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Old 07-15-2019, 11:45 AM   #1
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Timber retaining wall repair help


My neighbor's timber retaining wall leaks a significant amount of sand and sometimes rock onto my walkway every time we get a heavy rain. The sand flows under the bottom timber onto my side. We also noticed water streaming through a different section of the wall during rain the other day. I've been told there used to be a gutter downspout that funneled water from neighbors house toward wall but that it was rerouted last year. It also goes under their driveway so inspecting it would be fairly hard to do.

There is a fence on top of the wall that seems like it will create a significant barrier to adding corrugated tubing (i dont believe there is any currently there) behind the wall.

Any suggestions on something that can be done from my side? The neighbors know about the issue but unfortunately is doesn't seem to concern them and it would be a stretch to say any real damage has been done to my property.








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Old 07-15-2019, 02:54 PM   #2
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Re: Timber retaining wall repair help


Wood retaining walls have a limited life span. Ideally it would be a masonry wall. What type of timber is it constructed of? how old is the wall?
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Old 07-15-2019, 06:34 PM   #3
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Re: Timber retaining wall repair help


4x6 pressure treated pine. The house on that lot was built in 1999, and the lot was vacant before then, so maybe the wall is about 20 years old.
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Old 07-15-2019, 08:37 PM   #4
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Re: Timber retaining wall repair help


Whenever a neighbor that is not concerned about the condition of their property, chooses to ignore their neighbors complaint ...it gets tough. Neighbor wars can get nasty and they can last forever, until one of them moves or gets put in jail for acting out against the other.

So a person has to pick and choose their battles, but yet tread carefully.

Sometimes when a fence/wall is built EXACTLY dead center on the property line, neighbors can compromise and share the expense of the builds or repairs.

By the same token, a neighbor can do a build and not take any help. Therefore, not even giving their neighbor the benefit of having any say on the build.

So then it comes down to at what point, will the neighbor's offending fence/wall, is actually doing compensable damages to their neighbor ? One to where maybe even a city ordnance can be used to bolster the offended neighbors case ? Or a letter from their home owners insurance company complaining ?

But it has been my experience when knowing that once that neighbors take neighbors to court, someone usually ends up moving to avoid the "tension" in the air, between the two battling neighbors.

A tough call OP, and one I am glad to not have to make. As I see no way to prevent this sand/debris leakage, short of building/pouring a solid concrete retainer wall with the proper drainage installed in it, against the offending neighbors wall.

A $$$$ project to do, EVEN if its allowed by the OP's deed restriction(s), any city ordnances, and EVEN if he has the room to build a new wall.

So good luck OP. All JMO
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Old 07-16-2019, 12:00 AM   #5
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Re: Timber retaining wall repair help


So where is the wall in relation to the shared property line ? How long is the wall ? Is there a slope so water can drain somewhere....after you install a 3 inch slotted drain line or shallow trench with 3/4 inch gravel ?
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:33 AM   #6
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Re: Timber retaining wall repair help


The pics disappeared for me from when you originally posted - were they linked or attached?

Going off of memory, I think your pavement butts right up against the wood. Whatever you do, if you don't go below the pavement, you'll get washout underneath it.

It would be nice if there was enough space between the wall and fence posts to dig down the couple feet and put some poly just where it washes out on the driveway - maybe that can be done somehow. I wouldn't think attaching a fabric or cover on the face would do anything, and would look crappy. Or building another wall in front with proper drainage seems too much, especially when you have to support his leaning wall.
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Old 07-16-2019, 09:35 AM   #7
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Re: Timber retaining wall repair help


Hopefully the photos are fixed. Added a few for clarity.

My walkway does not butt right up the wall. I'd say it's roughly a ft away at it's closet. I don't think there is enough space to dig down between the wall and the fence as I'd assume the concrete anchoring the fence posts would get in the way.

The wall is right on the property line and overall is probably 80 feet long. I'm only getting the washout in 2 spots near the middle of the wall. It does seem as though whoever built the wall years ago did not go deep enough with the first row of timbers on the part i'm having trouble with, and I thought about digging under the wall to insert a timber (or something else to fill the space) where the washout seems to be occurring. I don't know if this would allow too much pressure to build up?

Appreciate the feedback.
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:03 AM   #8
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Re: Timber retaining wall repair help


That was a cheap way for them to do it back then but the earth puts too much pressure on both the 4x6s and the 4x4s and over time it starts leaning like it does now. A block retaining wall would have been built out of 12" wide block setting on a footer. I suspect they just leveled up the ground and then set the 4x6s. Of course the 4x4s are set into the ground [probably 2'] but aren't able to hold the wall straight.


Not sure what to tell you to fix your side. I suppose you could cover your side with something more resistant to water/dirt coming thru although that would likely hasten the demise of the timbers.
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:17 PM   #9
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Re: Timber retaining wall repair help


Legally, whenever a property owner changes the natural flow of water they are responsible for any downstream impacts. A downspout qualifies as would any other changes they have made that is causing rainwater to be diverted to your property.

An upslope neighbor of mine put in a French drain and then had its output directed straight at my property. It cost me over $14,000 in 1999 to have the damage repaired and I made a demand on his home insurance company to repay me. I got my money though my neighbor was not too happy. Of course I was not happy at having spent the winter putting up sandbags and digging mud away from in front of my garage door.

Your neighbor is causing the problem and it is up to him to fix the problem by whatever means he chooses. Cheapest would be to run a 3" corrugated drain pipe from his downspouts to the road.
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