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.
o Tip1 – Is the house obviously leaning?
o Tip 2 – Are there large external cracks?
o Tip 3 – Are doors & windows sticking?
o Tip 4 – Are walls cracked or floors uneven?
o 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.
George Scott, Scott Home Inspection LLC,