The Importance of Properly Assessing a Home – Case Study

March 10, 2023

what causes cracks in walls and ceilings - a case study

Many articles on the HOUSETIPS website result from years of experience looking at foundation failure. This case study is about one client’s concern about the foundation of her home.

The client contacted our team to learn about problems with her home. She feared the residence had foundation failure since she noticed cracks in the brick on the outside of her house. Three foundation repair contractors inspected the house, all of whom submitted repair prices ranging from $28,000 to $42,000. She was shocked at the cost, and upon the advice of a neighbor, she looked for another opinion and a cheaper solution.

What Causes Cracks in Brick Veneer and Gable Walls in this Case Study?

The HOUSETIPS team inspected the home and found the following issues:

  • The home was approximately 3,200 square feet, predominately single-story with a 2nd story bonus room above the garage.
  • The exterior wall had 50% brick veneer, 25% stucco, and 25% lap siding.
  • There were zig-zag cracks in the brick at each end of the garage door opening and in the second-floor wall above the garage door below the dormer windows.
  • There were brick cracks in the rear wall of the bonus room above the first floor.
  • On the home’s opposite side, there were brick cracks at several window openings.
  • In the bonus room and other rooms in the house, there were wall cracks.
  • The roof framing in the attic above the bonus room was not constructed correctly.
  • The foundation of the house was fine.

Foundation Repair Was Not Required

As a result of our inspection, the HOUSETIPS team reached the following conclusions about what caused cracks in the walls:

  1. The house did not have foundation failure, and the recommended repairs by the contractor were not necessary.
  2. The cracks in the brick near the garage door were from an undersized beam over the garage door opening.
  3. The cracks in the brick on the opposite side of the house were from bad roof framing.

Recommended repairs to the home were to replace the beam above the garage door opening, add bracing in the attic, and cosmetically repair the brick cracks. Our recommended repairs totaled $12,000 – a dramatic difference from $28,000 to $42,000.

Proper Assessment of Home Issues Can Save Money

The efforts of the HOUSETIPS team resulted in significant savings for the client and making the proper repairs. Remember, the foundation repairs and associated costs would not have solved any of the underlying issues identified by the HOUSETIPS team.

The fees associated with such structural assessments vary by location and complexity. They are not based on the scope or nature of any recommended repairs.

When a Professional Engineer Is Beneficial

The information presented here is only a summary of the actual case and is not meant as a general direction for repair. So, if you are experiencing exterior wall cracks or if you observe interior wall cracks, consultation with a professional engineer with experience in evaluating houses is recommended.

Contact your local Home Builders Association for recommendations if you need help locating such an individual.

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