Buyer Beware

construction,workers,laborers,house, AP

To say that Denise Navarras doesn't like her home is an understatement.

"I hate this house," she told CBS News Correspondent Mika Brzezinski. "It's a money pit."

The Navarras home in Montvale, NJ, has five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, four Jacuzzis -- and 6,000-square-feet of water damage.

"The house is falling apart. It's rotting from the outside in. It's literally rotting," Navarras said. "You just walk around the ceiling and find another spot!"

For the past six years, she has been watching her luxury home rot away.

At issue is the siding, called exterior insulation and finish system, or EIFS. It's basically foam insulation board with an outside coating of mesh and acrylic that, together, lock out moisture.

Its insulating ability, low-maintenance costs, and stucco-like look, have made it increasingly popular across the country.

But in the Navarras' case, the claim is that the EIFS is trapping moisture inside the walls.

Ron White, a licensed engineer, says the plywood sheathing has been destroyed by water trapped behind the stucco.

It's a problem seen in thousands of homes. The result for many: a total loss.

In fact, in at least 20 states, homeowners have taken EIFS siding to court.

But Dryvit, the biggest manufacturer of EIFS, says its product is being unfairly singled out.

"The product works," said Dryvit's Doug Mault. "If you have so much water inside the wall, it's gonna cause some problems. It could be brick, concrete, stainless steel, cheesecloth."

Mault says the real culprit is contractors who don't know how to properly install the product.

"The problem lies in construction defects in things that aren't properly done on the job," he told Brzezinski.

The company is in the final stages of a $40-million settlement of class action suits.

And the industry has responded to critics, too. A new video explains the proper way to install EIFS siding, which now comes in drainable versions.

But with many more EIFS-sided homes under construction right now, Denise Navarras says hold on to your money.

"We are exhausted. We are just exhausted," she said.

Her money is now all gone. And she's stuck in a home that will never sell - with walls that are rotted beyond repair.

Caveat emptor.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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