member of the Technical Committee for the North Carolina Lath and Plaster Contractors Association and actively and consistently consult on legal matters for both plaintiffs and defendants as an industry approved expert on structure barrier systems and construction defect analysis. Presently approximately 50% of our field evaluations include buildings clad in materials other than EIFS and those findings indicate the problems associated with moisture infiltration is the same and the cladding material itself is rarely, if ever, the cause of water related infiltration and associated damage.
I moved to North Carolina in November 1993. Prior to that time, I had been employed for over 24 years as a general contractor. During my work as a general contractor, I completed over million of construction projects in the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Hawaii. I worked on both residential and commercial construction remodeling, and repairs of existing structures. I am experienced in the construction, remodeling, repair and inspection of a variety of exterior sidings and wall assemblies, including brick, wood, vinyl, synthetic stucco and conventional stucco. I was licensed in the State of California as a general contractor in 1975, license number #311664. Beginning in 1984, I also was employed professionally as an inspector of both commercial and residential buildings.
After settling in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, I became involved in the professional inspection of buildings in North and South Carolina. I obtained a North Carolina general contractors license for both residential and commercial construction on July 19. 1995, license number #35188. Thereafter, on October 1, 1996, shortly after the inception of home inspection licensing in North Carolina, I obtained a North Carolina home inspector's license, license number #216.
Since March 1996, I have inspected and evaluated over 3500 structures clad with EIFS in North and South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, and Philadelphia, the majority of which have been in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Since June of 1997, I have inspected and evaluated in excess of 2500 structures clad with traditional hard coat stucco in the area. I have also inspected and evaluated structures clad with other exterior siding, including wood, brick, and vinyl siding. All of these investigations focused on concerns relating to water intrusion and related problems and were performed at the request of the property owners, realtors, lending institutions, product manufacturers, insurance companies as well as both plaintiff and defendant attorneys. As part of my investigations and evaluations of these structures, I have provided repair protocol on more than 90% of those structures to address deficiencies relating to water intrusion. I have also interacted with independent repair contractors relating to the repair of many of these structures. As a result of this work, I am familiar with the construction deficiencies which have resulted in moisture intrusion and related problems to structures, the repairs appropriate to remedy the conditions and problem, and the cost of such repairs.
In my investigation of over 3500 structures clad with EIFS, I have not found the EIFS to be the source of water intrusion in any structure. Rather, the source or sources of moisture intrusion and moisture related conditions were one or more of the following deficiencies in construction which violate local Building Code requirements: missing, improper or inadequate flashing at windows, doors, roof and wall intersections, decks, or other conditions requiring flashing; missing, improper, or inadequate sealants at penetrations; deficiencies in other components such as windows and doors; wet and, in some cases, flooded crawl spaces; and a failure on the part of both the contractor and the building inspection department to assure the implementation of the minimum building code requirements.
I have also found these same construction deficiencies existing with respect to investigations of structures clad with hard coat stucco and other sidings, specifically: missing, improper or inadequate flashiness at windows, doors, roof and wall intersections, decks, or other conditions requiring flashing; missing, improper, or inadequate sealants at penetrations; deficiencies in other components such as windows and doors; wet and, in some cases, flooded crawl spaces; and a failure on the part of both the contractor and the building inspection department to assure the implementation of building code requirements. Water intrusion and consequences thereof have been detected in these other [non-EIFS] structures as well because of these same deficiencies in construction. In fact, the repairs for conventional hard coat stucco homes have generally surpassed the dollar cost for EIF System repairs.
I sat as a member of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Stucco Task Force, by appointment of Jim Bartl, Assistant Director, Engineering and Building Standards for Mecklenburg County. This Task Force was formed by the Mecklenburg Building Development Council in August 1997, after the same or similar type of deficiencies, and the same or similar issues relating to water intrusion, were found in conventional stucco cladded structures as had been found in EIFS cladded structures. The Stucco Task Force considered all possible problem causes and came up with the conclusion that the problem associated with Hard Coat stucco barrier protection were the same as those found in other cladding systems to include wood, vinyl, brick, and EIFS. The problem causes were associated with improper frame structure protection and included windows and doors that leaked internally, lack of proper window and door sealants, and lack of proper flashing application and barrier installation. All of these problems were found to be adequately addressed in the existing building code.
Copies of the following documents relating to the work of this Task Force are available upon request:
My letter dated May 10, 1997 regarding problems with hard coat stucco
Original notification letter inviting me to participate on the Task Force
My letter to the Task Force dated December 3, 1997 addressing my opinion regarding responsibility for flashing details and installation which was unanimously approved and accepted onto the Task Force records.
Draft Task Force Report to the Building Development Council
Final Task Force Report to the Building Development Council
By request of The Carolinas Lathing & Plastering Contractors Association (CLAPCA) I sat, for a number of years, as an active member of the CLAPCA Technical Committee.
A part of my active involvement on the CLAPCA Technical Committee I authored the Carolinas Lathing and Plastering Contractors Association Position Paper on Inspection and Evaluation of existing Exterior Cement Based Plaster (Stucco) installed on residentialconstruction. (Copy available upon request) The basis for the position paper stresses the fact that deviations from building codes and other standards do not automatically require the complete removal and replacement of the cladding, unless it has been determined with reasonable certainty the deviations are the cause of functional problems that effect the claddings ability to perform its intended purpose.
