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Maintaining Retaining Walls
A retaining wall is any structure made to retain or hold soil behind it. Among the numerous materials that one can make retraining walls with are treated timber, poured concrete, concrete blocks, boulders or rocks. When the ground level between the land on two sides of a wall changes, you should build a retaining wall. It should be stronger than the common walls so that it can offer maximum support to the land retained on the higher side.
Some of the factors you should consider before building a retaining wall include:
- The type of soil- is it clay or sand?
- What lies above the wall- is it a driveway or a pool?
- The height of the wall
- What will be the level of ground above or below the wall- will it be sloping or level?
Creating a retaining wall on a boundary can result in several problems. Unless expressly stated in a deed, if you are a landowner owning a retaining wall which supports your neighbour's higher land, you owe your neighbour's property a duty of support and are subject to an implied easement.
If you are a landowner whose retaining wall supports only your land, you have a duty of care to the maintenance of the wall such that it does not collapse onto your neighbour's lower land.
Usually, when the retaining wall occurring on a boundary needs repair, its ownership becomes a matter of debate because no one wants to incur the repair cost, leading to dispute.
However, if the deeds of either or both properties explicitly detail who the owner of the retaining wall is, then ownership should never come into question. Contrastingly, if both deeds do not have specific ownership details of the retaining wall, then an investigation of the boundary position must take place.
For the investigation to be successful, the deeds should describe the boundaries with extreme clarity and accuracy. Unfortunately, the deeds and plans are not precise, and you can only determine the boundary position to only 100mm, or a decimeter. With such inaccurate descriptions, it is only possible to ascertain that indeed the retaining wall lies on the boundary.
For boundary disputes, expert witness services or party wall advice, you should consult an RICS Chartered Surveyor. If you would like to contact a Charted Surveyor in the Kent area, follow the link below.