Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Landscaping & Lawn Care

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 09-05-2013, 04:25 AM   #1
Newbie
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 14
Rewards Points: 10
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


I'll try to keep this short and sweet. With an embankment between two neighbors, who is responsible for holding back the embankment if 1. the upper neighbor has a driveway on edge of the embankment and used a "cut and fill" method to build the driveweay. 2.The bottom neighbor has a current retaining wall but it only holds back up to the buried root collars of the trees on the embankment. 3. All the trees on the embankment have either been cut down or in the process of dying because their roots have been buried under fill used to make the upper driveway. 4. Most of the embankment is owned by the upper neighbor.

As you can see from the photo, the root collar on the, now dead and cut down, white oak, the fill from the upper driveway is at least 18" above the root collar. Once these trees died, the lower earth gave way.

I'm the lower neighbor and they are trying to get me to pay for half the total project to fix it. I'm saying that I'm only responsible to build a retainer up to the original grade which, I feel, is the height of the root collars of the trees.
Attached Images
 


Last edited by crowneagle; 09-05-2013 at 04:32 AM.
crowneagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-05-2013, 10:27 AM   #2
MarginallyQualified
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Winston-Salem NC
Posts: 3,709
Rewards Points: 2,092
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


Quote:
Originally Posted by crowneagle View Post
With an embankment between two neighbors, who is responsible for holding back the embankment
I'm not a lawyer (and don't even play one on TV) but absent some other specific agreement the structure belongs to the land being retained.

Quote:
I'm the lower neighbor and they are trying to get me to pay for half the total project to fix it.
If they don't fix it... how will that impact your property?

TarheelTerp is online now   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to TarheelTerp For This Useful Post:
concretemasonry (09-05-2013)
Old 09-05-2013, 11:32 AM   #3
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Conway, AR
Posts: 95
Rewards Points: 77
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


Things like this are always a tricky situation. Legally, I have no idea who is obligated to pay for what.. but I would think the neighbor in this case is probably responsible. Cordially, I would offer to pay for half for the sake of keeping good relations with my neighbor.
NegativeTen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-05-2013, 06:29 PM   #4
Newbie
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 14
Rewards Points: 10
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


My background is that I'm a semi-retired third generation mason. I have a big problem with splitting the cost 50-50 because most of the cost involves the upper part. If building up to the root collars cost $2000, then building up to the driveway may cost $7000. Building a 6' wall may require it to be up to 8 times stronger than building a 4' wall because the failure plane will be much bigger. Besides, here in Massachusetts, you go over 4' and you need a building permit and if you go over 6', then you need it to stamped by an engineer. I believe it to be foolish to pay for something that I don't think I am responsible for. Besides, I helped pay to take down that white oak last year and there is a much bigger red oak to the right that is not even close to the property line that they were trying to get me to help pay for as well (See Photo). As you can clearly see, the trees have died or are dying from having their roots buried by the fill for the driveway. They've had multiple contractors out to look at it and I truly believe they are just trying to find people that would agree with their position. We get along all right but I can feel the tension building. At some point, I'm going to refuse to do anything about it and let their driveway spill onto my property. I told them I'm willing to contribute towards a final solution but It's not going to be a 50-50 deal. I know a lot about walls but I guess it's always different when it's your own property you're talking about. I included another picture that clearly shows the fill that buried the trees that have since died and have been cut down. You also can see the attempt by a previous owner to use loose concrete blocks to hold back the filled driveway. They had the property line surveyed and I think they were bummed out the survey showed the trees are clearly their trees. None of the trees shown in these pictures are on my property. Another problem is that once the trees died, the roots started to let go of the soil making it seem like it's my problem more than it should be.
Attached Images
  

Last edited by crowneagle; 09-05-2013 at 06:42 PM.
crowneagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-05-2013, 06:51 PM   #5
Civil Engineer
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Boston
Posts: 4,279
Rewards Points: 2,136
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


This is the type of problem that King Solomon might have worked on. Or maybe it is more of an Old Testament type of issue. While it is certainly interesting to hear about, I kind of doubt you are going to get any useful advice from a Do It Yourself Chat Forum. Unless of course you are interested in Do It Yourself Ways To Fix The Wall.
Daniel Holzman is online now   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Daniel Holzman For This Useful Post:
ddawg16 (09-07-2013)
Old 09-05-2013, 09:46 PM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: far sw sub chicago
Posts: 4,039
Rewards Points: 2,550
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


call the building department. looks like your neighbors property is spilling over onto yours.
that is their problem. let the city handle it.
Fix'n it is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Fix'n it For This Useful Post:
Live_Oak (09-06-2013)
Old 09-05-2013, 10:59 PM   #7
Bill Kearney
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Bethesda, MD USA
Posts: 1,979
Rewards Points: 1,126
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


Who put up the wall in the first place? Whose property is it located upon?

And, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the wall only aid the upper neighbor's use of the property? There's no 'benefit' gained by the lower neighbor, so why would they be expected to pay anything?

Was the work properly permitted and inspected?

I'd be inclined to think you need to talk with your local permitting department to see what they have on file for it. Then talk with a local lawyer specializing in real estate issues like this.

That you paid to deal with the mess they made of their own trees isn't the same thing as contributing to their wall. You had a vested interest in seeing the trees removed to avoid damage to your property.

The way it comes across to me is they've probably got an improperly constructed wall, as well as driveway, quite likely done without proper permits, and they've made it worse. Other than the hassle of it collapsing onto your property I'm not sure where I'd see you bear any responsibility at all for it (given the limited info posted).
wkearney99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2013, 05:38 AM   #8
Newbie
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 14
Rewards Points: 10
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


Let me explain a little further. It wasn't so long ago that both of these properties were owned by the same person and/or families for a long period of time. It was only recently that the properties were divided and sold separately. It's hard to have a problem with yourself. Only after the properties were segregated did it become a problem. There is a rubble wall on my side and I'm including a photo of that. I "WAS" willing to rebuild that wall. I was getting prepared to do it but the neighbor suggested that I wait because rebuilding that wall wouldn't exactly fix their problem because it only goes up to the root crowns. Even though that wall is substandard, it's not falling over. The white line roughly denotes the property line.

I seriously doubt that the building department would have a file on this situation. When I bought the property, I tried researching past building permits and you'd think I was asking for their first born. "Oh, we don't have have that information currently available. If we have anything, it would be in storage somewhere. Yada, Yada Yada".

Anyways, even though I have a lot of experience building walls, this problem is more a legal problem more than a technical one. This could get very expensive and like I said, I'm semi-retired. My position is that "the party that changes the grade becomes responsible for holding back that grade". They are trying to transfer a lot of that responsibility to me and I'm not happy about it. The following was quoted from the online "Legal Dictionary" for adjoining landowners. "Property owners have the right to grade or change the level of their land or to build foundations or embankments as long as proper precautions are taken, such as building a retaining wall to prevent soil from spilling upon adjoining land."

I'm willing to contribute to the total project what it would cost me to rebuild the rubble wall on my land. I'm trying to be fair but they are squeezing me. Being semi-retired, I'm in no position to be volunteering for things just to keep the peace. I appreciate any and all opinions because in the end, I want to do what's fair without screwing myself big time.
Attached Thumbnails
Retaining Wall Responsibility-photo-0055_2.jpg  
crowneagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2013, 08:30 AM   #9
Bill Kearney
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Bethesda, MD USA
Posts: 1,979
Rewards Points: 1,126
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


You need to be talking to a real estate lawyer on this. If only just to get out in front of the possibility that the other neighbor is already doing just that. There's enough money and risks involved here that it would be unwise to proceed without assistance.

I'd be inclined to move that wall off your land. Get it out of your realm of responsibility. Either by moving the wall or selling them that sliver on which it's built.

Meanwhile it would seem smart for them to get equipment in to remove those tree stumps before any additional work gets done. That should have been done BEFORE the soil level was raised, and killed them.
wkearney99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2013, 09:36 AM   #10
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Conway, AR
Posts: 95
Rewards Points: 77
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


Quote:
Originally Posted by crowneagle View Post
I'm willing to contribute to the total project what it would cost me to rebuild the rubble wall on my land. I'm trying to be fair but they are squeezing me. Being semi-retired, I'm in no position to be volunteering for things just to keep the peace. I appreciate any and all opinions because in the end, I want to do what's fair without screwing myself big time.
Your last couple of posts have put things into perspective for me. From the initial post, I was thinking we were talking about maybe a 3' retaining wall that would cost a few hundred dollars, not a project of this magnitude. It's not worth keeping a happy neighbor if they're trying to take you for a few grand.

I would absolutely seek out professional advice, but I think most people here are in agreement that the burden should fall on your neighbor's shoulders.
NegativeTen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2013, 10:30 AM   #11
Bill Kearney
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Bethesda, MD USA
Posts: 1,979
Rewards Points: 1,126
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


My father was a real estate lawyer and used to handle this sort of complicated hassle (he's since passed). Subdivided properties with existing issues can be more complicated than you might think. All sorts of nonsense may or may not have been involved, you never know and it does honestly benefit from having an experienced real estate lawyer involved. Not just a lawyer than does other work, one that focuses on real estate in THIS particular legal jurisdiction. This kind of law can vary a fair bit from one jurisdiction to another. So local advice is best.

