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cracks in victorian house walls/ceiling
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firsttimebuyerslondon · 27/09/2020 16:36

Hi!
FTB here, avid follower of the property forums but this is my first time posting.

We are shortly due to exchange on a late 1800's victorian property and have had the usual homebuyers etc surveys carried out without much by way of red flags. We've been back recently and we've really noticed some of the cracks in the walls/ceiling.
Basically there are a few what look like hairline cracks in the walls and one crack in the ceiling that is a bit of a worry. There's also a crack in the kitchen which looks like it has been painted over but you can just about see it.
Photos here:
pasteboard.co/Jt2oC7D.png
pasteboard.co/Jt2oQiv.png
pasteboard.co/Jt2p7aE.png (this is the ceiling one!)
pasteboard.co/Jt2ppLo.png (hard to see as it has been painted over)

Do any of these look fairly normal? I'm wondering what to say to the sellers/surveyor about it... I can't work out if we saw them the first time but assumed they were fine...

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Trufflepuffpuff · 27/09/2020 16:43

Oh interesting OP, we own a Victorian property and we've had quite a few of these cracks appear lately - I think they're just the plaster in the ceiling/walls cracking with temperature changes and movement, so am trying not to worry about them. I think they are just cosmetic but would like to know what others think. The only one that does look a bit concerning to me is the ceiling one - it looks a bit bigger and possibly a bit bowed. Did your surveyor not comment on them?

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MikeUniformMike · 27/09/2020 16:43

Get a full survey. The ceiling one doesn't look good.

The other cracks suggest movement. Is it mid-terrace or end-of terrace?

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DespairingHomeowner · 27/09/2020 22:23

I cannot open your links unfortunately, but just to say hairline cracks on a Victorian property are normal/nothing to worry about. My builder says “it’s when you can fit coins in the cracks you should worry”

Like Trufflepuff, I’ve had a lot of hairline cracks appear in last 3-4 months as have my neighbours: due to temperature changes this summer

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Lightsabre · 27/09/2020 22:28

Don't exchange. On an old property you should always get a full structural survey.

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PickAChew · 27/09/2020 22:34

Get a full survey.

We have some big cracks in our 1930s house. Most of them appeared after getting our roof tiles replaced, though. An awful lot of sighing going on there as weight is removed then replaced.

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firsttimebuyerslondon · 27/09/2020 23:30

@MikeUniformMike

Get a full survey. The ceiling one doesn't look good.

The other cracks suggest movement. Is it mid-terrace or end-of terrace?

end-of terrace!
Thanks all- will see what I can do about a structural survey!
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wtftodo · 28/09/2020 00:21

I live in a late 1800s Victorian house and the hairline ones are fine, particularly from door frames / windows etc - v common. Hard to tell from photo but the ceiling one to me looks like it might have been plaster boarded and the crack is in a join? Can’t q tell but we also have one plaster boarded ceiling with week spots.

We had some other cracks which alarmed me but I had a structural engineer and a structural surveyor look and they weren’t worried. What did your surveyor say?

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chukwe · 28/09/2020 00:51

@DespairingHomeowner

I cannot open your links unfortunately, but just to say hairline cracks on a Victorian property are normal/nothing to worry about. My builder says “it’s when you can fit coins in the cracks you should worry”

Like Trufflepuff, I’ve had a lot of hairline cracks appear in last 3-4 months as have my neighbours: due to temperature changes this summer

What's the difference b/w temperatures changes this year and previous years?
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Trufflepuffpuff · 28/09/2020 06:55

Aren't temperatures getting more extreme and variable? Could be a reason it's worse this year.

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pilates · 28/09/2020 07:01

Can you go back to your surveyor who carried out the home buyers report for some advice? I would investigate further before exchange.

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Straven123 · 28/09/2020 07:20

If you have clay soil then the long dry spring might have encouraged some cracks but the ceiling one looks like it has discolouring beside it so could it be a water leak? The wall one above the door looks like it happened recently or if in the past would have been painted over at some point. Better get a survey. We had to get a structural engineer's report before selling once.

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Tadpolesandfroglets · 28/09/2020 07:24

It’s an old house. Old houses move and sigh. Completely normal. Happens all the time in our house. If they get wider, then that’s a problem.

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cantarina · 28/09/2020 07:31

A full structural survey will put your mind at rest.

Having lived in old properties a lot, cracks are usually par for the course.

I had a nasty crack in the exterior render, it was picked up by the survey when remortgaging, the homebuyers report should pick up things that are or look structural. Mine was easily sorted in the end although I feared the house was going to fall down at any minute!

I would still get a full survey in your shoes though.

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Herja · 28/09/2020 07:39

How tall is the building? The georgian building I lived in was covered with cracks; it was 7 floors inc attics and built to move slightly with the wind. If it had been decorated in a georgian fashion, it wouldn't have cracked, but modern plaster is not made for moving gently in high winds... You could feel it move on a windy night on the top floors, like being on a boat. Completely sound and safe grade 1 listed building.

Most look fine, but the ceiling one looks a bit dodgy. My current house is the same age - any original plaster (or just pre 70s tbh) has cracks like the door one. Never buy an old house without a very good survey though! They can cost obscene amounts to fix, especially if the building is listed in any way.

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DespairingHomeowner · 28/09/2020 07:48

Replying to earlier question: it was the unusually long spell of hot dry weather (on clay soil)

In other hot spells I’ve known wooden doors to get misaligned in some of my neighbours houses - due to temperature related movement

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TheTurn0fTheScrew · 28/09/2020 07:56

we get a bit of internal plaster cracking with seasonal movement in our Victorian house. we found the largest number popped up after the long dry summer in 2018. No external cracking whatsoever though, which IMO is more worrying.

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whatsthecomingoverthehill · 28/09/2020 10:36

The cracks in the walls don't look serious. The one in the ceiling I would guess is the plaster failing rather than a structural issue - but it's still not pleasant to have a big slab of plaster fall on top of you!

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MikeUniformMike · 28/09/2020 10:47

@firsttimebuyerslondon, get a full structural survey.
As it is end-of-terrace, there may be issues with the end wall.

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Mutunus · 28/09/2020 11:38

Certainly get the ceiling checked. It may be the plaster is about to drop Has there been water leak from above?

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Whateveryouwant1 · 28/09/2020 14:53

I'd get the one in the kitchen looked at. Seems it was big enough to be filled and then painted.

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firsttimebuyerslondon · 29/09/2020 13:27

Thanks all! I've gone back to the surveyor to ask for more information. They did note that the lath and plaster was coming to the end of its life in the ceiling so that might have something to do with it...

@Herja it is only two storeys- ground and first floor.

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