Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

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Viola
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:53 pm

Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by Viola »

Hello everyone!

This is my first post on the GLD forum

I could really do with some good advice please!

Or if my situation looks completely hopeless perhaps some tea and sympathy :D


History:

My house and next door neighbours properties are detached houses built by same builder in 1989
They sit on a hill slope, my neighbours house is just over 2m higher than mine.
The builders left a retaining wall between our land which serves as a boundary between properties.
[ The deeds show the T pointing to the higher level side for ownership of this wall - but this isn't the issue with this post ]
The retaining boundary wall was approx' 1.1m high, so this left a steep surplus of earth behind to rise up to neighbouring house higher level.
The higher neighbouring house being situated only around 4m distance from their retaining wall, and which is their back garden, and which borders to my side garden.

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Sometime during the late 90s the neighbours employed a bricky to add more height to this wall by building it up another ten brick courses higher.
This raised the original wall height from 1.1m to around 1.95m. [ But less than 2m high so no planning permission necessary between private gardens ]
This wall now being 1.95m high was only one brick length thick, and 15m long.
This new wall on top of the old wall was then used to retain more earth behind which gave their garden a flatter level and better outlook.
A 3' wooden fence was placed on top for privacy.
This was undertaken during a previous ownership of the lower house, a few years before i purchased this property.

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I purchased this 'lower' property in 2003, but before signing i did point out to the solicitor doing the conveyancing that the retaining wall had structural cracking to include going thought the middle of some bricks. She quite rightly informed me that the retaining wall in question is the property and responsibility of the higher house, as T marked on deeds.
Over the next few years of living here i did politely and sympathetically point out to my neighbours the defects on their wall, i thought this was the responsible thing to do being as they couldn't see the side of their wall from their property, but they always remained unconcerned, always declining the invitation to come around to view the ever increasing cracks, and the first signs of leaning over...

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It's amazing how the years go by so fast, ...ten years later [ 2013 ] and i've retired from work [ hooray! :P ] and i'm wanting to landscape my garden, spend some time and money on it, make it look nice, but i know it would be foolish to start this proper until there is a permanent and satisfactory resolve to the neighbouring leaning wall of death issue, which by this time has become far more serious. The neighbours continued to disregard any big problem with the wall, and on one occasion Mr Neighbour got angry with me and blamed my gatepost for pulling this 15m long wall into a lean!

But fear not, i may not be the brightest bunny in the warren, but i'm certainly not taken in by such ridiculous attributions.

A few more years flitter by.. but then one sunny day another neighbour who is a kindly civil engineer, advised me to keep well away from "that dangerous wall", and contact the Buildings Control Surveyor of the county council. So i took to this man's good advice.
I had actually already contacted the council a couple of years earlier, but only to be told they did not get involved between private gardens, and i should seek a solicitor.
But this time i reported the wall in as a dangerous retaining wall which was liable to cause injury or death.
So the council surveyor eventually visited, he saw, he gasped, he wrote the neighbours a letter which gave them 3 weeks to 'make safe' or the council will do it and send them the bill.

Three weeks later the newer top half of the wall was demolished and disposed of somewhere, along with some earth.
The lower half and foundation was left in situ, however this didn't pose such an immediate danger.
This development left the area fairly safe but with zero privacy for either dwelling, and it looked a bit of a mess too.

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Another 18 months go by..., during this demolition aftermath it went quiet for a while then one afternoon by chance i happened to notice my neighbour on my land with a posh looking gent both looking at the remains of the retaining wall, so i went outside to say hello and join the discussion.
He was a surveyor that they'd employed to advise them of options and a plan of action.

The outcome of this meeting was that the rest of the wall needed to go, and for low budget funds he suggested it be replaced with a wall of gabion baskets, 1 cubic meter on anther 1 cubic meter, and then another half size gabion on top. Fence posts, maybe concrete posts, to be fixed internally within some gabions to secure a new strong fence on top.
There is a local quarry with good gabion filling stone that is fairly cheap too.

