As an industry standard, the cost of stucco on typical jobs vary from $7.50 - $10.00 per square foot. There are many factors that are accounted for in the cost of stucco. These factors may be advanced products, systems, or accessories such as fibered cement, waterproof basecoat, water resistant stucco, corner beads, expansion joints, control joints, stop beads, weep screeds, reveals, decorative stucco molding trim, air barrier systems, drainage mats, kick-outs, drip caps, ice & water shield, wire lath, fiber mesh, layers of building paper, scaffolding, aerial lifts, overall difficulty, thickness of cement, mixing of cement, curing of cement, and fastening of wire lath.
Stucco cost is derived many different ways. Costs in the building and construction industry, not just for stucco, but for many other forms of building and construction can be calculated by the amount of square feet the job requires. One square foot is a standard unit of measure, simply a 12 inch by 12 inch square of surface area. Contractors figure out the surface area of a job to evaluate the size and difficulty of it. Surface area is a simple calculation of the length (in feet) times the width (in feet). Some contractors price their job per square. The term “per square” is not the same as “per square feet”. A square foot is 12 inches by 12 inches, where as if referred to as just “a square” or “per square”, they are referring to a 10 foot by 10 foot square of surface area. If somebody says they have a job that is 1,200 square feet, somebody else may refer to it as 12 squares because 1 square equals 100 square feet.
Since stucco is on the elevation of a building we have to deal with openings. Do we leave the surface area of an opening (such as windows, doors, etc.) included or excluded in our square foot calculation? Every contractor is different. If a contractor does not take out the openings, then his price per square foot will be smaller than if he subtracted the openings from his calculation. Some contractors say they take a percentage of the openings out. They all have their different methods of calculation making it a little more difficult for someone to compare apples to apples.
The different styles of architecture and design cause buildings to come in various shapes and sizes making it very difficult to calculate an exact surface area. It is easier with new construction to have an accurate calculation of surface area because blueprints are usually available. Blueprints are easy to use in calculating surface area because they are scaled so that anybody can use a small ruler and convert the scale to the actual measurements of the building. There are software programs available that make scaling blueprints even easier. These programs allow you to open the blueprints (usually if available via pdf) and scale them electronically making it a lot easier to calculate surface area and many other different calculations.
It is behoove of a building owner to gather multiple opinions and prices of a project. This creates an average or a basis of what the project requires. The building owner needs to make sure that they are getting the correct scope of work for the correct price. After getting an average of price and opinion, the owner can then analyze the deviation of the contractors from this average and hopefully come to an explanation as to why they differ. The only way to achieve this is to make sure that the owner is comparing “apples to apples”. This saying simply means that if you are going to compare one contractor to another, make sure that they are pricing out the same scope of work. Contractors are usually compared and contrasted based on quality, pricing, and scope of work. Quality and pricing may be easier to compare between contractors but when it comes to comparing the scope of work between contractors, it may be more difficult for building owners because they may not know what the proper scope of work should be. The scope of work simply means the step procedures of installing the finished product. Different contractors may use different methods that may affect the cost of the stucco.
But what does a building owner know about proper installation procedures for stucco or any other type of construction for that matter? If it’s new construction, the building owner relies on the architect or the design engineer/consultant to specify proper installation procedures for the entire construction of the building on the blueprints. Even though they don’t actually spell out every little step, they call out a certain standard or code that contractors need to follow. Each state adopts there different building codes. The building codes from state to state may be very similar or could be very different. The state has there minimum requirements for building. It is required by the architects to at least specify these minimums. It is then up to the contractors to make sure they follow what the architect specifies. The contractors need to know these different codes and standards and be able to refer to them if an architect specifies something exclusive. It is up to project managers to make sure that the contractors are following what’s on the blueprints and it is up to the state to make sure that the architect and the contractors are following the minimum requirements of the state.
If a homeowner is taking on a project themselves, how much knowledge do they have to make sure that what a contractor proposes to do is the proper way of doing it? Even if the contractor says they’re going to do it a certain way, is the homeowner going to be there watching every step of the installation of the stucco? It all comes down to being able to compare and contrast between contractors and ultimately relying on the contractor that gets awarded the job.
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