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My house was constructed in 1992 and we still have not completed the finishing work. Our roof is wood, there is no tie-beam or mullion at all in this house and there are some lintels above the windows & doors.

Cracks have appeared in the masonry walls starting from 2 years after construction in some areas, and in other areas some years later. Here is a picture of one of the cracks (click for full size):

Crack on the wall

I have been advised to consult a structural engineer. What can I expect from this consultation? Are there any specific questions I must ask the engineer?

I want to know if we can continue the construction as per proper standard or if I have to demolish the house and build it again.

Our land is loose soil and there is no concrete footing on this house. If this is a soil settlement issue, there are three options as per my understanding:

  1. Continuous appearance of cracks in different areas
  2. Cracks in a certain area with width increasing gradually
  3. There is no new crack formation or growth after some year

Here are some additional pictures (click for full size):

Crack on the wall 2 Crack on the wall 4 Crack on the wall 3 Crack on the wall 5

migrated from engineering.stackexchange.com Jun 16 '15 at 19:24

This question came from our site for professionals and students of engineering.

  • Welcome to engineering SE. Most likely the foundation is not stable. It might be still settling. – Mahendra Gunawardena Jun 15 '15 at 10:51
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    Specific advice on this is beyond what we can and should reasonably provide here. There were probably corners cut or mistakes made when the house was built, particularly in making sure the foundation had something stable to sit on. You need to consult a structural engineer. – Olin Lathrop Jun 15 '15 at 11:11
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    An important question is how long those cracks have been there. Did they develop shortly after the construction and then stop growing? Are they still growing? Did they only start appearing recently? – Wasabi Jun 15 '15 at 11:24
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    It is very important that you understand that any advice offered by any of the users on this site carries no guarantee of being correct. To properly assess the structural integrity of your building an on-site inspection would be required. You should really consider contacting a professional engineer/firm before deciding how to proceed. – Chris Mueller Jun 15 '15 at 12:00
  • Our land is loose soil, there is no concrete footing on this house. The cracks start from after 2 years some area then cracks appear in different place after some year. Firstly, soil settlement issue, 1. Continuous crack in different area 2. Cracks width increase gradually 3. There are no crack after some year and no more width increasing I need the recommendation for these three option or if there any possibility via soil settlement. Our roof is made by wood, there is no tie-beam or mullion at all this house and there are some lintel above the windows & doors. – Fazl Jun 16 '15 at 10:43
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Get a reputable professional structural engineer in there ASAP -- it looks like the wall is severely cracked and would fail at that point when subject to shear loads.

I'm sure that the eyeballs of said engineer will tell a story when he sees a wall that's cracked that badly.

Also,

WHO THE HELL BUILDS WALLS ATOP LOOSE EARTH?

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    +1 to that. for 99,9% it's a foundation problem. also - a serious hazard of collapsing. I would gtfo this house, or at least try to find another place to live. – Marek Oleszczuk Jun 17 '15 at 6:15
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When the use of a proper foundation is avoided, the earth under the house WILL settle. It will settle unevenly, causing structural damage. The solution is to do extensive construction to build a support system for the weight of the house. Building without foundation is illegal by the International Builders Code.

SECTION R403 FOOTINGS

R403.1 General. All exterior walls shall be supported on continuous solid or fully grouted masonry or concrete footings, crushed stone footings, wood foundations, or other approved structural systems which shall be of sufficient design to accommodate all loads according to Section R301 and to transmit the resulting loads to the soil within the limitations as determined from the character of the soil. Footings shall be supported on undisturbed natural soils or engineered fill. Concrete footing shall be designed and constructed in accordance with the provisions of Section R403 or in accordance with ACI 332.

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