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  1. #1
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    Default What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Hi Everyone,
    I'm new here but any help would be greatly appreciated.
    I had 2 different opinions from a home inspector that was physically at the site and a structural engineer that looked at pictures I sent via email.

    The house is the first house of an attached house built in the 1970's that sits on a downward sloping hill (the slope is going left/right with the left of the house on higher ground than the right (the attached house is also attached on the left of the house at the higher point of the slope). The house shares a wall and roof with the house next to it however there are no visible issues with the house that is next to the one in question. The house is a 3-story with a basement.

    There are vertical cracks on the front and the back of the house and the garage door is pulling away from the wall. The wall perpendicular to the front and rear of the house (the one not attached to the other house) is apparently pulling away from the house (according to the home inspector). The I-beam supporting the 2nd floor is exposed in the garage and the brick / cinder blocks it is resting on shows a very slight buckling, showing signs that the wall is pulling away. The cracks on the back of the house were previously patched when the owners purchased the house ~ 5 years ago, but the cracks on the front were never patched.

    Apparently when the current owners bought the property they did hire a licensed engineer to analyze for structural problems when they were buying, and it said that there were uneven floors were within normal tolerance, and only one door that was hard to close. Cracks in brick wall needs to be patched (did not say front or back or both and no pictures) but attested that foundation was fine.

    The basement ends where the garage starts so the entire section of the house starting from the garage is sitting on a slab With no basement underneath.
    The inspector feels that the wall perpendicular to the front and rear walls ( facing the driveway) is probably not tied to the rest of the house properly and is almost a free standing wall and/or has poor footings or is not deep enough or is pulling away from the house so that is why the brick veneer and masonry walls are cracking.

    The structural engineer, based on pictures, says that these cracks are probably due to no expansion joints and incorrectly built wall and it is not an issue with the foundation. He believes expansion joints should be cut into the brick veneer and masonry wall behind the veneer, temporarily caulk the cracks to prevent water damage and to monitor if it stops cracking and if that is the issue, the repoint and fix the cracks later on once it is confirmed. He is unsure about the slight buckling of the masonry wall as he cant come to the site to see

    Based on the information and the pictures attached, what is really the root cause and is this fixable or will it just be a major headache?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Run, do not walk, away.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    I would tend to agree with "The structural engineer, based on pictures, says that these cracks are probably due to no expansion joints and incorrectly built wall and it is not an issue with the foundation. He believes expansion joints should be cut into the brick veneer and masonry wall behind the veneer, temporarily caulk the cracks to prevent water damage and to monitor if it stops cracking and if that is the issue, the repoint and fix the cracks later on once it is confirmed. He is unsure about the slight buckling of the masonry wall as he cant come to the site to see."

    Lack of control joints.

    The issue of buckling could be lack of, or failure of the brick ties. Not to forget that different building materials have different rates of expansion and can move and create cracks and visibly observable movement over time.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Run, do not walk, away.
    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Lawrenson View Post
    I would tend to agree with "The structural engineer, based on pictures, says that these cracks are probably due to no expansion joints and incorrectly built wall and it is not an issue with the foundation. He believes expansion joints should be cut into the brick veneer and masonry wall behind the veneer, temporarily caulk the cracks to prevent water damage and to monitor if it stops cracking and if that is the issue, the repoint and fix the cracks later on once it is confirmed. He is unsure about the slight buckling of the masonry wall as he cant come to the site to see."

    Lack of control joints.

    The issue of buckling could be lack of, or failure of the brick ties. Not to forget that different building materials have different rates of expansion and can move and create cracks and visibly observable movement over time.
    thank you both,
    HG Watson, can you explain what you are seeing, that makes you say run away? I'm trying to understand from all points of view.

    Claude, what do you mean by brick ties. what this house has is a cinderblock wall with some bricks mixed in plus a brick veneer. where the ibeam is sitting happens to be 2 bricks, not cinder. are you saying that the veneer needs to be tied to the cinderblocks? how does the brick veneer not being tied to the cinder block wall expalin the buckling on the inside of the wall?

    attached is a picture of the garage door opened, you can see what i mean by cinder blocks mixed with brick (right wall.) i unfortunately do not have a picture of the ibeam.

    thanks again. your feedback is very much appreciated.

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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    My 2.46 cents worth.

    From the pictures it is hard to tell but you may also have water control issues at the foundation. It looks like signs of pooling by the foundation. If you have control joint issues along with what Claude states that will add to the stress to the structure.

    Since you have had repairs and then failure at those repair lines you know the building is still not stabilized.

    How are the weep holes, are they blocked can you see any? Brick veneers need a way for moisture to move out since brick is a porous material.

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Hester View Post
    My 2.46 cents worth.

    From the pictures it is hard to tell but you may also have water control issues at the foundation. It looks like signs of pooling by the foundation. If you have control joint issues along with what Claude states that will add to the stress to the structure.

