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Old 01-18-2010, 09:29 AM   #1
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


Our house is 3.5 years old, it was brand new when we bought it. All through out the 2nd floor (it's a 2 story house) the wall sheetrock has separated from the ceiling. Also we have a large crack in one wall that has been fixed twice all ready and it's cracked again. So far there are 3 doors in different parts of the house now that will not shut all the way and lock. You can see where the frame is no longer level.

From what I'm finding on the web, this is due to "Truss Uplift". Centex homes has a 10 year structual warrenty but would this be considered a structual problem or a cosmetic problem. We think that it's structual but need to know for sure before we turn in a warrenty request. I'm pretty sure, from past experience, that we will have to fight to get this covered under the warrenty if it is indeed a structual problem.

DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THIS PROBLEM IS CONSIDERED A "STRUCTUAL" PROBLEM????

Any help with answers would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:38 AM   #2
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


Where are you?

Immediate reaction is that someone skimped on drywall nails or screws?


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Old 01-18-2010, 09:54 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
Where are you?

Immediate reaction is that someone skimped on drywall nails or screws?
Or used too many where they should not have. Truss Uplift is a common occurrence, and it is countered by the judicious use of limited ceiling fastening near where walls intersect with the lid. Also (although often overlooked and ignored) the installation of special clips is sometimes called for (although not legally mandated) in those locations. (Google "Truss Uplift Clips") What this means is... good installers do it, cheap ones don't. And both are legally covered. Oddly enough, the guy who does use clips can sometimes get in trouble if they are not specified in the plans. Go figure!

Basically how these work is this:

With the use of the clips, the edges of the ceiling lids are firmly positioned along the walls. Fasteners ARE NOT installed in the ceiling drywall up close to the walls. (Don't hold me to this, but I think it's about seven inches (single fastener) to a foot (double fastenter) back that you are NOT to fasten.) What this does is allow the ceiling drywall to flex a little at the edges along the walls as the trusses rise and fall from Truss Uplift....... and Truss Uplift WILL happen. You can't stop it, but you CAN control its effect on the finish of your home.

Just a guess, but I would say this is may be a warranty issue involving unworkmanlike installation. But as I mentioned above, it also may NOT be. Your builder is legal UNLESS it was specified in your plans or specifications that clips were to be used.

This is why we all need to research, read everything, insist on the higher alternatives, and shop by builder reputation.
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Old 01-18-2010, 10:33 AM   #4
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


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Where are you?

Immediate reaction is that someone skimped on drywall nails or screws?

We live in Midlothian, VA.....right outside of Richmond
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Old 01-18-2010, 10:44 AM   #5
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


Now, on another point.

Truss Uplift should only affect your edge cracking. Unless the walls were improperly fastened to the trusses, the door shutting should not have been affected by Truss Uplift.

Walls are to be flexibly fastened to the trusses (The fasteners slide up and down a little.) so that the wall will remain firmly anchored down to the floor when the trusses move up or down. (Basement walls work diferently, but we aren't discussing that here.)

Nor are the walls supposed to be wedged up tight under the trusses when they are installed. This is a serious structural no-no.

On these two points, you may have some grounds for poor workmanship.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:12 AM   #6
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


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Originally Posted by Willie T View Post
Now, on another point.

Truss Uplift should only affect your edge cracking. Unless the walls were improperly fastened to the trusses, the door shutting should not have been affected by Truss Uplift.

Walls are to be flexibly fastened to the trusses (The fasteners slide up and down a little.) so that the wall will remain firmly anchored down to the floor when the trusses move up or down. (Basement walls work diferently, but we aren't discussing that here.)

Nor are the walls supposed to be wedged up tight under the trusses when they are installed. This is a serious structural no-no.

On these two points, you may have some grounds for poor workmanship.
As far as the doors go, they were not off level when we moved into this house. I would think that a house this new would not have a problem with off-level doors unless there is a structual problem. We don't believe that this is a settling problem as there are no cracks in the foundation.

