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Labmom99
New house and cracks already!

Hello
I am new here and am looking for some insight. I just purchased a home 2 months ago, It is about a year old and we are the first owners. It is a two story farmhouse colonial and has an unfinished basement. I noticed a diagonal vertical crack on one of the interior walls in the basement. Since we have been there I have counted 8 more cracks. Some are near the corner of the window which I know are common and others in the walls. None are horizontal. I also noticed a crack on the floor. We have been there exactly two months.
Well this morning the house was making such loud popping and cracking noises. I went to investigate and there is a new crack on the floor in the basement. Also some of the the baseboards look like have pulled away slightly from the wall, I believe the nails were popping perhaps. I know houses settle in the first couple years I think but I am worried that this is excessive cracking and there is something wrong with the foundation. Any insight is greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
Isabelle

MLB Construction
Re: New house and cracks already!

you're correct that within the first few years that cracks can appear. vertical ones are "usually" not a concern but it does depend on the size and depth of it. now, when you say that you heard some noises and a new crack appeared and that baseboard was pulling away from the wall. that's a big red flag. the first thing i would do is to have a structural engineer come in and do an inspection. the problems could be big and expensive or minor and inexpensive. you might have issues with a high water table, the base under the foundation not being compacted properly, undersized or missing footings and the list goes on and on and on.

have the structural engineer check things out and get back to us. i'm curious as to what it could be.

also, don't have a contractor come in to try to assess what happened until the structural engineer has checked things out. the contractor's job is to follow the engineers plans to rectify the issues. if you have a good contractor that's on top of his game, invite him to the engineer's meeting with you.

Don
Re: New house and cracks already!

Your new house should have a warranty, no?

Mastercarpentry
Re: New house and cracks already!

With that much happening this soon, I'd want out of the deal and out of the house- this seems to be either a very shoddily built house or one with a major foundation issue. You should not be seeing this much happening this soon- no house I've ever been involved with the building of had this much happen in 5 years, much less a few months. Get a certified home inspector over and whatever he recommends is what you tell the seller they are going to do, or your next phone call goes to your lawyer. Betcha they will let you back out of the deal rather than try to repair the problems which will verify that it really was a shoddy builder.

Phil

MLB Construction
Re: New house and cracks already!

according to her post, i believe she already owns the house

HoustonRemodeler
Re: New house and cracks already!

In my fair state every new home comes with a multi year warranty for structural. Check with your local building authoritah.

t_manero
Re: New house and cracks already!

Yes, determine if there is a voluntary or compulsory new home warranty . . . . I would expect that the builder (or seller) would have included the documentation or pointed it out as a selling point (versus existing home).

If you have a warranty, read it over - - almost every service (credit card, bank, airline ticket, etc.) has terms & conditions which are trap doors for the provider to get off the hook if you do not comply, like giving notice within a prescribed time. Also, there are universal escape clauses - - it wouldn't surprise me if it had "inherent vice" or "natural occurrences" clause - - so if it's the water table, no coverage because it's wasn't defective construction.

Don
Re: New house and cracks already!

You may also consider the services of a structural engineer/foundation expert.

They can tell you if the lot and/or the foundation of the house was properly prepared, or if there are inherent flaws in the lot the builder/owner did not disclose - which may be grounds (pun intended) for a lawsuit.

Mastercarpentry
Re: New house and cracks already!

The OP says they bought 2 months ago and in many places this is still within a timeframe where one can legally get out of the deal under certain circumstances. With this much happening this soon you cannot convince me that the builder did not know there were going to be foundation issues- there had to be signs of this evident for those who looked (or cared to look). Perhaps minimum-sized pier foundations were used on soil that wasn't capable of that loading, perhaps the concrete was not mixed to proper strength, perhaps there is a water-table issue. But all of there are evident to a good builder and no good builder would turn a closed eye to them instead of making an honest and earnest effort to properly mitigate them.

I know of a lot of builders like this- many are not in business anymore because of their reputation but others are because they know how to manipulate people. I've seen new home slabs poured at as little as 2 1/2" thick to save on concrete, the same builder had several slabs break in two in the middle of the house because they built over uncompacted fill. Their people knew about as much about good construction practices as my dog does, but they had a builders license anyway. I saw one builder who hit soft soil at a corner of a perimeter foundation footing- to his credit he didn't leave it unaddressed but after digging down and finding nothing better he simply filled the hole with more concrete, not understanding that it was going to exacerbate the problem because it only added weight where it was least acceptable while adding nothing to strength.

Intentional or not, if good building practices were not followed you should A- Not own that house because it's only going to get worse from here and B- It may give you legal recourse to recoup your ill-spent money so you can put it into a better-constructed house someone else built. It may even go so far as being provable fraud. If it even gets close to that the mortgage bank is going to want out of the deal too as they will not have salelable collateral when you have to move out of a home condemned for structural problems which neither a bankrupt/incompetent builder or a now-cashless buyer can fix. That bank's lawyers will be better than the builders lawyers and the builder will not sell another house in that town if he goes against the bank's desires so they will cave in and take the house back or wish that they had.

Laws vary but sadly this is lawyer time for the OP, and they need to move quickly or the window of opportunity may close to obtain fair redress, and that may soon be the only operable window concerning this particular house. I hope I'm wrong- I want to be wrong- but I don't think I am.

Phil

Labmom99
Re: New house and cracks already!

Thank you all for your comments. My husband thinks this is just settling and does not want to hire a structural engineer. He said we aren't getting any water. I am nervous my house is going to collpase. A friend of mine is a contractor and he is coming over next week to look at the issues. I personally am very nervous about this as I think something is wrong with the foundation. The house does come with a one year warranty. Since we already own the house for the past two months what can we do?

HoustonRemodeler
Re: New house and cracks already!

Track the spread of the cracks;

1- Number the cracks for reference. make a chart
2- Take pictures. some close, some far away
3- Measure the cracks length and width once a month always on the same day of the month
4- Keep a written log of the cracks
5- Buy calipers if you need to measure the cracks
6- Use an old trick- place 2 stamps (the kind connected by perforations) one on each side of the crack to detect both horizontal and sheer movement.
7- Draw a hash mark perpendicular across the crack to detect movement

You may find;
1- You're not paranoid
2- There are seasonal changes
3- You'll have proof for an engineer / lawyer aside from the "rantings of a crazy home owner"

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