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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Fortunately the building is close enough to keep the wall from falling completely over.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Is that a planter? Or is it holding up a slope above the house?


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Interesting.....Is this on the owner's property or the adjacent property?


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    It's an elevation change between properties. Height of wall is approximately 4'. Distance between buildings 8 to 10'.
    The wall belongs to this lower property.
    Owner replaced the front part of the wall about 5 years ago. It looks great from the front. Not so good at the side.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Here is the view between buildings.
    Part of the new wall can be see in the front of the one photo

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    In my area this would likely be a municipal property standards issue with a higher grade on one side and lower grade on the opposing property.

    It appears that water would accumulate in the lower area, thus the property with the higher grade would/should have a responsibility to help alleviate potential drainage problems.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Trying another way to do it - uploading TWO of the same photos ... and will see if that solves the issue.

    Screw it - the photo size is what the photo size is, I tried to make it so you could see it better.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Built in the 70's and squeezed in on terraced slopes.
    The height of the retaining wall is the top (or near the top) of the slope in this instance. The last statement in JP's picture of a site pretty well sums up what they have there.

    The wood retaining wall is the lower property responsibility - the upper building has a wall on its' far side that is their responsibility, similar to this....and so on, and so on, as buildings are built on the terraced areas of this hill


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Chris - thanks for the clarification.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Claude Lawrenson View Post
    Chris - thanks for the clarification.
    Sure thing Claude. Glad to have the input and consideration of the situation.
    Thanks also to JP for his upload of a site grading diagram. Bigger is better


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Weekly View Post
    Fortunately the building is close enough to keep the wall from falling completely over.
    I am confused. This retaining wall actually supports the grading/foundation of the uphill house. Why would that wall be the responsibility of the downhill house at all? THis means that if the downhill house does not maintain it the uphill foundation may be in peril! The water damage to the downhill house and foundation is the issue for the downhill house. Obviously there should be 10 ft of at least 1/8 to 1/4 slope away from both foundations unless engineered drainage exists, and that does not look that case (do those downspouts place the water in a drain/diversion pipe or on the ground? Does the uphill house have proper gutters and drain/diversion pipe away from this retained area? Is there a french drain underground moving water away from the retaining wall?)

    Andůsince the retaining wall seems required for the site plan why was it built with wood and so heavily sloped to the down hill? Wood has a very limited life span in this application. It seems that it would have been built with stone/concrete, the height of the wall the same as the uphill foundation and the soil draining slightly downhill to the lower and the back of property with drainage assured, possibly even a french drain system underground at the base of the retaining wall.

    I am also in agreement with the statement regarding water flow onto the lower property. Having had a real estate license, I know that in most states dumping water onto a neighbor's property is not legal, also dumping the water this close to the foundation and having no real slope at the foundation is a real issue. All the water that makes it to the foundation will cause problems.

    Regarding any report, before I made any comment or decision, I would want to know the local laws, codes and customs, especially any case law about that water flow. I might even contact a RE attorney before writing a report, not to give legal advice but to be sure my report is factual in any statements. There also may be CC&R's regarding it. CC&R's usually will not be allowed to vioate code or law, but possibly could affect case law decisions where no code exist(ed).

    If this is a puchase inspection, I might advise some real caution somehow (within the limits of not causing a legal fight but giving the purchaser an out if they want/need it). Certainly I would conservatively estimate the future maintenance requirement of the retainer in any report. The biggest concern would be not pissing off the RE agent over loss of sale.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Maybe this is one of the reasons why new laws are written. "Oops, I guess we should have made that part of the property uphill."
    But also, as it is now, it is in the best interest of the downhill property to keep up that wall. Why wait for the uphill guy? Lawsuit you say? Sure, but how long you gonna wait for the slow, plodding, wheels of justice to get you your just due? That wall will be in the kitchen by the time the courts have their say. Buck up, Mr. Property Owner. Fix that wall Mr. Gorbachev.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Jeanis View Post
    ..........

    If this is a puchase inspection, I might advise some real caution somehow (within the limits of not causing a legal fight but giving the purchaser an out if they want/need it). Certainly I would conservatively estimate the future maintenance requirement of the retainer in any report. The biggest concern would be not pissing off the RE agent over loss of sale.

    Note to Buyer: Retaining wall. Recommendation, "Run Forest Run ! " Do not look back.

    Only in Calf. Can not imagine any where else this could have happened. You are your brothers keeper.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Jeanis View Post
    I am confused. This retaining wall actually supports the grading/foundation of the uphill house. Why would that wall be the responsibility of the downhill house at all? THis means that if the downhill house does not maintain it the uphill foundation may be in peril!
    No, it may just mean that the retaining wall was "on" the property of the lower lot instead of "on" the property of the upper lot. If the retaining wall is on your property, it belongs to you and you get to maintain it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    No, it may just mean that the retaining wall was "on" the property of the lower lot instead of "on" the property of the upper lot. If the retaining wall is on your property, it belongs to you and you get to maintain it.

