Mysterious broken window

Warranty inspection on a pretty high end home today.

The inside pane is badly cracked across one of the front windows, as pictured. Homeowners say they heard it happen in the middle of the night while they were in bed. No clue how it happened. Builder’s say they don’t replace broken windows because it was probably not their fault. Homeowners think it might be settlement

I flew my drone up into that little nook on the left and right and found badly deteriorating masonry.

The crack through the window started from the top of the pane. it’s much more pulverized at the top.

Anyone have any idea how this happened? Could the two conditions be related?

Possible settlement crack?

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I didn’t see any other signs of settlement though. Which is also making me think those extremely loose stones aren’t from settlement either. the rest of the masonry is spotless. i think that was just very poor craftsmanship. that kind of deterioration doesnt happen in 8 months with no other signs of settlement, right?

So that makes me wonder if the window was installed wrong and led to cracking.

And i know, I’m just going to report the damages and move on. But its a warranty inspection so id like to help them out with their builder.

Here are a couple other areas of similarly tight overhang where they really didnt make much effort

I thought the RO was too small, and there was wood shrinkage and settlement putting pressure on the window cracking the glass? But would have to analyze on-site.

I would start with the front porch slab and check for signs of settlement. Those brick walls on either side are heavy and the footings are likely independent from the main foundation. The slightest movement would torque that window frame.


after zooming in, those loose bricks on either side don’t seem to be from settlement or deterioration - i think its just disgraceful craftsmanship. The bricks on the left seem to be just stuck to the wall without any mortar in between them. The rest of the stone wall and the slab below it was fine.

The window does seem to be a tight rough opening that was torqued and/or just a defective window?


I agree with @rmayo . Back to the foundation/footings. I do not think the masonry veneer is telegraphing any information.

Most windows need some space between the framed opening and the window itself to allow for expansion. If they jammed that window in there with no room for expansion, temperature/humidity changes could crack it.

Your doing a visual inspection, so you can only report what you see. If all you see is a broken window, then broken window it is.

The masonry is not supported properly. Were is the angle iron or brick shelf?
Likely supported by roof sheathing. Live loading will move the bricks. That is why there is masonry degradation in my humble opinion. A siding should have been installed. Not masonry.

As for the crack in the long casement window. Thermal expansion is likely the cause. The window frames were installed too tight. No expansion or isolation joints in the long columns of masonry and the wall assembly.
Refer to a licensed masonry contractor with in-house structural engineer.

There’s a lot of glass in that wall. Odd that the only crack is one interior pane and the crack doesn’t start from a corner (weakest place in the window).

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So this is improperly supported also, huh?

Yes it appears to be. It is faux brick.
Look at the wave in the roof deck sheathing.

The sheathing is visible, it appears to be no flashing.

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its actually a design problem. the architect has no idea on how someone is going to get tools into those tight area’s and the builder did not check the Sub’s work. its just sloppy work and design problems.

Stacked stone does not need the same support as brick does. stacked stone is mortared to the house, as Brick is not.
There should be a metal ledger the bottom of the stacked stone sits on.

The broken window is the homeowners problem. they are lying saying it just cracked.
is the window out of square, or anything that shows a bad install on the window?

I would call out the roof flashing and the stone work. Very sloppy workmanship…


I don’t think they’re lying. here’s a closer shot of the point of origin of the break. it starts at the very top edge. That cracking does not look to be from an impact, to me. A number of other people have told me it’s a relatively common occurrence for the window to be installed in a rough out opening too tight, then it cracks from either thermal expansion and/or settlement causing stress.

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yea, i got that. i don’t mean to sound like im correcting you, i understand there are many names for different things sometimes - by flashing you mean underlayment, right?

oh, i really don’t think it is. i think its dangerously installed stone veneer

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I concur. I thought I said that. The masonry is not supported properly.

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3 Types of Cracked Windows

Read pressure cracks.

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oh shoot, sorry i misunderstood. I was picturing some kind of prefabricated panel of plastic “stones” or something when you said “faux brick”. Didn’t realize faux bricks are made of concrete and can be assembled in the same way as real stone masonry.