Confirm SE call

Hey guys I recommended a Structural Engineer further evaluate this situation. It was my first time having to recommend one so I just hoping you guys could confirm I made the right call. Its a detached garage. I dug out (with my hands) to see what was under brick. It was concrete blocks. You can see the block is cracked as well. It was about 3/8 of an inch from the bottom getting smaller to the top.

P.S. If you do not have a spade in your truck I would get one

Actually it was about a quarter of an inch

A structural engineer may be needed to determine appropriate repairs the issue, but my first call would be for a geo-technical engineer.

Excellent point. Thanks man

Juan I personally would told them to seal it myself. The crack was minimal from your pictures. I have a feeling the engineer is going to laugh when they see it.
Other areas may be different but those types of cracks are very common here with expansive soils.

I agree with Sean. Unless you are seeing this in multiple locations I would recommend having the cracks sealed.

I know many will err on the side of caution to cya but you once you gain experience it will become easier to identify those issues that need an engineer. From what I see in your pics I would said seal and monitor in my report.

Based on those pictures alone I don’t see anything that would need an engineer’s opinion. If that house was over 30 years old on a block foundation, I would say that owner was lucky. Brick veneer is like glass and will usually crack at the slightest movement. If that house had vinyl siding you would never have given that foundation a second look. Structural issues are very difficult to diagnose with 100% accuracy. Especially if they occurred over a long period of time, just too many variables involved. Typically if a structural problem occurs within the first five years, for me anyway, there is a good chance I can find the cause. Issues like creep that take decades to cause problems and single events like that extremely dry summer in 1980 that cracked foundations here in Missouri are forgotten by most people. So the crack you see today may never be truly diagnosed with any degree of accuracy.

Randy, what would be your recommendation here? Sealing?

I would not typically recommend sealing a crack that small. I would take a picture and certainly document the crack in the report and would suggest monitor the crack for further movement. It would also depend if my client attended the inspection and my clients experience with owning houses.

Hmmm.Disappointing to know I over reported. It wasn’t the brick veneer I was really worried about. It was the concrete foundation below that I dug out a little to see that had me concerned. You guys don’t think someone should at least dig a little further before sealing the crack?

Why? It’s a detached garage. There is no basement or crawl for moisture to damage. Sealing is not structural, so there is no benefit to the garage.

Learn from your mistakes, there will be more. Wait until you get that call that starts out with "Hello Mr. Jimenez, my name is … and I represent… whom you did an inspection for on…:p:p

I would rather apologize to a client for recommending an unnecessary step in the evaluation process than apologize for minimizing a serious defect.

You’re going to tick off a few used house salesmen along the way as you accumulate experience. Anticipate this as you consider that, among those recommending you, there are a few who are counting on your inexperience to miss a few deal killing defects. Don’t worry about it.

As far as contractors second guessing you and minimizing your recommendations, get used to it. Remember … nine times out of ten it is a contractor who performed the inferior work that resulted in the defect in the first place. Not too many of them are going to be critical of the work of someone at their level of skill or below who are making the same kind of mistakes that they do on a regular basis, unless it is the work of a competitor.

Hang in there.

Again I would agree with Randy. Sealing the crack or recommending it on a report may make you responsible for the interior cavity water damage. You cannot win in this situation as you cannot see what is happening at the crack. Never call a structural engineer for a garage foundation or wall unless you are sure the garage could collapse under the structure. If this is a brick veneer it can fall off and the have very little effect on the structure. Call out any modification you see to the framing or trusses no matter how well it looks done.
No stamp of approval and it is a no go.

So don’t recommend sealing or an SE. Just note it and recommend monitoring?

In this case that is the consensus. So yes. You will need to come up with some standard language to insert in your report for these types of situations. In cases where a basement exists below (we have a lot of those here) there is the risk of water intrusion through the crack so you will want to have some language for that also if you encounter basements there.

Ok. Thanks guys.

Ditto what Randy said…although I have referred to an SE when I observed multiple cracks on all sides of the foundation. SE recommended repairs at one corner of which was mostly like due to lack of proper drainage at that particular corner.

Jeff pointing out the need for a GEO is spot on…when we do commercial work we bring a GEO out once we are awarded a commercial contract to ensure our footing estimate is good…no one likes surprises.

Well I did recommend a GEO first test the soil. The SE was overkill as I have learned.