Cracked Bricks

5 Nov 2016
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United Kingdom

We are close to buying a new 'old' house. It will be the first time we have ever not lived in a newish build house. We payed for a homebuyer survey to be done and it has picked up some vertical cracks in the brickwork. What he actually said is below.

"On the left side of the property where there are multiple courses of blue brick at the base of the wall forming the DPC and the lower section of the external wall, we noted a series or vertical cracks to the brickwork and pointing. Crack width is relatively minor, 1-2mm. The cracks appeared old and weathered. Crack width is consistent and the cracks do not extend into the upper courses of brickwork above the blue brick. We suspect that this pattern of cracking and open jointing is due to the relatively long expanse of brickwork and lack of any expansion joint to the engineering bricks. This type of brick will not accommodate expansion and contraction as well as the main red brick forming the majority of the wall surface. The blue bricks can therefore be prone to cracking due to normal expansion and contraction of the building. Given that the cracks are relatively minor and the pattern of cracking does not indicate movement within the ground or instability to the wall structure, we consider this type of cracking tolerable and the prescribed method of repair is cosmetic, i.e. rake out and re-point mortar joints replacing any damaged bricks. The building has created its own expansion and contraction joints in these locations and if cracks are filled, given the construction of the wall it is likely that they will re-open. The method for repair should be investigated. In this regard it may be sensible to obtain further advice from a structural engineer or experienced builder with regard to the best method/approach to repair the brickwork. In some cases this is simply to leave the cracks unattended to allow for natural movement of the property. Cracks in buildings can be a concern for purchasers and with regard to future saleability it may be sensible to obtain further advice from a structural engineer at the present time so that you are aware of the type and scope of any repair recommended, but also so that you can demonstrate to an onward purchaser that this defect was identified at the time of your purchase, thoroughly investigated and any recommendations for repair undertaken with appropriate professional supervision. Your further investigation should be completed prior to a legal commitment to purchase the property.

As i see things the crack only extends up the blue bricks, but i can't really see where is starts (i.e. in my mind it could start underground). The two pictures are just the same thing from different angles but at the other end of the side of the house there is a similar crack.

Any advice would be much appreciated as i don't know if we are going over the top with the worry.
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theboyfrost, good evening.

In general terms, brickwork walls should have expansion / contraction joints built in as the wall is constructed [Hindsight is a really great Cop-Out]

The expansion joints should ideally be placed at about 6-7.m apart, suggest you have a look round this site for this type of information, there are several posts on this problem. Question? how long is the wall? and is the crack "Roughly" central in the wall ?

I notice on your Images posted that, the cracks are in the blue bricks, but? no cracking in the cement vertical perpends? [the vertical cement joints] could be that previous owner had the blue brick re-pointed?

it is very odd that there are the cracks in the blue brick but not in the cement joints?

There are two sets of cracks one at each end of the wall around 5 feet in or so. Could have been repointed for sure, on the other crack the cement joints show cracks, see below. It's quite a long side of the house, built in the 40's, i don't believe there are any expansion joints in it.

It's an old thermal crack. The panel shrunk at some stage, for one of several reasons, and the bricks cracked. The mortar is more able to accommodate movement, (as can the different bricks above) so the crack is not so pronounced in the joint. It's not a structural concern.

I'd suggest filling it with a clear silicone as that will be less obtrusive.

PS. That surveyor is talking a lot of waffle, and telling you nothing. Afraid of making a decision, so tries to pass the buck. Wall defect diagnosis is within the expected competence of a person being paid to carry out a building survey. What's his refund policy FFS?
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Thankyou both !

Would you get those cracks on the inner wall too ? There is no real visible side of it that i can see but it's easily hidden i suppose.

The wall on the other side of the house will be exactly the same build quality, the problem on that side is that the gap between the houses is literally about 6 inches. In that case then i would imagine that there must be exactly the same cracks but we would never be able to fix them, do you think it might end up being an issue ?
The same bricks in a different location and different exposure will not necessarily crack.

The cracks will be external only. The inner wall is different.

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