    Since you have had repairs and then failure at those repair lines you know the building is still not stabilized.

    How are the weep holes, are they blocked can you see any? Brick veneers need a way for moisture to move out since brick is a porous material.
    I don't think there is much pooling, i dont recall seeing water when i stopped by the day the day after heavy rain.
    I do not see any weep holes whatsoever on this home or the attached home. what does that mean?


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    This will give you a little understanding on weep holes and ventilation and why.

    BrickVent - Weep and Vent moisture solutions for brick and masonry, BrickVent and Masonry Innovations, Inc.

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    What makes you want to buy a home in poor condition? Remember you will have to pay to have it fixed and it is a certainty that it will cost more than you or anyone else thinks it will cost to fix the problem.
    After you spend the money there will likely still be signs of the problem that you will need to try to explain away to the next buyer.
    If you still want to buy it, get firm bids from the guys who do this work before you close.
    I agree, walk away, there are more house out there and this one is a money pit.

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Looks like a lintel issue to me. The steel lintels/angle shelves used to support the structural load of bricks above those window and door openings over time will oxidize, rust, delaminate, and expand. They can expand up to 11 times their normal size and may be the root cause of the cracks here. You can patch the damaged brick and pointing areas for so long but eventually, the lintels will need to be cut out and replaced. The fact that the bricks cracked too and not just the mortar joints is a concern.

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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Multiple issues contributing to the veneer failure.

    The veneer has failed at the ties, the reason could be no expansion joints causing the veneer to buckle and causing the ties to fail under stress.

    I've seen this in commercial buildings and the only way to repair is remove the brick veneer and replace it correctly. (It's like re-siding a building)
    It can't be patched.

    Ken Amelin
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Hester View Post
    This will give you a little understanding on weep holes and ventilation and why.

    BrickVent - Weep and Vent moisture solutions for brick and masonry, BrickVent and Masonry Innovations, Inc.
    Thanks for the info. Can weeping holes be retrofitted like an expansion joint? or does the wall need to be torn down and rebuilt with the weeping holes / vents?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    What makes you want to buy a home in poor condition? Remember you will have to pay to have it fixed and it is a certainty that it will cost more than you or anyone else thinks it will cost to fix the problem.
    .
    for us, its more of the location, location location and the lack of inventory in the area. Unfortunately, aside from the other house attached to this one, 99% of the homes in this area are Single family houses and does not exactly match what we are looking for. I agree, if there were others in the area we would NOT be giving this house any thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    Looks like a lintel issue to me. The steel lintels/angle shelves used to support the structural load of bricks above those window and door openings over time will oxidize, rust, delaminate, and expand. They can expand up to 11 times their normal size and may be the root cause of the cracks here. You can patch the damaged brick and pointing areas for so long but eventually, the lintels will need to be cut out and replaced. The fact that the bricks cracked too and not just the mortar joints is a concern.
    That was what the home inspector thought when i initially sent him the pictures (but i only gave him the rear cracks), but when he arrived and saw the cracks in the front the fact that the there was no basement underneath the garage, he concluded that it wasnt a lintel issue as and was more that the wall is pulling away.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    Multiple issues contributing to the veneer failure.

    The veneer has failed at the ties, the reason could be no expansion joints causing the veneer to buckle and causing the ties to fail under stress.

    I've seen this in commercial buildings and the only way to repair is remove the brick veneer and replace it correctly. (It's like re-siding a building)
    It can't be patched.

    in general can you all provide a ball park estimate on the following:

    1. retrofit an expansion joint, cutting through veneer and cinder blocks. I woudl only need one on each wall right OR Do i need to take into account that my side of the house is aobut 40 x 30 but its attached to another 40 X30 wide house and add an additional expansion joint right where our houses are attached? is it like $1000 a joint , $2000 a joint?

    2. What would be an estimate for residing the veneer for a 40*3 story building?

    3and what would be an estimate for replacing the lintels per window?

    What i am hearing though is that this is not a foundation issue? is that correct? I dont need install new footings?

    I'm assuming i would NOT know what needs to be done until i start work on and they start cutting in the expansion joints?
    Im asking for these ballpark estimates so i can get a worst case scenario # and then see if its still worth it to purchase AND Is the worst case scenarion that we have to rebuild the front and rear walls and replace the lintels?
    and is the best case
    cut the expansion joints one in front and one in rear and first chaulk up the cracks to see if the cracks are still continuing and then if it stops after a how many years (2 years at least?) then we repoint / patch the cracks?


  12. #12
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    the other question is why is the other attached house not cracking?
    Is it because its a downward sloping street, and this garage, being the largest opening, is the weakest point of the building and is at the bottom end of both structurs and thus cracking on this side only? But then why is it cracking more in the rear than in the front where the garage door is?


