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Old 11-26-2011, 04:08 PM   #1
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Big Gap between stucco and foundation


I am having a new addition built at the back of my house. Single-storied, pier and beam structure with gable roof, stucco exterior. I just found out last week that there is a big gap between the stucco and the concrete foundation at the bottom of the stucco. (see photos) I am worried that critters (rats, mice, insects, snakes, whatever nasty stuffs) will enter the house from there.

I confronted my contractor about this but he shrugged it off insisting that this is just a small gap and very common and that behind the stucco wall there is plywood so nothing could get in. I am not convinced.

So is this normal? or is this a lousy job? We have passed the 2 stucco inspections already(well, they don't really check that details during the city inspection.) At this point, my contractor seems unwilling to do anything about it.

My thinking is that I will use expansion foams injecting in there to seal it up.
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Old 11-26-2011, 08:51 PM   #2
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Is it an optical illusion or does the gap width change along the wall? If it's the same all the way I probably agree with the builder that is just how the war was structured. If it varies considerably that it's due to workmanship. Do you have any pictures showing what layers were used during the construction of the wall? If you look up in the gap what material do you see?
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:10 PM   #3
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Actually....it's a bit sloppy on the framing or foundation. You should have about 1/2" from the sill plate to the outside edge of the stem wall. This allows the shear wall to be flush with the edge of the stem wall.

From your picture, it looks like they got part of it right...and part of it wrong.

Is it technically wrong? No...you would have a hard time getting anyone to give you any support for it to be corrected....

Basically, someone screwed up...either the guy doing the concrete forms or the framer.

FWIW....when I built my garage...I was not up to speed on all the 'minor' details.....hence, when I put down my sill plate, I made it flush with the stem wall...so when I hung the shear wall...I ended up with what you have....except mine is the same on all 4 walls.
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:13 PM   #4
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What that looks like to me is that the foundation is slightly off and the framers built the walls where they are supposed to go (based upon dimensions) instead of following the foundation. It's not a big deal and I would say 70% of houses around here have some of that on 1-3 sides of the structure. The 2x4 (or 2x6) wall plate probably sits over the foundation a little bit and the ply hangs over more, nothing can really get through it. If you choose to fill it just make sure you don't plug your weep holes.
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:19 PM   #5
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He should have returned the stucco to the concrete. Pack some styrofoam into the gap and carefully stucco it.
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by titanoman View Post
He should have returned the stucco to the concrete. Pack some styrofoam into the gap and carefully stucco it.

NO....wrong...wrong....wrong.....

Better to leave it as is.

If you were to look at how it was made...weep screen went on first...then layers of stucco paper. The wire mesh gets nailed on and then your scratch coat, brown coat and then the final color coat.

Stucco is NOT water proof. Moisture will get through....when it does it hits the paper...then drains down and out via the weep screen. If you put anything below the weep screen, you block in the water.

In the old days, they used to stucco all the way down the stem wall and below grade....this is how my house was done....and you can see the places where the water got trapped betwen the mud plate and stem wall. This is no longer an accepted practice.
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddawg16

NO....wrong...wrong....wrong.....

Better to leave it as is.

If you were to look at how it was made...weep screen went on first...then layers of stucco paper. The wire mesh gets nailed on and then your scratch coat, brown coat and then the final color coat.

Stucco is NOT water proof. Moisture will get through....when it does it hits the paper...then drains down and out via the weep screen. If you put anything below the weep screen, you block in the water.

In the old days, they used to stucco all the way down the stem wall and below grade....this is how my house was done....and you can see the places where the water got trapped betwen the mud plate and stem wall. This is no longer an accepted practice.
Yeah... I wasn't thinking
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by htabbas;779414.
(see photos) I am worried that critters (rats, mice, insects, snakes, whatever nasty stuffs) will enter the house from there.

My thinking is that I will use expansion foams injecting in there to seal it up.
DO NOT seal up the weep screed. As mentioned, stucco is NOT waterproof and water will get behind it and it needs to drain down or it will cause problems.



Here is a question:

1 - Is that addition completely 100% sheared with OSB plywood??

