Modular Home drywall cracks - typical?

2ajsmamaFebruary 20, 2009

Hi, I don't know whether this is the right forum or I should post on Building forum. We had a modular set summer 2007. Reputable company, been in business 25 years, set crew came from factory. 2x6 exterior walls. I hired one of the best concrete guys around for foundation, the foundation has no cracks. But from day 1 we have had cracks that kept coming back along seams in kitchen ceiling, even after repeated patching. After a few months we had cracks in every ceiling in the house except the mudroom (even the half bath and WIC!), downstairs was the worst. We also had a lot of cracks over/under windows. Our builder/dealer cut out some drywall under windows and floated sheetrock over high/low studs, that helped. After a protracted debate with factory and testing of the foam adhesive, they finally came and retaped all the cracks in Feb 2008. I had to pay to retexture and repaint ceilings. Now some of the worst cracks/seam ripples (tape edges? some the paint isn't cracking, but has a thin bulge if that makes sense) are coming back. Plus last night I noticed a nice straight crack (must be a seam) in the mudroom ceiling. The ones under the windows that were just retaped and not cut out and redone are cracking too (esp. the DR, where I had to scarf baseboard b/c the stud was pushed so far out it wouldn't lie flat). Worst crack is along the I beam where master BR spans the front/back modules.

We have found numerous framing issues with interior door and some window headers, have had to cut drywall to get casing to lie flat. Also found downstairs marriage wall stud twisted at edge of cased opening, must have happened during set but short of cutting out drywall, cutting out part of stud and putting in cripple, we can't fix that so will have to cut wall to get casing on there too (all trim tacked in place and I pulled off to paint so didn't notice it wasn't flat to walls). I also have some cracking along the 2x10 main beam in the basement (back module) that a civil engineer looked at (didn't calculate) but said was OK b/c it was sandwiched with main beam in front and overengineered lally column placement.

To get to the point, is this kind of cracking expected as part of settling? DH says wait a few years and then repair/repaint again. How long is long enough to settle? Some cracking may have been due to 1st heating season (we keep it 68 in winter but only 30% RH), but we have had really minimal cracking/checking of pine doors and casings (even the ones I haven't gotten around to finishing yet like closets) so I wouldn't think drywall would be affected this 2nd winter. TIA

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cracks are not only typical, but expected in drywalled modular homes, you better bet you'll get some eventually that will require repair..your dealer should come out and repair them, they generally wait until you have had your home about a year so it settles.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 12:45PM
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Thanks - this summer will be 2 years, the factory came out 8 months after set and fixed the worst ones, they guaranteed those repairs for a year (just up now). They said a lot of them were bad tape joints (but they were factory joints), the dealer/builder should have taken care of. He did take care of a lot but they kept coming back (except the ones where he actually put in new sheetrock bay to bay). Now he's out of business so we're on our own.

How long should we wait to fix them (when will we stop getting new ones?) I'm not seeing too many diagonal-from-corner-of-doorway settling type cracks, these are full length of seams under windows, across ceilings. Are these due to settling or poor workmanship? Factory told me last year "we do good work, but not perfect" and said the 2-10 warranty only covers 1/4" cracks (those are gaps, not cracks, in my mind).

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 3:11PM
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well make sure you save paint, and even then you might not match up over the new plaster..

we have had cracks repaired over 5 year period, and then it went to leaks where the roof vents are..don't know if snow got in or what..they fixed one ceiling leak and now we have 2 more to fix..

the first time, the paint didn't look right after, and you know how much painting that means with the continuous ceiling through the entire house except baths and bedrooms.

i'm just glad i didn't go and repaint the whole ceiling before the next set of leaks showed up over the winter this year.

i had some full length seam cracks in my walls like you is just the way they are..sorry.

use a sharp tool to dig out the crack, all loose stuff..and then fix it..allow to dry really well before priming and repainting..and then you may still have to repaint the entire wall to get a good paint match..even if it is saved paint..sorry

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 6:15PM
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I think we're just going to wait another 4 years or so then and see how it goes. Curtains might hide the line under the DR window, and I can keep fixing and painting the one in the MBR. Other wall cracks don't seem to be coming back - it's the ceilings. MBR ceiling where microlam beam is will probably never be right, we'll patch it and repaint when we do the M bath. The downstairs ceilings are what get me - never noticed the one in the mudroom (just inside door from kitchen) b/c I usually don't have the light on in the entry part (separate light near washer) and look at the ceiling at the same time. You can't see it unless the light is on or it's a really sunny day. Even that should touch up OK b/c it's Pittsburgh Paint like upstairs. Painter who redid the downstairs ceilings used BM Muresco and it flashes like crazy so it will mean entire (at least kitchen/FR) repaint - 13'x37' ceiling.

With all the repainting last year, I am out of paint. I had asked the painter to get extra, and he did - 2 months later. So it wasn't boxed in with original (had a little left), and now I have pretty much a gallon unopened of each color, except less of the LR/DR/foyer/stairwell/hallway/office paint since we opened the "extra" gallon and used it for total repaint of the DR (touchups were flashing with that paint too, only that color) and 2 walls in the office that had lots of nail pops.

