We live in Central Florida which, as most of you know, has been hit with two hurricanes in the past month (with a third, Ivan, yet to be heard from). Our community is quite new, with the oldest of the homes being perhaps 3-4 years old and the newest just being occupied. The predominant construction method here is concrete block covered with a cementeous coating (what most people still call "stucco," I'm told).
Hurricane Charley was fast moving with high winds and it passed east of here, causing us little drama. Hurricane Frances was larger, more slow moving, and it drenched us for parts of three days. After it passed, some of our neighbors discovered significant amounts of standing water inside the base of their eastern walls. We found only signs of darker grout in out tile floors along the baseboards (not even what you would call "damp") but others had wet carpets and or standing water. Some reported their damage in their garages, where you could see the wet "stair-stepping" along the grout lines of the concrete blocks.
Separately, there are some homeowners here who reported early on to the builder that they were experiencing leaks, either from heavy rains directly on the walls or past the windows or from seepage at the slab when the swales between the houses was not enough to carry away a downpour. Reportedly, the builder either sealed the houses and repainted them or simply repainted them (effectively sealing the smaller cracks)...and none of them have reported the problem since then.
The questions, of course, all revolve around: was this storm so abnormal that no stucco or block wall could be expected to not pass some water? Or should the builder, having more or less acknowledged the problem by repainting the early homes, have sealed them all as they were being built? Or is this really a cost for the homeowner to bear? Our collective experience is that hairline cracks simply will appear in the stucco (and usually at the grout lines of the blocks). Those who seal these and simply repaint (not even with elastomeric paint) seem to have no problems.
But even if hurricanes are not a common experience here, drenching thunderstorms are. Is there a reasonable expectation to having a house that will stand up to rain?You'll probably understand that those who have experienced the most leakage are those who are most vocal in accusing the builder of sloppy workmanship and taking the cheap way out.
I'm wide open to whatever thoughts, reactions and doses of reality you want to send my way.
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