Cracks in walls

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nzfoodie
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Cracks in walls

Postby nzfoodie » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:00 am

Hi we are new to the forum. Not too sure if this is the correct place to ask, but we are looking at buying a country house in Andalucia which is 12 years old and has developed a few cracks (mostly horizontal and mostly internal) in the last 5 years. An architect has said that it looks as if it is due to settlement of the soil. Any comments by builders out there? Obviously we will get a building report before going ahead but just interested in peoples opinions on this kind of property in the area as we are new to it all and definitely not in the building trade. Appreciate any advice. Cheers

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country boy
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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby country boy » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:43 am

A 12 year old house in this part of Spain will normally have only single leaf walls, generally made with cellular blocks. It is quite common to get hair line cracks along the mortar joints due to drying out and different expansion/contraction coefficients. The key word here is "Hair-Line" . Do they follow a mortar course? This is easy to spot normally as the distances between cracks and the area of no cracks always will be roughly symmetrical. Was the house professionally ( if you can use such a term in Andalucia ;-) ) built with all the certificates properly signed and stamped?

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peteroldracer
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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby peteroldracer » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:44 am

I thought the vast majority of houses built this century were on substantial concrete "platforms" under earthquake resisting rules? If so, the whole structure could settle, but individual walls should not.with good foundations there should be only minor surface cracking of the render/plaster.
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Beachcomber
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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby Beachcomber » Fri Sep 22, 2017 12:02 pm

Before going to the expense of a survey check out the paperwork very thoroughly. Any rural property built in Andalucía since 2002 is almost certainly illegal and is very likely to have been registered, if it has been registered at all, as some kind of shed or warehouse rather than a dwelling. Ask for the original building license and a certificate of first occupation and if these are not available walk away regardless of what any estate agent, lawyer, architect or any other local know-all toe-rag tries to tell you.

You may be told that it has been 'legalised' by way of a certificate of antiquity or a splendid looking and very expensive but ultimately meaningless document known as an AFO. The issue of such a document merely 'regularises' the property and in reality all it does is consolidate its illegality. Do not believe anything anyone tells you. If you cannot read the paperwork for yourself get it translated by an experienced, professional, independent translator so that you can

If, by some miracle, the paperwork does check out you can turn your attention to the building. If it has been built properly it should not be subject to the cracking you describe. My house was built over twenty years ago with proper cavity walls (not just air-bricks) and has no such cracks. It is built on a reinforced concrete raft more than a meter thick and has six reinforced concrete pillars (one on each corner and one on either side in the middle) with huge feet planted into the ground. In fact, the foundations accounted for a half of the total cost of building the property. Anything less than this and the movement of the ground will very likely cause the cracks you describe.

Luckily I had contracted a well-respected builder who was more interested in maintaining his excellent reputation than than ripping off unsuspecting foreigners which seems the be the primary source of income in Andalucía and when I questioned the apparently excessive cost of the foundations he politely but forcefully invited me to go elsewhere and find one of the many builders who would offer me a jerry-built house at half the cost. Looking around at other properties in my locality that have been built in exactly that way I am glad I stuck with him.

Finally, the advice 'Do not purchase a property in Spain unless you can afford to lose all of the money' is as relevant now as it has ever been, perhaps even more so.

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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby El Cid » Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:37 pm

All buildings of that age or later should have had the special 10 insurance. That is only available at vast expense by having a full geoseismic survey of the land. Approval of the foundations and other stages of the build checked by an independent civil engineering firm. All the concrete and steel has to have regular samples tested. Without all that the insurance would not be available.

Although the insurance would by now be out of date, the mere fact that the house was built to that standard would indicate that it was properly built.

I can remember when we were building our house, the sight of a fleet of cement lorries parked outside when the foundations were due to be filled - it took 9 loads in total. After being here for 15 years there is not a single crack in any wall, inside or outside.

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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby ajtg1952 » Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:00 pm

To correct Beechcomber first, it is a DAFO.
My campo house is 16 years old and legal, even though built on rural land. It is very poorly built, but I like it's location. The foundations are very questionable. No metre thick concrete here.

It has many cracks. The house is concrete column and beam framework with hollow block infill single skin. I can see almost every beam and column location. Horizontal and vertical cracks are nearly always caused by temperature effects, shrinkage and expansion. Diagonal and angled cracks are more likely to result for ground movements, i.e. settlement. Look for them around door and window openings. If they are hairline then I wouldn't be concerned.
Incidentally, I'm a retired fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers, so I have spent a lot of time investigating settlement problems. I just don't worry about it.

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country boy
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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby country boy » Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:18 pm

El Cid wrote: After being here for 15 years there is not a single crack in any wall, inside or outside.

Sid


All I can say is " GOSH!" :lolno:

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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby Beachcomber » Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:34 pm

ajtg1952, I do not need to be corrected, thank you. It is equally correct to refer to this document as an AFO as it is a DAFO, or a SAFO . The word 'Declaración' in front of it is equally as redundant as the document itself is useless and if you really want to be that pedantic it is now referred to as a RAFO (reconocimiento de asimilado fuera de ordenación). Whatever it is called, nothing can make it any more valid.