We've noticed over a period of time that the separation at the ceiling has gotten worse and now there are doors that don't shut and lock. This is not the only problem. There is a fairly large diaginal crack in the master wall and also has cracked on the master bath wall in the same place. This has been fixed 2x's by the builder, once with wire mesh (they stated at the time that it was cosmetic), and it has cracked again. They have also 'fixed' the door frame in the master bath which has lifted off the floor. Of course they 'fixed' it using caulk and that has now lifted further off the floor...Gezzzzzz. Every day I'm more and more convenced that we paid $365K for really crappy workmanship.

I know from dealing with the builder in the past, this will be a fight to get them to cover this under the warrenty. I just want to have my ducks in a row before I contact them so that I have some ammo when they start the "this is a cosmetic problem and not covered" line that I know they're going to use....
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:21 AM   #7
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


Truss uplift is a complex phenomenom that is apparently related to differential moisture content in the top and bottom chords of a truss. The reason most often cited is that the bottom chord is warm and dry in the attic since it is buried under insulation, while the top chord is cold and moist. The difference in moisture content is alleged to result in uplift of the center of the bottom chord, which results in cracking of the wallboard along the ceiling.

That said, it is not at all clear to me that your problem is truss uplift. From the description, you have issues not just with cracking of the wallboard near the ceiling, but you have doors that do not open, you claim that the framing is no longer level, and there is at least one wall crack that has been repaired. These symptoms would also be consistent with foundation settlement.

In order to determine the actual cause of the problem, you may wish to hire a structural engineer to perform a detailed survey of the house, and prepare a report on the cause (and recommended solutions) for your issues. This sounds like it is beyond cosmetic issues, and is likely beyond the capability of a home inspector to diagnose.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:36 AM   #8
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


It's not that the doors don't shut, they do for now. It's that the doors no longer lock because they are no longer level and no longer hit the strike plate on the frame. Out of 9 locking doors upstaira, 3 no longer hit the strike plate so therefore do not lock. And they are on opposites sides of the house.

Do you know what a structual engineer would cost...ballpark figure that it?

Should we attempt to turn this in as a warrenty request to the builder to see if they will fix it before we put out the money for an independant structual engineer?
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:56 AM   #9
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


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As far as the doors go, they were not off level when we moved into this house. I would think that a house this new would not have a problem with off-level doors unless there is a structual problem. We don't believe that this is a settling problem as there are no cracks in the foundation.

We've noticed over a period of time that the separation at the ceiling has gotten worse and now there are doors that don't shut and lock. This is not the only problem. There is a fairly large diaginal crack in the master wall and also has cracked on the master bath wall in the same place. This has been fixed 2x's by the builder, once with wire mesh (they stated at the time that it was cosmetic), and it has cracked again. They have also 'fixed' the door frame in the master bath which has lifted off the floor. Of course they 'fixed' it using caulk and that has now lifted further off the floor...Gezzzzzz. Every day I'm more and more convenced that we paid $365K for really crappy workmanship.

I know from dealing with the builder in the past, this will be a fight to get them to cover this under the warrenty. I just want to have my ducks in a row before I contact them so that I have some ammo when they start the "this is a cosmetic problem and not covered" line that I know they're going to use....
Unfortunately, most building jurisdictions only consider exterior entry doors to be 'structural'. And that is usually only for fire code specifications. I know that's not something you want to hear, but it's the world we live in today. Although at least every door in a bearing wall SHOULD be considered structural. But they aren't, only the framing around them is. How they are hung or how they work seems to be of no concern to the inspectors.

If it's any consolation (and I know it isn't) you are experiencing nothing that is not common to most home buyers today. A very small minority of builders these days build really good homes. And most of them are exclusively in the 'custom' home market. The reason is that is the only sector in which they can afford the luxury of the time and expense required to do it all completely right.

It isn't right. It sucks. And even we builders hate it. But it has become a fact of life that not many Americans can afford to pay what it would cost to build the same kind of home you used to uniformly expect a few decades ago.

My insurance (just to be in business... not counting bonds) is $10,000 a year. My Worker's Comp insurance (additional, above General Liability) is often 200% of what a particular worker's wage is. Permits are getting higher and higher all the time. Architects and engineers gouge deeply into that 365k you paid. Excessive compliance for environmental complications are getting rediculous. More and more impact fees are levied on just about anything the government can think of to tax. A friend recently paid over $140,000 in 'traffic' impact fees for a drive-in he built. Why? Because that business would generate more tires rolling on our roadways to reach that Burger King. And it goes on and on and on. God forbid you are doing a project on the waterfront. The extra fees can reach into the millions for a moderate townhouse project.

