Forest Heights features a wide variety of architectural styles which harmonize together to distinguish our neighborhood from tract homes. This gives Forest Heights a unique character, and reflects diversity of our neighborhood. We have an Architectural Review Committee (ARC) that achieves and maintains this outstanding environment.
Many homes in our community were built with a siding material called EIFS, which stands for “Exterior Insulation and Finish System”. It looks like traditional stucco, but is quite different underneath. The system uses an insulation board between the exterior plywood sheathing and the surface finish. EIFS has a wonderful smooth look, yet some homeowners have had issues with EIFS. Although all situations are unique, many issues are due to improper installation, leading to moisture getting trapped in the plywood sheathing and framing below, which can cause mold, dry rot and in some cases, structural damage.
Hugh and Penny Taylor experienced a severe case of EIFS damage, and have persevered through a very long process of claims. They are now very pleased to be completing a magnificent repair and exterior remodel to their home on NW Chapin Drive in August of 2011.They have learned a great deal about EIFS and have been kind enough to share their knowledge with the goal of educating and empowering fellow homeowners who may find themselves with similar challenges.
Hugh and Penny Taylor’s 10 point plan for EIFS homeowners:
- Ensure you have adequate insurance. Talk with your insurance agent in detail about your policy to understand what they cover, and more importantly, what they don’t cover. Hugh learned that his insurance company did cover portions of the interior damage but there were significant portions of the EIFS damage that the insurance company simply would not cover.
- Have regular, professional inspections—not just during home construction and when buying an existing home. Performing regular inspections are critical during home ownership to identify faults in the EIFD system or to identify areas of moisture, before the damage becomes significant. Inspections are expensive, but the non-invasive diagnostic equipment and the inspector’s expertise provide a great value in the long run.
- Respond quickly to issues uncovered during inspections, and issues that you discover. Hugh and Penny initially found leaks on the inside of exterior windows and immediately contacted their insurance agent to address the cause of the issue, and remediate the damage before it became worse. Hugh learned that it takes persistence to drive decisions and actions. Those on the other side of the claim may have motivation to respond slowly, so be persistent.
- Consult with a real estate attorney who is knowledgeable about the claim processes, especially the time limitations you may have in making claims with contractors and sub-contractors. It may take a law suit to compel your insurance company, your contractor or sub-contractors to pay a claim or make it right.
- Manage your budget to protect the major investment in your home. Work may need to proceed before claims are awarded. The Taylors could have just given up and sold their house “as-is” and taken a great loss. Some owners might even consider defaulting on their loan, which would have a huge impact on their credit, and would contribute negatively to an already distressed real estate market. Through persistence and patience, the Taylor’s earned just enough in claims to recover their costs, and after the repairs, their home’s value has been maximized.
- Work with the Forest Heights Architectural Review Committee (ARC) on choice of EIFS replacement. The ARC has published EIFS replacement guidelines on their website which highlight the fact that the material and siding must be appropriate for the design of the house. Although authentic stucco is a desirable replacement, you may choose other materials such as stone, brick, shingles, and vertical cedar siding.
- Get bids from multiple siding contractors. Personally check their references and research their history through the Oregon Construction Contractors’ Board and click on “Check a Contractor’s License”. Look beyond the costs of the project and consider the quality of the work, the warranty, service and support they provide. Also, ensure the warranty transfers to future owners if you sell your home.
- If the siding replacement is significant to the structure of the home, consult with an architect in addition to the siding contractor. The Taylor’s selected a redesign that integrated cedar with architectural elements including gabled window frames and wood trim.
- Document your issues in detail, and retain relevant documents and pictures for future reference and claims. Continue your documentation throughout the project.
- Consult with a realtor, especially if selling your home is part of your future plans. A realtor should be able to provide information on the spectrum of options you have; from simply disclosing EIFS and any known issues, all the way down to removing the old and installing new siding before your house is put on the market. Your home is an investment and a significant asset. Any insight into the resale value of the home is incredibly important to your plan of action.
Thanks to Hugh and Penny Taylor for generously sharing their personal experience with EIFS. Hugh has generously offered to speak with neighbors in Forest Heights who have siding challenges. Hugh can be reached at: 503.297.1104 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Another great resource is the Recommended Contractors List posted on the FHHOA website. This list contains contractors that have been recommended by residents and other trusted contractors.
~ Submitted by Malia Premi, a 14 year resident of Forest Heights and real estate expert in the Forest Heights market ~