What is EIFS and should you buy a home in Barrington with EIFS?
Disclaimer: I am not an EIFS specialist, I am not an EIFS inspector, I am not an EIFS installer. I come across EIFS in my daily life as a real estate agent. If you need expert advice and opinions I can direct you to the experts.
What is EIFS? The acronym stands for Exterior Insulation Finishing System. You may better know it as Fake Stucco or by one of the brand names such as Dryvit. It is a non load bearing exterior product used in Eurpoe arfter the II World War and came to the USA in the 1960’s. The majority of EIFS exteriors are on framed buildings. Here in Barrington most of the homes we see today are built as frame homes and then clad with products such as brick, stone, vinyl siding, fiber cement board siding (Hardie Plank), stucco and EIFS. That means it is the frame that supports the structure, knock off the exterior products and the house does not fall down.
EIFS is a multi layered product. On top of the framing there can be a substrate, glue, a drainage plane (newer systems), insulation board, mesh, base coat, primer and finish coat.
The home below is clad in EIFS at the front and Hardie Plank for the other three sides. There are accents also made of EIFS. I have seen EIFS on homes used for other accents like entrance pillars and to fill in spaces above bricks and stone below roof pitches. EIFS is all around Barrington’s real estate but certainly more prevalent in subdivisions built in the 1980’s and later. Examples are Wynstone North Barrington, many subdivisions in South Barrington, Savannah Lake Barrington just to name a few.
EIFS maybe something you wish to steer clear of and maybe not. First let me tell you this. There are plenty of homes sold in Barrington every month that have EIFS on them to one degree or another. So don’t necessarily think they are automatically homes to stay away from. EIFS problems occur when water penetrates the EIFS and can cause Mold and Mildew. It may cause rot in wood products behind or any other “live” material that can be damaged by water. The water cannot evaporate behind EIFS and to put that in perspective water is the most common problem in all homes.
WATER is the number one cause of problems in residential real estate in Barrington or anywhere! Water and EIFS don’t jive well together but then nor does water in basements, water and hardwood floors, even water causes damage to brick and stone. Humidity in the air can caused doors and jambs to swell, it’s water.
Water infiltrates all things valuable. All home inspectors will look for water problems during a general home inspection. A home inspector may not be able to do more than a visual inspection of EIFS, unless he is licensed as an EIFS inspector in which case you can request one from him at the same time.
Buying Homes in Barrington with EIFS
When you look at homes, you and I may not even know there is EIFS on any of the properties. If the exterior only has a small amount the listing agent may not know either and to a point, it’s actually possible a home owner does not know their home has EIFS. We can look together to see if it does but it’s not always possible, especially if it’s on a second story, it looks very much like stucco. I always highly recommend my buyers have a general home inspection done. We can ask your home inspector to let us know if the home has EIFS.
Not all homes listed for sale will have EIFS noted on the marketing sheet, so it’s always a good idea to get the inspector to check for you.
The most likely signs of EIFS issues that a general home inspector can note will be damage to the EIFS, like damage on any edges or holes, cracks in the EIFS, or gaps between the EIFS and adjacent exterior products like wood trim, stone or brick cladding. He can only make a visual inspection and does not test for moisture. A home inspector will likely suggest you have any damage further inspected because of the problems that can be caused by that dreaded water. An EIFS inspector is the best person to hire, not a general contractor and not a builder that uses the product. An EIFS inspector is certified to give you more findings on the condition of the EIFS and suggested repairs or even removal and replacement.
If you get a home inspection which mentions EIFS or if you are buying a home with EIFS, what are your options?
The recommendation is always get an EIFS certified inspector to go and do a full inspection. Now I don’t know the full details about what is included, but I know they’ll do a moisture test. So the weather has to help us out a little. It needs to be dry or a moisture test is clearly going to pick up any recent rain. The goal is to let you know if and what the problems are that exist or may exist based on those moisture readings. All of it is naked to the eye unless the EIFS is removed. That’s why you need an EIFS certified inspector. They have the knowledge I certainly don’t, they must be licensed to carry out inspections on EIFS to be of any use to you.
Barrington does not have EIFS inspectors that I could find but there are a number in Chicagoland.
Depending on the results you may choose to pull out of the deal. On the other hand all may be perfectly good. EIFS that is newer had changes to provide for taking away any water in a new drainage system, so it may be perfectly fine. Or maybe there is some damage that requires repairs or even removal, but if it’s a small area the cost may not preclude you from buying the house. You might want to negotiate with the sellers based on the results of the tests and inspection for a credit, for them to have repairs done if there’s enough time before closing, or renegotiate the purchase price. (The first option and later may have an effect on your mortgage and closing so always get that information from your loan officer.)
All I can say is don’t panic. If EIFS was such a bad product they would have stopped using it. Ultimately the decision is yours, not mine, not the sellers and not the attorneys. Only you can decide. If there’s one thing that annoys me is personal opinions passed to you about anything on an inspection reports that fuels an unnecessary fire; or puts the fear of God into you. That’s not needed; a calm approach, education and expert help is what you need to make your decision.
Are Homes in Barrington An Iffy Buy? – I would hope that now you have a little more general EIFS information, you’ll understand that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to buy a home in Barrington with EIFS. You just need more information to help you decide.
Homes For Sale in Barrington with EIFS
Here are some of the homes in Barrington that have some EIFS on them. What about selling homes with EIFS? Below the homes shown below we’ll talk about that for a bit.
Selling homes with EIFS need not be the colossal headache people think. If you have EIFS on your home it might be a good idea to have an EIFS inspection carried out. You may not realize there are issues so why not take pre-emptive action and find out. Get any repairs done before you list your home for sale. You can show potential buyers your report and repairs invoices, it will put their minds at rest knowing you have already taken care of any problems. It’s a lot better than dealing with renegotiation of sales prices or giving credits at closing.
Do you know if you have EIFS? Maybe you don’t. If you had a home inspection done when you bought the home, that might help you out. If not as your listing agent I might be able to tell you, but again I am not an EIFS professional and if it’s way up there I may not be able to tell.
At the end of the day, home ownership requires maintenance and EIFS is just another item you need to maintain.
Contact Corinne at 847-363-3686 for help buying or selling a home in Barrington. EIFS or not, we don’t mind.