Last Updated: August 2023
Did you know that structural damage in your house could slash its value by as much as 20%?
It’s not just a cosmetic issue; it can lead to safety concerns and legal troubles. Yet, many homeowners remain unaware of the signs until it’s too late.
Structural damage refers to any impairment or deterioration in the structural components of a building, such as the foundation, walls, roof, or supporting beams. These components are essential for maintaining the building’s integrity and stability. When they are compromised, it can lead to a series of problems, ranging from cosmetic issues like cracks in the walls to severe safety hazards like building collapse.
Understanding the common causes of structural damage is crucial for early detection and prevention. In the next section, we will discuss the signs of structural damage and how to spot them in your property.
One of the most common issues homeowners face is internal problems caused by structural damage, which can come in many forms, shapes, and sizes. Although they can be relatively minor to costly, even property buying companies in the UK would conduct extra surveys and checks before offering to buy a property that had legitimate issues in this area.
To begin, we’ll look at several possible interior problems that could suggest your property has foundation problems and then move on to 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 correctly – If the windows and doors in your home suddenly stop opening and closing correctly, 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, ensure they fit in nicely – not too tight and loose.
Cracks in the walls: Sometimes a crack means nothing but other times it could mean your house’s foundations are shifting. In general, small hairline cracks are not a big issue, as most home foundations have a few.
It would be best to watch for big cracks between the ceiling and doors and 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 to larger cracks on any floor.
Gaps Between the Floor & Walls: Another sign of structural damage related to your floors is if small gaps begin to form between them and the walls. The gaps don’t have to be significant for the structure to be comprised, so 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 many reasons, some of which include the following:
When you’re doing a check around your house’s exterior, check for any noticeable cracks. You should look for any horizontal, vertical or zig-zag-like cracks, as these usually appear if your property suffers from structural damage.
Also, step back and look at your property from a little distance to ensure it is not sloping if you fear it may have foundation problems.
This is easy to spot and indicates that your property has foundation problems.
These cracks are generally huge and can appear all around the house’s exterior. 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.
Look out for cracks in the exterior and interior parts of the bricks, as either could be due to foundation problems. But, again, it’s the more significant and horizontal cracks that you should look out for as well as cracks in masonry joints, as these are also a sign that your property’s foundations are shifting.
Although wall rotation is not very common, it can still happen. It essentially means that the wall has rotated out of its place, resulting in walls splitting and causing massive damage to your property.
If you feel your property may have any problems listed above, you should contact a structural engineer as soon as possible. If you spot foundation problems early, you can save yourself a lot of money, as they only worsen over time.
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 notice it leaning or tilting slightly, that would suggest foundation failure.
This should be fixed as soon as possible as structural damage to your house is not only detrimental to your property, but it also carries substantial safety concerns as the chimney could fall over at any time.
Your front porch or the stairs leading into your home could indicate that your property has foundation issues. If you notice your porch starting to move 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 wrong.
Structural damage can have far-reaching implications that extend beyond the immediate need for repair. Here are some of the key areas that can be affected:
Impact on Property Value: Structural damage can significantly decrease the value of your property. Potential buyers are likely to offer less for a property with structural issues, as they will need to invest in repairs. Additionally, structural damage can make it difficult to secure a mortgage on the property, further limiting the pool of potential buyers.
Safety Concerns: Structural damage can compromise the safety and stability of your property. Cracks in the walls, uneven floors, and gaps between the walls and ceiling can indicate serious underlying issues that could lead to building collapse. It is crucial to address structural damage as soon as possible to ensure the safety of the occupants.
Legal Implications: Depending on the severity of the structural damage and the local regulations, there may be legal implications for the property owner. For example, the property may be deemed unfit for habitation, leading to eviction notices or fines. Additionally, the property owner may be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by the structural damage.
Dealing with structural damage can be overwhelming, but it is crucial to address the issue as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration and ensure the safety of the occupants. Here are some steps to take if you suspect structural damage in your property:
Preventing structural damage is always better than dealing with it after it occurs. Regular maintenance and proactive measures can help prevent structural damage and save you time and money in the long run. Here are some tips for preventing structural damage:
Regular maintenance is crucial for preventing structural damage. This includes checking for water leaks, clearing gutters and downspouts, and inspecting the roof and foundation for signs of wear and tear.
Trees can cause structural damage if they are too close to your property. It is essential to manage the trees around your property by regularly trimming the branches and removing any trees that are too close to the foundation.
Poor drainage can lead to water accumulation around the foundation, which can cause structural damage. It is essential to ensure that the ground slopes away from the property and that there are no areas of standing water.
Addressing Minor Issues Promptly:
Minor issues like small cracks in the walls or water leaks can lead to more significant structural damage if left unaddressed. It is essential to address minor issues promptly to prevent them from escalating.
Regular inspections by a professional can help identify potential issues before they become significant problems. It is advisable to have your property inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer at least once a year.
Structural damage is a serious issue that can have far-reaching implications on your property’s value, safety, and legal standing. It is crucial to address any signs of structural damage as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration and ensure the safety of the occupants.
In conclusion, preventing and addressing structural damage is crucial for maintaining your property’s value, ensuring the safety of the occupants, and avoiding legal implications. Regular maintenance, addressing minor issues promptly, and calling a professional for a thorough assessment are key steps in preventing and dealing with structural damage.