  13. #13
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    RUN away. Lipstick on a pig.





    P.S. It has not gone unnoticed you've snipped listing photos from MLSLI.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 05-01-2012 at 08:39 AM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    RUN away. Lipstick on a pig.





    P.S. It has not gone unnoticed you've snipped listing photos from MLSLI.
    oh i didnt know we couldnt use photos from there. Most of the pictures i took, but because i need to illustrate my questions better I had to use a few listing photos to give more context to my questions.
    If its a forum rule, please let me know and I will remove asap.


  15. #15
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    Wink Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    RUN away. Lipstick on a pig.





    P.S. It has not gone unnoticed you've snipped listing photos from MLSLI.
    Gotta say Watson; I love the way eloquence and sensitivity play into your posts. You need to work on just saying it like it is


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    MLS pics are in the public domain. No harm in using them, but the homeowners could find it objectionable, as they wish to sell that place. HG is naturally suspicious, possibly thinks you are a lying lawyer, homeowner, relator, etc.

    The end of the building which you are looking at has settled slightly, causing the brick veneer to crack. I see moisture staining along the back of the garage, as others have pointed out. Maybe there were overflowing gutters there allowing runoff to soak the soil around the footings. Moisture flows to the low end of the building and that is the place you are looking at.
    Have all the perimeter drains inspected, and repaired if needed.
    That exterior wall to the garage may need to be stabilized to prevent further outward movement. Sometimes, giant anchor bolts with big metal plates are used for that. Any brick building can be repaired, but it can become quite costly, as you already know.

    To install weeps in a veneer wall, two courses of brick are knocked out with jackhammers. Temporary screwjacks are installed as work progresses horizontally to keep the brickwork above from shifting. Brick ties and flashing is installed and new bricks are mortared into place. This is not a job for amateurs.

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Ah ok, no, i am not a lawyer or realtor, just a fearful potential buyer. The close up pics i took myself during my inspection and the far away pics were posted but i figure its easier to use the mls pics to show the overall context of where the cracks are as it is quite hard to describe, especially since a lot of these terms are new to me.

    as for your point
    "The end of the building which you are looking at has settled slightly, causing the brick veneer to crack. I see moisture staining along the back of the garage, as others have pointed out. Maybe there were overflowing gutters there allowing runoff to soak the soil around the footings. Moisture flows to the low end of the building and that is the place you are looking at.
    Have all the perimeter drains inspected, and repaired if needed.
    That exterior wall to the garage may need to be stabilized to prevent further outward movement. Sometimes, giant anchor bolts with big metal plates are used for that. Any brick building can be repaired, but it can become quite costly, as you already know.
    "
    yeah this hous def has some gutter issues. where you see the water stains in the back, there is a hole in the soffit / gutters which i am assuming should hopefully stop if eavesdrop and gutters are replaced.

    how does the giant anchor bolts work? what is that last wall anchored against? pls excuse if these seem like stupid questions.

    oh and i forgot to mention, wondering if this makes any difference.
    the front wall is a different brick than the side and rear walls. Does that make any difference?




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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Thats a double masonry wall consisting of 2 wythes common bond (headers) every 6th course.

    Weep holes and brick ties on a masonry wall, don't think so and I don't agree with engineers assessment, but then again I am not an engineer and the fact no one commented on double brick.

    Masonry wall bowing because it has not been laterally retained at the second floor and third floor levels. This is more likely to occur where the joists run parallel to the wall.

    Last edited by Raymond Wand; 05-01-2012 at 02:35 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    I am looking at the AC units as well. A common crack is pointing to those AC units. Old repairs and cracks beside the old repairs.

    Money can fix anything.


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Thats a double masonry wall consisting of 2 wythes common bond (headers) every 6th course.

    Masonry wall bowing because it has not been laterally retained at the second floor and third floor levels. This is more likely to occur where the joists run parallel to the wall.
    i'm not following what you are saying by laterally retained? can you explain it in easier terms please . the steel beam is parallel to the walls that are cracking and the joist are perpendicular to the walls that are cracking and it is the steel beam that is causing the bowing of the wall that it is perpendicular to.


    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen G View Post
    I am looking at the AC units as well. A common crack is pointing to those AC units. Old repairs and cracks beside the old repairs.

    Money can fix anything.
    is their any particular reason that the ac units would be causing more cracks? do those openings need lintels? I noticed that they sprayfoamed around all the AC units from the inside to fill in the gaps between the AC and the hole, can that contribute to the cracking?


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Foundation

    That was a guess on my part as to one cause, since there is a beam and perpendicular joists.


