Now while “stretch marks” may not be a topic anyone wants to talk about or SEE, this is about a different kind of stretch marks and how we can actually learn something useful from them.
You may be thinking this is a bit of a “stretch,” but I am serious. I did in fact use stretch marks to diagnose settlement—-and not any of the kinds of settlement you might be thinking of.
In this case the front porch on the house was settling. It is a condition that is quite common with older homes—and even improperly constructed newer homes. Entryway structures are often installed over inadequately compacted ground, and over time they settle.
The question I usually get is, “Is it going to get worse?” Often times there are already many different vintages of patches where people have tried to keep a crevasse from developing between the structure and the house. It can get so bad that the whole structure has to be rebuilt.
As you can see in this picture the Stretch Marks in this heavy coating applied over the wood deck structure graphically shows how there has been some settlement of the supports under this deck since the paint was installed. So in this case the settlement is ongoing and will have to be taken into account when repairs are made.
Believe it or not, the gap at the left of the brick was not always there. Over the years the brick support structure has settled and pulled away from the house. In this case the entire walking surface on top of the brick structure had been rebuilt to compensate for the crevasse that would otherwise exist at the doorway.
The stretch marks tell us that this settlement is continuing and a new crevasse will be forming.
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
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