I love the look of stucco, always have. When it came time for me and my family to build a house, a stucco exterior was one of the things my wife and I could agree on (that, and tile floors.) Little did I know that choosing stucco was going to cause me so much grief and wasted time! The Calgary new home builder who built my house (Homes by Avi and their stucco sub-contractor Kazan Construction) either did not know the Alberta Building Code, or decided not to follow it when they stuccoed my house.
The majority of the stucco problem stem from two areas:
1) The wood battens (either around the windows or as horizontal features in the stucco) have been applied without any flashing between the wood and the stucco. As Stucco is a porous material the water wicks behind the wood, causing rot and in worse situations mold. The flashing installation is specifically listed in the Alberta Building Code (1997) and the "recommended application methods" by the Stucco manufacturers, yet in the building boom in Calgary many houses are being built with out this.
2) The second area of concern is the stucco thickness. The Alberta Building Code requires 19mm (3/4") to be applied to the houses, and in the case of my house and my neigbours the thickness is certainly not there. The building inspector estimated that my house and my neigbours both have an average thickness of less than 1/2" with some areas as thin as 1/4", which works out to 67% less than the minimum allowable.