Brick Veneer with Structural Problems
Structural problems are possibly the number one cause for a buyer to pass on the home. As a home inspector, we are limited to visual inspections only. Therefore, if the problem is not a visual one, we must rely on experience in detecting hidden structural problems.
On a recent home inspection, I came across a home with a brick veneer front. The following pictures are clipped because the home is still up for sale. As you'll see in the photos over the garage doors, I noticed step cracks in the bricks. Bricks installed over doors and windows require a metal lentil for support. All the metal lintels are rusting and showing signs of deflection.
Note wall is pulled from windows as much as 1 inch and more in areas. Interior walls and windows are plumb as well as floors.
Further investigation showed the weep holes at the bottom of the brick veneer to be filled or were never installed. I suspect filled based on patches observed. Brick veneer is not waterproof and moisture will penetrate. If the brick veneer was installed properly there should be a moisture barrier over the sheathing, a one-inch air gap between the brick veneer and sheathing and last weep holes to drain moisture.
If any component is missing problems "will" develop. The sheathing paper is needed to shed the water and keep the underlayment dry. The weep holes allow the runoff and the 1" air gap allows it to dry properly.
If weep holes are blocked moisture will build up causing moisture damage and possibly leading to wood destroying insect issues. The property disclosure showed the home had a wood destroying insect problem. Bait traps were noted on the front of this home. It's possible the sheathing behind the brick veneer is rotted.
As seen in the photos above the metal lintels are bowed, and the brick veneer is leaning away from the home. When brick veneer is installed metal tabs should have been nailed to the support columns within the wall. Not the exterior sheathing which has no structural support. Any movement in a brick veneer wall which has broken or loosened the connections between the brick veneer to the underlying structure are potentially dangerous and risk collapsing masonry!
Unfortunately this is a costly repair. At the request of the client we stopped this inspection early and they decided to pass on this home. This saved him money on a full inspection and possibly a major repair bill to fix this home.
Second home, small cape, major structural problem. I received a call late Saturday night from a realtor requesting a quick walk-through on a property. This home is owned by an investor who's looking to flip the property and make a profit.
Upon entering the property I couldn't help but notice I appeared to be walking uphill. My 3 foot level showed the floor was not level by more than 1" on a 3' run. Review of the basement foundation walls showed an offset crack in the center of the front wall which had been patched with hydraulic cement. The patch was more than a foot wide.
Left wall center, directly below main support girder observed a second offset crack patched once again with hydraulic cement. This patch was more than 3 feet wide.
Right front corner, observed crack between front wall and right wall more than a half-inch in diameter. This was not filled due to an oil tank blocking access. The basement window which was approximately 5 feet away also had an offset crack more than a quarter inch wide.
It appears the front wall pulled away from the structure and is sinking. Front wall is leaning outwards. Floor joists off-center by more than an inch on a 3 foot run.
As I left the house I couldn't help but thinking depending on how you placed your bed at night you would either have the blood rush to your head, your feet, or you just roll out of bed.
Last, I commend the realtor she noticed a structural problem and protected her client.