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Cracks in wall

Discussion in 'Building' started by STI, 17 Aug 2011.

  1. STI

    STI

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    Hi,

    I am looking at a bungalow to buy and went around it the other day. Inside i noticed quite a few cracks in the plaster all small in width (around 1mm)but numerous. They run horizontally vertically and in some cases fan out. They are on the inside of the external walls and on some of the internal walls.

    I looked at the outside walls and found no signs of cracking.

    Except! on one wall where in line with the tops of the two metal framed windows a large (1cm wide extending 1 mtr past the window) crack extends horizontall along the mortar line. No cracks in the brickwork and no sign of it trying to go down the wall.

    The bungalow is a 1965 build and i have been told that because they used metal lintels above the windows if these get wet and rust they expand and can seperate the bricks in this manner.

    Is this true or have i got something more sinister going on.

    I dont want to get a surveyor in as i have just paid out £800 (with the vat) to a surveyor on another house we were considering but now pulled out of who basically told me nothing more than i already knew. So for example his response to these cracks would likely to be "there are cracks in the wall that need further investigation."

    Thanks for any help and advise
     
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  3. Richard C

    Richard C

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    Cracks around 1mm wide in the internal plaster work of a 45 year old bungalow are most likely due to movement & settlement; they are very common & in most cases are not significant. Superficial cracks can be easily repaired but some may need further checking to see if the blocks beneath are also cracked, in this case permanent repair requires much more work. If the plaster sounds hollow when tapped, it’s blown & both it & the render base beneath may have deteriorated to the point where complete replastering may be necessary, as in the case of my own 1968 property. Fortunately I’m a plaster amongst other things but this can be quiet expensive if you need to bring someone in.

    The 1cm crack on the outside is more worrying & needs to be checked specifically by a structural surveyor or a competent builder; a survey will not go into detail other than pointing out a potential problem, as you’ve discovered. Impossible to tell without looking at it but a 1965 bungalow is more likely to have cast in situ concrete lintels than steel lintels but, correctly installed, these should not give any problems.

    Whatever the cause of the cracks, the place is unlikely to fall down but you need to get specific advice (& it should cost nowhere near 800 quid), budget for remedial work to the crack & possibly a full internal re-plaster & reflect this in any offer you make.

    You should also ask the seller for a Periodic Inspection Report on the electrical installation. If it’s still running on the original or even partially upgraded electrical installation, you may also be wise to budget for a complete re-wire & consumer unit upgrade.
     
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  4. NickB_99

    NickB_99

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    Good advice from Richard C there.

    Rich - in your experience, is this realistic for sellers to provide?
    I know the place I moved in to, I got a PIR done with the survey.
    If I was a seller, it would annoy me if I was asked to pay for one for a potential buyer. As a buyer I'd want to keep as much good-will as possible, as it can get a bit fraught further down the line.
    (In my case I know I have the original PIR I paid for and any mods made to the electrics (significant modernisation) has all been done & certificated by registered electricians. So I would hope this would be enough for a prospective buyer).

    Ouch. True, surveys are always vague too.
    I had a lot of cracks in the place I got.
    The surveyor did at least say though that these cracks are very typical of the area - foundations in clay, and not anything sinister. The local builder who did the house in the 60s had a good reputation, and he was confident and wrote it up as so!
    Good luck with it
     
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  5. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    A horizontal crack at that location and at that distance could be either some slight movement of the lintel, corrosion expansion, or displacement of the brickwork.

    Unless there is associated bowing of the top courses of brickwork, then its unlikely to be anything structurally significant

    Normally, lintels on bungalows are sheltered by the eaves, so corrosion although possible, is less likely

    The internal cracks are typically thermal cracking (shrinkage) or debonding from the wall (hollow when tapped) and not due to any movement

    However, there are many other possibilities which wont be apparent from a forum post, and the whole idea of paying for a survey is to give you the information required in order for you to know whether you will be spending a few £000 later in structural or other repairs or not
     
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  6. Richard C

    Richard C

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    Since the demise of HIPS (good riddance), I believe an energy report is still required & most will ask for a PIR on the electrics but I don’t think it’s a requirement. It’s a buyers market & I wouldn’t hesitate to ask for one if I suspected the electrics may need upgrading; if the vendor gets ****ed off, then so be it! But if I was presented with certification for recent work & everything looked OK, then would probably take that as sufficient. As a seller anything you can do in the current climate to help it on the way is an advantage & for the sake of a hundred quid or so, has got to be worth it unless you have something to hide.

