A brand new gymnasium opened in the Central Valley of California years ago, and the job was absolutely beautiful. I got called down to look at the cracking you see on the lower left jamb/sill portion of the window. There were consistent cracks just like that, through the plaster and the brick.
As you can see from the pictures below, it tore open the welded wire lath that was installed according to Plastering Industry Standards.
The issue went to arbitration and the general contractor, who was on the side of the Plastering Contractor, became our adversaries when I pointed out that it doesn’t matter how many control joints you add in the exterior skin. If you have none in the structural steel and steel stud framing, when the scale of the project goes beyond a certain point, the expansion stress created when the building heats up will grow the frame. No amount of terrific lath will restrain it. Hence the cracking.
When welded steel wire lath is busted, as you see in the pictures shown here, nothing the Plastering Contractor does will keep the walls from cracking. This is why it is prudent to have a consultant or a Bureau Representative look at the plans to provide a different perspective from the Engineers or Architects.
When I look at building plans, it is to see what can go wrong from the perspective of the Plaster, and to find issues not addressed by other consultants.
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