If not, then you WILL get critters inside the home as they will simply make their way in through the tar paper and framing. They will then make their residence in your walls. MANY homes out in AZ are not sheared and bugs, along with mice make their way in and live within the walls. Scorpions, cockroaches, crickets, Black Widows, and even rodents cause problems due to the homes not being sheared in the Phx AZ areas.

I live in a tract home that was not sheared and I will get the occasional bugs within the walls. I have the "pest tubes" which helps keep the bug intrusion to a minimum. Luckily we don't have mice out here or they would be making their way into the walls also.

Last edited by JackOfAllTrades; 11-27-2011 at 12:32 AM.
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackOfAllTrades View Post
1 - Is that addition completely 100% sheared with OSB plywood??

If not, then you WILL get critters inside the home as they will simply make their way in through the tar paper and framing. They will then make their residence in your walls. MANY homes out in AZ are not sheared and bugs, along with mice make their way in and live within the walls. Scorpions, cockroaches, crickets, Black Widows, and even rodents cause problems due to the homes not being sheared in the Phx AZ areas.

I live in a tract home that was not sheared and I will get the occasional bugs within the walls. I have the "pest tubes" which helps keep the bug intrusion to a minimum. Luckily we don't have mice out here or they would be making their way into the walls also.
He lives in California...SF to be exact....earthquake country.....if the addition is not 100% shearwalled, it would not have passed inspection....if it did pass inspection without 100% shearwall....ISSUES......

It's actually sort of common to see those issues.....especially with framing crews that are basically day laborers pulled off the HD parking lot.

To the OP....I would do some measuring....see if it's the foundation or framing that is off.

Your not going to have any luck getting it fixed...but you might be able to 'negotiate' a reduced final payment.....especially if you can show him how it's wrong.
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:38 AM   #10
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It is somewhat of a sloppy job. The contractor should NOT have brought the stucco down that low. You need to have a higher footing/slab showing because once you add the landscape rock, their won't be much clearance between the finished grade and where the stucco ends. This makes for easier access for critters and you can't see if you get termite tubes because they will be covered by the landscape rock.

The concrete slab should be flush with the weep screed. The two should meet an not leave a 1"-2" gap between the weep screed and concrete slab.



Here is the way it SHOULD LOOK:




There is at least 6"-8" of concrete showing where the stucco ends and the finished grade begins. This makes it harder for rodents to climb into and you can see if there are any termite tubes.



You can see the weep screed here and there is NO sizable gap between the metal portion of it and the slab for a rodent to get in. Bugs can still squeeze through but if the home is sheared, they really have nowhere to go.

Last edited by JackOfAllTrades; 11-27-2011 at 04:15 AM.
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:47 AM   #11
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When I build my own custom home, I will request a stucco finish-to grade finish, like this:



Actually, I would probably drop it another 3" or so. Yet some might find this "excessive" clearance but this would make it impossible for a rodent to try and make its way in. Plus it leaves a lot of room to spray a pesticide barrier on the wall to prevent any bugs from crawling behind the stucco. Any termite tubes would be clearly visible.




Here again shows that the weep screed has almost NO gap between the slab and the weep screed metal piece:


Last edited by JackOfAllTrades; 11-27-2011 at 12:52 AM.
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:04 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackOfAllTrades View Post
DO NOT seal up the weep screed. As mentioned, stucco is NOT waterproof and water will get behind it and it needs to drain down or it will cause problems.



Here is a question:

1 - Is that addition completely 100% sheared with OSB plywood??

If not, then you WILL get critters inside the home as they will simply make their way in through the tar paper and framing. They will then make their residence in your walls. MANY homes out in AZ are not sheared and bugs, along with mice make their way in and live within the walls. Scorpions, cockroaches, crickets, Black Widows, and even rodents cause problems due to the homes not being sheared in the Phx AZ areas.

I live in a tract home that was not sheared and I will get the occasional bugs within the walls. I have the "pest tubes" which helps keep the bug intrusion to a minimum. Luckily we don't have mice out here or they would be making their way into the walls also.

Yes, all walls in the new addition is 100% plywood sheared. However, I am really worried that there might be a gap here or there so that critters could get in. Plus, isn't it pretty easy for a rat to chew open 1/2" of plywood if it really wants to get in?


