First, homeowners need to be assured that the staff of their installer has been trained and certified by the maker of the EIFS product to be installing. Vendors like Dryvit Systems Inc., which provided the EIFS for the Cambridge house, and Sto-ex Inc. have credentialing programs and will provide names of qualified installers. Without training, a project can go comically, if expensively, wrong. Kenney tells of the installer who "put (grooved foam board) in horizontally rather than vertically, so the water never drained. And sometimes contractors mix leftover materials by one manufacturer with materials from a second vendor. The many components are fairly generic, he says, but manufacturers design their products to work together as systems that differ slightly from those of their competitors'. "That's the way they protect the quality of their product and avoid the possibility that another manufacturer's product is failing on their system," Kenney says.

Mixing components can also lead to roadblocks should a homeowner need to file a warranty claim. Homeowners can help protect themselves by insisting their builder register the installation with the manufacturer, so that if there is a warranty claim, the manufacturer has all the home and installation information on file. The vendors, in turn, may ask the installer to sign a declaration that only the recommended components were used. Homeowners with a barrier EIFS can test for moisture damage. Press against the house in areas that most likely have damage, say, under a window. Too much give or a spongy feel may indicate rotted studs.

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