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Raymond, you are probably correct about that being a double-wythe brick building. I got brick veneer from the original post, which means that engineer's comments could also be way off base.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Raymond, you are probably correct about that being a double-wythe brick building. I got brick veneer from the original post, which means that engineer's comments could also be way off base.
    thanks for all the feed back, i guess i wasnt using the correct terms, what i meant by the cinder block wall plus a bric veneer is double-wythe (wikiepedia to the rescue) but the engineer knew that. he said the cinderblock wall also needs an expansion joint, not just the brick veneer.

    so for a foundation issue, additinoal footers are needed if expansion joints are not the issue?


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation View Post
    thanks for all the feed back, i guess i wasnt using the correct terms, what i meant by the cinder block wall plus a bric veneer is double-wythe (wikiepedia to the rescue) but the engineer knew that. he said the cinderblock wall also needs an expansion joint, not just the brick veneer.
    Raymond is suggesting that the brick pattern front and back shows bricks laid across the inner and outer wall every 6 courses. That would imply an inner wall of brick, not block. Brick veneer would not be laid in that pattern, AFAIK. Better find out for sure if that really is veneer. It may be block with brick veneer only at the garage wall.

    so for a foundation issue, additinoal footers are needed if expansion joints are not the issue?
    The usual course of action is to stop the cause of foundation movement, such as moisture. Moisture allows the soil around the foundation to shift. Basicly, the footings sink into the mud below the surface. Once the building foundation is dry and stabilized, there is usually no more that will need to be done around the footings. The concern then is whether beams and walls are supported properly. That's a job for your engineer.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    I think some responders did not realize the first engineer hired awhile back probably did not see the large shift at the garage opening because it probably happened sometime later. Then I have to wonder if the recent engineer was shown the garage gap.....

    In any event, that type of issue on that type of property is typically never completely fixed since the return on investment is not there. Are there rental units in there?

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce King View Post
    I think some responders did not realize the first engineer hired awhile back probably did not see the large shift at the garage opening because it probably happened sometime later. Then I have to wonder if the recent engineer was shown the garage gap.....

    In any event, that type of issue on that type of property is typically never completely fixed since the return on investment is not there. Are there rental units in there?
    actually that door was note in the report, but it just stating that it needed to be replaced. I did mention that to the recent engineer too, I did email him yesterday regarding the fact that this is a double wythe wall to see his opinion has changed.

    Also this does have rental units. one of the reasons we like the house.


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Foundation

    Please keep us updated on any feed back from engineer.

    Thanks


  28. #28
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    THanks Raymond and everyone else for the input. I'll update when i hear back


  29. #29
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    so my struc engineer came back and said based on the picture of the garage wall, it is not a double wythe wall, which is brick outside and brick inside, but rather a block wall aka CMU or Concret Masonry Unit or Cinderblock+ b

    Even if it was a double wythe wall or cmu + brick, he still feels that expansion joint needs to be created on both layers.


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    For your info.

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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    For your info.
    Raymond,

    The 2 wythes, one brick and one cinder block, in that drawing depict a potential long term problem ... that of dissimilar materials.

    Brick is fired and is as small as it will ever be when it is made, it only gets bigger over time due to humidity (yes, there is also thermal expansion and contraction).

    Cinder block, concrete block, etc., are as large as it will ever be when it is made, it only gets smaller over time due to drying out (yes, there is also thermal expansion and contraction).

    To construct a wall of one material which will only get bigger over time, and with another material which will only get smaller over time, greatly increases the odds of that wall failing in some manner as the 2 wythes change in height over time, one getting bigger and one getting smaller.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  32. #32
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    ok i guess its just more of a terminology? and maybe its my poor translation of terms.

    I think that either way, if it was 2 layers of brick or brick and cinder, the engineer is saying that he feels expansion joints needs to be cut into both layers....

    do people still agree with that?


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Thanks Jerry and Randy.

    I understand now why the expansion joint is a consideration. I had forgot that the two materials will expand differently, one being clay the other cement.

    Can't ever recall seeing an expansion joint in a residential masonry wall, only industrial/commercial buildings.


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    I understand now why the expansion joint is a consideration. I had forgot that the two materials will expand differently, one being clay the other cement.
    It's not just that one is clay and one is concrete, one was made in an oven and the moisture was baked out of it, that one (the brick) will just get bigger, while the other one was made of wet concrete in a mold (the concrete block) and will just continue to hydrate, cure and dry out and get smaller.

    Thermal expansion-wise, I'm not sure what the differences are, but one side of the wall will grow while the other side will shrink due simply to the materials used.

    The expansion joints in brick are for both conditions: the brick naturally growing bigger, and for thermal expansion.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Thanks,

    Out of interest what direction does the wall face? East, south or is it in the shade most of the day?


  36. #36
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    So Aside from HG Watson, I still haven't heard any strong "run away" from everyone else.

    how much would be a rough estimate on the cost of creating an expansion joint, I'm assuming that its 1 per side and i need a total of 2 expansion joints.


