Everyone is familiar with cracked walls and ceilings. Sometimes the reasons for the cracks are evident to everyone, but at others the reasons are not so plain to be seen. Sometimes the materials used are thought to be at fault when the real underlying cause of failure is that good materials have been used too sparingly or in a wrong manner. The best materials in the world, used without taking into consideration the limits of their strength, or not put together after ways that have been tried and proven, will not give complete satisfaction.
It is unfortunately true that thousands of small homes have been built and are being built which in a comparatively short time will deteriorate outrageously. It is a waste of money to use good materials in an unwise way. The jerry builder who puts these materials together so that they do not stay put is really either making you the victim of his ignorance or else at your expense is indulging in a form of legalized robbery.
Following are some of the reasons why walls and ceilings crack:
Building a house on a fill.
Failure to make the footings wide enough.
Failure to carry the footings below the frost line.
Width of footings not made proportional to the loads they carry.
The posts in the basement not provided with separate footings.
Failure to provide a base raised above the basement floor line for the setting of wooden posts.
Not enough cement used in the concrete.
Dirty sand or gravel used in the concrete.
Failure to protect beams and sills from rotting through dampness.
Setting floor joists one end on masonry and the other on wood.
Wooden beams used to support masonry over openings.
Mortar, plaster, or concrete work allowed to freeze before setting.
Braces omitted in wooden walls.
Sheathing omitted in wooden walls (excepting in "back plastered" construction).
1 In Small Home, October, 1925.
Drainage water from roof not carried away from foundations.
Floor joists too light.
Floor joists not bridged.
Supporting posts too small.
Cross-beams too light.
Wooden walls not framed so as to equalize shrinkage.
Poor materials used in plaster.
Plaster applied too thin.
Lath placed too close together.
Lath run behind studs at corners.
Metal reenforcement omitted in plaster at corners.
Metal reenforcement omitted where wooden walls join masonry.
Metal lath omitted on wide expanses of ceiling.
Plaster applied directly on masonry at chimney stack.
Plaster applied on lath that are too dry.
Too much cement in the stucco.
Stucco not kept wet until set.
Subsoil drainage not carried away from walls.
First coat of plaster not properly keyed to backing.
Floor joists placed too far apart.
Wood beams spanned too long between posts.
Failure to use double joists under unsupported partitions.
Too few nails used.
Rafters too light or too far apart.
Failure to erect trusses over wide, wooden openings.
You will see that most of the causes of cracks are based on an improper use of materials. The home builder not being an expert may wisely question whether he can expect to avoid these consequences.
There are only two ways to do this. One is to employ a high-grade contractor who has a reputation for honest and intelligent dealings. The other is to employ an architect to conserve your interests. The combination of the two - good contractor and supervising architect - are a guarantee that you will get your money's worth and that your home will cost less in the long run.