Eventually it comes down to someone wants to use property in a way that imposes upon the neighbor. That they "want to" doesn't mean they have the legal right to do so. Unless other factors are at play, like adverse possession and such. This is a problem that can leave people caught unaware, and you can end up losing property as a result. So I'd be very careful about improving that wall without a very clear (and documented) understanding of the ownership of the affected area FIRST.

One scenario a neighbor went through involved a fence. They wanted to install a fence to help keep their puppy in their back yard. There were some shrubs a bit too close to where they wanted to install the fence. They asked the neighbor about trimming them (volunteering to pay a contractor to properly do the work). The neighbor was very uncooperative. So the property owner paid to have a boundary survey done. Lo and behold the survey revealed the shrubs were already ON HIS LAND. End result was he removed what were legally his shrubs and installed the fence as per county regulations. So instead of cooperating and keeping the shrubs in front of the fence, the neighbor lost them AND the 2' of property they'd unknowingly been occupying with them.
wkearney99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2013, 10:32 AM   #12
Newbie
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 14
Rewards Points: 10
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


Just got off the phone with my attorney and it appears that my state law is vague as to responsibility of adjoining landowners. The responsibilities of adjoining landowners as stated in the legal dictionary mean very little in my case. She suggested that we work it out to avoid any litigation. In this case, since the damage was done before any us bought the properties, causation of the problems are hard to prove. Another option is not to do anything and wait until they lose their driveway onto my land. Hopefully, we can work things out. I appreciate all the views and opinions you all gave me.
crowneagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2013, 10:53 AM   #13
Bill Kearney
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Bethesda, MD USA
Posts: 1,979
Rewards Points: 1,126
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


Law may be vague, but there's no doubt been situations like this in your jurisdiction. It may be that your attorney just doesn't know about them. Dad ran into more than a few situations like that. Specific expertise goes a long way for stuff like this.

What's the realistic likelihood of getting the wall totally off your land? Cut back the soil so the wall is entirely off your property? Is the adjacent driveway going to prevent than from being possible? And do they have a fence on top preventing anyone from falling over it? Most places require a railing of sorts when you get above a certain height.

If anything you'd do well to legally clarify the ownership of the land on which the wall is situated. If just to avoid the neighbor coming back and making an adverse possession claim on it and taking ownership. It can and does happen.
wkearney99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2013, 02:02 PM   #14
Newbie
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 14
Rewards Points: 10
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


Actually, that's one thing I tried to sell them on; putting the entire wall on their land,. But, I don't think they were sold on that idea. One problem I've been dealing with is they are married couple that can't even agree with each other; never mind with me. Every time I think we are on the same page, they change their minds. It makes it very difficult to bargain in good faith. The main sticking point seems to be the previous owners of their property changed the grade and they want me to share in the cost of holding back that higher grade. How would anybody feel if you built a small retaining wall and your neighbor just built the land up higher and that put too much stress on your wall? You'd be pissed to say the least. It's the principle of it. I know that doesn't mean nothing in court but it's unsettling none the less.

Last edited by crowneagle; 09-06-2013 at 02:06 PM.
crowneagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2013, 03:35 PM   #15
MarginallyQualified
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Winston-Salem NC
Posts: 3,709
Rewards Points: 2,092
Default

Retaining Wall Responsibility


Quote:
Originally Posted by crowneagle View Post
Actually, that's one thing I tried to sell them on; putting the entire wall on their land. But, I don't think they were sold on that idea.
Have you found a lawyer yet?

TarheelTerp is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
embankment, fill, retaining wall, root collar


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Retaining wall Jonny3777 Concrete, Stone & Masonry 0 06-22-2012 04:04 PM
Please help with retaining wall / patio issue that has arisen. coderguy Landscaping & Lawn Care 3 05-26-2012 05:45 PM
what to do with the french drain behind a retaining wall MLMIB Building & Construction 4 04-08-2011 08:52 AM
my concrete retaining wall has a major crack where the wall has now shifted DanDaMan Building & Construction 1 04-02-2011 12:34 PM
Retaining Wall Demolition --HOW? tdrumm Landscaping & Lawn Care 12 03-20-2011 03:32 PM




Top of Page | View New Posts

Copyright © 2003-2014 Escalate Media. All Rights Reserved.