My neighbour liked the idea of the lower costs of gabions, and i said they can also be made up to look dry-stone walled which makes them good garden architecture with a rugged natural charm. Good for nature too.
Neighbours were happy to go ahead with this plan, and it was fine with me too, so i went on the charm-offensive, if these gabions are to be dry-stone wall effect and put together neatly then i consent to all permissions to use my land to excavate and rebuild in this fashion.
They would after all need to work on it from my land to get the job done.

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Anyway, as far the time goes this now brings us up to date, the new gabion wall has been constructed, more or less finished, but there are problems, it's not anything how i expected.
Whatever was discussed in the meeting we had [ some 18 months ago ] has been somewhat disregarded:


The gabions have been filled with loose stone but not placed in a dry-stone wall fashion; the builder has used an excavator bucket to drop the stone in from above, the weight of each bucket-drop crash causing the gabions to distort. This means the visual sides of each gabion looks a lot less attractive from a residential perspective, and dropping in of loose stone at random creates a lot more outward pressure of weight on the outside gabion sides compared to placement of dry-stone walling style.

The gabions are not installed neatly, many gabion corners have no helicoils so don't contact the neighbouring gabion which leaves an unsightly gap and unsecured gabion corners.
(a 'helicoil' is a coil of galvanised metal wire that looks like a long thin spring, it is designed to coil around two gabion corners to strongly link them together.)

The gabions haven't been filled with enough stone, and the builder has used an ugly hard-core concrete mix to fill these voids in, and this gloop is visible.

No attempt to fix fenceposts within gabions, the neighbour have new plan of action to somehow lash the wood fence posts onto the outsides of the gabion wires which will be held on by some kind of bracket

The problem i have with this is, the gabion wire is not really designed to hold fence posts, this fence is also in a location that can get very windy, i believe in time it will prematurely break the gabion wires, the fence could be dangerous if it fell. It goes without saying this method of fencing would also be a hideous eyesore from my garden.

There is also every possibility that the neighbours feel an animosity towards me, and are in the process of blatantly and deliberately having this gabion wall built to extremely poor aesthetic standards which they won't see from their garden, but will be an eyesore from mine.

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I have again contacted the council surveyor and he was good to visit here about a week ago.
However he did seem rather uninterested, unimpressed, and said the gabion wall is actually fit for purpose from a structural requirement point of order.
He also said he can't get concerned with the aesthetics. He stayed less than 10 minutes.

He did agree that many free gabion basket corners needed more wire [ or helicoils ] for safety.
He also agreed that fixing the fence on the gabion sides in not a good idea.
He would tell them to get the free corners secured with more wire, and use an alternative fixing plan for fenceposts.

I think he did have some sympathy for my concerns but his job description is limited to what is unsafe or dangerous.

He advised me to wait for the completion, then hide it with climbing plants, which is want i was thinking anyway.

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So here is the nub of the issue:

Do i have any rights or any say-so in regard to what an eyesore of a replacement wall they can get away with?
Personally i'd never inflict any neighbour with such a unpleasantly constructed edifice.

I believe my neighbours will ignore the council surveyor's instruction about their fencepost attachment method, and go ahead with it.
However their plan is to use a different person to undertake it.
Should i refuse him permission to enter my land to undertake this work that i find so disagreeable, unsuitable and possible dangerous?



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Sorry this first post is so long!

Thank you for reading this far down, hope i haven't bored anyone to tears with my ramblings :D


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mr sheen
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Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by mr sheen »

Sorry not got time to read all that but the photo shows a great retaining wall. The quality of a retaining wall, as oppose to its aesthetic appeal, is the key factor in this era of landslides and flooding.
ukmicky
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Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by ukmicky »

Nothing you can do to get it changed but you can put something in front of it to shield it from view.
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
IdefixUK
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Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by IdefixUK »

Hello Viola.
Looks solid enough to me. I heard that if you get some live yogurt and mix it with some warmish water to thin it down a fair bit, then spray it on the stones this will rapidly "age" them. Similar results can be obtained by using cow pats and water, if you feel brave. Remember that it's not actually your wall so best consult with those above first.
Regards
Viola
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Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:53 pm

Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by Viola »

mr sheen wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 9:10 pm Sorry not got time to read all that but the photo shows a great retaining wall. The quality of a retaining wall, as oppose to its aesthetic appeal, is the key factor in this era of landslides and flooding.
This is neither a landslide or flood risk neighbourhood, and such a subject is irrelevant here. It's also a great mess of a retaining wall that's absolutely fine for an aquatic creature living in a reservoir, but no, i',m a human being living in a residential area house that is 2.5m away from this rock monster mashup.

I'm sorry my opening post is so long, perhaps too long, it would seem too much for you to take in, my fault i guess, i do go on sometimes :(
Viola
Posts: 36
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Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by Viola »

IdefixUK wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:11 pm Hello Viola.
Looks solid enough to me. I heard that if you get some live yogurt and mix it with some warmish water to thin it down a fair bit, then spray it on the stones this will rapidly "age" them. Similar results can be obtained by using cow pats and water, if you feel brave. Remember that it's not actually your wall so best consult with those above first.
Regards
The solidity of the structure is not the matter in question. It is the safety aspects of not securing the free gabion corners with helicoils, and their dubious intention of lashing wobbly fenceposts to the sides, and this before we get to the deliberately engineered in crude aesthetics... i mean these things are good to last 100 years so why not build it tidy instead?

Meanwhile, i'm well aware it isn't my wall, being a woman of fine taste with pride in my work i'd never in my wildest dreams build a gabion wall next to someones garden in such an untidy and slapdash fashion :shock:
MacadamB53
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Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by MacadamB53 »

Hi Viola,

Do i have any rights or any say-so in regard to what an eyesore of a replacement wall they can get away with?

no

Should i refuse him permission to enter my land to undertake this work that i find so disagreeable, unsuitable and possible dangerous?

that’s up to you, except...

...the neighbours feel an animosity towards me, and are in the process of blatantly and deliberately...

would be a fair description of what next door would suppose...

and you don’t seem that type...

kind regards, Mac
Viola
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Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:53 pm

Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by Viola »

ukmicky wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:10 pm Nothing you can do to get it changed but you can put something in front of it to shield it from view.
Yes, this is what the council surveyor said, and i do rather like the idea of evergreen climbers giving a good show and hiding the scene of the crime :wink:

Although this is merely wishful thinking at this moment in time, i am well aware this wall is the property of my neighbour, and my plants may not appeal to their fun and enjoyment of annoying me with their mess of a wall in full glorious view. But i can only remain positive at this stage that no such heinous condition of plant removall be imposed upon my japonica, helix, or pyracantha...
MacadamB53
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Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by MacadamB53 »

Viola wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:12 pm
ukmicky wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:10 pm Nothing you can do to get it changed but you can put something in front of it to shield it from view.
Yes, this is what the council surveyor said, and i do rather like the idea of evergreen climbers giving a good show and hiding the scene of the crime :wink:

Although this is merely wishful thinking at this moment in time, i am well aware this wall is the property of my neighbour, and my plants may not appeal to their fun and enjoyment of annoying me with their mess of a wall in full glorious view. But i can only remain positive at this stage that no such heinous condition of plant removall be imposed upon my japonica, helix, or pyracantha...
so long as they’re climbing up something you own, rather than the neighbour’s wall, sounds like a plan to me...
Viola
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Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:53 pm

Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by Viola »

MacadamB53 wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:30 pm
Viola wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:12 pm
ukmicky wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:10 pm Nothing you can do to get it changed but you can put something in front of it to shield it from view.
Yes, this is what the council surveyor said, and i do rather like the idea of evergreen climbers giving a good show and hiding the scene of the crime :wink:

Although this is merely wishful thinking at this moment in time, i am well aware this wall is the property of my neighbour, and my plants may not appeal to their fun and enjoyment of annoying me with their mess of a wall in full glorious view. But i can only remain positive at this stage that no such heinous condition of plant removall be imposed upon my japonica, helix, or pyracantha...
so long as they’re climbing up something you own, rather than the neighbour’s wall, sounds like a plan to me...
Hello Mac, thanks for your replies.

