Retaining wall on neighbor's property

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Totrep
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Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Totrep » Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:17 pm

My wife and I moved into our first house last summer. Shortly thereafter, our next-door neighbor requested that we fix a retaining wall (installed by a previous owner of our house) that had collapsed onto his property. The retaining wall sat right against the property line and served to hold up a row of privacy bushes.

This spring, we finally got around to hiring a landscaping firm to fix the wall. Given how badly the old wall had failed, we accepted their suggestion to install a much stronger wall featuring interlocking blocks. The final cost was around $2,000.

The blocks took a long time to arrive and work only began this week. Things seemed to be progressing nicely until this morning, when our neighbor told the workers that the new wall was encroaching on his property. Based on a survey that he had commissioned a few years ago, the total encroachment was calculated at about 10 square feet. At the worst point, the new wall is maybe 10 inches across the line (the blocks are 12" x 12").

During a long discussion between our neighbor and the head landscaper, for which I was not present, the landscaper informally admitted fault and attempted to bribe our neighbor to accept the wall; he refused. Later, when talking with me, our neighbor made it very clear that he will not accept any outcome in which the wall remains on his property.

The wall is about 80% complete. The blocks are interlocking, and have also been glued together. (Re)moving them will involve a substantial amount of labor, and potentially some heavy machinery.

I would greatly appreciate feedback on the following three questions:

(1) Should we attempt to move the wall or just demolish it and convert the entire area to grass? The privacy bushes were already crowded by the old wall. If the new wall is moved completely onto our property, they may or may not survive. We have no attachment to the bushes, but might feel silly to have a huge wall holding up a few small plants. On the other hand, the area is sloped enough that grass would be hard to plant and maintain. Our neighbor has no problem with the wall remaining, as long as it sits on our property.

(2) How should we negotiate with the landscapers to complete this project? Neglecting a small deposit, we have not paid for the wall yet. If we do not negotiate at all, the new final price will be somewhere around $3,000. We explicitly warned the landscapers in the spring to be careful about the property lines, but did not check in during the preliminary stages of construction to ensure that they were actually staying on our side.

(3) No permits were obtained for this project. The landscapers felt that none were necessary, since a retaining wall already existed in this location. Our neighbor disagrees, and warned us that permits should have been obtained for our "new" wall. Should we press the landscapers to obtain permits now?

Thank you in advance for any help. I've been reading this forum for a few years now and learn something new here almost every day.

health teacher
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by health teacher » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:35 am

Our city requires a permit for a new wall. To me, this is technically a new wall since different blocks are being used.

I have an uncle who runs a landscaping business. He is the type that would have fixed the wall without charging extra. It sounds like the landscapers screwed up. They put blocks on your neighbor's property. That's their responsibility. Unless they grossly undercharged, a $2,000 wall isn't really that substational. I wouldn't demolish or eliminate it personally. I also wouldn't pay the extra $1,000 to fix the error. The landscape company will want to get paid. If they back out now, they will only get their deposit which is probably less that the cost of the blocks. So for them to avoid losing money on this job, they would have to remove all of the blocks and take them with them leaving you with a backfilled mess that another company could come in and fix. If they just decide to cut their losses and leave the blocks, you could have a new company come in and essentially start from square one. The only way I would consider planting grass is if the original landscapers removed all of the other blocks to avoid a loss. When there is less rain, landscapers have more time for jobs like these so you'll probably have a shorter waiting period.

It is worth noting in my city a "landscaper" can only work on projects under $2,500 before he/she needs to be a licensed contractor. Your situation might be different, but keep that in mind when calling your local government if you decide on a permit and when negotiating with the landscapers.

If you feel guilty about all the extra labor, throw an extra $100 per helper with a cap at $300 (since there probably should only be 3 working on a job like this). The helpers probably get like $100 a day and this helps with their job security. Small landscaping companies rake in leaves, not money. It's probably best for all parties to resolve the issue and get it fixed. Just don't pay for something that you didn't personally do.

Call_Me_Op
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Call_Me_Op » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:38 am

You need to move the wall. I would also pay the workers the extra amount - assuming you want a good wall. Check with the local building department as to whether a permit is needed for this type of wall.
Best regards, -Op | | "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Einstein

health teacher
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by health teacher » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:45 am

Totrep wrote:The retaining wall sat right against the property line and served to hold up a row of privacy bushes.
Not exactly saying your neighbor is out of line, but judging from your early interactions, it'd probably be a great idea to keep those privacy bushes.

