What Makes Something a Structural or Foundational Concern?
An Overview of Construction
In the simplest of terms, a building’s structural construction is made up of the foundation, walls, and truss systems. For most homes in Florida, the structual wall components are typically only the exterior walls, however, with the variety of homes, there might be “load-bearing” walls.
When determining if something is structural, home inspectors look for a multitude of factors. The biggest things a homeowner can look out for are, cracks greater than 1/8 of an inch and/or cracks that are offset.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
The foundation of a home contains footers that are deeper into the ground. These footers provide stabilization of the homes foundation. Ground movement can cause movement of footers.
Below is a picture of foundation issues and what it can look like.
The piece of metal connected to the wall is a structural repair known as an Angled Helical Pier. In this instance, the footer shifted causing wall movement too. If you can look into this further, we notice a buried gutter that might have been previously just dumping water in this location.
If you can imagine yourself at the beach, when the waves hit your feet, you sink in the sand. With foundational movement, (in Florida especially) this is exactly what happens! Having properly discharging gutters away from your home helps prohibit foundational movement.
The walls are tied into the foundation of the home. As the ground moves, the foundation shifts, which leads to the walls to adjust as well.
Now looking at this damage, we see the crack is greater than 1/8 of an inch, moreover, there is some offset movement. This tells us, it is quite possibly structural!
If you are vigilant, you might even notice some evidence of previous repairs with mortar/concrete. This tells the inspector it is known, but proper professional repairs have not been completed.
Finally, we have trusses. Trusses are tied into the walls of the home and help provide stabilization. It is important to note that trusses are engineered just like the foundation and structural walls of the home. Therefore, each truss member is essential to the overall structure of the home in order to carry out load.
So what happens when a homeowner cuts trusses in order to make room for storage? Can you do that?
The simple answer is no! A truss is a structural member of the home, not just a cosmetic piece, therefore, an inspector HAS to report it as such.
On the flip side, is the house going to fall down? No, it probably will not. However, the house was designed this way… if something weird with a hurricane were to happen or there was more stress than usual on the truss system, it is possible the components fail.
What should you do to repair this? You need a structural engineer technically.
Important Notes on Structural Problems
Structural problems typically tell a story about where the house is moving. Therefore, you can often find other side stories besides just outside cracks. These could be:
- Doors not properly closing
- Cracks inside the home
- Floors appear to be on a slant
- Baseboards or crown molding do not meet at the floor/ceilings at one end
- Windows not opening/closing
Structural issues are also more common in older homes due to lack of home maintenance or previous owners that cut trusses. But this does not say that new construction homes do not have structural problems too!
Quick Repair to Wall Issues
If you are noticing a wall crack, be sure to seal it as soon as possible with an elastomeric caulk. The caulk will stop moisture intrusion inside the wall. Inside the wall, is metal rebar. As metal gets wet, it rusts, oxidizes, and expands which makes the issue worse! So seal as soon as possible!
This video below shows an awesome example of how foundational movement tells a story.
Video of Structural Issues Found from Honor Services
Have a question? Comment below!