I think in 10 years I'm going to pull out the laminate in the kitchen, put in a bigger window over the sink like the one I specified (but got talked out of b/c "it wouldn't fit" - I have 10" under, 7" to each side, and 3" to bring top of casing to same height as cabinets!), rework the kitchen lighting, add a bump-out to the breakfast nook (maybe even an entire sunroom and a woodstove since one won't fit where I specified - no room for chimney with upstairs window in the way), replace the carpet and maybe the kitchen tile, and put in a windowseat in the bay. So we can do the whole ceiling back there over while the back half of the house is ripped apart.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 12:13PM
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is your home on a crawl or basement or is it on piers may have movement..and you might consider some better tie downs to add to prevent so much movement

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 8:03PM
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I have a modular also. What style is yours? Single story or Colonial? We're in a ranch and had only some stress cracks that occured during transit, but nothing even major enough to do more than paint over. Otherwise no problems in the past 6 years.

You have a LOT more than just some minor issues. I would keep on the dealer so he can keep on the manufacturer. Don't let it go away. With cracks like you describe, it sounds structural. It may be a good investment to have a home inspector (Like when you buy a house) to take a look at it. They search for things like this and can tell you what the problem is so you can go back to the manufacturer.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 7:45AM
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The house is set on a full basement, no cracks in the foundation walls. Double sill plates, bolted down (not sure what you mean by tie downs). Colonial with full walk-up attic so pretty much 3 stories (kneewalls in attic). Dealer is out of business. Civil engineer (town engineer, state licensed building inspector) said that the lally columns appeared to be more than sufficient, he thought someone dropped the load of 2x10s and they just decided to use them anyway. Didn't think anybody dropped the module after build.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 4:44PM
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christopherh - what factory built your modular? The one you said built the whole subdivision in VT? That's who built mine.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 12:25AM
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It almost sounds like the builders used green lumber for your building.

I am guessing the the "ties" are for attaching your home to the foundation.
They used to be bolts with nuts and washers, the last time I checked into this they were using metal "ties".

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 9:32PM
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Our modular was set on a basement four years ago and I was amazed that we had no stress cracks at all. I just assumed it was because it was assembled in a climate-controlled factory. I honestly think you have a very legitimate complaint!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 10:02AM
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Ours is a Superior. And I'm not in the development in Bennington, but they do build nice homes. I'm off in the country on a dirt road. We have a moose walk past the house on a regular basis.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 8:34AM
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I checked this w/e - I thought I remembered big honkin' bolts from the set, sure enough, double sill plate is bolted to foundation. No movement there. But DH says all the lumber was green(er) than they used for stick-built houses 20 years ago. It's not Douglas Fir either.

Chris - no moose here, just deer and a couple bobcats (I watched one walk 2 ft from my slider (up 4 ft in the air, no deck yet) and past my bay window (over walkout basement) and stalk/kill a squirrel. No one at DH's work believed him "b/c bobcats are nocturnal." Well, it was noon but overcast. Oh, we also have a bear (seen the claw marks on the trees, neighbors have seen him but we haven't). DH wants to get a pistol permit b/c he doesn't like carrying rifle with him when he goes out for a walk. Our (800 ft) driveway is in a subdivision with "builder's acre" lots but we have 97. Plus back up to neighbors (a mile away in a different town!) who have acreage too.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 10:17AM
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Wow hope your issues get better.If it were me?I would be on the phone to the factory,my & my bank.I would not let up untill all these were taken care of.Back in 88 we bought a new manufactured home.There were big cracks in the master bath wall.Dealer said it was normal.I said BS, long story short.We found out our home had been dropped and that back corner was damged.I called the bank and told them what happend and that I wasnt going to pay till the problem was fixed.The problem was fixed ASAP.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 8:23AM
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thought the wood used since it was done "inside" would be more stable than "stick built", in the weather...i'm also wondering if the low humidity might have caused problems as well? do you have a humidifer attached to your heater?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 1:26PM
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Thanks Robert - but what's "normal"? I don't know anybody who's stick-built in the past few years. I just know that we only had one really bad crack on a joint in our stairwell in our stick-built 1987 Colonial. No seam cracks vertically over/under windows, no wall-to-wall ceiling cracks or even visible tape joints. of course we had skimcoated walls and swirled ceilings in that house. Only had 1 high joist making a hump in our sheet vinyl in the foyer, here we've got bulging studs in walls, bowed headers, general framing issues that we thought we'd avoid in modular since everything is built on jigs.

Susanjf - yes, we have humidifier on heater but only can get up to about 32-33% RH on the coldest days, so I expected some drying out of tape joints.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 3:07PM
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We have a year old Munsey cape on walk out basement, we have a list of problems lots of crackes, windows that leak,water runs toward the house on the front porch thus buckling the sheet rock on the inside of house etc.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 10:45AM
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