Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby CRACKERS » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:59 am

I am new to this forum and I am writing as we find ourselves in an unfortunate situation.
We moved into our house 2 years ago and our neighbours moved in 1 year ago. Our houses are on a hill with the neighbours being higher up the hill than us. We have just discovered that our neighbours garden (which has been raised to make it level) has been raised with out any retaining wall. There are 2 walls that are decorative in our rear garden along the boundary and inbetween them some iron railings with corrugated iron behind them on the neighbours side. It seems that where our decorative walls are the neighbours just backfilled across the garden boundary and used these walls as retaining walls and the corrugated iron up against the iron rail has been used as the retainer for that stretch of garden the garden is raised by at least 70cm. This is not the worst of it, we have a long lean to along the side of our house that goes up to the boundary of our property which is consructed of concrete blocks, it seems that the people that leveled the garden have just backfilled up against that (Not the people that own it now).
The current owners have recently built a single storey extension within 3m of the boundary on there property which I am now concerned is adding more load onto basically our house, as there is no retaining wall and it is just up against the concrete blocks of the lean to.
Neither they or we realised there was no proper retaining wall until a fence panel blew down recently and there builder dug around a bit and we realised nothing was there, our new neighbours did not realise that there garden had been raised up to make it level, despite the fact that we live on a hill... The neighbours are very nice and we do not want any problems, but we do not have the money to undertake this kind of work nor do we see that it is our responsibilty to retain there garden from our property, we do not mind contributing to the fence to go on top of any wall that is built but not the wall itself. I am having sleepless nights worrying about this now we know about it.
I have many questions....
Who should I contact to check this out? Who is responsible for the retaining wall, deeds do not specify who owns the boundary, but as the ground level has been altered to level there garden surely it is not our responsibility to build a retaining wall, what if we want to take down our lean to, there garden will be left unsupported, does that mean we cannot take it down? We do not know how long there garden has been raised for.
Any advice would be gratefully received.
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:17 pm

Hi CRACKERS,

we do not have the money to undertake this kind of work

what work is that?

why not leave things as they are and if (not when) your wall fails they'll have to build a retaining wall, won't they...

don't really understand the worries about the 'lean to' - maybe you could elaborate a bit...

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby despair » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:39 pm

Whoever raised the garden and now effectively your new neighbours are solely responsible to retaining the higher land

Its up to your neighbours to foot any bills that result and up to them to trace who did the bodge job
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby arborlad » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:47 pm

CRACKERS wrote: It seems that where our decorative walls are the neighbours just backfilled across the garden boundary and used these walls as retaining walls and the corrugated iron up against the iron rail has been used as the retainer for that stretch of garden the garden is raised by at least 70cm. This is not the worst of it, we have a long lean to along the side of our house that goes up to the boundary of our property which is consructed of concrete blocks, it seems that the people that leveled the garden have just backfilled up against that (Not the people that own it now). .




Works of this nature may require planning permission, it would depend on the scale and nature of those works, from what you describe this would seem to be at the upper end of that scale.

Does your lean-to have a dpc?
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby CRACKERS » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:58 pm

Thankyou for your responses

MACADAM
The work is to build the wall which is a very big job and having the money to contribute towards it.
We do not know what to do with the lean to, if we keep it or not, if we keep it surely it should not bear the weight of next door, if we remove it, can they say we have left ther property unsupported and sue us, and do we want there garden to collapse into the that space and jeopardise the stability of the re extension(No we don't)!?
Worry being the concrete wall of the lean to on the side of our house (8ft high concrete block wall with no windows running entire length of property which is over 10m long) is basically holding up there garden and now to a degree is also taking the load of the new extension. Surely a trench should be dug on there side of the boundary and a retaining wall should be built to hold up there garden, the entire length of there property has been raised, and where there was a wall available even if it is a wall on our side of the boundary they have back filled against it, up to a minimum height of 70 cm, along the concrete block leanto wall it is higher... Where there wasn't a wall available they just stuck some corrugated iron up against the iron rail that sits at the original garden level/boundary and backfilled up against that, the rail is now leaning our way as is one of the decorative block walls and the corrugated iron is very corroded as you would expect, next doors garden extends beyond our garden in to the garden behind us, and the iron railings and corrugated iron method has been used there as well to retain the garden, where it has completely collapsed and is being held up by trees and shrubs.. I guess I just feel next door should build a proper retaining wall around the boundary of their property to stop it collapsing into/onto any one elses and to stop it from leaning on our house, just don't know who to speak to about it Building Regs? Solicitor? Surveyor? Even though they are leaning against our house do we have a legal responsibility to not do anything to endanger there property, even though in a way they are endangering ours?

Arborland - Please could you tell me, What is a DPC?
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby arborlad » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:12 pm

CRACKERS wrote:Arborland - Please could you tell me, What is a DPC?




Sorry :) .............DPC = Damp Proof Course........where present on a building it can give a good indication of where soil level should be.
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby CRACKERS » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:28 pm

Thanks for the info. I can't see on the outside as garden goes up really high on wall, Could I tell from the inside if there is a DPC?

