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Thread: Drywall Cracks

  1. #1
    Bill Payne's Avatar
    Bill Payne Guest

    Default Drywall Cracks

    Looking for opinions.

    During a recent inspection of a 12 year old single story house I noted numerous cracks in the drywall and exterior rock veneer, and separation of a cornice/wall joint, separation of exterior siding joints. Previous drywall cracks radiated out from window corners had been patched over. Current cracks were concentrated in one hall / master bedroom area with master bedroom door out of alignment. Reference photos.

    I referred it out to a structural engineer. Engineer's report showed 1/2 inch variation of slab and stated the cracking was "normal expansion of drywall". We have alot of clay soil in this area and I believe the foundation is shifting/moving based on moisture/drought conditions.

    Thought/comments?

    Thanks, Bill

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
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    4,112

    Default Re: Drywall Cracks

    Well, I don't see how that "normal expansion of drywall" can make the exterior of the house move... but the guy just put his reputation on the line (hope you did not recommend him.)

    Did you actually see the PE's report or was this second hand? I am always leery when anyone quotes from a report without seeing it with my own eyes. I have been less than thrilled with the last few opinions from PE's that seem to be looking at a different house that what I saw though. Of course I like the quote I see after someones posts, wish I had thought of it, "I get paid to be suspicious."

    I did see one photo that I could go with "normal" cracking of a new house. That is the photo of the angled "tray" ceiling at the joint. Those are prone to failure from the day they build it once the lumber shrinks.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  3. #3
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: Drywall Cracks

    Bill:

    When I use the term "normal" here, understand that it does not mean right or correct, just that I normally see this sort of thing on homes with no significant or structurally debilitating movement.

    Photo 1 - Normal, usually related to a combination of undersized and/or poorly attached lintel and framing "settlement" or shrinkage.

    Photo 2 - Normal, poor fitting joints and failed "structural caulking compound". Siding needs kick out flashing.

    Photo 3 - Could be significant, pending other measurements and observations.

    Photo 4 - Could be significant, pending other measurements and observations.

    Photo 5 - Normal, tape crack.

    If the house is built on expansive clay, it should not be there. Since it is, like all of the houses where I live, expect movement. There is no such thing as a stable foundation on undulating expansive soil. Relatively stable, maybe. Stable, impossible.

    There are two kinds of engineers: (1) Those that think they know everything and live in Texas, and (2) Those that think they know everything and live outside of Texas. I hesitate to use Steve "Bulldog" Rodriguez's formula, but feel that it might be applicable here. 15% of the engineers are deserving of the name and seem competent. The rest could be engineering at Walmart or the Golden Arches and serve humanity just as well.

    Like Jim said, get the PE's report before you jump to conclusions here. If he's right and there's only 1/2" or so of deflection in the slab, it don't mean a thing.

    Aaron


  4. #4
    Bill Payne's Avatar
    Bill Payne Guest

    Default Re: Drywall Cracks

    I did not see the report, second hand info from my client and her realtor and I don't know who they used. I offered to meet the engineer at the property but her realtor was able to get him out there ASAP. No time to call me and let me know. Imagine that.

    I agree that some of the cracks are of minimal concern but all indications add up to foundation shift. Maybe not significant and I didn't call it out as a "failed" slab.

    I just don't like a foundation company saying that all the cracking noted is normal. Basically calling me an alarmist or even worse.

    Oh well, maybe she'll at least start a water maintenance program.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Drywall Cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Well, I don't see how that "normal expansion of drywall" can make the exterior of the house move...
    I don't see how any "expansion of drywall", excessive or not, could conceivably move the exterior walls.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
    Brandon Chew's Avatar
    Brandon Chew Guest

    Default Re: Drywall Cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I don't see how any "expansion of drywall", excessive or not, could conceivably move the exterior walls.
    I don't either. I bet something was lost in the translation from engineer --> realtor/client --> inspector --> message board.

    Brandon
    (an engineer that does not live in Texas and who does not know everything)


  7. #7
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: Drywall Cracks

    (an engineer that does not live in Texas and who does not know everything)
    Brandon:

    But, I will bet if I ask around, I will find that, at least sometimes, you think you do . . .

    No?

    Ever drink tequila?

    Gotcha,

    Aaron


  8. #8
    Randy Clayton's Avatar
    Randy Clayton Guest

    Default Re: Drywall Cracks

    Bill, I will have to agree with Arron there is some signs of deflaction which is tipical here in houston; (you did not state where?)which is good to report but a foundation failure I don't think so depending on the egineeers report that 1 half inch is in how many ft???


  9. #9
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: Drywall Cracks

    To satisfy the L/360 deflection rule that we work under in Texas the total distance in question would have to be something less than 15 feet.

    Aaron


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