Why is my new home cracking up?
wife and I have recently moved into a new home, one of 14 on a small development by a small local builder. I have noticed there is a crack more or less in the middle of both internal walls of the attached garage. The crack starts at the floor and alternately goes through a line of mortar and then through the middle of the Thermalite blocks to the ceiling. It is narrow, but appears to get wider towards the top. The builder said it was common and there was nothing to worry about. Should I get a structural engineer to look at it?
is a fault that certainly needs further investigation by a structural engineer, and it should not be your responsibility to initiate this matter. Normally I would suggest contacting the developer and asking him to investigate, but you have already done this, and from what you tell me he appears to be washing his hands of it.
“Common” shrinkage cracks or movement cracks tend to follow the lines of the mortar joints, and take a roughly diagonal path. Vertical cracks that pass straight through whole bricks or blocks are more serious. They usually have one of two causes. The first is excessive point loading (such as where a steel supporting beam has an insufficient bearing to spread its load across the wall below). The second is a fault with the foundations. Your description of a crack that gets wider at the top could indicate that the foundations are settling more at the sides than in the middle – this is known as a “broken back” scenario.
Unfortunately, if you buy a new house from the developer who built it, you are not covered by the Sale of Goods Act. You have greater consumer protection in the UK if you buy a tin of baked beans than if you buy a new house. Which is why I always advise readers to pay for a full building survey from a chartered building surveyor or structural engineer, even when buying a new home.
In your case, you therefore need to act swiftly to persuade your developer to investigate and remedy the situation. He might have joined a warranty scheme (such as Zurich, Premier or the NHBC), and details of this should be included in the contract documents that came with your purchase of the house.
However, be warned that most building warranty schemes come into play only if the developer has ceased trading. Since your builder is apparently still in business, you will have to get him to acknowledge and rectify any faults. You may need to instruct a solicitor.
Gas installed our 330 HE Condensing boiler about eight years ago, and it has been
Another fine mess: Problems such as cracks, left, that crop up after building work need to be tackled immediately