Update - Found the DPC layer in the wall, when you consider that the dpc is a minimum of 15cm above original ground level, then next doors garden is a good couple of feet above original ground level... and on our wall this explains the odd damp patch on the wall...

Thanks Again
Last edited by CRACKERS on Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby arborlad » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:41 pm

CRACKERS wrote:Thanks for the info. I can't see on the outside as garden goes up really high on wall, Could I tell from the inside if there is a DPC?
Thanks Again




Where present, it should be visible as a thicker horizontal/bed joint.

The height of the build-up on this wall - more than 700mm - is a real cause for concern.

If you have household insurance, this is something they should be made aware of.
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby despair » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:24 pm

I am stunned their extention was ever passed by Building regs officer .............you need to check at the Council

I believe the building regs officer can actually condem the whole situation as it sounds unsafe and not up to code

I think next door need to check they have legal cover to sue whoever did the job and deep enough pockets to cover the repairs inc your damp wall

if stuff is already leaning onto yours and your other neighbours land its clearly at risk of collapse when weight of winter rain starts

the garden level should never have been built up without planning permision
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby arborlad » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:47 pm

CRACKERS wrote:Update - Found the DPC layer in the wall, when you consider that the dpc is a minimum of 15cm above original ground level, then next doors garden is a good couple of feet above original ground level... and on our wall this explains the odd damp patch on the wall...

Thanks Again



The soil bearing on that wall needs to be removed as a matter of great urgency, the purpose of a dpc is to prevent rising damp but in these circumstances is a considerable weak point when exposed to horizontal pressures. Invite your neighbour round to see the problem and invite their response.
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby CRACKERS » Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:30 pm

despair wrote:
I am stunned their extention was ever passed by Building regs officer .............you need to check at the Council

I believe the building regs officer can actually condem the whole situation as it sounds unsafe and not up to code

I think next door need to check they have legal cover to sue whoever did the job and deep enough pockets to cover the repairs inc your damp wall

I don't think Building regs have actually signed it off yet, I know they have visited throughout the build but it still says pending on the planning website...
Neighbours are on holiday at the moment I think, so will speak to them when they get back, I really hate this, I do not want to have a bad relationship with our new neighbours, but I don't think they are going to be happy with the situation at all. They really are very nice and have worked hard on the house, I do not want them to be in a situation where their property is not approved or whatever, but I also can't leave the situation as it is... difficult.
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby despair » Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:37 pm

Do not wait around go and see the building regs officer yourself
get him out to inspect because causing damp your side and a build like that is not up to code
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby Eliza » Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:57 pm

I've read a variety of things over time about just who is responsible for (ie has to pay for) dealing with a retaining wall - some saying upper house, some saying lower house and others saying 50/50.

However - what is quite clear is that the upper house has a legal right of support for their land. What that means in practice you'd better ask a legal bod. We do have Pilman and Conveyancer on this Forum that could maybe expand on that.
Apologies for not giving exact personal details in my posts - you never know who is reading....
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby jonahinoz » Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:08 pm

Hi Crackers,

You say that the wall is >700mm high, measured from your garden level? And that your neighbours extension is within 3m of the wall. Have you any idea how far the backfill extended from the wall, towards the extension?

In theory, their foundations should have been dug at least one meter down from ground level at the point where they were digging. That would have put the bottom of the foundation about 300mm below your garden level. Is that sufficient to prevent the foundations from slipping towards you? And anyway, would you trust Jerry to have laid the foundations that deep?

Further more, Jerry should have taken the bottom of his foundations to below the bottom of the foundations of any building within 3 metres. Google Party Wall Act.

Keep your fingers crossed that Jerry was not involved in building your extension.

Did YOU employ a surveyor when you bought your house, or did you give the surveyor's fee to your lender, so that they could carry out their survey ... which means the surveyor is not responsible to you.

Same question to your neighbour.

How long ago was the ground backfilled? I think you want it to be less than four years ... and that the PO of your neighbour's house did not declare the development during the sale to you.

Nobody is liable for a catastrophe that has not happened yet, so I don't think you can claim against your neighbour for the cost of protecting your property.

As I see it, if you cannot put this at the door of POs, surveyors, solicitors, etc. One of two things can happen ...

1. Both you and your neighbour will have to pay to put this right, or,

2. Your neighbour alone will have to pay to pay to put this right.

I know which I would prefer ... you have done nothing wrong ... unless your PO told your neighbour's PO that he could backfill against the wall.

I think you both will need to do exploratory digs to reveal your foundation concrete, see how deep it is.

You want a groundworker, not a builder. For what it's worth, my groundworker used a grab-lorry, much nicer than a skip or tipper lorry. Just make a big pile, grab, grab ... and it's gone in a matter of minutes. I think he said that a 20 ton lorry cost him £250 ... but I might have misheard.

John W
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Re: Garden raised with no Retaining Wall

Postby arborlad » Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:12 pm

Eliza wrote:However - what is quite clear is that the upper house has a legal right of support for their land.




Please stop with your nonsense - there is absolutely and positively no right of support on the OPs lean-to wall :roll: :roll:
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