And we don't even need to look at the tremendous rise in material costs over the past few years.

So, unfortunately, to try and keep his own house and a couple of nicer cars the average contractor begins to pare back on some of the quality. And it snowballs. A few years down the line, he's turning out a mere shadow of the houses he used to build. And if you, the consumer, cannot write a check for four or five million for a custom house, you get what's being cranked out today in the 'normal' or 'average' market.

This is certainly no excuse for poor workmanship.... but the facts are that it is often a very real reason.
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:26 PM   #10
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


By the way, while this is not in any way, shape, or form a technically approved test, you can do a quick and easy evaluation of your settlement possibilities.

If you have hard floors in the questionable areas, spilling a handful of children's marbles out on the floor will tell you a lot about their level properties.

No, it's not scientific, but it's a good, ballpark indicator.
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Old 01-18-2010, 01:12 PM   #11
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


Thank you for your honesty. My problem with this though is, as a comsumer, I don't expect 3.5 years in to have had all these problems that we have had with a brand new house. This cracking and separating is just the latest in a long list of problems that we have had and this is a national builder.

We've had to have both full bathrooms completely pulled out due to incorrect installation of the tub and showers. One bath, the tub was sinking the other there was water leaking downstairs in the ceiling from an incorrectly installed shower stall, which in turn caused the familyroom ceiling to get wet and have to be replaced. We've had to have the carpet pull up upstairs and reinstalled because it was laid wrong. The steps on the deck had to be removed and reinstalled due to an issue with how they were attached. And the list goes on and on...

I can tell you this....we will NEVER buy another new house. We will stick with houses build in the 50's/60's etc. and re-hab it as we've done in the past. You expect to have problems with those houses, but not a brand new one.

The scary part is what else is going to go wrong with this house? This house that, due to the economy is worth between $75 and $100K less than what we paid for it
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Old 01-18-2010, 02:56 PM   #12
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This may help in your understanding some comments given. Truss clips on page 41: Page 49 on settling ……
http://books.google.com/books?id=iwS...joists&f=false

More on trusses and floating corners, page 268: http://books.google.com/books?id=1fI...20ties&f=false

Be safe, Gary
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Old 01-18-2010, 02:59 PM   #13
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


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Thank you for your honesty. My problem with this though is, as a comsumer, I don't expect 3.5 years in to have had all these problems that we have had with a brand new house. This cracking and separating is just the latest in a long list of problems that we have had and this is a national builder.

We've had to have both full bathrooms completely pulled out due to incorrect installation of the tub and showers. One bath, the tub was sinking the other there was water leaking downstairs in the ceiling from an incorrectly installed shower stall, which in turn caused the familyroom ceiling to get wet and have to be replaced. We've had to have the carpet pull up upstairs and reinstalled because it was laid wrong. The steps on the deck had to be removed and reinstalled due to an issue with how they were attached. And the list goes on and on...

I can tell you this....we will NEVER buy another new house. We will stick with houses build in the 50's/60's etc. and re-hab it as we've done in the past. You expect to have problems with those houses, but not a brand new one.

The scary part is what else is going to go wrong with this house? This house that, due to the economy is worth between $75 and $100K less than what we paid for it
I can't say I blame you one bit for the way you feel. I, myself, wouldn't buy a new house today except from a handful of individuals I know personally. And sadly, buying from a nationally known company means little anymore. I was once proud to work for US Home many, many years ago. A few years back, maybe ten, I had the opportunity to drop by one of their developments for a tour. (They now go by another name.) I was so disappointed. And it wasn't just the quality (or lack of) of their crews. Their Managers and Superintendents were a total shock to me. Barely more than children who obviously had never even built a doghouse before. They knew a computer, and how to jamb a schedule so tight no one involved could possibly do quality work, but they wouldn't have recognized a wall built upside down if it stood right in front of them. Worse, they didn't seem to care if things were right or wrong... just so they got past an inspection done by a city official who had been trained to look for about seven basic requirements.