    For the first time ever, I had a full survey on my current 1968 property when I bought it back in 2004. It was mainly to save my time but, like others, I found it to be rather general in nature & it failed to highlight anything I could not have (indeed did) spot myself. The main one was a totally blocked foul drain system which became apparent just 3 days after we moved in. The report also failed to spot other less serious but none the less expensive issues such as totally shot plaster, woodworm in the loft over the garage & totally original electrics; it did mention the windows were shot & the guttering & soffits needed replacing which were totally obvious & my wife could have spotted from the ground! The lazy git of a surveyor admitted he didn’t even lift the inspection hatches on the drains which the boss of the firm agreed were fully accessible & did not present any problems; neither did he have any excuse for not spotting the other problems & I subsequently got a hefty compensation payment from the surveyors firm & I was told the surveyor got laid off. I would never bother with another but, with my experience, I can mostly tell what I’m letting myself in for.
     
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  8. STI

    STI

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    Thanks all for the responses its settled my mind a bit more.

    Woody i agree thats what a survey should do but as i have found and others said a "standard" building survey does not seem to give any advice on the potential level of a problem. It really did seem to be a statement of the bl**dy obvious. Maybe a specific structual engineer survey would be more worthwhile.

    Just a quick comment on the EPC and PIR. Hands up i do both. The EPC is a legal requirment but the PIR isnt. Nor anything else to do with electrics unless its outside work bathroom or kitchen work then you need to have a written sign off with an EIC certificate.

    To Newbie, PIR's are worthwhile and should show up anything that is dangerous, in which case technically the inspector should take immediate remedial action or shut the electrics off. They will also show up areas that need improvement and areas that do not comply with current regs . This does mean they are dangerous or wrong just that today it would need to be done differently. A quick bit of advice, if they have wirable fuses (brown fuse carriers in with coloured dots,)you will need to change these if you want to add a new kitchen or put a new bathroom or just add an electric shower So you can negotiate. If they have these type of fuses and and electric shower someone has done a cog job and it is dangerous.
    If the place has an electric shower and doesnt have an RCD its dangerous and a cog job.

    On EPC's if your selling the easiest and least expensive way to get a few extra points, make sure all your fixed lights have CFL lamps in them. It really is the best short term return on investment.

    Anyway i diverse

    Thanks again for your replies


     
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  9. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Many surveyors nowadays are in a rut as far as reports are concerned, and produce bland reports which say little, and tend to recommend more investigation by others.

    They do tend, as you say, to state the bleedin' obvious.

    A lot of it is fear of claims for negligence, but more so it seems that the style and content of todays reports is just replicated (from an initial crap report done years ago), and everyone just does what everyone else does.

    It does seem pot luck as to if you will get a good survey done - even from the top firms or supposedly high ranking RICS members, and many try to maintain an aloofness and distance from the client with vague or technical nonsense - but because they are "the surveyor" then their client is expected to just accept the [poor] report
     
  10. Richard C

    Richard C

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    Amen to that ;) .

    I had no previous experience of the content or accuracy of full surveys (have always previously bought new properties) but, being “technical”, I wasn’t prepared to accept the lack of detail, inaccuracy & apparent incompetence in the report when things went wrong; I didn’t consider what I got was what I had paid good money for & I could prove it. I was lucky in that nothing too dramatic was missed & I got suitable recompense for their errors & incompetence but it should not happen; where is their pride & confidence in what they do :?: God help those less technically minded who rely on such reports & then don’t pursue it when things go wrong.
     
  11. NickB_99

    NickB_99

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    Thanks Rich, that makes sense. After posting I did kind-of suspect it is a buyers market and probably I would need to be more tolerant!

    STI - I do agree with you, the PIR is worthwhile - I got a lot of good info from the one I had arranged.

    Nice result :cool:
     
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