Remodeling Magazine surveys thousands of renovations and home sales each year to discover which renovation is currently giving the best value for your dollar (or “cost recoup”) using real world data, in it’s Cost vs. Value Report. Sitting again at the number one over-all position with a whopping 86.7% return on investment is Fiber-Cement Siding Replacement. Coming in second (for it’s category) at 80.4% is foam-backed vinyl siding.
This information is simultaneously beneficial and flawed for the purposes of EIFS / stucco. While the cementitious base-coat layer of EIFS is indeed “fiber-cement”, the actual product they are referring to is more than likely a solid-cement factory-made siding (such as Hardie Board), which has become popular due to it’s ability to withstand hurricane-force winds and debris. The problems James Hardie siding is currently dealing with (and that EIFS has long since corrected) is how to allow moisture to drain out that becomes trapped behind the siding (take a look at the hall of shame for an idea of what I’m talking about). I suspect that in the coming years the problems will begin to surface more frequently and it’s high value will drop some.
Then there’s the issue of geography. This information is based on data from the United States, not Canada. It is averaged over many different climates, not solely a cold-climate such as the one we have in Toronto. This means that energy efficiency renovations such as exterior insulation, or replacing a water heater, won’t have the same impact as they would have in Canada. On top of that, Toronto is by all rights the largest consumer of EIFS in North America – Canada and the U.S.A. While it’s not as popular in some of the states because of it’s history with lawsuits, that problem has been largely avoided here in Toronto using a different type of EIFS: Dual-Barrier.
Nevertheless, it shows that re-cladding your home is the sure-fire way of getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to home renovations. Factoring in the advantage of lowered heating bills in our climate due to the exterior insulation, and the superior aesthetic of EIFS to Hardiboard (and vinyl siding by a landslide), I feel confident in saying that EIFS renovations actually increase the value of a home beyond what a home owner pays for it. As much as 110-120%. Being that there is no data to back this up however, I’ll limit my claims to the next closest thing — the fiber-cement siding 86.7% ROI from Remodeling Magazine.
Update: The 2010 Cost vs Value Report can be found here