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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby ajtg1952 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:25 am

Point taken Beachcomber. I got mine yesterday. 42 pages in glorious technicolour and €8,500 for the pleasure. That included our architects fees. With regard to it's usefulness, I wholly agree but when a buyers lawyer demands it there is not a lot of room for manoeuvre.

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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby Lyric » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:29 am

I've heard of somebody local being asked 17,000€ for one, at that my attitude would be you want it you pay for it, if that is no sale so be it.

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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby Wicksey » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:33 am

peteroldracer wrote:I thought the vast majority of houses built this century were on substantial concrete "platforms" under earthquake resisting rules? If so, the whole structure could settle, but individual walls should not.with good foundations there should be only minor surface cracking of the render/plaster.


I have seen many, many campo houses built and nearly all did not meet any sort of building regs requirements. Some were built by a few Moroccan looking men that were housed in the shell whilst they were building it and I don't think they were master craftsmen! We used to go and inspect the work when a house was being built built near us and there was only often a thin base of concrete with a bit of steel thrown in and the brickwork was very higgly piggly with gaps between them. Window openings often had no lintel and we have seen windows put into a raggy opening and then infilled with cement bags and luchtime sardine tins ... i kid you not! Of course once the house has had a lovely skim of plaster it looked wonderful.

We had watched a machine level an area of hillside over a week or so and the next day a thin base of concrete was laid as a foundation. The very next day the local lads were up laying bricks on it. I have lived in a rental house that literally was falling down around us which I would not wish on anyone. It has since had to be partially demolished but when the cracks got so big that you could see the garden through them, and the floor so distorted that you could not open the doors, then we moved out. There are cracks, and then there are cracks .... if they are small thin settling lines which we have in our current home, then I don't think they are anything to worry about.

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Wicksey
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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby Wicksey » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:53 am

Lyric wrote:I've heard of somebody local being asked 17,000€ for one, at that my attitude would be you want it you pay for it, if that is no sale so be it.


I agree. Friends recently sold and had to have a septic tank installed to get the DAFO but I think they said the total cost for everything was about 5,000€. I can't see how we could even install a new septic tank here unless we reroute all the drains to the drive side of the house. Our pozo negro works just fine so I have no intention of changing it. I do know of a couple of people who have sold campo houses and they weren't asked for the DAFO at all, so not everyone insists on it.

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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby Trooperman » Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:14 pm

I do know of a couple of people who have sold campo houses and they weren't asked for the DAFO at all, so not everyone insists on it.


If it's of any interest, I sold my campo house and had a clause inserted in the contract that a DAFO was not necessary for completion. That was done because the buyer knew I had applied for one, but that the wheels of the Town Hall and Junta were revolving at a glacial pace and the issue of one was always going to be after completion, if at all. Of even more interest is the fact that the buyer was a Spanish lawyer. Nothing's come back to bite me ....yet.
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nzfoodie
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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby nzfoodie » Sun Sep 24, 2017 4:37 am

Thanks for all your feedback, it has definitely helped us. The property is registed as a dwelling on the nota simple and seems to have had the special 10 insurance which is also mentioned on the nota simple as far as we can see. But we are still worried about the cracks internally - they run from the corner to the base of the windowsill and are mostly prominent in the bedrooms, along one side of the house, and some would not be described at all as hair-line, a lot bigger. There are some smaller on the exterior which only seem to have appeared in the last 5 years (google earth has 2012 photographs which don't show anything). The house has been vacant for at least the last 12 months and possibly longer. We may be none the wiser re going ahead and purchasing it but we are a lot more knowledgable about Andalucian buildings so thanks very much!

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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby chrissiehope » Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:25 pm

I'm not a surveyor (but late hubby was & I picked up knowledge over the years ;-) ), but those diagonal cracks sound like potential major problems to me, indicating subsidence. If you are really interested in this property, I would recommend you get a professional to look at it. There are UK qualified surveyors in Spain :

http://www.rics.org/uk/about-rics/where ... -in-spain/

http://charteredsurveyorsinspain.com/

they may be able to help clarify the situation
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country boy
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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby country boy » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:16 pm

nzfoodie wrote:Thanks for all your feedback, it has definitely helped us. The property is registed as a dwelling on the nota simple and seems to have had the special 10 insurance which is also mentioned on the nota simple as far as we can see. But we are still worried about the cracks internally - they run from the corner to the base of the windowsill and are mostly prominent in the bedrooms, along one side of the house, and some would not be described at all as hair-line, a lot bigger. There are some smaller on the exterior which only seem to have appeared in the last 5 years (google earth has 2012 photographs which don't show anything). The house has been vacant for at least the last 12 months and possibly longer. We may be none the wiser re going ahead and purchasing it but we are a lot more knowledgable about Andalucian buildings so thanks very much!


Walk away Dude! There are many more country houses in Spain...this one sounds wrong!

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peteroldracer
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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby peteroldracer » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:23 pm

The saddest people are those that cannot laugh at themselves

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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby mijasdavid » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:34 pm

Peteroldracer

Very amusing, but good advice.



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nzfoodie
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Re: Cracks in walls

Postby nzfoodie » Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:40 am

Love it. Walk on by.......that's what we're doing. Have just had word from the owner that the cracks are due to the foundations but that they put up a retaining wall/fence around the entire section to supposedly stop this happening again. ???????

Thanks chrissyhope for survey spain recommendation, we have dealt with them in the past and they are great.


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