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new construction, large crack in wall - why

We purchased a new construction home in June 2010. The construction had just been completed prior to us moving in.

Since moving in we have noticed many cracks - the grout in the bathrooms (the vertical and horizontal grout lines), the miter joints of many of the door and window frame moldings, the floorboard pulling off the wall. And this morning we found a sizeable crack in a wall. The upper right hand miter joint of the window frame molding cracked and separated - and the crack then continues into the wall right up to the ceiling. The cracks all have some width to them including the new one in the wall.

Here are a couple additional tidbits about the house that may be important: 1- the home was built next to a wetland, 2- the home was initially started by one builder who went bankrupt, the home sat vacant for a while and then a second builder (who we dealt with) finished the home, 3- we live in MA and currently have lots of snow on the roof (although the cracks started long before the snow came).

My questions: 1- What could be happening to the house? 2- Should we have the structural integrity assessed? If yes, what type of professional would we call?

The home is under the builder's warrantee for one year.

Thank you for any information!!

Re: new construction, large crack in wall - why

this is an easy one. cracking tile or grout is simply a poor or substandard installation job. as for everything else you mentioned it sounds like it's all associated with wet framing drying out and shrinking which causes plaster wall cracks and finish trim separations. also, they probably installed the wood floors before they started turning the heat on which means they didn't aclimate the wood flooring to the house. i live in mass also so i see problems like this alot.

Re: new construction, large crack in wall - why

The cracks in the grout could be poor installation, but if they are cracked at the changes of plane; wall to wall, wall to tub, wall to ceiling, then those joints should have been caulked anyway. I prefer 100% silicone for a mold free installation.

The cracks may also have come from your house shrinking from the cold / turning the heat on and drying out the house. I doubt the house will fall down. I suggest living with the cracks for a year and see which ones "dissapear" in the summer month(s). The ones that stay year round will need more attention and different solutions than the ones that appear each winter.

Re: new construction, large crack in wall - why

things sound about right on the previous posts, it also sounds like the builder did a rush job on the house and didnt bring heaters and dehumidifiers inside just as it was roof tight. on a new home to avoid cracking and shrinking issues its imperative to get as much moisture out of the structure before the interior finish starts going in to help reduce movement and shrinking once teh finish goes in

its also possible that the footing has been compromised by the marshland

Re: new construction, large crack in wall - why

There are 2 old tricks you might want to use for the more serious cracks you think are growing.

1- to check for sideways displacement, make a pencil line straight across the crack. Write the date next to the line. Once a month check the line to see if it has moved. If yes, then draw a new line and the new date. You'll develop a seasonal record.

2- to check to see if the cracks are getting wider, take 2 perforated postage stamps that are still stuck together. Lick them and stick one to each side of the crack with the perforation along the crack. If the stamps separate along the perforation, you'll be able to see how much the crack grew. Write the date on one of the stamps.

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