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I bought a chalet bungalow about 4.5 years ago. I only used lender survey at the time of purchase. The property is in South East and I am told the area is clay soil and shrink and swell with changes in moisture. Right after I bought it, there were crack on walls and callings but was not significant. In about 2nd - 3rd years, these cracks slightly getting worse. during the 3rd-4st year (2018, extreme weather might caused it further) it became active and get worse. Some of crack are diagonally running right above internal doors. But all of external walls are fine, not crack at all. Also, I can hear there are creak noise in wall attic.
I am concerning something is active and would need a structural engineer to carry out an inspection, to assess the damage, identifying possible causes and treatment.
My question is, should I just hire a private structural engineer at my own cost, or report it to the building insurance company and let them send out a structural engineer? I am worrying if it turns out as subsidence, the insurance company need to get involved but consequence of subsidence will put off future buyers, etc?
Can someone have experience please advise what best way to tackle this issue?
thank you very much in advance.
I had a crack issue so I paid for a structural engineer to do a report. He said the property was basically sound but a lintel needed replacing. The cracks were fixable and it gave me peace of mind. My view is that you need to know what the issue is. If the engineer has to chip some plaster off to get a proper diagnosis let them do it.
Am I the only one that thought this post was about a tenant with a drug problem?
I thought the same.
Yep, my answer was going to be "Go to Rehab" until I read further
Mine was left over Chustmas dinner (cold turkey)
I thought it was about yet another property "guru" who yet again had a drug habit....
Hi, how large are the cracks? Hairline cracking is quite common where fresh plasterwork has been carried out, or in new build properties as it settles. I would chip away at a couple of the cracks to see if they are more significant behind. If they are just hairline cracks on the surface they can be filled and redecorated. If they are more significant (e.g. you can fit more than the width of a coin in them) then get a structural engineer to investigate. You could also check for any other signs of movement, doors and windows not closing properly can sometimes indicate movement. Also if there are any large trees in close proximity to the building.
* New build residential developments and flat conversions in the Thames Valley* High end HMOs in Reading and Bracknell
The first thing to say is that your lender probably did not carry out any form of survey. They would have conducted a valuation, but that is not a survey. A warning to all buyers is that a valuation is not a survey and that all lenders and conveyancers will recommend that you commission an independent survey of the condition of a property prior to purchase.
In respect of this specific enquiry then I would recommend that, initially, you contact a good local independent surveyor or structural engineer who can give you an indication as to whether these are cracks that would require some further investigation and reporting to your insurers. In most cases, cracking that is between hairline and 2-3 mm in width is not of structural concern, but, if, as you suggest, the cracking is progressive then it may be due to some specific cause.
However, the fact that the cracks only affect the internal walls may suggest that the problem lies with the floors, rather than the external foundations. Could it, potentially, be due to a leak, pipe beneath the floors?
Investigation of generalised cracking is something that requires a wide knowledge of building pathology and construction and so, whilst you could undertake some investigations yourself, I (and I would say this, being a surveyor and Chairman of the Residential Property Surveyors Association), it is more likely that a surveyor, or a structural engineer, would be able to properly diagnose the most likely cause and suggest the next course of action.
Especially so in SE where high land values mean that a land plot can be up to 75% of property price - so any borrower with say a 25% plus deposit is really only having their lender check that the plot is worth the proposed loan - with the property condition per se being largely academic.