I wish I could offer you some answers... or at least some hope. That's why I hang out over here. I absolutely love to see homeowners who want to get their projects completed correctly. But I honestly have to say you will likely have to steel yourselves for a fair bit more.

Not too proud to say that I am thankful I'm able to do mostly consulting work anymore... and an occasional cabinet or floor job for free for friends. Retirement isn't great, but there are the benefits of not having to sweat the pressure any longer.

P.S. Gary, who just answered you about the clips, is one of the few I would trust with my own work these days.
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:10 PM   #14
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Regardless of the difficulty earning a profit in building houses in the current market, it still does not seem outrageous to expect a new house to meet code and have no structural, electrical or plumbing defects. Maybe it is out of the question, in which case I totally agree, I would never buy a new home if I believed that it was to be expected that within a few years there would be significant plumbing, electrical, framing or foundation issues.

That said, if you want to hire a structural engineer to evaluate the root cause of the cracking, I imagine it would cost somewhere north of $500. Least that is what it would cost around here. If you can work it out with the builder to have them repair the problem, that would seem to be reasonable, however if their position is that the problems are only cosmetic, and you want an independent opinion, the structural engineer would be the way to go. By the way, make sure they are licensed in your jurisdiction to perform structural engineering before you hire them, and make sure you understand exactly what you are getting (oral report, written report, deposition, court time etc.).
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:56 PM   #15
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Sheetrock separation at the ceiling


Daniel is quite right in what he says should be reasonable expectations. Unfortunately, not everyone's ethics rise to, or remain at, the reasonable level. That's kind of the trouble with 'ethics'. They are situationally adjustable.

Let me give you a for instance, one that is encountered every single day in the now rushed construction world:

Concrete. In all its applications.

Starting at the foundation, three factors often fall victim to the headlong dash to beat the clock.

One, the footing is seldom properly excavated and prepared because to do so takes extra time. I can't remember the last time I saw a compacting machine run in a footer ditch. It still happens, I'm sure. I just seem to miss it when it does.

And secondly, many concrete placing crews slop up the mix so it will pour and level out faster and easier. This weakens the final concrete setting cure. Weakens your foundation.

The third? This happens at every single stage of concrete work, bar none. The necessary cure time is totally ignored... as though it didn't exist.
Footings get blocks or bricks laid on them within a few short days of being poured.
Slabs are being built upon, many times, the very next day after pouring. At best, seldom longer than a weekend goes by prior to starting the walls.

The reinforcing metal (a couple of different types) is in that concrete for a reason. And its location in the final setting is important. Many crews, although they know this full well, don't seem to think it really matters much. So, this too gets ignored. I cannot tell you the number of failed slabs I've been hired to remove where I found a good third of the reinforcing wire mesh (and sometimes the rebar, too) actually hanging outside the bottom of the concrete where it had been walked down into the dirt by the placement crews.

And just a couple of other masonry related items. Unless it happens to rain the night before, blocks don't receive any misting to ensure a correct moisture content for strong and effective installation bonding. Even if it's 96 degrees out, the blocks are just grabbed up and laid in the wall.

Interior strengthening runs of a wire ladder (Durawall) are required between block courses. Sometimes they get in, sometimes they don't. Corner ties (same idea) are seldom, if ever, used around here.

Even the interlacing of blockwork at a "T" intersection is often ignored or perhaps tied-in at only two or three courses.

Stucco. It bleeds lime for a while, and needs to be 'seasoned' before applying paint. This is usually achieved by the passing of time. Or at least by fully soaking the stucco wall with water, letting it completely dry between soakings, no less than three times. Think anyone does this anymore?

Think they do any of these things anymore?

Not often.

And why not? Usually one or all of three reasons. It isn't required by code (the great escape clause) and it just takes too long. Or it costs too much.

The list is long and staggering. Dozens and dozens of very detrimental shortcuts have become standard construction procedure today. And many of the workers and their supervisors honestly don't know any better.

It really is sad to say, but that's just the reality of house building today. It takes time and money to do it right. And neither is there to spare today in the mid-priced range.

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