Structural settlement is unpredictable as to its time frame, but one structural thing leads to another and then to another.
When structural movement is detected it is hard to know if it has happened slowly (in the case of this house for over 40 years) or in the last couple of years if they have been wetter than normal. My guess is that this particular movement has been slow.
Chimneys can move and this chimney, located right center of the side of this end-of-the-row townhouse, has come off about 3/4".
Between the chimney and the front stoop is about 20' of low brick wall, onto which rests aluminum siding.
The front end of the house is composed of a brick stoop which is about 4' high, leading to the front door.
Is the one thing (chimney movement) leading to another, and then to another? That downspout drains RIGHT BESIDE the foundation wall, and that is never helpful. So, all things considered, what is going on?
The movement is obvious.
And what I suspected was going on inside was in fact going on inside!
This spot, combined with the downspout discharge, looked the most suspicious to me. Everything is opening up!
How much of a crack does water need to get in? And how much movement can a concrete block foundation take?
The closet under the stairs was so full of "stuff" that I had to virtually swim over it to get to see the corner I wanted to see. This would be directly under that gap in the siding beside the stoop.
It had rained two days prior to my inspection. Perfect timing to see if moisture is getting in. And fortunately that corner was not blocked with lost of that "stuff!" If so, I would only have been able to say what I suspected, without documentation. This photo is documentation.
I THINK THIS HAS BEEN HAPPENING FOR SOME TIME.
And I think the tenants know it is happening and don't put "stuff" there so it doesn't get wet!
My recommendation: one thing truly leads to another. There is always a logical progression with structure. In this case it was possible to see the results. Sometimes the belongings and "stuff" are not so forgiving and things cannot be viewed. But when they can be viewed, physics and logic are pretty consistent.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560