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cfs
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by cfs » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:57 am

Welcome Aboard!

Welcome aboard to the forum. Your first post! Always good to see new shipmates checking in.
As far as "Building the Wall" . . . just move it to the correct place and be done with it.

Thanks for reading.
~ Member of the Active Retired Force since 2014 ~

WaffleCone
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by WaffleCone » Sat Jul 30, 2016 8:10 am

Is it really the landscapers fault? If you said "replace this wall" but weren't there during construction and the property line isn't clearly marked, then I think you bear some if not all of the responsibility. Could they be reasonably expected to know where the property line was to within 10 inches?

health teacher
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by health teacher » Sat Jul 30, 2016 8:29 am

WaffleCone wrote:Is it really the landscapers fault? If you said "replace this wall" but weren't there during construction and the property line isn't clearly marked, then I think you bear some if not all of the responsibility. Could they be reasonably expected to know where the property line was to within 10 inches?
There were mistakes made by both parties. Negotiate and get it fixed. Like I posted earlier, I wouldn't just simply pay the extra $1,000 for labor to fix it.

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Totrep
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Totrep » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:15 am

Thank you for the replies, especially health teacher. This is very helpful for determining where in [$2,000, $3,000] I would like the final price to land.
health teacher wrote: There were mistakes made by both parties. Negotiate and get it fixed. Like I posted earlier, I wouldn't just simply pay the extra $1,000 for labor to fix it.
I think this sums it up nicely. I'll do my best to negotiate fairly on Monday. So far the Coase theorem was more fun in theory than in practice. :happy

Loik098
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Loik098 » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:32 am

You seem like a very reasonable, intelligent person with good perspective. I wish there were more neighbors like you in the world, and fewer neighbors like the person living next to you. Good luck on your endeavor and please let us know how this situation turns out.

Saving$
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Saving$ » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:35 am

1. Was the original wall or any part of it on your neighbors property, or was it all on your property?
2. How high is this wall?
3. I know you wrote that you discussed with the landscapers keeping the wall on your side of the property line, but please re-read the contract - is there anything in there that explicitly or by reference indicates the wall needs to be on your side of the property line?
4. Is there any way for the landscaper to know where the property line is? - is a rod at both corners along the line of this retaining wall, which the landscaper could have pulled a string between to know where the property line is?

The above are all important to the answer of what is the next step and who is responsible...

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ResearchMed
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:46 am

Saving$ wrote:1. Was the original wall or any part of it on your neighbors property, or was it all on your property?
2. How high is this wall?
3. I know you wrote that you discussed with the landscapers keeping the wall on your side of the property line, but please re-read the contract - is there anything in there that explicitly or by reference indicates the wall needs to be on your side of the property line?
4. Is there any way for the landscaper to know where the property line is? - is a rod at both corners along the line of this retaining wall, which the landscaper could have pulled a string between to know where the property line is?

The above are all important to the answer of what is the next step and who is responsible...
I'll add a #5 to the above:

5. Is the new wall boundary-edge-on-neighbor's-side the same as it was before?
If the new wall doesn't "encroach" any further than the old wall did, then you may already own that part of the property through adverse possession, depending upon your local laws and the length of time that wall (or even a previous wall/fence) was there.

Also, as you are finding out, sometimes even being "right" and/or "reasonable" doesn't work... and depending upon costs, it's not always worth the price to pay to enforce something, especially if it doesn't matter all that much.
It just that it can be difficult to grin and bear it, especially when interacting with said neighbor in the future.
Or not grin. :wink:

Good luck with this.

RM
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dbr
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by dbr » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:57 am

In defense of the neighbor it is never a good thing to have structures that overlap boundary lines. When a surveyed line exists I think it is good policy for both property owners to get it right while the opportunity exists. Even a few inches clouds the legal situation. There could also be an issue with the city about such things -- best to inquire.

I think the cost might be split between the landowner and the landscaper, but the question is whether the landscaper was clearly told where to build the wall and that the property line was visible. It could be the property owner just needs to eat this one. I had a case like that but the landscaper had surveyor's posts visible in the ground to be sure he was in the right place. Our property also has a large tree that is centered almost exactly on the property line but that has never been a problem for all the people who have lived on the two lots.

I do suspect a retaining wall might be the best practical solution to making a change in grade between the properties. Privacy bushes can be removed and replaced with others.