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    National Research Council of Canada 1975 study

    Moisture Expansion of Clay Bricks and Brickwork


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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Its at least the third connected multi-famly building as you've described and pictured. Your subject is downhill elevation and the topography is dramatically downhill behind.
    Parking/movement of heavy vehicles adjacent and full dumpster in front (of listing photos). Patio pour against foundation in the back. Modificaitons, incorrect repairs, and deferred maintenance evidenced. Significant and recent movement and failures pictured and described.

    You've been reluctant to spend the money to get an on-site evaulation, PRE-OFFER by a qualified engineering survey team, the measurements must be made.

    The unfortunate owner of the subject property cannot control the lean of the uphill properties. Lawsuits are expensive, and you cannot get blood out of a turnip.
    Insurance doesn't cover failures due to deferred maintenance or neglect.

    You and most others are missing the forest for the trees.

    The entire multi-plot structure (those buildings which are attached, share foundation, pinnings, common walls, drainage systems, etc.) needs professional review.

    Topography, out of plane, must be measured; structure evaluated.

    This cannot be done remotely!

    Due dillegance! If you cannot afford the services of a well-insured qualified professional structural engineeriing firm to investigate, evaluate (time-frame may take longer than the average short contingency period) and produce a formal report, and following up on same; prior to making an offer; then you need to realistically consider that you cannot afford to own the property or be renting out living units of same.

    Recent (subsequent to caulking/painting), significant movement, moment eval.

    Caveat Emptor.


  39. #39
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    310

    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    I have to agree with Mr. Watson on this one.
    You need a qualified Structural Engineer on scene to perform an engineering study of this structure.
    From previous posts it would seem that the engineers who have reviewed the photos have not presented with enough evidence or with proper evidence to make an informed evaluation.

    Alton Darty
    ATN Services, LLC
    www.arinspections.com

  40. #40
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Too often these type discusions get edited/redatected by the OP dissappear sometime later.

    "Foundation": Some things Currently Licensed HIs do NOT do relative to properties they inspect pertaining to a real estate transaction (and for one year thereafter), and in many cases do not do PERIOD:

    Provide advice as to there is value or if a buyer should buy a property.(appraisal, real estate agents, accountants, business advisors, financial advice, etc.)
    Provide estimates as to the cost of, or the "how to" for repairs, corrections, or improvements. (Licensed contractors, jobbers, etc.).

    Engage in the practice of Engineering.

    Most of the participants here are actively licensed, currently engaged in the practice of professional home inspection. Some retired, some from other countries (such as Canada), some are inspectors for authorities having jurisdiction (municipal, county, etc.) some contractors, engineers of various types, some tradespersons, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation View Post
    Hi Everyone,
    I'm new here but any help would be greatly appreciated.
    I had 2 different opinions from a home inspector that was physically at the site and a structural engineer that looked at pictures I sent via email.

    The house is the first house of an attached house built in the 1970's that sits on a downward sloping hill (the slope is going left/right with the left of the house on higher ground than the right (the attached house is also attached on the left of the house at the higher point of the slope). The house shares a wall and roof with the house next to it however there are no visible issues with the house that is next to the one in question. The house is a 3-story with a basement.

    There are vertical cracks on the front and the back of the house and the garage door is pulling away from the wall. The wall perpendicular to the front and rear of the house (the one not attached to the other house) is apparently pulling away from the house (according to the home inspector). The I-beam supporting the 2nd floor is exposed in the garage and the brick / cinder blocks it is resting on shows a very slight buckling, showing signs that the wall is pulling away. The cracks on the back of the house were previously patched when the owners purchased the house ~ 5 years ago, but the cracks on the front were never patched.

    Apparently when the current owners bought the property they did hire a licensed engineer to analyze for structural problems when they were buying, and it said that there were uneven floors were within normal tolerance, and only one door that was hard to close. Cracks in brick wall needs to be patched (did not say front or back or both and no pictures) but attested that foundation was fine.

    The basement ends where the garage starts so the entire section of the house starting from the garage is sitting on a slab With no basement underneath.

    The inspector feels that the wall perpendicular to the front and rear walls ( facing the driveway) is probably not tied to the rest of the house properly and is almost a free standing wall and/or has poor footings or is not deep enough or is pulling away from the house so that is why the brick veneer and masonry walls are cracking.

    The structural engineer, based on pictures, says that these cracks are probably due to no expansion joints and incorrectly built wall and it is not an issue with the foundation. He believes expansion joints should be cut into the brick veneer and masonry wall behind the veneer, temporarily caulk the cracks to prevent water damage and to monitor if it stops cracking and if that is the issue, the repoint and fix the cracks later on once it is confirmed. He is unsure about the slight buckling of the masonry wall as he cant come to the site to see

    Based on the information and the pictures attached, what is really the root cause and is this fixable or will it just be a major headache?
    Its a self-declared THREE-story multi-family, with basement except at the front side wall corner, building, end-of-row, attached to at least two similar which are "uphill", not "a house". Despite your profile "location" as New Jersey, you've snipped photos from the MLSLI (Long Island, NY -- not "New Jersey") photos. This is NOT RCNYS or IRC type Construction OR 1 & 2 Family Residential property-type Inspection.

