Retaining wall-how close to property line?

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Old 06-19-12, 12:06 PM
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Retaining wall-how close to property line?

Is there any general rule of thumb with regard to placing a retaining wall in regards to a property line? I have a 12-15ft portion of yard that slopes and is actually outside of my backyard fence (it's been virtually unusable the entire time I've lived in the house), so I'd like to "reclaim" as much of that property as possible with a 3ft retaining wall which would really mitigate much of the slope.

That said, this slope goes to the edge of my property with level ground being right where the neighbor's property begins (he has a hedgeline between our properties). I know he'd be ok with the wall because the area between my fence and his hedges is like the DMZ (and I've mentioned the idea to him before and his feedback has always been positive). But my problem is, how much of that area can I actually "reclaim"? If I need to stay 5 or 10 feet from the line, it isn't worthwhile. If I can go to within a foot or two of the line, it's certainly worth the cost (the length of area I'd like to build the wall is about 75').

Does anyone here think I can go that close? I will check with my township building codes office, but I wanted to have an idea of what is generally allowed or else they go into uber ball-busting mode.

Thanks in advance!
Chris
 
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Old 06-19-12, 12:12 PM
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I would think it's pretty likely you can go within a foot but, as you noted, the local authority gets to decide.
 
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Old 06-19-12, 12:14 PM
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Thanks, Mitch. I just didn't want to go in ignorant. If it was a "well-known" instance where you never go that close and I went in looking to go that close, I'd be in deep you-know-what with the local guys.
 
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Old 06-19-12, 12:17 PM
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I would think this would fall under the same rules as a fence and a foot is about as far away as you have to go with those, often they can be on the line. Actual structure construction would likely be a whole lot father away (7' in my neighborhood).
 
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Old 06-19-12, 12:20 PM
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Yep. Sheds are either 5' or 10' for us, so I've been told, which is what had me worried about a wall. Thanks again for the help!
 
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Old 06-19-12, 04:27 PM
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If you do manage to get the AHJ permission to build a wall near the property line, make sure you locate the nearest property boundary pins or survey stakes, and then run a taut stringline between them for a reference when laying out your new wall. Doing so will rule out any "eyeball" or "close enough for government work" mistakes.
 
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Old 06-19-12, 05:52 PM
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I would expect it to be treated like a fence. Follow whatever the rules are. That way if your neighbor moves, the new neighbor doesn't give you any trouble. It's much harder to move a wall than a fence. I would also leave enough room between the wall and hedge to maintain the property there.
 
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Old 06-19-12, 07:36 PM
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Some jurisdictions have something called adverse possession, meaning that if you do not use a certain chunk of land, but someone else does, after a seven year period (or as otherwise stipulated in that jurisdiction) that land becomes the property of the user. There are exceptions to this as with everything else, but it usually works something like that.

Having said that and realizing that you get along well with your neighbor, I see no reason as to why you could not build the retaining wall at the property line unless local by-laws do not allow it or your neighbor does not wish to allow any occupation of a bit of his land during construction. Unless there is a special reason, you can usually build anywhere on your land.

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Old 06-20-12, 03:11 PM
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you may also want to verify if there are any utility easements along this property line. It is possible that the local authority may have no objection but your utility company may.
 
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Old 06-20-12, 05:42 PM
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Check the codes for "setbacks" which apply to structures. Not sure if it would apply to a retaining wall.
 
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