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Totrep
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Totrep » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:22 am

dbr wrote:In defense of the neighbor it is never a good thing to have structures that overlap boundary lines.
This is the neighbor's point exactly. In his further defense, he has lived in his house for 20+ years and apparently has endured property rights disputes with each of the three previous owners of our house. There is no doubt he has the right to remove the wall from his property, and so far he has been polite in asserting this right. I value our relationship more than $1,000 if it comes to that.

The original wall was entirely on our property before it starting to lean. The new blocks are much larger, and the new wall has a slightly different curve, so although it was installed in practically the same place it now noticeably crosses the property line. The new wall will be about 4 feet high.

There is nothing in the contract about the property line. There is a fence right along the property line, about 20 feet from the wall along the line, and the line runs directly through a tree about 20 feet on the other side of the fence. The landscapers were aware of these markers, but no string was installed---until yesterday :oops:. Again, I feel both parties share the blame here.

Loik098, thanks for the kind words. I'll be sure to provide an update on Monday.

Saving$
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Saving$ » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:38 am

Can you please explain:
The original wall was entirely on our property before it starting to lean. The new blocks are much larger, and the new wall has a slightly different curve, so although it was installed in practically the same place it now noticeably crosses the property line.
If the original wall was entirely on your property, and the new wall was installed in "practically the same place" how could the new wall now noticeably cross the property line???

Alternatively, are you trying to convey the following: Original wall was totally vertical, so from top to bottom it was entirely on your property; new wall is made of modular blocks, so they have 3/4" or so per course batter, and although the top of the wall is in the same place the top of the old wall was, because of the batter, the lowest course is about 4" into your neighbors property?

dbr
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by dbr » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:53 am

Saving$ wrote:Can you please explain:
The original wall was entirely on our property before it starting to lean. The new blocks are much larger, and the new wall has a slightly different curve, so although it was installed in practically the same place it now noticeably crosses the property line.
If the original wall was entirely on your property, and the new wall was installed in "practically the same place" how could the new wall now noticeably cross the property line???

Alternatively, are you trying to convey the following: Original wall was totally vertical, so from top to bottom it was entirely on your property; new wall is made of modular blocks, so they have 3/4" or so per course batter, and although the top of the wall is in the same place the top of the old wall was, because of the batter, the lowest course is about 4" into your neighbors property?
That is addressed in the post just above yours. That sort of thing is easy to do if the landscaper just replaces a wall instead of being sure to build it behind the property line.

anonyvestor
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by anonyvestor » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:43 am

How do you know the location of the property line? Are you presuming it is edge of the current wall? I fear that when all is well and done, your neighbor might still prove difficult, by challenging the location of the wall and property line.

I would give serious thought to a survey. You may already own some property beyond the wall. You might also gain concession by asking the neighbor to share in the cost of the survey.

Admittedly, the survey may cost as much as the wall itself.

health teacher
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by health teacher » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:59 am

anonyvestor wrote:How do you know the location of the property line? Are you presuming it is edge of the current wall?
OP said it was determined from a survey completed a few years ago.

dbr
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by dbr » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:13 pm

health teacher wrote:
anonyvestor wrote:How do you know the location of the property line? Are you presuming it is edge of the current wall?
OP said it was determined from a survey completed a few years ago.
Right. My experience with these things, and there have been a couple, is to get a survey and make sure the markers stay visible. My neighbor on one side and I had the two lots surveyed at the same time and split the cost. We each got an individual report but one consistent version of where the actual boundary is. Both a fence and a low retaining wall now exist on that line. Another piece of good news is that the power line poles are found to be set exactly at the corner points of the survey, which seems to be a practice with the local power company but would not be a reliable way to establish boundaries.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Gort » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:47 pm

I would build the wall and have the neighbor pay for it. :happy

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ResearchMed
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:25 pm

Gort wrote:I would build the wall and have the neighbor pay for it. :happy
Good one.

