How Serious Can Crack Be?

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty TN R.E. License 292369

Normal Wear or Red Flag?

I have often seen this when I show houses, and YES it is true that I am NOT a structural engineer, architect, or home inspector, but I do like to walk the exterior and look for things that might show signs of a house becoming a money pit.

Ultimately it is up to the home buyers, if after sufficient inspections they decide to go forward and close on a home.  But when all other things are equal would buyers be inclined toward a house where serious repairs may loom, or would they save their time and resources by looking elsewhere?

Of all the things I notice, as much as a home owner as a Realtor, the hairline crack in the brick seems to be a more common things.  I think this type of crack may be more common in seasonal climates where the rapid change in temperatures might make the different construction materials more susceptible to thermal expansion and contraction.  But not being directly in the construction, inspection or related fields this is only a theory, my theory.  Maybe it is based on something I heard or my prior years in the auto industry and seeing the effects of heat and cold on plastic and metal car parts.   

In any case, in your humble opinions, is the crack below an; a) red flag;  b) normal phenomenon (easily monitored and treated); or  c) other (please explain);   The house is 15 years old.

 

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Franklin TN, Brentwood TN and Nashville Tennessee Real Estate

 
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The opinions expressed by The Activerain Network and it's members and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Rodney Kennedy, Mike Nastri or Keller Williams Realty - Franklin, TN which is independently owned and operated. Neither Rodney Kennedy, Mike Nastri or Keller Williams Realty are responsible for the accuracy or content provided by The Community.
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Rainmaker
996,984
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

It's A, had it been in the mortar only I wouldn't have too much cause for alarm.  This appears to be structural in my layman's opinion.  The age is irrelevant.  The corner location is not. 

Nov 20, 2010 04:28 AM #1
Rainmaker
278,265
Franklin & Brentwood, TN Homes Mike Nastri
Keller Williams Realty - Franklin, TN
It matters to us as much as it matters to you.

Thanks Kevin, I was hoping one of the many expert home inspectors on AR would chime in, but alas, the clients booked a flight to see this house before any feedback.   All else looks perfect for them.   May be time for a structural guy. 

Nov 20, 2010 12:07 PM #2
Rainmaker
920,312
Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc
Benchmark Realty LLc - Nashville, TN

I would defer this to Michael Thornton. I've been told that the brick on the outside of newer homes are just veneer and don't hold up anything.

Nov 20, 2010 01:08 PM #3
Ambassador
876,796
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Mike, I agree with Larry. An engineer who I hired a few years ago wanted to look around the windows and doors both inside and out. For the corner cracks, he looked at the same corners inside on both floors. Don't know.

Nov 22, 2010 09:46 AM #4
Rainmaker
564,223
Steve, Joel & Steve A. Chain
Chain Real Estate Investments & Mortgage, Steve & Joel Chain - Cottonwood, CA

Mike,

In general cracking has a lot to do with the geography and geology of an area.  If an area is known for earth quake, landslide or expansive (clay) soils then cracks are viewed differently than other locations.

However looking at the brick in the photo my concern would be the spalling of the 2 bricks near the lintel.

Comment carries no warranty expressed or implied. Just 2 friends talking in the Rain (big smile).

Steve

Nov 23, 2010 01:43 AM #5
Rainer
27,328
Julie McLeland
BENCHMARK - Brentwood, TN

Don't do crack...if you can avoid it. Have you proceeded with your clients? We are all waiting on the results of this one. ( I made this mistake personally on my first home...ouch, it was a sign of a $10,000 fix that was looming on the horizon)

Nov 29, 2010 05:28 AM #6
Rainmaker
278,265
Franklin & Brentwood, TN Homes Mike Nastri
Keller Williams Realty - Franklin, TN
It matters to us as much as it matters to you.

LOL, I don't do crack either, but other than the crack this looks pretty solid.  Still haven't heard any more official opinions, ie. structural guys or inspectors.

Nov 29, 2010 05:40 AM #7
Rainer
45,575
Denise Delozier, Realtor, CNE
Reliant Realty ERA Powered - Nashville, TN
Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin & Middle Tennessee

Mike, I am in Middle Tennessee as well and yes, we do see this sort of thing ALL the time, especially in brick houses that are 15 years or older, but I am still very cautious in giving advice about this directly to clients since I'm not a structural expert. Most of the home inspectors I have dealt with over the years tend to agree on these points though:  If it's a hairline crack that follows the mortar (in a stair step pattern), that usually is a result of expansion and contraction due to the temperature changes in our area.  That sort of thing does need some attention to prevent it from getting worse.  If it's left unattended, water can seep into the openings, then freeze and expand, which can lead to a much bigger problem down the road.  Typically, a very simple "point and tuck" mortar repair is recommended.  On the other hand, if the crack is wider than 1/8" (even if it is following the mortar line), OR if it stops "stair-stepping" with the mortar and goes directly through several adjoining bricks, a structural pro should definitely be consulted.  I've seen it go both ways depending on the actual circumstances with the way the house was built and other contributing factors so you never really know what the outcome of will be.  Sometimes there's a logical explanation for the cause of the stress and it can be easily remedied.  Other times, the remedy is not so simple and could mean big headaches and huge expense for the new owner.  A good structural pro can determine the cause and estimate the cost of repairs so I play it safe with this every time.  Even when it's just a tiny hairline crack, my buyers are always given the option to call in a structural pro for an expert opinion.  I know that's not the cheapest option, but you just can't put a price on peace of mind.

Nov 29, 2010 07:09 AM #8
Ambassador
2,758,520
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Good morning Mike. I guess I will be getting a closer look at this one on Friday. I discussed this with your client. From what I see, it looks to be an expansion crack caused by the steel lintel. Not too much to worry about as the veneer is not structural...

Dec 04, 2010 12:57 AM #9
Rainmaker
920,312
Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc
Benchmark Realty LLc - Nashville, TN

Mike - It was a good read after all the opinions, I'll take the last one. I have noticed that most of the older homes in Tennessee seem to have these cracks, but the newer ones do not. I'm not sure why.

Jan 11, 2011 08:45 AM #10
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Rainmaker
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Franklin & Brentwood, TN Homes Mike Nastri

It matters to us as much as it matters to you.
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