Stair step brick cracking??

Haha Hadude

Okay so I know everyone gives people shit for randoms coming on here and asking for design/construction advice, but I've been an on and off user here for a few years and know that there are more experienced users on here than myself and I'm hoping for at least a thought or two on this.

*Trying to make a long story short - My partner and I are buying our first house in another city (sight unseen due to covid - that's another story), a row-house style home, and it has masonry party walls. She just got the inspection back today, and there's an alarming gap in the masonry party wall. Of course the sellers disclosure says nothing about it...During a phone conversation with the inspector, he suggested just fixing it with ties and mortar. I'm assuming like heli-ties or something? It wasn't a long conversation cause on the phone he didn't make it seem like a big deal, but when we got the report with photos it was very alarming. Haven't had a chance to connect with him again since we just got the report back today, but my next questions to him are going to be "how far down does the crack go?" "Does it widen at the top or bottom?" and "Are there any other tell tale signs of structural failure?" 

I want to get an engineer in there to look at it, but we just opened escrow, paid for inspections, etc... and I really don't want to spend another $1000 to have an engineer come in and say "You shouldn't buy it" and have the process start all over again with more inspections and escrows and zoom calls, wasted money etc... so I figured I would see if anyone on here has had experience with this specific issue. I know $1000 is a drop in the bucket compared to what could be worse case, but that's why I'm asking for advice first, then possibly engineer (or run) second.

This crack was found in the "attic" which is basically a 12"-18" space between the gyp ceiling and roof assembly, and located on the party wall. The parapets are not very tall, maybe 8" max,  so that's another thing that concerns me that it's going down to the foundation and not just the new roof/parapet that got put on (which is about five years old - flat modified bitumen). The property does have a basement, but there is some gyp on the walls, so its hard to tell if there are issues down there. This is the only photo that I have of the issue unfortunately.

Lastly - it's been a pain in the ass to even be able to find the right property to make an offer on, is this an issue that I shouldn't worry much about, buy it and have an engineer/contractor epoxy or tie it...or should we run for the hills?

Any info helps - thanks!

Jun 5, 20 11:22 am

Keep in mind, this is a total guess based on a photo.... not a diagnosis.

That isn't a "crack" its a structural failure when that wide. Attic.. bad news.  Based on the 45-degree angle, I'd guess settlement at the foundation, and/or the face is rotating out. It also means the fire rating is compromised.  Ties and mortar lol.. you can't get that to work, but you can inject mortar to at least get the fire rating fixed.  That's old school brick without wire ties.

Ok, now the good news; looks like it's been there a long time and doesn't look like a fresh crack.  Are the finishes cracked?  That size of crack would result in pretty huge cracks in finishes and noticeable buckles in the flooring.   If you don't have those, it may be stable; like a bad water leak at that foundation turned the soil to mud and it sank... but once fixed and dried, soils are fine again kind of thing.  

If that commonwall parapet is only 5 years old, has this crack come up through it?  That would help establish whether or not it is stable or continuing.

It's still worth having a structural engineer take a peek.  I've seen remodels do flaky shit and overload the masonry.  If the exterior is rotating out, I've seen whole facades tumble down.  One way to tell is drop a plumb-bob down to see if it has rotated.  If it has rotated more than a couple inches, run away.  Very expensive fix.

Jun 5, 20 12:07 pm  · 
2  · 
Haha Hadude

Hey thank you so much for the thoughtful response! After all of this home-buying stress, it is really helpful. We're talking to an engineer now and hope they can get out to the property before the negotiation period is over.

Jun 5, 20 2:22 pm  · 

that's a good idea

(solving on the internet is a less good idea, but i get why you ask here...)

Jun 5, 20 2:26 pm  · 
Haha Hadude

Yeah, so the engineer told us that it is indeed a settlement issue based on the inspection report that we sent to him. He's going out there on Monday to do a report for us and provide a possible solution. We can then get a bid from the report and either decide to move forward with lowering the asking price to match the cost of repairs or walk... I guess we will see what he says. If it weren't for being across the country and covid we would have been able to see this issue upon walkthrough I'm sure.. but oh well, just $700 down the drain for a home inspection... sigh. but thanks again for your responses!

Jun 5, 20 3:08 pm  · 
Haha Hadude

Thanks Rick

Jun 5, 20 3:30 pm  · 

i'm thinking the house is condemned & if it is there's 1 solution to lengthen the span, make a short shear wall covering the crack but you'd have to put in a foundation, get calcs, really tough to get a mason & calculate any effect of the wall on the rest of the house.  it's cracking down to left

Jun 5, 20 8:57 pm  · 

Now that's a crack, as large as the biggest I've seen... you could nearly fit a header in there as part of the repair.

Jun 8, 20 7:31 am  · 

Walk away, this is just the start of "problems" you will find.

Jun 8, 20 7:49 am  · 

justavisual ++

there are houses available that do not have potential structural failure issues.  And that's not a crack.  It's what 3" - 4" wide? That's a void.

Jun 8, 20 2:07 pm  · 
Haha Hadude

Yep, so the engineer came back with a report that the foundation is still settling. Will need to be repaired in the next 15-20 years max. Would cost $25,000 for carbon fiber strapping and facade reinforcement. The realtor really should have been able to spot this and let us know...but anyway, thanks for the insight and help everyone!

Jun 8, 20 5:52 pm  · 

Most realtors don't know the difference between a beam and column and their goal is commission.

Jun 10, 21 2:49 pm  · 

This is a nightmare! How badly and irresponsibly everything is done!

Jun 10, 21 4:54 am  · 

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: