International Phase I Standards of Practice for Inspecting Exterior Wall Cladding

1.1  About these standards for inspecting exterior wall cladding:

Although this standard applies to both commercial and residential exterior wall cladding, this standard exceeds the requirements of both InterNACHI’s Commercial and Residential Standards of Practices.   

1.2  Purpose

The purpose of this document is to establish international standards for the inspection of exterior wall cladding.
This document also provides some universal exterior wall cladding inspection reporting language.  Wall cladding addressed by these standards include:
1.2.1  EIFS Inspections;
1.2.2  Traditional Stucco Inspections;
1.2.3  Stone and Man-Made Stone Inspections;
1.2.4  Cement Board and Fiberboard Siding Inspections;
1.2.5  Vinyl Siding Inspections; and
1.2.6. ICF Inspections.
1.3  Definitions  
1.3.1  Wall Cladding-Specific Definitions
  1. accessible: can be approached or entered by the inspector safely, without difficulty, fear or danger.
  2. EIFS:  a family of wall cladding that is classified as one of the exterior insulation and finish systems listed below.
    1. polymer-based (PB-EIFS), now typically classified as face seal or barrier-EIFS;
    2. moisture drainage PB EIFS (MD-EIFS);
    3. polymer-modified EIFS (PM-EIFS);
    4. polyisocyanurate EIFS (PI-EIFS); or 
    5. direct-applied exterior finish system (DEFS or DAC. 
  3. fiberboard siding, including:
    1. fiber-cement board siding (James-Hardie, Cemplank, etc.)
    2. fiberboard siding (LP and Masonite, etc.)
  4. hard-coat stucco: a family of wall cladding that is classified as one of the traditional stucco or real stucco listed below:
    1. three-coat stucco: a wall cladding that consists of a scratch coat, brown coat and finish coat (approximately 3/4 to 1 inch thick) with appropriate WRB, lath and accessories.  Note:  Often, it is not possible to conclusively determine the thickness of these systems, so we suggest calling it a hard-coat stucco.
    2. one-coat stucco:  a wall cladding that consists of a base coat and finish coat (approximately 3/8 to 1/2-inch thick) with appropriate WRB, lath and accessories. 
  5. insulated concrete forms (ICF):  this is a wall system that can have many exterior wall cladding applied to it, including:
    1. EIFS;
    2. HCS;
    3. man-made stone;
    4. natural stone; and/or 
    5. siding.
  6. lath: metal reinforcing in man-made stone and natural stone must be diamond lath.  In hard-coat stucco, the lath can be diamond lath or stucco netting, or non-metallic lath (such as Perma Lath).
  7. man-made stone: a wall cladding that consists of scratch coat and man-made stone with WRB, diamond lath and accessories.
  8. moisture-resistive barrier (MRB); see "weather-resistive barrier" or WRB below. 
  9. natural stone: a wall cladding that consists of scratch coat and natural stone with WRB, diamond lath and accessories.
  10. vinyl siding
  11. weather-resistive barrier (WRB): an approved barrier applied to a moisture-sensitive substrate to prevent water intrusion; sometimes called a "moisture-resistive barrier" or MRB. WRBs include:
    1. Grade D paper: one or two layers, depending on paper, application and local building official;
    2. asphalt-saturated rag felt;
    3. house wrap;
    4. liquid-applied membrane; and 
    5. others as approved by building official.

1.3.2  For terminology commonly found in commercial property inspection reports, visit:

1.3.3  A material defect is a condition of a residential or commercial real property, or any portion of it, that would have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the real property, or that involves an unreasonable risk to people on the property. The fact that an exterior wall cladding system or subsystem is near, at, or beyond the end of the normal useful life of such an exterior wall cladding element, system or subsystem is not, by itself, a material defect.

1.3.4  An inspection report shall describe and identify, in written format, the inspected exterior wall cladding system and components of the dwelling or commercial property, and shall identify material defects observed. Inspection reports shall contain recommendations regarding conditions reported or recommendations for correction, monitoring or further evaluation by professionals.
1.4  Goal of the Inspection
The goal of the inspection is to provide observations which lead to system identification, concern recognition, and recommendations associated with exterior wall cladding conditions. 
1.5  Specific Exterior Wall Cladding Inspection Limitations
The inspection is limited to readily accessible and visible portions of the wall cladding.  The inspection should not be considered all-inclusive or technically exhaustive.   
This standard does NOT require the inspector to:
    1. perform intrusive testing including, but not limited to:
      1. probing; or
      2. destructive cores.  
    2. perform water testing;
    3. use infrared cameras; or
    4. remove portions of the wall cladding.

These Standards do not apply to the inspection of mobile homes. 

1.6  Optional Add-On Inspection Services

Although InterNACHI's Standards of Practice for Inspecting Commercial Properties and InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice do not require the inspector to perform Phase I of the exterior wall cladding inspections, a Phase I of the wall cladding inspections may be performed in conjunction with a complete commercial or residential property inspection, or it may be performed as separate, stand-alone inspection services.  

1.7  Inspection Frequency
The inspector should advise his/her client that all exterior wall cladding should be inspected not less than annually.

1.8  Visual Inspection
1.8.1  Inspect for System Identification 
  1. The inspector should inspect to identify type of wall cladding:
    1. type of EIFS;
    2. type of stucco;
    3. type of man-made stone or natural stone;
    4. type of vinyl siding;
    5. type of fiberboard siding; or 
    6. type of cladding on ICF.
1.8.2  Inspect for System Defects

   A.  The inspector should inspect for incomplete areas in the wall cladding. 
   B.  The inspector should inspect for damaged areas in the wall cladding.  
   C.  The inspector should inspect for proper detailing at of wall cladding including:

    1. roof diverter flashing; 
    2. deck flashing;
    3. wall penetrations;
    4. joints at dissimilar materials:
      1. horizontal joints; and 
      2. vertical joints.
              5.  bottom of wall cladding:
    a.  at grade; and 
    b.  above roofs, decks and balconies.

