We are thinking of buying this house but it has some cracks on the exterior wall...

It is clear that someone tried to patch them in the past. How bad do these look to you? The house was built in 1926 and we think it has cavity walls (although not 100% sure - the wall is 280mm thick). Inside it looks dry and there are no apparent cracks.

If we were to buy the house what would be the best thing to do about them? How much would it cost to rectify?

[Removed pictures for privacy]

  • 2
    The thing that bothers me about those cracks is they are straight, that means the footing is not solid they may be many years old and things are stable now but I would want a professional foundation repair company to weigh in on this. Over the years I have repaired some messed up walls but when the cracks go straght the problem can be much worse from my limited experience.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 16:48
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    @EdBeal My experience has been diagonal cracks are a result of foundation settlement, while vertical cracks are a result of expansion and contraction. (Although I’ve never seen such straight lines for that length...hmmm.)
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 17:31
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    The only time I have found that amount of straight cracks was on a 1900's to 1920s home that had a bad footing , well almost no fitting over a spring. We were able to repair it and get the spring properly drained but it cost close to 10k more than I thought it would, it was a T&M job and we had limited info on the home it was an early block / brick for this area. Most were stone or just wood foundations prior to this with no rebar. The straight cracks were caused by the lack of a solid footing, however I he home was solid and had not moved for many years but the new owner wanted it fixed.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 7:04
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    @leesam, I am not a foundation pro, but have worked on many Victorians or just a few years younger the only one that had straight cracks had almost no footing. But the owner wanted it fixed even though it had not moved since the 60's from pictures of the home. I hired a company and they found the spring , after instilling a drain field a 4' wide footer then replaced the block below grade. The 2-1/2 storey home is still there and looks great as the owners have even replaced some of the clear siding and that costs$ but it looks original in a historic district but not listed yet.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 7:17
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    @EdBeal I doubt if it’s a failing footing or settlement issues because: 1) the cracks are uniform width. Settlement usually shows cracks that taper wider at the top or bottom, and 2) The OP indicated there are no cracks on the interior.
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


If you haven't already, engage a home inspector who understands buildings and local conditions (especially with regard to soil). He or she will be able to offer a useful opinion on root causes, side effects and mediation strategy. (Depending on market conditions, the last part can form an important part of your price negotiation strategies, or convince you to walk away.)

  • Hello, thank you for the advice. We will engage a home surveyor if we decide to go ahead, however it costs quite a bit of money so for now we are trying to establish how serious these cracks are... Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 16:32

After reading about subsidence, footing, settlement issues, etc. I came up with the theory that the issue is caused by a number of things:

  • there is probably little footing
  • the house is built on clay
  • the wall is south facing (it gets a lot of sun)
  • the gutters empty underground next to the footing of the house in a corner - not sure how or where exactly but I would not be surprised if the ducting is blocked somewhere because it appears to be very wet where the gutter enters the tarmac
  • in this area of the country we get a lot of rain

I think what happens here is that the clay under the house expands when it rains and shrink pretty quickly when it is sunny, causing too much movement for the wall to handle. Also on top of that, the water that enters the existing cracks, freezes when it's cold and pushes the cracks forward a bit at the time.

I am not an expert and I didn't get to poke around enough to know for sure but on a second inspection, I realised that that the inside wall is pretty damp (which is not a good sign for a south facing wall - I guess the cracks don't help) and I maybe there are some cracks inside after all - behind the wallpaper.

It is clear that there has been movement fairly recently because the various fixes that the previous owner attempted have popped out - so I think this is a current issue and does need fixing... whatever the issue is, it needs an unknown amount of time and money thrown at it. Perhaps, the best thing to do would be to extend the foundations and the house forward.

In any case, I found other unrelated issues which put me off and the property price was not negotiable, so in the end, we changed our mind about getting this house - it would have been a bite bigger than what we can chew right now.

Thank you everyone that commented on this post... Your help was truly appreciated.

...Good luck to whoever takes it on!

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