Home inspectors say the problem is split face block, a concrete building material used all over Chicago in brand new homes built during the latest building boom.
“I’m very scared,” said home inspector William Decker.
Decker has been dealing with the problem for years.
“For the last four or five years, the major problem we saw was water coming in, and mold, and stained walls,” said Decker.
But now, he says, during his inspections he’s seeing a much bigger, more dangerous problem.
“This material is really not suitable for use in Chicago,” said Decker. “It’s too absorbent.”
The block sucks up water like a sponge. The water spreads, soaking the beams holding up the roof. Then they rot.
“I’ve seen some that you can put your finger through them they’re so soft, the weight of the roof just breaks them off,” said Decker. “Come this winter, especially with the snow loads we’re used to in Chicago, I’m very concerned.”
“You couldn’t have convinced me five to seven years ago that I would be seeing the stuff that I am now seeing,” said Kurt Mitenbuler, another home inspector.
Mitenbuler says moisture problems caused by split face block can cause building supports to fail.