Urgent: cracks, are these a structural issue?


We are possibly placing an offer on the house we are renting, TODAY, but we have noticed these cracks. There is also an obvious “tape” crack along the underside of the white ceiling, that is hard to see here.
I wasnt sure if this other crack is of concern?

Thank you for any help! Any input ASAP is much appreciated!!

You should hire the services of an InterNACHI inspector and he/she will inform you all about the house. Money well spent and peace of mind…

Exactly. There may be other issues your not aware of.

An inspection will be a huge negotiating tool more than likely bringing the price down and then turns into a great reference or “honey do” list.Not to mention the peace of mind involved.

Im sorry, I should have clarified. We are hiring an inspector, we are just wondering if these cracks cause enough concern to also hire a structural engineer in addition to a normal inspection.
Here are clearer photos:

The general area:

Your inspector should be able to help you determine that. There are too many variables to determine your query from a few pictures posted on the forum. Good luck.

No, they are not.

The door clearance with the header concerns me more than your crack.

Yes, structural movement is a consideration. See what your inspector says about the other things associated with that crack.

You cannot determine anything by looking at one small crack, any more than determining the outdoor weather with the shades drawn.

Cracks of interior/exterior walls are an amplifier of what is actually happening to the building in many cases.

You showed me a picture of a crack, now you posted another picture that shows me a door. Between the two, it heightens my concern of what’s going on. This is how you should proceed. This is how your inspector should proceed…

Are there any other cracks in the home?
how are the doors and windows fitting?
Is there a beam in the dropped portion?
Is this a load bearing wall?
is there a beam directly below this?
Is the roof stick built or trusses?
These are the kind of questions that need to be answered first before the cracks can be determined as structural or simple shifting.
That is why you are getting the answers like you see above.
Cracks in home are very common but without seeing the home they can be hard to determine.
Some possibilities could be structural, truss uplift, settlement…
Sorry we can’t be more help but having a full inspection on the home by an InterNACHI trained professional is what I would do. They should be able to give you some idea as to what is going on and if needed he/she can recommend further evaluation by a structural engineer.

Very good points Greg.
People post little snippets all over this site obtaining advice on structural issues, so why is this any different?

A home inspector is a “visual” inspector and NOT a “code” inspector so she/he will not know if the “minimum” requirements of the current codes are met.
Also, a home inspector is not trained for “structural issues” like a structural engineer would be. So, if you have to spend the money, then obtain a structural engineer who will give you a stamped report that deals with your “safety” concern. A home inspector cannot tell you if any structure is safe.

That doesn’t apply to ALL home inspectors. Just depends on education and background. There are some home inspectors with electrical backgrounds who can tell you everything about electricity. And there are some home inspectors, like me, with education and background in structural engineering who can tell you if a structure is safe.

Yes understood. Are you stating that you tell your clients that a structure is safe? If a client asked you to inspect a newly constructed deck (say its 6 months old), how would you determine that the ledger connection was safe if the house had a finished basement and the hammer test on the bolts indicated all was OK? Please explain.

How do you determine “safety” with a “visual” inspection and not being able to look behind the construction?

Having an education and background knowledge of a subject is quite different from having a license to practice in that area… namely a P.Eng or PE (in electrical and/or structural for example). An engineers stamp implies the current codes are met and that the project is “safe”. How do you make this claim as a home inspector? If you are a home inspector / professional engineer this is quite different of course due to your code of ethics as a professional engineer.

What does your contract state?

Is it worth the risk to state a structure is safe? What if someone dies on that deck mentioned above? Would you assume the responsibility after saying it was “safe”?


Are there many home inspectors like you willing to go out on that limb? There are a great many instances where a structural inspection can be quite deadly if the inspector is not licensed to make “safety” comments on that structure. One case that was upfront in the news in Ontario was the Elliot Lake collapse. Do you do commercial inspections? Would you declare a commercial structure as “safe” with a “visual” inspection only? Please explain…

Here’s what I would say. He was not talking about deck ledgers. :slight_smile: As a home inspector with structural engineering experience, I would say the cracks look like normal settlement cracks. I agree with Russel, it’s not a problem.

Agreed Vern!! The example was given in response to be able to say a structure is “safe”. As a home inspector with structural experience would you agree that you cannot declare a structure as safe? Do your clients “know” you have structural experience?

I can declare a structure is safe very easily after a home inspection, but if we get the big one, or the first/second/third coming of Christ, depending on your religion, all bets are off!


Thanks for the laugh, I totally agree with you!

I disagree, define safe in this context.

That statement did not come from me. Nick stated that a HI, or CMI cannot state a structure is safe. This is one reason why his bolt equation for deck ledges is questionable?


I disagree with the notion that, as a home inspector, I can not form an opinion that a structure is safe (able to perform it’s intended function), based on a reasonable definition of the word “safe” within the context of a home inspection. I would venture to guess that 99.9% of all homes existing in the state of CA are not safe by your definition, which is ludicrous. Your hypothesis is seriously flawed.