    I agree with the actual legal condition you describe, but I would definitely want to know that the retaining wall that assures my foundation doesn't move is maintained. having to maintain it or "getting" to maintain it are two different things. Having it be the responsibility of another property owner would place my property in a tenuous position to say the least. I would not purchase it myself and certainly as an inspector I would notify any prosepctive purchaser that there may be legal issues and maintenance issues they are "purchasing".


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Jeanis View Post
    I agree with the actual legal condition you describe, but I would definitely want to know that the retaining wall that assures my foundation doesn't move is maintained. having to maintain it or "getting" to maintain it are two different things. Having it be the responsibility of another property owner would place my property in a tenuous position to say the least. I would not purchase it myself and certainly as an inspector I would notify any prosepctive purchaser that there may be legal issues and maintenance issues they are "purchasing".
    Ah, but you are mixing two retaining walls into one.

    The retaining wall on the lower property owners property is to keep drainage from the upper property away from his house (likely reason) and to keep the elevated earth (which was dug out for his lower yard) from falling into his yard (primary reason).

    The retaining wall on the lower property owners property is likely *not* there for *anything* to do with the upper house. The upper property owner needs to address protecting their structure themselves, thus the retaining wall shown in the drawing toward the downhill side of the upper structure.

    I'm not saying that the upper retaining was "was" installed, only that it "should have been" installed - for the protection of the upper structure.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    There will always be legal and maintenance issues with any property. As an inspector that is an area of concern - both for me, and a client.
    You guys may wish to know that this is one building of 6 that were built as a project. 6 buildings in a row, on a terraced area. Eventually, each building was parceled off to be owned, and maintained separately from the others. Each responsible for its' apportioned piece of land. A retaining wall goes along with each of the 6 buildings. As it turns out, the lower property will inherit the wall at its upper side. This same property will rely on its neighbor to take care of the wall at its' lower (opposite) side.
    So, as an inspector I would say "This retaining wall is negatively impacting your building, and has failed, and will continue to cause problems. The wall needs to be rebuilt - methods and materials suitable for many years, and according to standards. A wall on the opposite side of the building may also be negatively impacting the foundation at that side, however, the responsibility for this may be responsibilty of another property owner. Recommend inquiring of these important aspects of the property. "


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    From what you have said Chris it seems that the buyer will be also buying the up hill neighbors foundation and all the problems that will generate from it.

    To rebuild the wall it will be necessary to tear up the neighbors property. To create a wall that will not fail will be costly to protect the (lower) owner from liability in the future. Then you have to rely on the next lower owner to maintain their wall so your house does not start sliding down the hill. Who ever broke up the project and sold off the houses was smart to get out and run for the hills. Like I said " Run Forest Run".


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Chris,

    From your description, I would recommend to your client that they:
    - Very carefully scrutinize the survey to determine where the actual property lines are in relation to the house and the retaining walls on both sides.
    - Hire an attorney for addressing the retaining walls.
    - If, as presented, the retaining wall on the high side is located on the lower property - get a permit to cut the earth back to the upper side property line and work with the owner of the upper proprrty to create a slope up to the upper property (they are not legally permitted to work beyond their property line anyway). It is then up to the owner of the upper property to address their property ad necessary.
    - With regard to the lower property line and retaining wall ... if the lower retaining wall is not within their property line, then they need to address protecting their property by installing a below grade retaining wall as shown in the drawing.

    All of which may (should) cause them to realize the cost associated with this purchase ... and it is then up to them to: walk away; get the seller to work with them; buy it anyway with the understanding of what they are committing themselves to.

    Your job is to find and discover, then to communicate to your client what you found and discovered.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    'Worst case scenarios' do sometimes happen. When tearing down that retaining wall, the contractor/engineer will take into consideration what will happen to the uphill foundation (hopefully), and then proceed accordingly. It will not be a cheap fix. But then there is approximately 8 to 10 feet between buildings. Will that be enough working space to get this done without impacting the uphill foundation - not much room to work with. I'll keep looking in on this and see where it goes. Could be interesting.. maybe get some pictures.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Slight bow in the retaining wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Weekly View Post
    'Worst case scenarios' do sometimes happen. When tearing down that retaining wall, the contractor/engineer will take into consideration what will happen to the uphill foundation (hopefully), and then proceed accordingly. It will not be a cheap fix. But then there is approximately 8 to 10 feet between buildings. Will that be enough working space to get this done without impacting the uphill foundation - not much room to work with. I'll keep looking in on this and see where it goes. Could be interesting.. maybe get some pictures.
    They can do as they do for other things (many other things) - drive sheet pilings down between the work area and the structure above to keep the work downhill from affecting it. Of course, though, driving sheet piling does affect the cost of the project.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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