Certain components are critical to the proper installation of all claddings on structures. In North Carolina the Building Code has established minimum requirements relating to these components. I have observed code deficiencies in the following components in both EIFS clad structures and other (non-EIFS) clad structures:
Flashing: Flashings must be properly installed in such a fashion as to direct water outside the face of the cladding material. If flashings are not properly installed, the potential of causing damage to the structure substrate will exist no matter what cladding material has been used. The North Carolina Building Code requires appropriate flashing, among other places, at the following locations; at top of all exterior window and door openings (except self-flashing windows having a continuous lap of not less than 1 1/8 inches); at intersection of chimneys or other masonry construction with frame or stucco walls; under and at the ends of masonry, wood or metal copings and sills; continuously above all projecting wood trim; where exterior porches, decks or stairs attach to a wall or floor assembly of wood-frame construction; at wall and roof intersections; at junctions of chimneys and roofs; in all roof valleys and around all roof openings. (e.g. Code R-503.8, R-503.1)
Windows and doors: If these components allow moisture to penetrate to the interior side of any structure protective cladding system, the potential of causing damage to the building structure framing or substrate materials will exist. Windows that leak internally allow moisture to penetrate to structure substrate and framing behind all types of cladding systems. (e.g. Code R-411, S-26.411, and S-26.412).
Sealants: Proper sealant applications are as important for EIFS as for all cladding applications. Moisture infiltration related to the lack of proper sealant application has the potential to damage substrate and frame structure behind all cladding systems. (e.g. Code E-2505.4) Sealant joints are an acceptable and practical means of weather proofing exterior wall, but sealants must be properly installed and reasonably maintained as typical with any window installation.
The roles and responsibilities of the general contractor or builder can vary from structure to structure depending upon the specific terms of the builders contractual agreement with the owner. Accordingly, the roles and responsibilities of the builder of any particular structure can only be determined in light of the specific agreements and undertakings involved with respect to that specific structure. Nonetheless, in all cases, the builder is required to complete the construction in conformity with the applicable building code. (See R-114). In North Carolina, the North Carolina Building Code governs. In addition to complying with the minimum Building Code requirements, the following general principals apply to define the builders roles and responsibilities:
If the structure has been designed by an architect or design professional, the builder is required to construct and complete the project according to the design plans, specifications, details, and contract documents.
If the builder undertakes to design as well as build the structure (i.e. the structure is not designed by a design professional) the builder is required to perform all functions of design, including the proper selection and integration of the various components and materials required for proper construction.
The builder is responsible for the final outcome of construction, to ensure that the construction is properly built in compliance with the plans, specifications, details, contract documents, and in full compliance with all building code requirements. This responsibility includes the work performed by sub-contractors or sub-trades hired by the builder. The builder's role and responsibility includes the selection and supervision of all sub-contractors and trades, appropriate scheduling or sequencing of the work of all sub-contractors or trades, and proper interaction of all work performed by each sub-contractor and trade. The builder must be sufficiently knowledgeable about the scope of work performed by the sub-contractor or sub-trades so that the construction can proceed to proper completion. With new materials and methods, the builder has a responsibility to adequately educate himself as to the characteristics of the material or method in order to perform these functions.
The builder is responsible for the complete and proper application of flashing at all locations where needed, such as doors, windows, decks, roofing, and roof and wall interfaces; control joint location preparation, if needed; and sealant application and caulking.
I first became aware of the fact that windows used in construction in North and South Carolina were prone to leak as a result of the inspections I performed in the Carolinas. Prior to my work in the Carolinas, in over 25 years of construction experience, I was not aware of such a wide spread problem with windows leaking. My experience included extensive remodeling work in both commercial and residential construction. Although the same types of windows are used in the Carolinas that were used in the areas where I derived my construction experience, I have observed that the general quality of windows and doors have become far inferior to windows and doors which were used in the areas where I worked. The non-performance of windows in the Carolinas is attributable to manufacturing deficiencies and failure of the contractor to properly install the window or prime and paint the window. Specifically, in the Carolinas, I have found that windows rarely contain sealant between the glass and the window on the exterior, nor at joints in the window frame. Also, windows and doors are often installed with raw wood still exposed, unprimed and unprotected.
Window leaks will not occur at properly sealed and fabricated window frame corners. The industry standard for many years has expected properly sealed and fabricated frame corners.
In my opinion, the quality of workmanship and construction in the structures I have inspected in the Carolinas is generally poor. This is not limited to the cladding but applies to general construction deficiencies as well. For example, I have observed barrier protection and flashing problems with masonry decks and patios, foundations and roofing which resulted in water penetration and damage to building structure. These problems constitute deficient construction and code violations.
Based upon my experience, the builder, in preparation and completion of construction of structures clad with synthetic stucco, did not follow required minimum building codes in the installation of flashings or sealants. Moreover, there was apparently no verification by the builder or the Building Department that the structures had been built in compliance with minimum building code requirements.
In my opinion, exterior walls clad with barrier EIF Systems, if properly installed or repaired using sound construction practices, will provide the same level of performance as other cladding available for use in the construction industry.
Dated October 12, 2006
If you should have any questions or need any additional information please feel free to call me at (704) 243-3100