EIFS systems have been the subject of several lawsuits, mostly related to the installation process and failure of the system causing moisture buildups and subsequent mold growth. The most notable case concerned the former San Martin, California courthouse. This case was settled for 12 million dollars.]
The basic underlying problem behind EIFS litigation was that EIFS was marketed as a cost-effective replacement for stucco. Stucco is expensive to install because it must be carefully applied by skilled craftsmen and takes a month to cure between coats. General contractors switched to EIFS because they were supposed to be easy to install with unskilled or semi-skilled labor and would not crack like traditional stucco if they were not cured properly. Although EIFS if properly installed according to the manufacturer’s directions should not have water intrusion problems, many GCs cut corners by using insufficiently trained labor and also failed to supervise their work adequately. In turn, thousands of EIFS installations were noncompliant and suffered severe water intrusion and mold as a result. While the EIFS industry has consistently tried to shift the blame to GCs, the construction industry has retorted that using journeymen carpenters in turn eliminates the cost advantage of EIFS over stucco, and that the EIFS industry should have anticipated this issue and engineered its products from the beginning to be installed by unskilled labor or semi-skilled labor (that is, it should have been a fault-tolerant design).