Settlement cracks in a home can be caused by a variety of factors. Some, like a problem with a footer supporting the foundation, can be difficult to diagnosis and repair. Others can be simple to figure out and fix, but equally destructive. We inspected a five year old home in Lewes, Delaware. The buyer was concerned about dry wall cracks over several doors, cracking grout in the kitchen tile and a pantry door that was rubbing on the floor.
When we went under the home it was quickly apparent what had caused the problem. Shims were used to support the beams on that section of the house. This is a normal practice, used when the support column does not fit precisely under the beam. In this case the framing guys used several very small pieces of wood to support the weight of a 2 story home that is designed to rest on three 2X10”s and masonry block piers. The shims were made of hard wood. Instead of the homes weight crushing the small pieces of hard wood the 3 pine beams settled ¾ of an inch around the shims. This created the issues noticed in what otherwise appeared to be a beautiful well constructed home.
Small details such as this are prime examples why even homes built buy the best custom builders should have a home inspection prior to settlement, no pun intended. Another warranty inspection should be done before the one year anniversary date.
Here is a picture of a proper use of shims. This was in a 40 year old home that has no settlement issues.