Now back to the solution of my problem. I can think of the following options and can you comment on it?

Solution #1: roll up aluminum wire mesh and stuff them in the gap tight. This way, rats can't get up there but air/moisture could move freely.

Solution #2: Glue a piece of vinyl in the gap. May require reshape a bit to fit the actual gap profile.

Solution #3: Stuff a piece of barbed wire in there so that when rats go thru they cut themselves

Thanks!
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Old 11-27-2011, 04:10 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by htabbas View Post
Yes, all walls in the new addition is 100% plywood sheared. However, I am really worried that there might be a gap here or there so that critters could get in. Plus, isn't it pretty easy for a rat to chew open 1/2" of plywood if it really wants to get in?
Yes, a Norway Rat or other rats can easily chew through wood OSB. The reason for the higher clearance from the slab to stucco finish is that it makes it harder for a rodent to climb into the stucco area. Plus with the metal weep screed, a rodent cannot chew through metal.

That is another reason why I would build with ICF. Rodents can't chew through concrete.

Quote:
Originally Posted by htabbas View Post
Now back to the solution of my problem. I can think of the following options and can you comment on it?

Solution #1: roll up aluminum wire mesh and stuff them in the gap tight. This way, rats can't get up there but air/moisture could move freely.

Solution #2: Glue a piece of vinyl in the gap. May require reshape a bit to fit the actual gap profile.

Solution #3: Stuff a piece of barbed wire in there so that when rats go thru they cut themselves

Thanks!
#1 - That would work but aluminum can corrode, I would find something that is galvanized or stainless steel. Especially if you live near the coast and get salt air.

#2 - I wouldn't do that

#3 - I wouldn't do that

I would go with option #1


Here is another example of a REALLY BAD stucco-to-grade-finish. This home has guaranteed wood rot at the base of the sill plate where it meets the foundation. It is also a haven for bugs and rodents. You could have termite colonies intruding the home and you would never see the termite tubes. If not fixed, this home would eventually experience mold and structural failure of the wood framing at the base of the foundation.



Last edited by JackOfAllTrades; 11-27-2011 at 04:14 AM.
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Old 11-27-2011, 04:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackOfAllTrades View Post
Yes, a Norway Rat or other rats can easily chew through wood OSB. The reason for the higher clearance from the slab to stucco finish is that it makes it harder for a rodent to climb into the stucco area. Plus with the metal weep screed, a rodent cannot chew through metal.

That is another reason why I would build with ICF. Rodents can't chew through concrete.



#1 - That would work but aluminum can corrode, I would find something that is galvanized or stainless steel. Especially if you live near the coast and get salt air.

#2 - I wouldn't do that

#3 - I wouldn't do that

I would go with option #1


Here is another example of a REALLY BAD stucco-to-grade-finish. This home has guaranteed wood rot at the base of the sill plate where it meets the foundation. It is also a haven for bugs and rodents. You could have termite colonies intruding the home and you would never see the termite tubes. If not fixed, this home would eventually experience mold and structural failure of the wood framing at the base of the foundation.



Thanks again for the reply!

My house's sill plate was buried in dirt all around when I bought it. One of the first things I do to the house was to dig the dirt to show the concrete. It was also part of the preparation for the fumigation/substerranean termite barrier work.

On another note, a concept as simple as this (keep the sill plate above grade) - a majority of the people don't understand and still keep the sill plate below grade for the old houses around here. They have created a lot of job opportunities as a matter of fact.
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Old 11-27-2011, 09:48 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by htabbas View Post
Thanks again for the reply!

My house's sill plate was buried in dirt all around when I bought it. One of the first things I do to the house was to dig the dirt to show the concrete. It was also part of the preparation for the fumigation/substerranean termite barrier work.

On another note, a concept as simple as this (keep the sill plate above grade) - a majority of the people don't understand and still keep the sill plate below grade for the old houses around here. They have created a lot of job opportunities as a matter of fact.
Most homeowners don't have a clue WHY the sill plate should never meet the finished grade. They think it looks better to hide the foundation wall. Little do they know all the problems this causes.

The sad part is some CONTRACTORS don't have a clue why the sill plate should not meet the finished grade.
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