Get 1 year of free community web site hosting from Community123.com!
Friday, December 03, 2021











HOATalk is a free service of Community123.com:

Easy to use website tools to help your board
Only members have access to all features.
Click here to join HOATalk for Free! Members click here to login and access all features.
Subject: Partial retaining wall on common property
Prev Next
Please login to post a reply (click Member Login on the menu).
Author Messages
SusanH31
(North Carolina)

Posts:27


10/08/2021 12:33 PM  
My husband and I are planning a backyard project to level the slope and use a couple of textured concrete block retaining walls to hold the soil in place. Behind our lot is common property that provides access the neighborhood's storm water management system - not an attractive patch of common land or one that other homeowners see or use.

When the water authority came out to mark sewer lines, they informed us that one of our walls would sit directly on top of a sewer line. Um, that's not going to work. The new concept would place that retaining wall farther out, at the farthest edge of our property, to avoid putting it above the sewer line, but this means some of the wall would sit on common property. We have to put it outside our lot for erosion control and so the water authority could perform maintenance on this sewer line if needed. (It's a new PVC line, not likely to have problems for years.)

On the plus side, this section of the common property would have better erosion control than any other area, paid for by us. The wall will be attractive and professionally built. What are the negatives to doing this? Naturally, we would not build without our HOA's Architectural and Landscaping Committees' approvals.

One sticky point is that my husband is the HOA President and Chairman of the Board, and I am Treasurer (not on the Board, merely an officer). We want to avoid any whiff of impropriety or perceived preferential treatment. We are not trying to do anything underhanded. It's a small neighborhood of 22 townhomes, most of which do not abut common property, but it could still be seen as setting a precedent.

What do y'all think? We would be willing to sign a statement that any maintenance needed on this 4' tall wall would be our responsibility, not the HOA's. If the HOA approves this wall, is that good enough? Should we try to buy the land under the wall, if that's even a thing? Are we worrying too much? TIA!
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4284


10/08/2021 1:41 PM  
Have you presented any of this to the committee yet? If not, you could go and put ALL your cards on the table and then see what the committee says. I suspect the part about the sewer line may prompt a lot more questions, so you may want to bring your experts along to help answer them. In fact, you may need two hearings to address as many questions as possible so the committee can make an informed decision.

You said you'd be willing to be responsible for maintenance and you might also want to throw in the offer to buy that portion of the common area - that alone may take care of this. Meanwhile, be prepared to answer the primary question to kick things off - why are you doing this anyway? Is this to solve an erosion issue in your yard? What's wrong with the slope - you knew it was there when you bought your home! And so on. I'm not saying it's a bad idea, but some people may get impatient with the discussion about the sewer line and the wall and go straight for the jugular.

After all that, the committee might end up deferring the matter to the board of directors, meaning your husband will have to abstain from voting (you already knew that). I'd also have your two leave the room while the issue is being debated so no one could complain you were there and influenced the final vote. Good luck!

CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


10/08/2021 2:17 PM  
If this area is involved in storm water management, you and the board may have less say in what happens - this is a big deal and will likely involve getting an engineer from the local municipality to approve any changes since a structure can alter drainage patterns. I wouldn't make any plans before the HOA gets the blessing from on high.

Anyone who sits on the board will have to recuse themselves completely from discussions and decision making.

CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


10/08/2021 2:25 PM  
Oh, and having a privately owned structure encroaching on common areas is probably a non-starter, even if the owner agrees to pay for it. In addition to maintenance, which a private owner may choose to outsource to Brother-in-Law's second cousin twice removed who isn't licensed or insured, the HOA may well have to insure the structure. And what happens when you sell your home - does the buyer get stuck with the maintenance? Very unlikely: it will fall onto the HOA, and the neighbors down the street never agreed to pay for this.

Nothing in HOA-Land is simple...
SusanH31
(North Carolina)

Posts:27


10/09/2021 1:04 PM  
Thanks for the feedback. We hadn't thought of leaving the meeting so the rest of the board could discuss privately, but it's an excellent suggestion.

