Common Structural Defects and How to Spot Them

Common Structural Defects and How to Spot Them

Structural defects within a property can be a sign of poor construction, general wear and tear or poor design. Some of the most common signs which are a little easier to spot are cracks on the walls, water stains, and loose plaster, but all of these can affect the value of your property if you are ever looking to sell. This is why it is essential to inspect your home regularly and try and spot these issues as early as possible before they turn into something worse.

We have taken a look at some of the most common structural defects which can be found in your home, as well as those to look out for when you are looking to purchase a new home.


There are a number of things which can cause cracks in the wall, and it can often be hard to know what the problem is. Changes in moisture levels and temperature can cause expansion and shrinkage of the masonry which can cause cracks to appear in the walls. Although minor cracks are usually harmless, you should monitor them as, if a hairline crack widens over time this could be a sign of a more significant problem.

If you discover multiple cracks in a number of rooms in your property or the one you are viewing, this could be an indication of a major structural problem, and you should seek the advice of a professional.


Plumbing problems in homes can be due to numerous factors and can take homeowners by surprise as they are often hidden from sight. Some of the most common reasons for plumbing issues are when a plumbing system is old, incompatible materials have been used, or there are defective or poorly installed waste lines and fixtures. If the pipework has been incorrectly installed, this can lead to the drains being clogged, backing up or potentially leaking. Unfortunately, if left unresolved, this can lead to contamination, damp and mould, and if allowed to continue for longer periods of time can even be the cause of structural damage such as subsidence. If you believe that your home has been affected by any water damage, you should always seek the advice of a professional who will be able to let you know the extent of the damage and how to fix it.

Weak Foundations

The foundation of every building and structure is critical to its structural stability, so if they have been poorly constructed or damaged there can be significant consequences. Some of the most common signs of sub-structure issues are having problems closing windows and doors, cracking to walls and ceilings, and uneven or sagging floors.

If you spot any of the signs above, it is essential that you seek the advice of a professional who will be able to let you know the root of the problem as well as advise you on the best course of action to resolve it.

Roof Timber

The majority of properties use timber in their construction, and while this can usually last for years, the timber can sometimes decay when not looked after properly. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of problems associated with wood which includes wet rot and dry rot. Wet rot is timber that is decaying naturally due to high moisture levels. This weakens the timber and causing the wood to go spongey and can look darker in colour.

Dry rot is a very serious problem, as it is a fungus which can rapidly destroy any timber in its path and thrives under unventilated conditions. You can often spot dry rot due to its cotton wool like appearance on the surface of timber and masonry.

If you notice any of the above defects in your property or one you are looking to buy, you should seek the advice of a structural engineer. Here at Martin Perry Associates, we will be able to provide you with a detailed report which will include a full description of our findings and recommendations on how to proceed. So, if you are seeking a structural engineer in Devon, Cornwall or the surrounding area, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 01579 345 777.

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