:twisted:

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by GreenGrowTheDollars » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:28 pm

Gort wrote:I would build the wall and have the neighbor pay for it. :happy
:beer I needed that today! :D

health teacher
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by health teacher » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:35 pm

Gort wrote:I would build the wall and have the neighbor pay for it. :happy
This one trumps them all.

harrychan
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by harrychan » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:00 pm

Ask for the copy of the survey from your neighbor. What seems odd is that you agreed to pay the full price of the wall. Around our neighborhood, the consensus is that walls are shared and depending on the agreement you can end up with 50-50 or slight 60-40.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

dbr
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by dbr » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:09 pm

harrychan wrote:Ask for the copy of the survey from your neighbor. What seems odd is that you agreed to pay the full price of the wall. Around our neighborhood, the consensus is that walls are shared and depending on the agreement you can end up with 50-50 or slight 60-40.
Good thought. I am not so sure about a retaining wall being shared, but anything can be discussed. I had the impression he does have bona fide markers already.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by edge » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:20 pm

I don't actually understand the origins of this problem. Why not just do nothing to the wall or remove it and not replace it? It sounds like the neighbor is the one who needs the wall, not you. Have him put one up on his side of the properly line.

Now, you have gone ahead and done something. Not sure exactly what the best way out is.

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Totrep
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Totrep » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:48 pm

The markers from the survey are still there, and correspond with several natural features of our properties.
edge wrote:I don't actually understand the origins of this problem. Why not just do nothing to the wall or remove it and not replace it? It sounds like the neighbor is the one who needs the wall, not you.
Our neighbor needs a functioning wall to prevent our dirt from spilling onto his property, and the old wall was close to completely collapsing. The bushes that need to be contained are ours, so we feel responsible for containing them. That said, if the situation were reversed I would have offered to split the cost of the wall. I also would not have worried if the wall crossed the property line by a few inches. But he didn't offer to pay and he is worried. I don't know his financial situation or most of the details about his previous property disputes, so I'm trying not to judge his decisions---and as pointed out above, his desire to avoid permanent structures crossing the line may be wise.

Ironically, the privacy bushes were installed by a previous owner of our house following one of the old property disputes. The previous owners planted bushes that were too big for the area, and constructed the cheapest wall they could get away with. We wanted to do better, hence the huge blocks that ended up crossing the line :|. It's a frustrating situation for sure, but fortunately everyone involved has kept a cool head so far.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Pharmacist » Sun Jul 31, 2016 12:39 am

Your neighbour sounds like a real clown. I would offer to buy the extra 10 square feet (you might even find that you own it anyways when the surveyor comes) and if he refuses tear down the wall and bushes and leave it; he can put in his own wall/bushes if he doesn't like it.

edge
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by edge » Sun Jul 31, 2016 2:46 am

Totrep wrote:Our neighbor needs a functioning wall
Sounds like he needs the wall, so he should put it up. Lesson learned I suppose. If you were doing anything actively to cause issues with his property that would be one thing. This is another. His property has a deficiency that is no fault of your own. He should be the one to remedy it. He is probably fidgety because he hopes you fix his problem for him.

I am not sure why you would need to know anything about his financial situation. It is not his decisions you should be worried about, it is your own.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by westie » Sun Jul 31, 2016 6:55 am

You're being very reasonable however as your neighbor I wouldn't want anything built on my property simply because it may cause an issue when one of you sells. Have the retaining wall moved to your property and be done with it.

tim1999
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by tim1999 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 7:46 am

Let me guess, your neighbor is a baby boomer with too much time on his hands. Recently dealt with one of these fussy jerks. These are the types that get on HOA boards so they can have control over everybody's actions.

VGisforme
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by VGisforme » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:34 am

I want to defend this neighbor more strongly than most have to this point. This is a 4 foot retaining wall replacing a wall that's already collapsed and you want to put it up with no permits and encroach on my property?

Be glad he isn't fully hostile at this point, you seem to have a calm and considerate manner as opposed to prior owners and I'm sure he's glad for that.

If my neighbor needed a 4 foot retaining wall to contain his soil I would not expect him to ask me to share in the cost as I might consider for a wooden fence etc.

Maybe there is a reason the first one collapsed and leaned into his property in the first place -- no permits!

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dodecahedron
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by dodecahedron » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:48 am

VGisforme wrote: If my neighbor needed a 4 foot retaining wall to contain his soil I would not expect him to ask me to share in the cost as I might consider for a wooden fence etc.
I am not sure you are reading the situation correctly. Your neighbor needs the retaining wall to contain YOUR soil, not his soil.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by TRC » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:54 am

VGisforme wrote:I want to defend this neighbor more strongly than most have to this point. This is a 4 foot retaining wall replacing a wall that's already collapsed and you want to put it up with no permits and encroach on my property?

Be glad he isn't fully hostile at this point, you seem to have a calm and considerate manner as opposed to prior owners and I'm sure he's glad for that.

