There's a crack in the wall!
I saw a post on Trulia Voices Berkeley - "I'm interested in buying a house in the Berkeley Hills. But landslides worry me... if a house has cracks in it's walls, there's a meaning to it..."
Here's how I answered...
Gravity... not just a good idea.. It's the Law!
Cracks are a definite early warning alert that the house needs to be checked out by a foundation/drainage specialist, and possibly a soils/structural engineer.
The most common cause of cracks? Faulty drainage. Wet soils swell, then compress when they dry out. And drainage problems leads to... rotated foundations... mold....
The good news? Unless the home is really in a slide zone, it's can be relatively easy (though not always relatively inexpensive) to correct.
We've found that most people are very sensitive to differential in floor level. In our own house, we can see that the fireplace has been perfectly happy where it's been for years.. but the windows on either side slope away from it. Did we check it out? For sure! Does it bother us, or is it getting worse? Not in the 25 years we've lived our Thousand Oaks Home!
Check out my Nolo Press book "How To Buy A House In California" for more answers to questions still unasked