    Its BCNYS/BCNYC/IBC/IPMC/IFC Multi-family/at least 3-addresses building in row-connected/shared partywall, no parapet, common (to at least 2 building addresses) roof, 3-story Building.

    By your own admission you are describing structural failure regarding beam pocket buckling at downhill end-wall (or pier) of three-addresses, multi-family buildings-minimum row of three-story buildings multiple level foundations ON SLOPE.

    Originally Post #4 OP replying to myself & Claude Lawrenson:

    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    thank you both,
    HG Watson, can you explain what you are seeing, that makes you say run away? I'm trying to understand from all points of view.

    Claude, what do you mean by brick ties. what this house has is a cinderblock wall with some bricks mixed in plus a brick veneer. where the ibeam is sitting happens to be 2 bricks, not cinder. are you saying that the veneer needs to be tied to the cinderblocks? how does the brick veneer not being tied to the cinder block wall expalin the buckling on the inside of the wall?

    attached is a picture of the garage door opened, you can see what i mean by cinder blocks mixed with brick (right wall.) i unfortunately do not have a picture of the ibeam.

    thanks again. your feedback is very much appreciated.
    Originally Post #6, OP Replying to Don Hester:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    I don't think there is much pooling, i dont recall seeing water when i stopped by the day the day after heavy rain.
    I do not see any weep holes whatsoever on this home or the attached home. what does that mean?
    Originally Post #11, OP replying to multiple posters:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    Replying to Don Hester:
    Thanks for the info. Can weeping holes be retrofitted like an expansion joint? or does the wall need to be torn down and rebuilt with the weeping holes / vents?

    Replying to Jim Luttrall:
    for us, its more of the location, location location and the lack of inventory in the area. Unfortunately, aside from the other house attached to this one, 99% of the homes in this area are Single family houses and does not exactly match what we are looking for. I agree, if there were others in the area we would NOT be giving this house any thought.

    Replying to Nick Ostrowski:
    That was what the home inspector thought when i initially sent him the pictures (but i only gave him the rear cracks), but when he arrived and saw the cracks in the front the fact that the there was no basement underneath the garage, he concluded that it wasnt a lintel issue as and was more that the wall is pulling away.

    Replying to Ken Amelin:
    in general can you all provide a ball park estimate on the following:

    1. retrofit an expansion joint, cutting through veneer and cinder blocks. I woudl only need one on each wall right OR Do i need to take into account that my side of the house is aobut 40 x 30 but its attached to another 40 X30 wide house and add an additional expansion joint right where our houses are attached? is it like $1000 a joint , $2000 a joint?

    2. What would be an estimate for residing the veneer for a 40*3 story building?

    3and what would be an estimate for replacing the lintels per window?

    What i am hearing though is that this is not a foundation issue? is that correct? I dont need install new footings?

    I'm assuming i would NOT know what needs to be done until i start work on and they start cutting in the expansion joints?
    Im asking for these ballpark estimates so i can get a worst case scenario # and then see if its still worth it to purchase AND Is the worst case scenarion that we have to rebuild the front and rear walls and replace the lintels?
    and is the best case
    cut the expansion joints one in front and one in rear and first chaulk up the cracks to see if the cracks are still continuing and then if it stops after a how many years (2 years at least?) then we repoint / patch the cracks?
    Originally Post#12 OP Posing additional questions:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    the other question is why is the other attached house not cracking?
    Is it because its a downward sloping street, and this garage, being the largest opening, is the weakest point of the building and is at the bottom end of both structurs and thus cracking on this side only? But then why is it cracking more in the rear than in the front where the garage door is?
    Originally Post #14 OP responding to myself:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    oh i didnt know we couldnt use photos from there. Most of the pictures i took, but because i need to illustrate my questions better I had to use a few listing photos to give more context to my questions.
    If its a forum rule, please let me know and I will remove asap.
    Originally Post #17 OP responding to John Kogel and posing more questions:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    Ah ok, no, i am not a lawyer or realtor, just a fearful potential buyer. The close up pics i took myself during my inspection and the far away pics were posted but i figure its easier to use the mls pics to show the overall context of where the cracks are as it is quite hard to describe, especially since a lot of these terms are new to me.