If my neighbor needed a 4 foot retaining wall to contain his soil I would not expect him to ask me to share in the cost as I might consider for a wooden fence etc.

Maybe there is a reason the first one collapsed and leaned into his property in the first place -- no permits!
But the neighbor is a coward for not talking directly to the homeowner about the issues. Instead he went to the contractor to try and resolve this.

Areas differ, but where I live you don't need a permit to do small landscaping projects.

OP - I would fix this the least expensive way possible. If you don't care what it looks like, sell the blocks on Craigslist and just let mother nature take care of it.

This is one reason why I moved to a neighborhood with 3-5 acre lots and lots of buffer between neighbors!

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by fpr4 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:41 am

Totrep wrote:The markers from the survey are still there, and correspond with several natural features of our properties.
edge wrote:I don't actually understand the origins of this problem. Why not just do nothing to the wall or remove it and not replace it? It sounds like the neighbor is the one who needs the wall, not you.
Our neighbor needs a functioning wall to prevent our dirt from spilling onto his property, and the old wall was close to completely collapsing. The bushes that need to be contained are ours, so we feel responsible for containing them. That said, if the situation were reversed I would have offered to split the cost of the wall. I also would not have worried if the wall crossed the property line by a few inches. But he didn't offer to pay and he is worried. I don't know his financial situation or most of the details about his previous property disputes, so I'm trying not to judge his decisions---and as pointed out above, his desire to avoid permanent structures crossing the line may be wise.

Ironically, the privacy bushes were installed by a previous owner of our house following one of the old property disputes. The previous owners planted bushes that were too big for the area, and constructed the cheapest wall they could get away with. We wanted to do better, hence the huge blocks that ended up crossing the line :|. It's a frustrating situation for sure, but fortunately everyone involved has kept a cool head so far.
Your neighbor does not get the right to flat terrain at your expense.

I personally would have torn the existing wall down and replanted coniferous trees along the property line (without building a wall to make the grade perfectly flat), but it seems you're past that.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by fpr4 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:44 am

VGisforme wrote:I want to defend this neighbor more strongly than most have to this point. This is a 4 foot retaining wall replacing a wall that's already collapsed and you want to put it up with no permits and encroach on my property?

Be glad he isn't fully hostile at this point, you seem to have a calm and considerate manner as opposed to prior owners and I'm sure he's glad for that.

If my neighbor needed a 4 foot retaining wall to contain his soil I would not expect him to ask me to share in the cost as I might consider for a wooden fence etc.

Maybe there is a reason the first one collapsed and leaned into his property in the first place -- no permits!
There is no such thing as "needing to contain soil."

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Epsilon Delta » Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:00 am

One thing that hasn't been mentioned.

If the face of a four foot retaining wall is on the property line, the foundations are almost certainly beyond the property line. Drainage should be also be addressed. These should be considered in any agreement or unilateral course of action to prevent future issues.

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Totrep
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Totrep » Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:09 am

VGisforme, I think you make very good points. dodecahedron, I read line you quoted as a hypothetical illustrating why the neighbor may not have offered to split the cost, and I can appreciate that perspective.
TRC wrote: But the neighbor is a coward for not talking directly to the homeowner about the issues. Instead he went to the contractor to try and resolve this.
I don't think he realized how hard it would be to move the blocks, and honestly expected the landscapers to just say "whoops" and move the wall a little. Instead, they tried to pay him and quickly discovered that his utility function is not quasilinear in money.

fpr4, it is possible there were better solutions available when we started the project, though I'm not sure trees would have worked since this area is very close to our driveway. Going forward, we are resolved to work with the landscapers and get the wall on our side.

Epsilon Delta, thanks for raising those issues. I'll discuss them with the landscapers.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by VGisforme » Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:35 am

fpr4 wrote:
VGisforme wrote:I want to defend this neighbor more strongly than most have to this point. This is a 4 foot retaining wall replacing a wall that's already collapsed and you want to put it up with no permits and encroach on my property?

Be glad he isn't fully hostile at this point, you seem to have a calm and considerate manner as opposed to prior owners and I'm sure he's glad for that.

If my neighbor needed a 4 foot retaining wall to contain his soil I would not expect him to ask me to share in the cost as I might consider for a wooden fence etc.

