City eyes possible revisions to stucco building material policy“Stucco.” It’s not a popular word for some who live in Woodbury. But discussions about the residential siding material have re-emerged recently, at both the Legislature and city hall.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
“Stucco.” It’s not a popular word for some who live in Woodbury. But discussions about the residential siding material have re-emerged recently, at both the Legislature and city hall.
On Wednesday, June 17, the Woodbury City Council discussed the possibility of updating its official stance on stucco.
One of the topics for discussion included the possibility of a moratorium on stucco, which city chief building official Ron Glubka pointed out was unlikely as “the city has no authority to establish a moratorium or to prohibit stucco as it is specifically allowed in the State Building Code.”
The city first turned its attention to stucco in the late 1990s, when inspectors noticed several homes with stucco exteriors were experiencing “stucco failure.”
Stucco failure occurs when moisture from either the interior or the exterior of a home gets trapped in the wall cavity. That water can then cause mold, rot and structural deterioration.
In 2003, the city adopted a position paper on stucco that drew the ire of some homeowners and builders. The paper served as a information piece that stated the city’s stance on potential problems with stucco homes.
The city has tracked the stucco issue over the last decade and has compiled statistics through February 2009 that show 418 of the 670 stucco homes in Woodbury that existed in 1999 have failed and been repaired — a failure rate of 62 percent.
“The average time from new construction to repair is 9.8 years. Forty-seven of the homes have been repaired more than once,” Glubka wrote in his report to the council. “Repair permits have been issued for 46 post-1999 stucco homes. We do not have statistics related to how many post-1999 stucco homes have been built. It appears the post-1999 failure rate will be similar to the pre-1999 failure rate.”
After some discussion, council members instructed staff to continue with the city’s current stance on use of stucco, which is included in position paper on the city’s website at http://www.ci.woodbury.mn.us/planning/hmstucco.html
Stucco at the Capitol
The stucco issue has also garnered some attention at the state Legislature of late.
Last month, the House and Senate passed home warranty bills that states a court may award attorney’s fees to prevailing homeowners in home warranty litigation.
Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury), chief author of the bill in the Senate, said discussions on the bill at times centered on using the stucco issue in Woodbury as an example of the need for the legislation.
Saltzman said she also introduced legislation in 2007 that was supported by the Builders’ Association of Minnesota that would require builders and subcontractors to use pan flashing, a method of preventing molding in homes, when installing new windows.
“So many of the problems we’ve seen in Woodbury are due to how doors and windows were installed in new homes,” Saltzman said, citing the problems associated with water intrusion in the walls of homes, which can cause mold issues.
“If we can facilitate and encourage warranty issues to be resolved before they escalate to the level of litigation, this will serve all stakeholders better and avoid the high cost of attorney's fees associated with legal battles,” Saltzman said.