Should this gap exist between the masonry stairs and vertical masonry wall>

Currently working on the report for an inspection from earlier today and am wrestling with how to characterize this gap. Initially I suspected the masonry stairs were pulling away from the wall, but after looking at it further the width of the gap on both sides of the stairs is a uniform approximately 3/8" from top to bottom. I would assume tilting/rotating would result in a greater width at the top/bottom, depending on rotation direction. I don’t know whether to call this out as a defect, or just make a comment that it should be further evaluated by a qualified mason. Looking at the mortar, it looks like it follows the mortar joint pattern/shape on the wall which would indicate it originally was laid against that mortar joint. Input?

IMO, (without seeing all there is to see with it while on-site), I deem it as a non-structural, settlement “crack”, aka, non-issue.


Possible narrative:

“There is an approximate 3/8” gap between the brick stairs and brick wall. I recommend that it be refilled with mortar and monitored for future movement (gap opens up again and more). If that happens, consult with a qualified masonry contractor for correction as needed."


Thanks fellas. That is what I was thinking but wanted a little more input from some other folks. I forgot to mention there was no damage or cracks to any mortar joints or bricks on the stairs themselves so any movement that happened was extremely uniform.

The stairs were built separately from the house. You are going to get movement


I would recommend a backer rod with Owens Corning 795 Sealant that will allow for some expansion and contraction.That should fix it for about 20-30 years. I agree the steps were built separately from the original wall construction. I am a licensed Contractor so I can make that recommendation but if you’re just a Home Inspector you should probably just refer them to a licensed Contractor for recommendations.

Thanks for all the input. Darius, I am only a home inspector so I can’t offer specifics on repair methodology but that is great information and I appreciate it. I ended up pretty much paraphrasing what Larry suggested in my report. Thanks again.

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Gap in mortar. Location. Front of the building. Between the masonry front wall and the masonry staircase.
Poor masonry grade clearance.
Recommend: A: A licensed masonry contractor seal the gap with an approved exterior caulking or sealant. B: Prove proper ground masonry clearance.

Justin, those are two individual structures. In some occasions the builder makes a separate footer for the step-module. That may be the case here. There will be different Settlement grades. I would recommend to fill the gap with a “polyurethane contractor grade crack filler”. Those have great adherence to clean surfaces and the gap they fill is sealed with a cure flexible cord that allows for expansion/contraction movement.

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