Maybe there is a reason the first one collapsed and leaned into his property in the first place -- no permits!
There is no such thing as "needing to contain soil."
I agree with you it is the neighbor the OP who feels he needs the wall no? I wouldn't want a severe slope going to my neighbor which is what I envision if a 4 foot wall was needed right on the property line. IMO in my neck of the woods we build 6 inches onto our property for a fence. I'd want an even bigger setback to a retaining wall.

I dont see how a four foot wall is a minor landscape procedure at least in most suburban areas our need a permit for a four foot fence and likely extra inspections for a wall retaining four feet of earth.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by VGisforme » Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:40 am

TRC wrote:
VGisforme wrote:I want to defend this neighbor more strongly than most have to this point. This is a 4 foot retaining wall replacing a wall that's already collapsed and you want to put it up with no permits and encroach on my property?

Be glad he isn't fully hostile at this point, you seem to have a calm and considerate manner as opposed to prior owners and I'm sure he's glad for that.

If my neighbor needed a 4 foot retaining wall to contain his soil I would not expect him to ask me to share in the cost as I might consider for a wooden fence etc.

Maybe there is a reason the first one collapsed and leaned into his property in the first place -- no permits!
But the neighbor is a coward for not talking directly to the homeowner about the issues. Instead he went to the contractor to try and resolve this.

Areas differ, but where I live you don't need a permit to do small landscaping projects.

OP - I would fix this the least expensive way possible. If you don't care what it looks like, sell the blocks on Craigslist and just let mother nature take care of it.

This is one reason why I moved to a neighborhood with 3-5 acre lots and lots of buffer between neighbors!
He's not a coward! A real coward would wait until the project was done and then have his lawyer send letters to the neighbor, contractor and the municipality! He mentioned it to the workers during construction, you'd prefer he wait until more work is completed and then talk to OP?

The fact that they tried to bribe him is immensely embarrassing and shows me they probably need permits for the work.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by leonard » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:08 am

Totrep wrote:
dbr wrote:In defense of the neighbor it is never a good thing to have structures that overlap boundary lines.
he has lived in his house for 20+ years and apparently has endured property rights disputes with each of the three previous owners of our house.
Huge red flag. This guy is going to be a pain no matter what.

Before you start negotiating - get a 30 yr old junk van and park it on your lawn next to his house.
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by fpr4 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:16 am

VGisforme wrote:
fpr4 wrote:
VGisforme wrote:I want to defend this neighbor more strongly than most have to this point. This is a 4 foot retaining wall replacing a wall that's already collapsed and you want to put it up with no permits and encroach on my property?

Be glad he isn't fully hostile at this point, you seem to have a calm and considerate manner as opposed to prior owners and I'm sure he's glad for that.

If my neighbor needed a 4 foot retaining wall to contain his soil I would not expect him to ask me to share in the cost as I might consider for a wooden fence etc.

Maybe there is a reason the first one collapsed and leaned into his property in the first place -- no permits!
There is no such thing as "needing to contain soil."
I agree with you it is the neighbor the OP who feels he needs the wall no? I wouldn't want a severe slope going to my neighbor which is what I envision if a 4 foot wall was needed right on the property line. IMO in my neck of the woods we build 6 inches onto our property for a fence. I'd want an even bigger setback to a retaining wall.

I dont see how a four foot wall is a minor landscape procedure at least in most suburban areas our need a permit for a four foot fence and likely extra inspections for a wall retaining four feet of earth.
A four foot retaining wall would, by code, require a guardrail in the application the OP is describing. This is why you consult with a professional before taking on this kind of project. OP could have some serious liability exposure, not even considering the potential property line dispute.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by MrKnight » Sun Jul 31, 2016 12:19 pm

I don't think you are responsible for a retaining wall if that was the natural landscape, which I am inclined towards. It is likely that he had his land levelled which is causing erosion over to his land.

Do you want a wall? I would speak to a professional to determine whether you are responsible for one. If not, I would just knock the wall down and let the soil erode onto his side.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Jul 31, 2016 12:26 pm

Is this retaining wall mostly for the benefit of the neighbor, which seems to be assumed here?

In our area, often these retaining walls are built to support the weight of the higher land, which then or eventually has a structure built there.
Once there is a substantial structure, "let the soil drift down or erode" isn't really an option.

If there is a large distance between the structure and the property edge/wall, then this is less likely to be a problem.

OP - which is your situation?

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by dbr » Sun Jul 31, 2016 1:47 pm

It sure does sound like the OP needs the wall to maintain his property whatever the neighbor wants. I have a little bit of a situation like that. We have always maintained a retaining wall on our side of the line, but it is no where near a four foot drop.

