Is a structural inspection needed

I inspected a house over the weekend. It was a cape built on a slab with a a second story addition and a rear two story addition. The second floor of the rear addition slopes in towards the center and the two steps leading up to the addition have settled. there are no cracks in the walls, ceiling below or the tile floor.

Any thoughts on advice for the client.


Almost all houses will show some signs of structural movement. Here are a few:

  • Lumber shrinkage
  • Actual footing settlement
  • Concrete shrinkage
  • Thermal movement
  • Long term deflection due to creep
  • Poor design issues- under sized beams, floor joists, etc.
  • Over loading - Hot tubs, pianos, stored items
  • Excessive wind or snow load events
  • Poor workmanship and attention to critical details

Most structural investigations is similar to putting a puzzle together. You are generally given a box of puzzle pieces from different puzzles mixed together with some pieces missing and no picture of what the puzzle should look like. You start by identifying and sorting pieces according to the type of distress you see. You then try to assemble the pieces that fit until you recognize the puzzle. In the process you may see two or more different puzzles start to emerge. If you are lucky you can eventually tell the customer was caused the apparent structural issue. Sometimes it was a combination or the “perfect storm” event that created the issue of concern. Many times too many pieces are missing with no clear picture of what happened. In these cases destructive inspection techniques may be needed or just monitor the situation until more puzzle pieces can be found.

The point of all this is just inform your client of what you found and if you want to offer an opinion just be careful because you may not have all the puzzle pieces.

Basement or crawl … In my areas, most of the time when I see settlement toward the center of the house, stairs, chimney, bearing wall, etc - when I get to basement or crawl below, there will be settlement or other movement of the support system or accessories (footing, girder, I-beam, support pole, slab, or even things as simple as NO joist hangers or cut / split / damaged supports).

I would anticipate a slab would have some sort of downward movement of it or its support under the settled area (no grade beam, settled beam, or same scenarios with footings, etc)

Just Guessing …

Stairs don’t look new to me. How old is the home?

Worth repeating in my book.

Not enough pieces of the puzzle to make an educated conclusion.
Too many variables as to the cause.
Guessing is not my nature. :slight_smile: