Hi there! I am looking for a house to flip in Charleston, SC and found this distressed property. I know that I will need to get an inspection and possibly a structural engineer's opinion. I am just wondering if any assumptions can be derived from the presence of these cracks in the floor in regards to foundation issues. (I also included pics of a deck that was removed from the back of the house. I'm not sure if it is related to the problem, but the deck is located off of the room/hall with the cracks).
That's some pretty serious cracking but it's impossible to tell from the pictures if it's movement or settlement. Do the sections of the floor line up flush or is one side higher or lower than the other? The latter is far more serious; most concrete will crack at some point from general movement. Movement cracks can be filled with an epoxy and covered over, no big deal. Settling cracks may or may not get worse, since there's no good way without doing a bore to know what the base material is.
PS: If I had to put money on it right now, I would go with settling cracks based on the shape of the cracks and your location. Charleston has a high water table and a lot of sandy soil.
@Melissa Searing Concrete slab can crack, and alot of the time its not an issue. Its unclear from the photos if the cracks are happening under load bearing walls or just randomly. If there is evidence of significantly more cracks under load bearing walls, that would be a red flag. I would put a marble or ball on the floor and see if it rolls in different directions on the concrete. This would give you an indication of setting, small cracks in the drywall at the corner of windows and doors would also given you an indication of setting. Alot of settling could be big problems.
Me personally, the cracks dont cause me significant concern. But I would look into the settling use a marble and make sure the cracks are not concentrated around load bearing walls.
I doubt the deck has anything to due with the slab cracks. Likely it was rotten and removed for safety reasons.
Like JD said it is really hard to tell from pictures. Lots of unknowns. Is there moisture coming from the cracks, Is the house level, What year was the house built, Location is a big factor. It could simply have been a bad concrete job if it was built in the last 30 years. If it is not impacting the structure ( Cracked drywall, Cracked Flooring, Windows cracked and not closing , Doors not closing )
Is the Lag Bolt just holding up the ledger board for the deck? If it is a steel braided cable running through to the other side of the house I am going to tell you yes you have problems.
Impossible to tell really. Do you know anyone local? engineer, foundation expert, or inspector? I had one that looks the same, once we opened it, there was a water leak that has been there for years, no foundation settlement, I assessed it to be a sink hole type and lateral movement of soil.
Thanks guys. When we go back to look at the property, I will look for cracks near load bearing walls, near drywall, windows & doors... and I will also bring a marble. :) I didn't notice one side of the crack being higher than the other, but a marble will help with that. And I will have an expert take a look at it as well.
Just FYI, the house was built in 2005, it's on a slab... and the soil is sandy.
@Melissa Searing Those look like normal settling cracks to me. Deck removal is almost certainly a separate issue. Shifting soil of the Lowcountry. If you don't buy the house, let me know and perhaps we will!!
I may have missed it in the other posters comments, but I don't think that shrinkage cracking was mentioned. In short @Melissa Searing , all concrete shrinks as it dries. Poor concrete mixtures (e.g., too much water in it) can exacerbate the cracking. While not so much in residential work (except for sidewalks), very often control joints are added to the concrete to essentially "control" where the concrete cracks (i.e., attempting to force the shrinkage cracking to follow the control joint to it looks orderly and straight). In the absence of control joints, concrete essentially "tears" at random.
Naturally, I don't know the situation there, but did want to offer that information for your playbook.