“What’s up with the mold?” An Update on Our Home’s Exterior

May 1, 2020

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Our house is getting a facelift. Two weeks ago, we shared the scary news that the plywood under our stucco exterior was completely rotted and riddled with black mold – especially on all of the inside and outside corners, which our house has a lot of. Our contractor and his team have been working diligently (outside, of course, and while still practicing social distancing) to carefully remove all the stucco and replace the rotting wood. Here’s how things are looking:

As a reminder, here’s how it looked when we moved in last year:

As you can see in the picture below, many areas of the plywood were covered in black mold. The small crew worked on this emergency project in pieces, removing the stucco and the moldy wood from the back of the house first, and then the front. They replaced the wood and then applied house wrap as they went to keep everything dry while we plan and budget for a new exterior.

We decided to remove the stone, as well (more on that shortly). The wood under the stone was fine in most parts. Around a couple of windows it hadn’t been sealed up well, so there was a little mold. But overall, the stone-covered parts of the house were in a lot better shape.

The entire exterior has been wrapped. That wrap will stay on the house and act as a shield, with new materials being applied over it. House wrap is a great product and promotes water shed within the walls so that moisture doesn’t get stuck and lead to rotting. Water almost always finds a way in – the important part is having materials that let it get out before it molds and rots the wood.

Before Moldgate 2020, we were thinking we might paint the stucco — a dark, moody color. We were trying to decide if we’d keep the manufactured stone — Perhaps we’d paint that, too? But these plans were at least a year out. (You’ll notice this wasn’t on our 2020 projects list.) Before all this happened, our plan was to add stone or siding to the new dining room addition before the summer was through and the cold weather came back. Now, we’ll have to tackle it all. Thus our decision to remove the stone. If we’re gonna do it anyway, we want to make sure everything going back up works together, instead of looking like a patch job.

We shared our plans (and excitement!) about working with Studio McGee on this project. We’re imaging stone and cedar-plank siding now, but we’re eager to see what this awesome design team comes up with. We’re open to their ideas. And we think our house is, too! She’s just hanging out in her underwear right now — waiting for her new outfit :)

Also, some other fun stuff is happening outside that we can’t wait to show you. But here’s a little sneak peek for you…

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What do you think?

  1. Gail clarke says:

    Wow I am showing this to my builder husband here in harbor springs Michigan
    The original builder was not paying ATTENTION.
    SORRY .
    want an$$ price,to pay .
    How old is this home ?

  2. It’s so good they found it in time, and that they can continue working right now. It’ll be beautiful again soon!

  3. In spite of the setbacks you are enduring, what an architecturally pleasing house and beautifully landscaped lot you found! The curb appeal blows me away every time you focus on the outside of your home! Home envy torture…. but I can’t stop looking!!!!!!!

  4. Babatte says:

    Oh WOW! Firepit‼️????????????????????????????????????????????????✅✅✅

  5. Debbie says:

    It looks so good already???? I am looking forward to the new design and can’t wait to see what you decide! Thanks for sharing it with us!! The fire pit looks great and the flagstone looks amazing! What did they use under the flagstone? I’m looking to do a sidewalk in that fashion… so thought I’d ask the pros!!!

  6. Laura says:

    I am enjoying your journey in this house. Thank goodness that the black mold was discovered before it adversely affected anyone’s health. As an arm chair quarterback, I want you to move faster and show me more, but alas, I know my place! I admire your patience and of course your design talent. Keep up the good work!

  7. Sarah M says:

    I think this process might change how you end up choosing finishes! Ages ago when I got engaged, I thought I wanted a setting around my diamond with a lot of other little diamonds, but my husband proposed with the main diamond in a temp setting so I could choose… Well while I searched, I got so used to the solitaire that I couldn’t imagine changing it! Now that you are seeing your house with such a simple exterior, you may end up wanting fewer finishes and simpler finish than you pictured when you were just replacing what was already there!

  8. Ann says:

    I’m liking gray or blue Hardiplank for the exterior siding. Something uniform, that will tie into all the beautiful hardscape in the back and pull the architecture together into a unified whole. Something quiet that lets the beautiful grounds shine.

  9. Joy says:

    Wow that is a lot to deal with isn’t it. I hope you aren’t stressing. It is so exciting to watch what is happening to your semi naked house. She is such a beauty I know you will dress her well. ❤️❤️❤️

  10. Laura D says:

    Okay it is actually really great to see your house in a “blank slate” mode! So much potential that is easier to envision! Did you mention somewhere that you’ll be getting the roof replaced eventually too? Or am I imagining that?

  11. Emily Berkley says:

    I hope it all comes together, I am sure it is going to be stunning! Sorry about the mold. I would love to hear why you choose a firepit vs a upright fireplace like in your old house? I am debating that right now for my yard.

    • Julia says:

      We LOVED our upright because it was backed into our property line AND we had a much smaller outdoor space–our deck– so we didn’t want to crowd it with a fire pit. Here, there’s no place it could really back in and we have a lot more space so we can have a designated lounge outdoor area on our patio and a separate fire pit area.

      • Emily Berkley says:

        Thank you! I actually loved those points and that actually really helped me! Thanks for your thoughts on that!

  12. Courtney says:

    “She’s just hanging out in her underwear right now…” I originally read this as though you were talking about Studio McGee. I had to re-read! Oh, the HOUSE is in her underwear! LOL!

  13. Linda Grubbs says:

    I’m so sorry that you guys have to go through all this! But there is that silver lining that you can be totally assured that there is nothing ugly lurking where you can’t see it! Plus we all can’t wait to see the beauty she will become!!

  14. Becca says:

    She’s just hanging out in her underwear right now — waiting for her new outfit :) — Love this!!! Can’t wait to see what she becomes!

  15. Kelly says:

    So excited to see how everything turns out! The back is already looking *chef’s kiss*.

  16. Jan says:

    Weirdly I am loving your house even more with the wrap on it. I think I used to be visually overwhelmed by all the different textures and colours. She looks great in her underwear. ;) Can’t wait to see what you dress her in.

    • M-A Russell says:


    • Nissa says:

      I agree! I feel like I can ‘see’ it now. So pumped to see how all this unfolds!

    • Michelle says:

      Was your roof replaced after the hailstorms that hit the area? I would think they should’ve caught mold with that inspection! Black mold is serious. Sorry this happened. I keep thinking your water being turned on randomly be (ghost) was maybe a warning of sorts ????????.

      Also- can you share more of what went into to running the gas line for your fire put. We have gas plumbed on the outside of our home and I’m curious what it would take to run a the line under the cement and build a fire pit.

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