Q: I am concerned about a series of cracks in the stuccoed exterior surface on three sides of my newly built home. The vertical cracks run all the way around at an average of about two feet apart. I purchased the home 10 months ago. Nothing on the inside of the home is cracking. — Dean

Q: I am concerned about a series of cracks in the stuccoed exterior surface on three sides of my newly built home. The vertical cracks run all the way around at an average of about two feet apart. I purchased the home 10 months ago. Nothing on the inside of the home is cracking. — Dean

A: This sounds like one for the trade journals. The condition you have described can under no circumstances be considered normal. Since there is nothing cracking on the inside of the house it is apparent that ground shift is not the culprit here (the symmetry of the cracks helps to substantiate that conclusion).

Although we don't see it happen, the walls of our home deflect (flex inward and outward) as a result of wind, rain, changes in pressure, etc.

Under normal circumstances, drywall on the inside and stucco on the outside flex so slightly that cracking does not occur. And cracks caused by ground shift never result in symmetric patterns and usually affect both sides of the wall.

In your case, it seems that the stucco isn't even strong enough to resist the movement of the wall studs that run vertically in a pattern similar to the cracks. Chances are the blend of cement and sand are out of balance (not enough cement). Another possibility is that river sand was used in the mix. River sand contains high concentrates of salt, and salt and cement don't mix. Salt breaks down the adhesive value of the cement.

Here's the solution: Address the issue in writing (certified mail/ return receipt requested) to your builder. He is responsible for "hidden defects" for 10 years. We would request complete removal and replacement of the obviously defective material.

If you don't get immediate attention, lab tests will be in order, followed by another certified letter to the builder. This will, more than likely, substantiate our suspicions, and, more than likely, get him off his duff. If not, then it's on to your attorney for legal assistance.

Good luck! It sounds like you have a good case if legal action is necessary.