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walkereng, Consultant
Category: Structural Engineering
Satisfied Customers: 2831
Experience:  Over 30 years of Structural Engineering experience.
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I am looking at buying a garden home built in 1985. The

Customer Question

I am looking at buying a garden home built in 1985. The block has cookie cutter garden homes built by the same builder. I noticed on the garden home adjacent to the one we would like to buy that the exterior brick had a 1/2 inch crack running down it that had been repaired. I don't see any such damage on the home we are looking at. Should I be concerned and what should I ask the home inspector to look for?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Structural Engineering
Expert:  walkereng replied 1 year ago.

I can help

Expert:  walkereng replied 1 year ago.

Is the crack vertical or does it follow a stair stepped line in a diagonal direction?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I believe it was vertical but I will have to take another look.
Expert:  walkereng replied 1 year ago.
Can you take a picture and share it with me?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I will go by and take a picture.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I was able to take a picture over the fence but I don't think you can see it. The up close cracks our of a house two doors away from the adjacent house with the crack. On observation the crack is not like the ones pictures as it is a jigsaw pattern about 1/2 inch wide running down about three quarters of the brick . I also took pictures of the sidewalk right off the porch on the house we are looking to buy.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Realtor said house adjacent about 30 feet away looked like bad job , brick vener and possible expansion joint. She said she could scrap off the stuff between bricks, sorry I dont know the term for it. I call it cement.
Expert:  walkereng replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the pictures.

That is a fairly significant crack. It appears very vertical and actually has cracked through the bricks, not just the mortar joints.

Couple of questions:

1. Is this just brick vernier over a wood frame wall or are the walls actually full bear wall brick?

2. Where the crack intersects the slab foundation, can you see any differential settlement (i.e. different heights on each side of the crack).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can you see crack on large brick wall picture? Or are you looking at up close crack which is of house 2 doors away?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Brick vernier over wood frames. Second question is no.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The puzzle crack is the house closes to us. I dont think you can see it on the wall photo or can you?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Here is a good example of what house next door look like. Although gap is about 1/2 inch and bricks are still in tact. There is flaking on wall. No signs of this on the garden home we are looking at though.It is third picture but crack is puzzle or zig zag down not straight down.
Expert:  walkereng replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the link. If you look at item #6 on their list, middle picture, that is what I was asking if the crack extended down into the foundation.

Since you say you can not see any cracks in the structure you are looking, it most likely will not be a problem. Since the homes have a brick vernier over a wood framed wall, there is really not safety issue involved if a crack opens up. It would be more a cosmetic issue and functional issue, i.e. door and windows not opening easily, etc.

I would tell your home inspector of the cracks in nearby homes and have him pay extra attention to items like that. Also window and door issues.

There is no way to predict if this will happen to the house you are looking at, but if you make a very careful inspection, it will be money well spent.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, Ill take another look when I go over there and see if crack extends to foundation. What if anything does sidewalk crack indicate in front of front porch?
Expert:  walkereng replied 1 year ago.

Almost all concrete sidewalk cracks at sometime in it's life. I would not be too concerned about it. It can be from a bad batch/mix of concrete, it does not need to be related to any kind of soil settlement or soil expansion/contraction.