     6.  windows and doors:

                                            a.  at window or door heads; 
                                            b.  at window or door jambs; and 
                                            c.   at window sills or door jambs.

                7.  expansion joints;

                8.  tops of parapet walls or columns; and 

                9.  bottom of vertical walls at soffits.

1.8.3  Documentation of wall cladding system and system defect observations: 
The report should:
  1. state what type of wall cladding(s) are on the property.  If a question exists about one or more of the wall cladding systems, then the report should list the observed components of wall cladding system in question;
  2. state the concerns observed:
    1. list all concerns observed; and 
    2. state that there may be other concerns that may be found during a technical or forensic inspection.
  3. give guidance to the client based upon the conditions observed including:
    1. calling for further investigation if concerns indicate potential for hidden damage; and
    2. calling for repairs by a licensed or trained technician.

1.9  General Inspection Limitations:

  1. An inspection is not technically exhaustive. 
  2. An inspection will not identify concealed or latent defects.  
  3. An inspection will not deal with aesthetic concerns or what could be deemed matters of taste, cosmetic defects, etc.  
  4. An inspection will not determine the suitability of the property for any use.  
  5. An inspection does not determine the market value of the property or its marketability.
  6. An inspection does not determine the insurability of the property.  
  7. An inspection does not determine the advisability or inadvisability of the purchase of the inspected property.
  8. An inspection does not determine the life expectancy of the property or any components or systems therein.
  9. An inspection does not include items not permanently installed.  
  10. These Standards of Practice apply only to homes with four or fewer dwelling units.
1.10. General Exclusions
1.10.1. The inspectors are not required to determine:
  1. the condition of any component or system that is not readily accessible.
  2. the service-life expectancy of any component or system.
  3. the cause or reason of any condition.
  4. the cause for the need of repair or replacement of any system or component.
  5. future conditions.
  6. compliance with codes or regulations.
  7. the presence of evidence of rodents, animals or insects.
  8. the presence of mold, mildew or fungus.
  9. the presence of airborne hazards.
  10. the presence of birds.
  11. the presence of other flora or fauna.
  12. the air quality.
  13. the existence of asbestos.
  14. the existence of environmental hazards.
  15. the existence of electro-magnetic fields.
  16. the presence of hazardous materials, including, but not limited to, the presence of lead in paint.
  17. any hazardous waste conditions.
  18. any manufacturer's recalls or conformance with manufacturer installation, or any information included for consumer-protection purposes.
  19. replacement or repair cost estimates.
  20. estimates of the cost to operate any given system.

1.10.2  The inspectors are not required to:

  1. move any personal items or other obstructions, such as, but not limited to: 
    1. throw rugs;  
    2. furniture; 
    3. floor or wall coverings;
    4. ceiling tiles;
    5. window coverings;  
    6. equipment;  
    7. plants;  
    8. ice;  
    9. debris;  
    10. snow; 
    11. water;  
    12. dirt;  
    13. foliage; or  
    14. pets.
  2. dismantle, open, or uncover any system or component. 
  3. enter or access any area which may, in the opinion of the inspector, be unsafe. 
  4. enter crawlspaces or other areas that are unsafe or not readily accessible.
  5. do anything which, in the inspector's opinion, is likely to be unsafe or dangerous to the inspector or others, or damage property, such as, but not limited to: walking on roof surfaces, climbing ladders, entering attic spaces, or negotiating with pets.  
  6. inspect decorative items.  
  7. inspect common elements or areas in multi-unit housing.  
  8. offer guarantees or warranties.  
  9. offer or perform any engineering services.  
  10. offer or perform any trade or professional service other than home inspections.
  11. research the history of the property, report on its potential for alteration, modification, extendibility, or its suitability for a specific or proposed use for occupancy.  
  12. determine the age of construction or installation of any exterior wall cladding system or component of a building, or differentiate between original construction and subsequent additions, improvements, renovations or replacements.
  13. determine the insurability of a property.
  14. perform or offer Phase 1 Environmental Audits.
  15. inspect any system or component which is not included in these Standards.  

1.11 Sample Reporting Language  


Phase I Exterior Wall Cladding Inspection Report

Client ____________________________________________________________________________________  

Location of Property ______________________________________________________________________  

This inspection was performed in substantial compliance with InterNACHI’s Phase I Standards of Practice for inspecting exterior wall cladding.  It exceeds what is required by both InterNACHI’s Commercial and Residential Standards of Practices. The inspection shall include examination of readily accessible and visible portions of exterior wall cladding.  The inspection is not all-inclusive or technically exhaustive.  The goal of this inspection is to provide observations which may lead to the identification of wall cladding systems, wall cladding defect recognition, and a written report describing these items, as well as recommendations for further investigation or repairs.   

The wall cladding observed on this property was identified to be ______________, ______________ and ________________.  This information was confirmed by observing the wall at penetrations and terminations, as well as damaged and incomplete areas.  At these locations we observed the following materials ________________________.
Material defects observed during this visual inspection included the following items; additional items may found during a technical or forensic inspection:

  1. _____________________.
  2. _____________________.
  3. _____________________.
  4. _____________________.

We recommend:

  1. further investigation by a certified Exterior Cladding Inspector to determine if deterioration or damage may have resulted from the material defects reported above;
  2. (If you are confident that no deterioration or damage may exist, then) repairs of the material defects reported above by a repair contractor with specialized skills and training in the repairs of these wall cladding systems.
  3. This inspection was performed by _________________________  

    Signature _________________________