If you are buying a new house or trying to sell your own, structural problems can be a big deal. Structural issues can be dealbreakers for potential buyers, so it is important to address them. The problem is, how can you tell if a house has structural damage? In the blog we look into what kind of damage is classed as ‘structural’, what issues they can cause, and some classic signs to look out for that suggest you may need to investigate the problem further, take some action and get a second opinion.
What is considered a structural problem?
Simply put, structural problems can be anything that affects the structural reliability of your house. They can be caused by anything from a poor design or build, to structural faults developed since your house was built. Age is not always to blame either, whether your home is a new build, or it has been in your family for generations, it is possible for you to start seeing structural damage at any time. However, many people don’t know what is considered structural damage to their home resulting in a late diagnosis – generally the longer it’s left, the harder it is to fix. So, let us take a look at some of the signs of damage that suggest there may be some fundamental issues looming…
Signs of structural damage to a house
Typical signs that there could be serious underlying problems are:
Cracks in plaster, brickwork and stonework can just be superficial but they may also be a sign of more serious settlement issues – the home settling more on one side than the other. Whether the cracks are diagonal (like stair steps), vertical or horizontal, if left, they could lead to foundation problems in the future. Random cracks can also present themselves internally too. Cracks above doors and windows for example could indicate a failed lintel or other structural issue.
Sticking windows and doors
If a door or window has been fitted correctly but no longer swings open as it usually does it could be a sign that there has been some movement in your house and an early sign of subsidence. You may also notice cabinet doors opening on their own. If your home settles so the cabinet tilts away from the wall, the cabinet doors are unlikely to stay shut. It could be a sign that your foundation needs fixing.
Bulging or leaning walls
Bulging walls and leaning walls can be hard to spot because they can start very subtly, and it is not until some time has passed that you will notice an obvious curve inwards. Walls should be straight so if you spot a leaning or bulging wall this could indicate a structural problem to the wall itself or its foundations.
Sagging roofs and roof leaks
Your roof should give you at least 20-30 years before it needs replacing. If your roof is nowhere near that marker and it has started leaking, then it can be a sign that the roof timbers are moving outwards. A sagging roof generally means there are some issues with its structure caused by the removal of load bearing walls, overloading over time or mis-sized framing timbers. Repairing roof leaks promptly can save you a whole heap of damage to internal structures.
Serious causes include improper construction and settling foundation and will require the expertise of a structural engineer to assess the issue. Other causes of uneven floors included cracked floor joists, dry rot, or wet rot.
It is important to deal with concerns that there may be a looming structural problem in order to keep everyone in your house safe. Some structural issues can make your house very uncomfortable and at worst, even cause it to collapse. Brushing the problem under the carpet will only leave a bigger dent in your wallet too. If you are selling your house, problems found buy the surveyor when carrying out his/her survey will be reflected in your buyers offer – they may even pull out all together. If you are house hunting, have your wits about you and never be afraid to get a second/professional opinion before you make any decisions.
We are more than just a window company here at Wandsworth Sash Windows. As we have our own in-house team of skilled builders, we are able to offer a complete design and build service for large projects too. If you are worried about structural damage, our experienced team are always happy to advise.