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Robert Lamoureux: Stucco project is too big for one

Your Home Improvements

Posted: March 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.


I’m building a wall. I’ve done some concrete so I think I can handle all of the stucco.  21 feet by 12 feet high in some areas. Not sure if I need a permit.  Thank you,

Bernard B.


Hi Bernard,

Permits are needed on any wall over 4 feet tall. The inspector will also want to check that your lathing is nailed on properly. 

The inspector will want to see the nails or staples that you’re using and will check that the spacing constant is correct so the lath is secured and will not fall on anyone.

 I’ve seen whole sides of stucco walls that came down because they were improperly nailed, using the wrong nails or staples.  

Inspectors will also check your finish work. 

If you’re going 12 feet high, you can’t do that on a ladder, so you will need scaffolding.  

This is a relatively big job. There is no way I would do this job on my own. It would take too long. Especially if you don’t do this kind of work full time. 

I would get a stucco expert to do it for you, unless you are specifically looking for a backbreaking project to get into.  

I mean, it’s concrete, it’s heavy, you have to mix it, you have to trowel it on.  Then you have to go back and scratch it — unless you’ve got five friends that want to donate weekend after weekend doing this. 

When it goes to the brown coat, you need to know how to level it. 

You’re going to have to use a screed board, and you need to be on top of your game for that side of the process. 

You will need to know all of the cure rates of the different stages. There’s a lot to this and with something that size, again, I’d hire a stucco expert.


Hi Robert,

We would like to install an ADA approved lift at our complex and were hoping you could provide us some insight on what we should be concerned with and if you could make any recommendations. Also, could you provide an idea of the costs?  Thank you,

Joyce B.


Hi Joyce,

There are many models and styles to choose from in hydraulic lifts. First you would need to know the vertical height the lift needs to operate.

Let’s say you need a vertical clearance of 8 feet and it will be used outside. 

You could go with an in and out – meaning you enter the lift on one side and exit from the other. 

It would need an ADA telephone inside and possibly a completely enclosed shaft with plexiglass panels. 

The enclosure could be fitted with a dome top with a 6-foot-8-inch door opening once it reaches the second level. 

Something like this would be in the $30,000 range, but you have additional expenses. 

You would need an architect to make the drawings for the permits and acquisitions, as well as a structural engineer to calculate if the ground was structurally stable enough to support this tower. 

On top of those expenses, you would need to consider if the upper elevation level is ADA rated safe and properly prepared when exiting the lift.

Once everything is in place, the lift has to be inspected by a state-licensed elevator company.

I would suggest using only contractors that are familiar with ADA work.  This will safe you some time and money.


Hello Mr. Lamoureux,

I went up on my roof and grabbed one of the rafters under the eave. The rafter broke off in my hand like it was cardboard. Do you think this could be termites? Hopefully no,

George S.


Hi George,

Yes, it sounds like termite damage, and it will take money to fix this. 

You have to replace that rafter, all the way up to the ridge beam at the top of the roof. It is a major process to do it right. This is part of the roof rafter assembly that has to come out.

Peel the roof back, pull the sheathing, put a new length in, reset the sheathing, put the paper back down then tile or shingle.

That’s the only way to take care of this problem; that’s the only way to do it right. 

Before doing any repair, check the rest of the wood in the house.

You can take a long stick or rod and just poke at the wood framing. If it’s soft, that probably means the termites have spread into that area also. That’s what the termite companies do.

If it turns out this one rafter is an isolated incident, consider yourself lucky. Call a reputable termite control company.  Some of them will come out and give you a free estimate and offer unlimited lifetime protection. 


Dear Robert,

The faucets are not right in my guest bathroom. Hot water comes out of the cold side, and cold water comes out of the hot side. I called a plumber and he said it would be about $200 to fix it. I’m not handy and I live on a fixed income but I was wondering if you could tell me what I would need to do.  Sincerely,

Audrey S.


Hello Audrey,

Just reach under the sink and uncross the supply lines.

The plumber got in a hurry and wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing. He hooked up the supply lines backwards. 

First you would want to valve down the sink — turn off the shut off valves — the angle stops, so you don’t have any water running through the lines. 

It’s always a good idea to know where the main shut off is to your house. 

Sometimes old, rusty angle stops will break. If you wanted to be very careful, go to the main and valve down the house.

Disconnect and check the condition of the lines.  If they are old or corroded, I would suggest you change them out. They come available in different materials, but I recommend a steel braided flex line. 

With plastic lines, if the walls get weak, they will pop. With a steel braid, it won’t. They sell these in whatever lengths you need.  If they are compression fit, meaning threaded, you can easily replace them. If they need to be sweated, then call a plumber. 

While you’re doing this, it would be a good time to exercise your valves. Turn them off and on. This helps keep them in good working order.

We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt we will give you if we answer your question. The T-shirt is available to be picked up at our office.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to



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