Quite often when a wall crack appears, the natural reactions are to patch and paint or to ignore it altogether. It seems like a tiny issue, but this band aid treatment, or ignoring it altogether, could actually do more harm than good. Before proper wall crack repairs can be done, you need to establish what the cause of the crack is and that’s where a building inspector comes in.
So, what could cause a wall crack?
One of the most common causes is subsidence and settling. Subsidence occurs when the earth beneath your home contracts or expands due to recent building work, moisture levels, climate changes, reactive clay soils, and tree roots. Australia’s current drought stricken climate has created a recent surge in property cracking as soils dry out and shift beneath structures.
What can be done about subsidence? Preventative measures, mainly. The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) recommend preventative measures such as:
- maintenance of site drainage;
- regular checks and maintenance of plumbing;
- planting trees well away from your home; and
- placing gardens, edging and gravel well away from the house as these can cause water retention.
If it’s too late for prevention, foundation repair can be an option, at a cost.
What if it’s not subsidence? Other key causes of wall cracks include:
- poor construction quality;
- deteriorated construction materials;
- water damage, and
Poor construction quality is a prime, and common, example of why it’s crucial to have a building or handover inspection performed by an independent building inspector. A building inspector can identify issues such as under-engineered footings, weak load-bearing walls, substandard materials and incorrect construction practices.
Deteriorated building materials, water damage, and termites are issues that can develop over time. You may not be able to see the water or structural damage on the surface, but the weakened and eaten skeleton of your home could tell a whole other story.
So, patch and paint won’t work?
Patch and paint is about aesthetic repair, not structural repair. Even in the case of subsidence, the root cause is not addressed and eventually the cracks can reappear. You’ll have thrown away time and money covering up an issue that has the potential to get much worse.
Do I really need to hire a building and pest inspector?
In short – yes.
A crack is not a crack is not a crack.
Did you know there are a variety of shapes and categories of cracks? Horizontal, vertical, stepped, cogged, hairline, structural … each type and category can give a really good indication of what the issue might be.
Are you sure you can read the cracks correctly? Hiring a building inspector takes that stress out of your hands right away!
Experts give peace of mind.
A building inspector is not only a second set of eyes, but they are eyes that are trained and experienced in construction and identifying building defects. They will be far more effective, thorough, and precise in their checks, reporting, and recommendations than someone like a handyman.
A building inspector will provide you with a full report and recommendations so that you can confidently seek the right kind of tradesman to repair the damage before it gets worse.
If wall cracks occur in a newly built home, a building inspector will provide independent assessment and advice, keeping the builders honest and your home safe.
Keeping the costs down.
Wall cracks can be an expensive fix when taking into consideration things like foundation repair and structural repair. These expenses only increase when an issue is approached with guesswork and the process of elimination … or not approached at all!
Getting a building inspector to determine the root cause early on means you can fix the issue before it, and the costs, get ugly.
Ben Paterson is the Director of Safeguard Inspections and has 25 years in the building industry. Safeguard performs pre-purchase building and pest inspections, and handover inspections in Brisbane.