    as for your point
    "The end of the building which you are looking at has settled slightly, causing the brick veneer to crack. I see moisture staining along the back of the garage, as others have pointed out. Maybe there were overflowing gutters there allowing runoff to soak the soil around the footings. Moisture flows to the low end of the building and that is the place you are looking at.
    Have all the perimeter drains inspected, and repaired if needed.
    That exterior wall to the garage may need to be stabilized to prevent further outward movement. Sometimes, giant anchor bolts with big metal plates are used for that. Any brick building can be repaired, but it can become quite costly, as you already know.
    "
    yeah this hous def has some gutter issues. where you see the water stains in the back, there is a hole in the soffit / gutters which i am assuming should hopefully stop if eavesdrop and gutters are replaced.

    how does the giant anchor bolts work? what is that last wall anchored against? pls excuse if these seem like stupid questions.

    oh and i forgot to mention, wondering if this makes any difference.
    the front wall is a different brick than the side and rear walls. Does that make any difference?
    Originally Post #20, OP responding to multiple posters:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    Replying to Raymond Wand:
    i'm not following what you are saying by laterally retained? can you explain it in easier terms please . the steel beam is parallel to the walls that are cracking and the joist are perpendicular to the walls that are cracking and it is the steel beam that is causing the bowing of the wall that it is perpendicular to.

    Replying to Stephen G:
    is their any particular reason that the ac units would be causing more cracks? do those openings need lintels? I noticed that they sprayfoamed around all the AC units from the inside to fill in the gaps between the AC and the hole, can that contribute to the cracking?
    Originally Post #23, OP responding to John Kogel:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    thanks for all the feed back, i guess i wasnt using the correct terms, what i meant by the cinder block wall plus a bric veneer is double-wythe (wikiepedia to the rescue) but the engineer knew that. he said the cinderblock wall also needs an expansion joint, not just the brick veneer.

    so for a foundation issue, additinoal footers are needed if expansion joints are not the issue?
    Originally Post #26, OP responding to Bruce King:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    actually that door was note in the report, but it just stating that it needed to be replaced. I did mention that to the recent engineer too, I did email him yesterday regarding the fact that this is a double wythe wall to see his opinion has changed.

    Also this does have rental units. one of the reasons we like the house.
    Originally Post #28, OP's reply to Raymond Wand:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    THanks Raymond and everyone else for the input. I'll update when i hear back
    Originally Post #29, 24 hours later:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    so my struc engineer came back and said based on the picture of the garage wall, it is not a double wythe wall, which is brick outside and brick inside, but rather a block wall aka CMU or Concret Masonry Unit or Cinderblock+ b

    Even if it was a double wythe wall or cmu + brick, he still feels that expansion joint needs to be created on both layers.
    Originally Post #32, OP's clarifications & questions:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    ok i guess its just more of a terminology? and maybe its my poor translation of terms.

    I think that either way, if it was 2 layers of brick or brick and cinder, the engineer is saying that he feels expansion joints needs to be cut into both layers....

    do people still agree with that?
    Originally Post #36, OP mischaracterizes the discussion and calls for more input based upon unendorsed, baseless assumptions:
    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    So Aside from HG Watson, I still haven't heard any strong "run away" from everyone else.

    how much would be a rough estimate on the cost of creating an expansion joint, I'm assuming that its 1 per side and i need a total of 2 expansion joints.
    Since the historical typical turn of events on such a discussion is for the OP of same to later return, delete posts and remove content of first, I'm proactively documenting same for preservation of discussion and its future use as a teaching tool.


  41. #41
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    Foundation Guest

    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Geez what's with all the hostility HG.

    Just a quick clarifcation though there is only one attached house (not 3), there's only the attached house on the left of the MLSLI picture (left of the ladder) and the one i am interested, on the right.

    also aside from the 2 mlsli i used to help illustrate what i was saying, all the other pics i used were my own pictures taken during the inspection.
    i was only focused on taking close up pictures and realized i needed pictures of the whole house to provide a better explaination. Also, I do live in NJ and this house is in NY so i wasn't about to drive out again to just take the pictures when it was already available on the agent's site.This is actually an exlusive listing, so the house is not even listed on MLSLI but i guess the agent somehow used it to upload the pictures to the agents own website, which i sniped it from.

    I'm not here to get repair quotes and blame anyone if I am continuing with the purchase in case the numbers are wrong or information is wrong.
    I understand that know one can really know whats going on, even if they are physically there, unless they can remove the bricks and dig up around the house to see whats actually going on.
    I received 2 different opinions and i just wanted to get all the available experts on this forum to see if they can see both sides and if it really is worth me pursuing this by now getting a structural engineer to come out (after i already had a home inspection).

    THis would be a big purchase for us and we are just looking for some friendly advice / suggestions and comments based on all your experiences to see if peopel have encountered this before and we would take all the advice with a grain of salt as we know we would still need to get an actual engineer to come out to the site.

