Structual Engineer Report

singel story home built 1982
no rain for three weeks
appropriate exterior slope away from the foundation
appropriate guttering
moisture meter indicated walls and floor were dry @ 7%
no interior drainage or sump pit in the basement

I inspected this unfinished basement and noted 1/4" horizontal cracks running apprx 30’ in the motor joints for the first and second row of block from the top on the North side. The top of the blocks were leaning outward causing the openings.

I also noted efflorescence on all four walls and on the concrete floor.

I explained to the buyer that the cracks may have been caused by improper backfiling or it may have been hit by a machine durring the backfilling process. Possible water infiltration durring some point could have also caused this issue, as the efflorescence was evidence.

I recommended a structual engineer be called in to evaluate this issue further.

A week later the rea called with the engineers report that she said she paid $340 for. She was not happy because the report (in breif) said “I saw no deterioration or damage that was structurally significant in this home.”

I believe my recommendations were warranted.
The buyer is happy and confident about proceeding with the purchase.
Although the rea made her commision it was indicated to me that I would have a difficult time finding work in this town…???

It’s been two weeks now and not one single phone call for business!
80% of my business comes from the Internet. Spooky…

Anyways…the photo of the cracks are not as good as I would like to share and I do plan on changing this to a close up including a tape measure from now on.

One of my questions is. Did I call the efflorescence correctly?
Any comments welcomed…

Did happen to use a level? and how much was it leaning?

Not a real noticeable bow, but is was 1/2" out of plumb on 4’…

Yes there’s signs of efflorescence, moisture, water intrusion.

These two photos don’t justify the need to call for an SE.

I agree the photo of the cracks is not close/clear enough.

This house has been vacant for approx 6mths.

How long will the evidence of efflorescence remain after the initial presence?

It doesn’t matter what others might or might not have called what matters is how you manage YOUR companies liability based upon your level of knowledge, experience and honest convictions…in short you made the right call for yourself.

As to the REA…not sure what you were paid for the job but rest assure that she / he is making a whole lot more money for without putting their neck on the chopping block… I personally wouldn’t give a flip what the REA said or thought.


Try not to second guess your self ,You made your decision based on what you saw and felt at that time .
I agree with Jeffery post .
I listen close to the hair on the back of my head and do what I feel.

Same thing happened to me about a year ago. There was a horizontal crack in the grout line around 3/4 of the foundation wall. The worst area was bowed in about an inch. I called it out for further evaluationby a SE. The report came back with no issues. When the agent called she was really upset and I have not worked for her since. Oh well, in my opinion it was wrong and I would call it out again tomorrow. This is my liability and I would rather call it out then pay for it later!! New inspectors need to take the fear factor out of the equation and just call it out if you feel it is wrong. We work for the client and not for the agent. When looking at something people need to ask themselves if you would let a family member or friend live with it without knowing. JMO

From a recent continuing education class I took taught by an Engineer/Home Inspector.

“The horizontal crack is the most serious crack in a basement wall. This crack typically indicates bending failure. Once a basment wall exhibits a horizontal crack it has technically failed, total failure is often abrupt because the wall can buckle and collapse. Engineering review is always required”

Thanks guys…yes my confidence was getting a little shaky on this one.

I didn’t see any structurally significant crack considering the age of the home. I instead would have referred the client to a waterproofing specialist, not a structural engineer. IMHO.

This is a little better close up picture of the mortor cracks.

For conversation; How about this one from today? Home built in 1965. Level lot, no signs of water intrusion. Crack in mortar at ground level at each opposite side of home, almost full link of wall. Crack is at bottom of 2nd row from top. Did bow in 1/2" from top of wall to crack.

Any bulges? Wall entirely below grade? How old is the home? Was the interior wall recently painted?

It was painted, not sure how recent. Dry basement.

The cracks were very close to ground level. No cracks observed, (except a few step cracks in mortar below windows), below ground.

Home is built on level ground. I’m thinking the issue may have happened when backfilling was done.

If this is the case then why did the SE blow it off as not important?

Jim read this…

You made the right call IMO. If a horizontal crack is present and the wall is bowed where the crack exist then a repair needs to take place. Personally I would of called for a simple foundation contractor then in my verbiage I would let the client know that a structural engineer may be consulted by the foundation contractor. I would call the structural engineer to find out why he felt the wall was stable.

The rea did ask me to speak with this SE after she read the report basically saying nothing was wrong. The phone conversation lasted about 30 seconds as he was an SE(God) talking down to a stupid HI.
I then called the rea back and informed her that according to the SE, it was a waste of his time and her money*(something like that)*. Thats when her claws came out. Don’t over react as I was being professional in my correspondence.

To address the issue on why I called the SE before calling a foundation specialist. I was under the impression that the cracks could be a structual issue and the SE would want to call in a foundation specialist to address the efflorescence issue. Just backwards of your suggestion. Am I wrong in this assumption?

The SE report:

Don’t know just passing along information that was presented by an SE/HI as part of the states required CE course.

Either way I think you did the right thing in referring it to a specialist, I’ve seen this used to referr to a SE " an individual knowledgeable in residential construction and design"

Bottom line the SE now “owns” the crack

As its been said here many times who is the client the buyer or the RE?