Crack in wall - time to worry?

We're about to have a window replaced by patio doors in a single story extension so I took the opportunity to investigate some cracking to the side of the window.
The crack has horizontal and vertical components and has been there a couple(?) of years. It became obvious when the wallpaper started to part. There is also a slight (~1mm?) step back in the wall surface below and to the left of the horizontal and vertical cracks that is worse at the vertical crack and fades to nothing as you move across the wall to where the horizontal crack runs out.
The horizontal crack runs along a mortar bed and the vertical one runs through three joints between blocks (top, middle and bottom courses in the first image) and through the two blocks between them.
Images at http://www.spinningweb.f9.co.uk/crack/index.htm
Anyone able to tell me how serious or otherwise the crack is and any ideas on what needs to be done?
If it's of any consequence, I do know that the wall plate on which the roof joists rest is on the outer leaf of the wall.
TIA
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Frank
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F wrote:

Is the crack on the outside leaf at all, i.e. can you see it from the outside ? A photo of the outside may be useful. Cheers, Simon.
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On 27/09/2006 11:47 sm_jamieson wrote:

I can't see the 'same' crack on the outside leaf. There are a few bricks with vertical cracks, a few cracks along mortar beds and a few that involve both a brick and mortar, but nothing to match with inside.

I've uploaded a couple of images to http://www.spinningweb.f9.co.uk/crack/index.htm to show some of the typical cracks.
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Frak, admit it. You know you're going to have to call in a structural engineer or surveyor. As a complete layman, that doesn't look good.
Paul

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Make sure you're insured first!
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As someone who has had two lots of remedial work on their house due to movement in the last 10 years, I'd consider *very* carefully before calling in the insurers. Consider the following, from my experience;
- You will never be able to change buildings or contents insurers easily again. The first question they ask is "have you had a subsidence claim" and if the answer is "yes", their answer is "no"!
- There will be issues when you come to sell. I haven't reached this point yet, but believe me, there will be.
- You will have to fight, scream and threaten legal action to get the remedial work done to an acceptable standard. I ended up getting GBP7K worth of remedial work done to the remedial work...
- I could have done what the builders did, quicker, easier and cheaper(*). If the house isn't actually falling down, do it yourself. Get a surveyor to come and look, and if he says the cracks are cosmetic (and unless you can get a little finger into them, they likely are) then *don't* tell your insurers and fix them yourself.
(* Oh, I forgot. And better, too. The standard of workmanship once the insurers had subbed out the work three layers down was *atrocious*.)
--
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... and what is concerning is that this is advice from a very sensible person who, like myself, won't put up with bollocks from insurance companies, "the professions" and others who would seek to walk away from their responsibilities.
Very clearly it should be heeded.
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Andy Hall wrote:

I took a case to The Ombudsman a few years back and *sort of* won. What emerged though was that an insurance company has the right to change its mind after agreeing that they will cover the cost of the work. In my case it turned out to exceed the authorisation limit for the local inspector, so the case was passed to the heavy mob (loss adjusters) who rejected the claim. I was compensated for the "inconvenience caused" but the insurance co were found to be "not at fault".
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On 27 Sep 2006 15:50:37 GMT, Huge wrote:

<AOL>
Not on the subject of movement, but on the subject of insurer subbing out work.
A few years ago a storm tore off tiles from the gable end of the house, making "quite a big" hole. The insurers, who were happy to charge inflated premiums for a listed building, undertook the repairs rather than allowing me to get in the local builder who does a good job, and has a yard full of matching clay tiles. Their builder put up non-matching tiles and didn't even randomise them, so we have a huge, obvious diagonal patch of the incorrect colour. LBO initially raised shit, we asked her to contact the insurers because I was exhausted with arguing with them. She gave up as well, so they can stay there until they change colour. ICBA to spend a thousand or so changing them.
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Ah, yes. Tiles. A few years ago, a storm tore off tiles from the gable end of the house, making "quite a big" hole. The insurers, who were happy to collect the premiums, undertook the repairs rather than allowing me to get in the local builder who does a good job. After a couple of weeks of water coming in, a couple of thugs turned up and slapped some new tiles on, got my wife to sign something and f*cked off. What she didn't notice was that they'd broken some guttering at the same time and bodged up a repair in the hope we wouldn't notice. Since it leaked quite badly and in an obvious place, it was a misplaced hope.
I ended up mending it myself.
--
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On 27 Sep 2006 19:27:28 GMT, Huge wrote:

There ought to be some law permitting one to take a gun loaded for bear and go hunting in the offices of insurers. I bet they have a law like that in Montana already.
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On 27/09/2006 16:50 Huge wrote:

I had come to the same conclusion and won't be doing that for the very reasons you went on to quote.
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F wrote:

Indeed. I regard insurance as essentially there to cover total loss from fire and flood, and theft.
Go for a BIG excess and fix the trivial stuff yourself - yeah even unto 15 grands worth of underpinning. Regard the interest on the excess mortgage you need to cover it as another way of paying 'insurance'.
What people don;t realise is that claiming small stuff 'on the insurance' simply leads to higher premiums. AND the bureaucracy involved means its always more expensive to deal through the insurance company than do it direct.
In short only insure what you cannot afford to pay for yourself.
In this case get some structural engineers in, and chances are they will tell you that you need to cut a tree down and possibly underpin a few meters of foundation.
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In uk.d-i-y, The Natural Philosopher wrote:

Dead right. Everyone here appreciates that it's often better to do things yourself than to pay somebody else to do them for you.
So, wherever possible and legal, do your own *insurance*. Use insurance companies for catastrophes and legal requirements only.
--
Mike Barnes

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Huge wrote:

Sadly true.

You could get lucky, as I did. Buyer didn't ask, so I didn't say anything.
:-o
(Got clobbered in other ways, so sleep soundly even so.)
--
"Never use a preposition to end a sentence with."


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He says it's in an extension, and also that the crack's been there a couple of years ... isn't it really just settlement?
John
(owner of a 2-floor extension, with cracks).
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wrote:

I'd want to put crack monitors along the cracks to determine if there's still momement over a period of some months.
This kind of think: http://www.yorksurvey.co.uk/products/prods2/crack/monitors.htm
That's one of the first things a surveyor would do anyway.
If there is still movement occouring, I'd be wanting proffesional advice. If it seems stable, I'd probably make good and hope for the best.
--
Ron



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On 27/09/2006 16:42 John wrote:

Extension is 20+ years old and Management tells me that the crack has been there for much longer than two years. Doesn't time fly!
There's nothing to match on the outer leaf and, from memory, the foundations were at least two feet deep and had reached clay and rocks: the area is one in which glacial terminal moraine is found.
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F wrote:

Clay is not good. Its very prone to long term movements as the water table comes and goes. Also tree roots cam locally shrink it causing local problems.
I am on terminal moraine clay here. They made me go down 8 feet in one area that was close to ash and maple trees. AND line the footings with either loose backfill or polystyrene sheets to absorb 'heave'
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John wrote:

Or heave :-)
Anything except 'subsidence' m'lud.

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