I have no idea of the legality of one neighbor going after another neighbor if soil or water is not contained on the one property and washes onto the other property.

I had a roof gutter problem that resulted in water rushing off the side of my house into the space between houses, but because my neighbor is lower this tended to a water problem in his basement. He had a landscaper put in drain tiles. What did I do? I fixed my gutters to run the water off the ends of the houses. Why? Because I am a nice guy and it is the right thing to do.

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Totrep
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Totrep » Sun Jul 31, 2016 4:24 pm

The wall holds up only a row of bushes. If we leave the bushes but remove the wall, the area will require regular attention to keep things looking neat, and periodic re-sloping. Our neighbor maintains a very neat yard, and the new wall is (was?) very attractive and would require essentially no maintenance. We are less sensitive than our neighbor to landscaping issues, so by choosing to replace the wall rather than remove it we were trying to be nice and eliminate future work for ourselves.
VGisforme wrote: The fact that they tried to bribe him is immensely embarrassing and shows me they probably need permits for the work.
After studying economics for many years, I'm usually amenable to bribes transfer payments when negotiating, but in this case offering a bribe was not only embarrassing but extremely short sighted. As you say, the neighbor could easily have accepted the bribe and then complained after the wall was finished. Fortunately, I think he knows that we are trying to do the right thing here and so far he is conducting himself with integrity.

The height of 4 feet was an estimate and rounded up. I need to measure the wall and then research the rules for our area.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by likegarden » Sun Jul 31, 2016 4:49 pm

I agree with the neighbor, because I have a similar problem. My house also sits lower than my neighbor's and his soil got washed down regularly on my plantings and lawn in the past. OP should contain his soil and water and not bother his neighbor with it. Since this is OP's soil, he should pay for the retaining wall to keep the soil on his property and place that wall on his property. In my county all fences must be offset by 6 inches from the property line.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by mouses » Sun Jul 31, 2016 4:56 pm

likegarden wrote:I agree with the neighbor, because I have a similar problem. My house also sits lower than my neighbor's and his soil got washed down regularly on my plantings and lawn in the past. OP should contain his soil and water and not bother his neighbor with it. Since this is OP's soil, he should pay for the retaining wall to keep the soil on his property and place that wall on his property. In my county all fences must be offset by 6 inches from the property line.
Easier said than done. My lot is the low point for the street, and several of my neighbors up the street have made runoff worse with their yard modifications.

The landscapers sound incompetent or crooked. I do not fault the neighbor for not wanting to lose part of his yard. I do fault putting in a wall when the property line is not known, that's partly the OP's and partly the landscaper's fault.

I would check with the town about the permit situation. I would have a survey done so you know where the lot line is. Then I would hire an honest, competent landscaper to remove if necessary and complete the wall. What happens with the bill from the current landscaper, I have no idea. The OP is not talking about a lot of money here, so he may just have to eat it to avoid a mess.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Rodc » Sun Jul 31, 2016 5:28 pm

Unfortunate, but likely the best option is to just start over and build the wall correctly.
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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by Timoneer » Sun Jul 31, 2016 6:40 pm

From what has been presented, I am on the neighbor's side. He has lived there for 20+ years, and has had issues with others infringing upon the property line. It appears that the previous owner had neglected the retaining wall allowing it to partially collapse over the line, which is well marked.
I can easily imagine his thoughts when a new neighbor begins rebuilding it on the wrong side of the line. I don't know what the yards look like, but to me 10 inches over is significant.

When OP bought the property, he certainly would have been aware of the state of the retaining wall. It is unfortunate that the landscaper screwed up, but it is not proper that the long term neighbor should tolerate the infringement nor bear any of the cost.

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Re: Retaining wall on neighbor's property

Post by fpr4 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 6:47 pm

likegarden wrote:I agree with the neighbor, because I have a similar problem. My house also sits lower than my neighbor's and his soil got washed down regularly on my plantings and lawn in the past. OP should contain his soil and water and not bother his neighbor with it. Since this is OP's soil, he should pay for the retaining wall to keep the soil on his property and place that wall on his property. In my county all fences must be offset by 6 inches from the property line.
Sounds like you and the neighbor both bought with the knowledge that you were at the bottom of the runoff flow. Or were you not aware that water follows the path of least resistance when you bought?

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