Drywall cracks/structural?

Hello everyone, I’m trying to determine at what point do I call this out for an engineer or further investigation. I could not find any concerns with the foundation block, beams or piers. I could not see most of the block foundation due to their being an insulation board liquid nailed to it. There are compression/stress cracks above the entryways and doorway areas. The home is a 2 story country style with a partial vaulted ceiling and was built in 1994.

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Following as I had a 1960 home today with about 25-30 cracks like that throughout. I think its safe to say a foundation problem exists but looking to see what some of the veterans have to say

I would have to say it needs further investigation. Might be only that someone qualified needs to pull back paint and drywall covering to see the actual extent of the crack(s)…could be nothing but we as home inspectors just can not start peeling stuff back or doing damage. The other thought here is you need to consider the number of (small) say 1/8 cracks or deflection (acceptable) and if they are area related, added up become A Large Crack and possibly much deflection as a total.

We also don’t know if this has seen no change in the past 20 years or if this all happened since just last Tuesday.

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Most likely wood shrinkage and settling if repaired they may not show up again.


The cracking may be due to rafter spread but determining that would be beyond a home inspection. I would definitely defer to a structural engineer.

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This is on the 1st floor of a 2-story home.

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A 2x10 floor joist can shrink 1/4 of an in. A 2x4 top plate can shrink 1/8 in. U add it all up and the house shrinks in hight crushing and cracking the drywall.


Some of that looks like poor drywall installation

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I couldn’t determine if the vaulted ceiling cracks were caused by poor install or if it was something related to the other cracks.

Are you sure it’s drywall and not plaster? That vaulted ceiling and those very vertical cracks look like poor installation to me.

Yes, it is drywall.

I agree that it could be any or all the things we’ve discussed. I’ve been at this about 6 months and am not really sure how something like this should be reported. Anyone got a recommendation?

I would say something like…“Excessive drywall cracking may indicate a problem and a structural engineer should evaluate the house.”
You do not have write an essay for this, in my opinion. Keeping it simple with your photos is sufficient and does not take you beyond your job description as a home inspector. I often see suggestions like, “a suitable expert or contractor or appropriate expert” as the person for the evaluation. I disagree with those kind of characterizations. If it is a furnace problem then recommend a HVAC tech, it is a wiring problem, then recommend an electrician and here, a structural engineer should do the evaluation.

You can also purchase Kenton Shepard’s report writing narratives and use it on your reporting software.


What was the cladding of the home? Any cracks in the cladding? I didn’t really see where anybody asked about exterior conditions. Obviously I’m not there to take a look at the house but if just drywall cracks, I would have to go with maybe just drywall cracks. If you had mentioned it was a masonry home and there was exterior cracks, stucco clad home It was cracks in the stucco or if you would have said any indications at all about exterior I would say structural engineering. 1960, that house is no spring chicken, everything shrinks over time except for drywall it cracks

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Built in 1994 and has drywall. Wood siding home with a below grade foundation crawlspace. Didn’t see any defects with the foundation block on the outside but also could not see on the crawlspace side due to the insulation board covering the block. Only thing I noticed was the cracks. One of the big cracks got the door misaligned about 1/4 inch.

Looks like missing squash blocks. Door jambs were framed between the joist bays

I’m with Scott; framing shrinkage. Those look like compression cracks and the ones I’ve seen that were similar were caused by switching from an original wood roof to a concrete tile roof, causing additional settling. In addition to diagonal cracks off of door and window openings typical of foundation movement, compression-caused cracking causes splitting of the tape at drywall seams in walls and at wall/ceiling intersections.

I saw no other structural problems. Here’s what my library has for this type of cracking:

“Compression Cracking
Drywall in the _____ exhibited vertical and horizontal cracking consistent with compression cracking caused by closure of gaps between wall framing members. The roof-covering material was _____, however homes in the immediate neighborhood had _____, suggesting that this roof may have had the original roof-covering material replaced with a heavier type. A change to a heavier roof-covering material can cause additional settling in wall framing that can damage drywall. Additional settling of wall framing would typically continue until the framing reached equilibrium with the new roof-covering material after which the wall would become stable.
The roof structure may not be designed to support additional weight. You should ask the seller for documentation showing that any such change was approved by a structural engineer.”


“Widespread vertical and horizontal wall/ceiling cracking appeared to be the result of compression and may be connected to the installation of a roof-covering material heavier than the original roof covering material. A change to a heavier roof-covering material can cause additional settling in wall framing that can damage drywall. Additional settling of wall framing would typically continue until the framing reached equilibrium with the new roof-covering material after which the wall would become stable.
You should take steps to ensure that the existing roof framing was evaluated and approved by a structural engineer as adequate for support of the structural load imposed by the present roof-covering material.
If the seller is unable to provide documentation of inspection and approval of roof framing by a structural engineer, the Inspector recommends that before the expiration of your Inspection Objection Deadline, you have the roof framing inspected by a structural engineer to ensure its safe condition. Failure to confirm safe conditions may result in a dangerous condition that may be expensive to correct.”

Kinda long, but I think they cover things well, depending on the situation. Anyway, they’re a good starting point for an inspector faced with writing a narrative for this condition.