Structural Issues

Five tips to quickly recognize serious structural problems

Serious structural problems in houses are not very common, but when they occur they can be difficult & costly to repair. These tips won’t turn you into a home inspector, but it will give you some of the common indicators of structural concerns. In these cases, a structural engineer should be called out to investigate further and provide a professional opinion.

Tip 1 – Leaning House

Take a macro-look at the home from across the street – is the house obviously tilting or leaning, or one edge of the home separating?

Tip 2 – Exterior Walls & Entries

Look for areas of wall separation greater than ½” in size
Check the Chimney area well – is the chimney separating from the home?

Tip 3 – Doors & Windows

Do doors and windows open freely? Look for cracks around the edges of windows and doors, and for sagging lintels on brick homes.

Tip 4 –Floors & Walls

Are there drywall cracks > ¼” in size? Are there uneven floors near corners?

Tip 5 – Basement Foundation Crack

Look for significant cracks both inside and outside on the foundation, particularly near corners, around windows, and any cracks that run the full length vertically or a considerable length horizontally.

Summary

  • Tip1 – Is the house obviously leaning?
  • Tip 2 – Are there large external cracks?
  • Tip 3 – Are doors & windows sticking?
  • Tip 4 – Are walls cracked or floors uneven?
  • Tip 5 – Are there basement cracks present?

Any of these may indicate a structural issue that should be inspected or reviewed by a structural engineer. Structural concerns when selling or purchasing a home are the most costly items you can be faced with. Look closely at these areas, or ask you home inspector to focus on these areas in a separate walk through of the home. If you aren’t sure about something you see, have a structural engineer look at it. The cost of an inspection will be well worth the peace of mind in knowing the severity and extent of the concern.