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7 Ways to Check if your Property has Structural Problems

How to spot structural damage to your property

Last Updated: December 2019

Even the smallest change to the foundations & structure of a property could leave a homeowner with thousands in repair bills which many simply can’t afford.

The question is:

How does one spot these issues early to avoid any lasting damage and potentially save a big chunk of cash?

Below are 7 of the most common ways to spot if your property may be suffering from structural problems. Leg’s begin.


1) Interior Problems


Interior problems that could affect your house structurally


Interior problems caused by structural damage can come in many different forms, shapes and sizes. To begin with we’ll take a look at a number of possible interior problems that could suggest your property has foundation problems and then move onto the exterior and other areas of your home.

Below is a list of some of the most common interior issues to watch out for.

Windows and doors not opening and closing properly – If the windows and doors in your home suddenly stop opening and closing properly it may be wise to get your home checked out for foundation movement. In addition windows and doors not shutting properly can also be a potential security risk so be sure to get this fixed asap!

It’s also worth mentioning that if you get new windows and doors installed, make sure they are fit in nicely – not too tight and not too loose.

Cracks in the walls: Sometimes a crack means nothing but other times it could mean your houses foundations are shifting. In general small hairline cracks are not a big issue as most homes foundations have a few.

You should watch out for big cracks that run between the ceiling and doors as well as those that appear around windows. Also, any large horizontal cracks that appear across walls are generally big indicators that your property has structural problems.

Spaces in the floor or uneven flooring: If you find that spaces are forming between your walls/ceiling and floors then it would be safe to get it checked out right away as it may be due to foundation movement. The same applies for larger cracks on any floors.

Gaps Between the Floor & Walls: Another sign of structural damage related to your floors is if small gaps begin to form between it and the walls. The gaps don’t have to be big for the structure to be comprised so be sure to keep an eye out when looking around your home.

Bowed Walls: Bowing or bulging walls are when walls begin to ‘lean’ or point out. bowing walls are more common in older properties and can occur due to a number of reasons, some of which include:

  • Original walls not being thick enough compared to the height of the building.
  • Extended exposure to vibrations from heavy traffic or plant machinery.
  • An increase in pressure from additional floors being added.

2) Cracks in the Exterior Walls


A house with cracks in the exterior wall

When you’re doing a check around the exterior of your house be sure to check for any noticeable cracks. You should look out for any horizontal, vertical or zig zag like cracks as these normally appear if your property is suffering from structural damage.

Also, step back and look at your property from a little distance to make sure it is not sloping if you fear it may have foundation problems.


3) Walls Separating from the House


A house with walls separating from each other

This is fairly easy to spot and is a big sign that your property has foundation problems.

These cracks are generally very large and can appear all around the exterior of the house. Under the windows, where the roof meets the wall and even where 2 walls join are all places where these large cracks can appear indicating that your house is splitting apart.


4) Cracks in Bricks


A wall of a house with bricks that have cracks in them

Look out for cracks in the exterior and interior parts of the bricks as either could be due to foundation problems. Again, it’s the larger and horizontal cracks that you should look out for as well as cracks in masonry joints as these are also a sign that your properties foundations are shifting.


5) Wall Rotation


A house with wall rotation from the foundations

Although, wall rotation is not very common it can still happen. It essentially means that the wall has rotated out of it’s place which results in walls splitting causing huge damage to your property.

If you feel your property may have any of these problems listed above you should contact a structural engineer as soon as possible. If you can spot foundation problems early you can potentially save yourself a lot of money as they only get worse over time.


6) A Cracked or Leaning Chimney


cracked_leaning_chimney_housebuyers4u

Cracks alone in your chimney probably won’t mean your property has structural problems (although you should still get it checked out by a professional), however if you start to notice it leaning or tilting slightly, that would suggest foundation failure.

This should be fixed as soon as possible as not only is this detrimental to your property, it also carries huge safety concerns as the chimney could fall over at any time.


7) The Front Porch or Stairs Begin Moving Away from the Home


A front porch moving away from it's home due to foundation problems

Your front porch or the stairs leading into your home could also be a good indicator that your property has foundation issues. If you notice your porch starting to away from your home or it comes slightly tilted you should get in a professional as soon as possible to check it out.

Big cracks along the porch are also similar indicators that something is not right.


A Final Word

Structural problems can affect any property at pretty much any time which means as a homeowner you should always remain vigilant to potential problems.

If you notice something out of the ordinary the first thing you should do is get in a local professional right away for an initial assessment. If you get the all clear then you can leave it at that, however, if he’s unsure of how bad the problem is then it would be wise to get in a specialist on the matter to have a look.

Of course things like major cracks need to dealt with immediately to help avoid an irreparable damage.

Generally speaking, the earlier you can spot a problem the less it will cost to fix.

An estimate of the cost to fix structural problems from the website buildingsheriff states that the costs can range from anywhere between £300 (for smaller issues) all the way up £10,000 (for more problematic issues.)

This is why we highly recommend checking out our comprehensive list so you can fix any problems as they come!

 


Now it’s your turn – Have you as a homeowner ever had a property that has suffered from structural issues? Share your story in the comments section below!

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