||04-30-2012 08:50 PM
What is wrong with this brick wall?
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?