Our reason for doing this project is to make our back yard usable. Right now there is enough slope that I'm afraid to walk on most of it without hiking boots. Slopes are common here in Asheville, NC, and so are retaining walls to manage them. Erosion is always a concern, and flat yards are rare.

We haven't presented our case to the committees yet. Thanks again for the advice!
SusanH31
(North Carolina)

Posts:27


10/09/2021 1:16 PM  
The slope is adjacent to storm water management but is uphill from the drainage path. There is a set of drains in the neighborhood leading to "the pit" which looks like a big water retention pond, except that it doesn't hold water most of the time. There is a ramp behind our house that leads to the pit, with a drainage ditch alongside the ramp and piles of gravel to slow down water flow. Our home sits 45-50 ft uphill from that drainage ditch, with our sloped yard transitioning to common sloped property for about the last 15 ft. The developer's choice of where to put the property line seems arbitrary. I'm not aware of any features in that last 15 ft that would be harmed by our putting a retaining wall near the uphill end.
SusanH31
(North Carolina)

Posts:27


10/09/2021 1:38 PM  
I'm trying to attach a photo. If it works, you can see that we have a mostly level section, then a slope where the bird house is. It sits just inside our property line. We're talking about adding a retaining wall that would sit maybe 1-3 ft downhill from the birdhouse. The grey gravel piles are part of the drainage by the ramp. Other, steeper sections of slope behind other neighbors' townhomes are getting serious erosion problems, and I'd think adding a wall would make our portion stronger without changing the water flow.

Photos apparently are not supported. Try this link:
https://www.dragonseye.com/photos/picture.php?/25820-pxl_20210307_154503070_sm/category/761-around_the_house
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:793


10/09/2021 2:09 PM  
This looks like the wall is going to be very long, high and substantial. Since it will be on common ground the HOA will in essence own it. We had a similar situation and our lawyer said a homeowner promising to take care of it in the future was not enforceable. If this is the case in your state this raises the question would the wall need to be accounted for in your reserve funds? Assuming it would, is it fair for other owners to fund a wall that is solely for the benefit of one owner?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


10/09/2021 2:13 PM  
Susan

I assume, from the picture, you will need some pretty robust retaining walls and plenty of fill. Am I correct?
SusanH31
(North Carolina)

Posts:27


10/10/2021 8:13 AM  
There will be two walls: an upper one to support the mostly flat level, after it's been leveled a little more, and a lower one to support a lower level. Each wall will be no higher than 4 ft.
SusanH31
(North Carolina)

Posts:27


10/10/2021 8:17 AM  
Yes, the walls will be made of 18" textured concrete block. There will be footers and backfill using gravel and rebar for stability and water flow. The company doing the work specializes in grading and hardscapes. In other words, we are not building flimsy DIY walls on the cheap.
Please login to post a reply (click Member Login on the menu).
Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Partial retaining wall on common property



Only members have access to all features.
Click here to join HOATalk for Free! Members click here to login and access all features.







General Legal Notice:  The content of forum messages are from the posting member and have not been reviewed nor endorsed by HOATalk.com.  Messages posted by HOATalk or other members are for informational purposes only, are not legal or professional advice and do not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.  HOATalk is not a licensed attorney, CPA, tax advisor, financial advisor or any other licensed professional.  HOATalk accepts ads from sponsors but does not verify sponsor qualifications nor endorse/guarantee any sponsor's product or service.
Legal Notice For Messages Posted by Sponsoring Attorneys: This message has been prepared by the sponsoring attorney for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Readers of HOATalk.com should not act on this information without seeking professional counsel. Please do not send any sponsoring attorney confidential information unless you speak with the sponsoring attorney or an attorney from the sponsoring attorney’s firm and get authorization to send that information to them. If you wish to initiate possible representation, please contact an attorney in the firm of the sponsoring attorney. Sponsoring attorneys that post messages here are licensed to practice law in a specific state or states as indicated in their message signature or sponsor’s profile page. (NOTE: A ‘sponsoring attorney’ is an attorney that is a HOATalk.com official sponsor and is identified as such in the posted message or on our sponsor page.)

Copyright HOA Talk.com, A Service of Community123 LLC ( Homeowners Association Discussions )   Terms Of Use  Privacy Statement