    The structural engineer I am asking is a friend's father and he lives too far away to come out and look at the site so thats why I've been emailing him for information. He of coures told us the same thing, he could not be 100% sure of his analysis based on pictures alone but from what I told him over the phone and the pictures thats what he believes is happening.

    Thanks again for everyones help.


  42. #42
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    5,005

    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Foundation

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.


  43. #43
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Foundation,

    There is no hostility this end.

    You began this discussion with a question:

    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    Based on the information and the pictures attached, what is really the root cause and is this fixable or will it just be a major headache?

    Clarification and redirection simply to get you (and quite a few of the participants on the instant topic discussion) back on track.

    The property is not a "house" it is a multi-family building in excess of two stories attached to another, suffers from past incorrect work and has not been maintained properly. Has significant defects and the limited information you provided suggests/symptomatic has serious underlying issues, the extent and degree of which cannot be determined.

    When "hitting" target dollar amounts to value, easily hit when it comes to such construction-type and era problems when rehabilitating same... at that $$$ threshold remediation of the entire property stops and reconstructing to current codes can easily kick in.

    The down hill "building" is "affected" by the uphill one, and vice versa. Activies and occupancy/habitability status at one may affect the other.

    Stamped plans will be required, permits will be required, bonded insured contractor(s) will be required.

    Revisiting the property even limited to same from the public street is to difficult?

    Public records information, go get all the records, plans, construction documents on file; historical permits, code inspections, violations, licensing, housing authority, complaints, enforcement, etc. records copies for the property address as well as the attached address and the adjacent (downhill not attached) from the multiple offices.

    Minimal effort and expense to acquire this information.

    Geotechnical survey information and ...

    Get professional on-site building measurements - out of plane.

    I submit if the minimal effort and investment to begin to properly address that compound question (quoted above) is already "a major headache", you have answered your own question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation
    Geez what's with all the hostility HG.

    Just a quick clarifcation though there is only one attached house (not 3), there's only the attached house on the left of the MLSLI picture (left of the ladder) and the one i am interested, on the right.

    also aside from the 2 mlsli i used to help illustrate what i was saying, all the other pics i used were my own pictures taken during the inspection.
    i was only focused on taking close up pictures and realized i needed pictures of the whole house to provide a better explaination. Also, I do live in NJ and this house is in NY so i wasn't about to drive out again to just take the pictures when it was already available on the agent's site.This is actually an exlusive listing, so the house is not even listed on MLSLI but i guess the agent somehow used it to upload the pictures to the agents own website, which i sniped it from.

    I'm not here to get repair quotes and blame anyone if I am continuing with the purchase in case the numbers are wrong or information is wrong.
    I understand that know one can really know whats going on, even if they are physically there, unless they can remove the bricks and dig up around the house to see whats actually going on.
    I received 2 different opinions and i just wanted to get all the available experts on this forum to see if they can see both sides and if it really is worth me pursuing this by now getting a structural engineer to come out (after i already had a home inspection).

    THis would be a big purchase for us and we are just looking for some friendly advice / suggestions and comments based on all your experiences to see if peopel have encountered this before and we would take all the advice with a grain of salt as we know we would still need to get an actual engineer to come out to the site.

    The structural engineer I am asking is a friend's father and he lives too far away to come out and look at the site so thats why I've been emailing him for information. He of coures told us the same thing, he could not be 100% sure of his analysis based on pictures alone but from what I told him over the phone and the pictures thats what he believes is happening.

    Thanks again for everyones help.


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    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 05-07-2012 at 11:11 AM.

  44. #44
    Foundation's Avatar
    Foundation Guest

    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Ok Thanks HG. Tones are so hard to read on forums so I sorry for jumping to conclusion. I was able check online for previous violations, non still open. THey had an exisiting one for an illegal bathroom in the basement but it was closed.

    I did not know constructions details are also on file. I will look in to where I can get that information.

    Thanks again.


  45. #45
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    Default Re: What is wrong with this brick wall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foundation View Post
    Ok Thanks HG. Tones are so hard to read on forums so I sorry for jumping to conclusion. I was able check online for previous violations, non still open. THey had an exisiting one for an illegal bathroom in the basement but it was closed.

    I did not know constructions details are also on file. I will look in to where I can get that information.

    Thanks again.
    You want to get all the backup on all the history. You already have found an instance of illegal, unpermitted, past history of unauthorized multiple "generations" ALTERATIONS of the subject property*. Just scratching the surface - and remember not to limit your investigations to the address but expand that scope minimally to the attached property.

    Also, keep in mind, the enforcement office records, and on-line databases, should NOT be your sole resource for finding such, and that they will only have information on what they "CAUGHT" and/or were made aware of.

    *Key in first floor, esp. rear, hone in alteration clues affecting structural integrity, loads, moment. Example subject (of which you supplied three photos of same) relative to the entirety:


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    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 05-07-2012 at 01:13 PM.

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