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Beware the Home Addition

Beware the Home Addition!


Richard Acree

One fairly frequent and common theme noticed by HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, while completing home inspections in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, is that many home additions do not stand the test of time when it comes to structural integrity. Take a look at the pictures below. See if you can find any structural issues.

HINT: Structural stress cracks commonly appear in the downslope corner of the home/addition.

In the pic above you are looking at an addition to the original ranch style home. You should be able to see that the downslope corner of the addition is the one in the foreground. Looking at that corner, note that we have a crawl space vent to the right and an access to the crawl space to the left. Also at that corner is located a downspout that connects to an underground composite extension.

Now in the picture below we have zoomed in on the crawl space vent to the right. What do you see that could be a symptom of a structural event?

ANSWER: The grey mortar repair. In this case these gray lines of newer mortar indicate someone has been here to make a repair. Fortunately, it looks like it was done by a professional. But one thing to keep in mind when evaluating a stress crack is to look for sympathetic cracks on the other side of the wall, if possible. We do this to see how significant this crack is. Is it just the veneer that cracked, or something more than that? So now lets go inside that crawl space access we saw above. See the pic below.

AHA! There is more to it. This is a significant structural crack almost 1" in width in places. And it is located near the area where the crawl space vent is located. So these two events are related. Now the good news in this case is that the brick veneer was professionally repaired and the probable cause of this failure, water management failure at the corner downspout/extension, was also repaired. So life goes on here. But when you are looking at homes, beware the home addition!

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Thank you,

Richard Acree


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