Gabion wire is absolutely perfect for climber plants, no harm in it at all, and there isn't anything else there for them to cling to.
The only reason the neighbours would object is if they're determined to be unreasonably awkward, and there is only one way to find this out...
MacadamB53
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Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by MacadamB53 »

Viola wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:46 pm
MacadamB53 wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:30 pm
Viola wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:12 pm

Yes, this is what the council surveyor said, and i do rather like the idea of evergreen climbers giving a good show and hiding the scene of the crime :wink:

Although this is merely wishful thinking at this moment in time, i am well aware this wall is the property of my neighbour, and my plants may not appeal to their fun and enjoyment of annoying me with their mess of a wall in full glorious view. But i can only remain positive at this stage that no such heinous condition of plant removall be imposed upon my japonica, helix, or pyracantha...
so long as they’re climbing up something you own, rather than the neighbour’s wall, sounds like a plan to me...
Hello Mac, thanks for your replies.

Gabion wire is absolutely perfect for climber plants, no harm in it at all, and there isn't anything else there for them to cling to.
The only reason the neighbours would object is if they're determined to be unreasonably awkward, and there is only one way to find this out...
don’t be silly - doesn’t matter how suitable it is for climbers, it’s not your property.

your garden might be suitable for siting a storage container, but that doesn’t give others the right to do so without your permission...

concerned regards, Mac
mr sheen
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Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by mr sheen »

If you don’t like a neighbour’s boundary feature you are free to build something on your own land to hide it eg wall, fence etc.
Viola
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:53 pm

Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by Viola »

MacadamB53 wrote: Tue Feb 25, 2020 7:55 am
Viola wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:46 pm
MacadamB53 wrote: Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:30 pm so long as they’re climbing up something you own, rather than the neighbour’s wall, sounds like a plan to me...
Hello Mac, thanks for your replies.

Gabion wire is absolutely perfect for climber plants, no harm in it at all, and there isn't anything else there for them to cling to.
The only reason the neighbours would object is if they're determined to be unreasonably awkward, and there is only one way to find this out...
don’t be silly - doesn’t matter how suitable it is for climbers, it’s not your property.

your garden might be suitable for siting a storage container, but that doesn’t give others the right to do so without your permission...

concerned regards, Mac
In this comparison it's only the storage container in my garden that would be silly, a strange and odd comparison that.

Gabion wire really is perfect for climber plants, probably invented for them, and a well accepted gardening feature, even the Council Surveyor suggested this as a counter measure in this circumstance, and don't forget this is early days yet, for all we know my neighbours may not object to a nice display of evergreen flora. They may even like them and appreciate the natural elegance it gives to both our dwellings, and without the incumbrance of losing a few 10s of thousands off both our property values due to the stupefying mismanagement of a simple gabion wall build :|
Viola
Posts: 36
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Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by Viola »

mr sheen wrote: Tue Feb 25, 2020 10:13 am If you don’t like a neighbour’s boundary feature you are free to build something on your own land to hide it eg wall, fence etc.
Early days yet, my aspirations of magnificent climber plants gloriously ascending the heights of my neighbours monumental carbuncle needs to be pursued and at least attempted, for it is the bestest by far compromise in this sordid circumstance.

Building something to hide this neighbours ugly boundary edifice would require a screen 3m high and 15m long which would certainly look different but wouldn't look any less ridiculous IMO
Would also be expensive to do, and would do nothin to regain the market values of our properties. :(
MacadamB53
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Re: Retaining wall replacement is an eyesore.

Post by MacadamB53 »

Hi Viola,

for all we know my neighbours may not object to a nice display of evergreen flora. They may even like them and appreciate the natural elegance it gives to both our dwellings

the way to find out is to ask - which is the point I’m stressing but you’re missing...

kind regards, Mac
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