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Old 08-16-2013, 06:28 PM
 
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I do have kids. What does that mean? What will happen because of the steep grade? Won't they level it out?
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Old 08-17-2013, 08:52 AM
 
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Yes they will do a final grade.
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Old 08-17-2013, 09:09 AM
 
Location: Funky town
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mckgirl11 View Post
I do have kids. What does that mean? What will happen because of the steep grade? Won't they level it out?
I meant the angle of incline (grade) is quite steep going from center to the retaining wall. If it is too steep, you and your family may not be able to take full advantage of the backyard. It reminds me of David Weekley's development in Las Colinas. I think it is called Escana. Very steep backyard. Hard to keep any outdoor furniture, throw ball, put a tree house, etc...

They will do a final grade but chances are it is going to remain steep because leveling it can be done in two ways - lowering the soil at the retaining wall (not going to happen) or filling more land (unlikely to happen). Of course, this is just my opinion from building a house and looking at few that had such lots..
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Old 08-17-2013, 09:11 AM
 
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It's actually not that steep. May look like it in the pic. It's inclined a little bit by the wall. That's about it
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:59 AM
 
Location: Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
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Originally Posted by Mckgirl11 View Post
It's actually not that steep. May look like it in the pic. It's inclined a little bit by the wall. That's about it
I have attached your original picture with arrows for descriptions here. When you're building you need to watch for the following items. First a description of the apparent drainage provisions here. The drainage in the rear yard appears to be established to catch all of the run-off at the rear of the yard. You can see the amount of slope where the left side fence dips down and back up. The fence line will be a very good indicator of what your final yard grade will be. The yard slopes toward the back retaining wall and also from the retaining wall toward the yard. This is going to be a run-off swale or if you prefer gully that will trap and provide flow for run-off. This is shown with the two bottom, left arrows and the long arrow going right to left in the swale. The arrow on the wall is pointing to PVC drainage pipes that should extend through the wall to the drainage medium behind it. You can't see them in my picture so look at your original picture to see them. These will allow any water collecting in the ground behind that wall to drain out. Without drainage of this type the hydrostatic pressure can be enormous behind that wall causing it to cave.

The first thing to check and watch for is that fence the way it was installed. I can't see it well but that fence bottom should not be at ground level where that swale is passing under it. At ground level it can impede or block any water flow. Not only that but it will constantly keep the fence wet and deteriorate it much quicker. Here is a problem though that typically occurs in the neighborhood after build that also needs to be watched for. When you raise that fence up then people with dogs have a tendency to add back to it to block off a path for their dogs to exit. When they do they block the drainage path. Don't beat me up for the dog comments because I have my own four legged furry children and love them!

Next you should look down the entire street at that back yard and see what the drainage conditions are. In post 8 frenzyrider pointed out why. There has to be some way to drain out that run-off at either end of the last yards or that swale is nothing more than a collection point for water. Yes I did see one development where at either end of a street of these the yards sloped upward to the street. Again think like water and you can see how that won't work. Also make sure that between your yard and the final drainage point there are no high spots in the swale in other yards. Obviously those high spots will impede or block any water not high enough to pass them.

Now on to the retaining wall. That is a very high retaining wall and we can't tell how low the soil is on the upper, rear side of it. There are a lot of factors that would need to be considered when designing that size retaining wall. I think I can see another set of drainage ports about three feet down from the top of the wall? Not sure if this is a poured concrete wall with a stone veneer or all stone. Initial impressions are the wall was possibly well designed and hopefully properly built. It would still be a good idea to see a set of the plans and the City and Engineer's inspections and approvals for the construction of it. The HOA should get a copy of these as well since it might be a common area item and you should check that as well.

Drainage and grading is very important for us here on the soils we have to deal with. It's well worth making sure everything is done properly.
Attached Thumbnails
Retaining walls: are they bad?-retainingwall.jpg  
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:55 PM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
1,161 posts, read 739,246 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzyrider View Post
I meant the angle of incline (grade) is quite steep going from center to the retaining wall. If it is too steep, you and your family may not be able to take full advantage of the backyard. It reminds me of David Weekley's development in Las Colinas. I think it is called Escana. Very steep backyard. Hard to keep any outdoor furniture, throw ball, put a tree house, etc...

They will do a final grade but chances are it is going to remain steep because leveling it can be done in two ways - lowering the soil at the retaining wall (not going to happen) or filling more land (unlikely to happen). Of course, this is just my opinion from building a house and looking at few that had such lots..
You are right about DW development in Las Colinas. They have steep backyard to the boundary. By the time we visited their riverside development, they have either zero lot homes or lots with steep backyard. But this one doesn't look like that steep. And DW lots are small to start with (55').
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Old 08-18-2013, 04:28 PM
 
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Thx everyone. Although all this is beyond my understanding I will speak with my realtor and builder about this!
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Old 08-18-2013, 05:16 PM
 
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There was big problem in north San Antonio area--where there can be significant elevation between lots in subdivisions and between one subdivision and another...
some developers put in very tall--over 20 ft--retaining walls that were NOT engineered...
meaning there was no proper internal drainage or support systems to keep the dirt from shifting when there was significant water...
some walls came down...
this is link to one source about one particular problem
The Landslide Blog: The San Antonio retaining wall collapse - did the developer have a permit?
apparently some of the walls were likely installed before the city really inspected the engineering plans--since they had to have retaining walls to hold back dirt when they were constructing the streets in development and they were in hurry to get development underway

the issue is that any wall over 4 ft is supposed to be "engineered" to ensure it is constructed properly, holds the dimensions of the lot it supports, and keeps the house foundation secure...
the taller the wall--the more support internal and external it needs and the more water evacuation needs to happen to keep the "retained" dirt/mud stable...

Personally I would never buy a home built on a lot like that--but there are developments in Keller with very tall retaining walls supporting some pretty expensive homes....

if you came too late to get a lot with more level foundation then you should really know what you are getting in to when you buy that lot/house...

your house should at a minimum have a piered-beam foundation----not a floating slab--because your foundation is likely to be more susceptible to shifting from dry/wet seasons...

don't know McKinney developments--
but you also need to ask if there was FILL DIRT ADDED to that lot before or after it was graded and/or the retaining wall constructed...
having fill dirt added to a lot adds a whole nuther set of issues to consider

my development in Hurst was built when a large hill was topped and terraced/graded to add streets and home lots...
most of the interior streets are very stair-stepped with homes having retaining walls on two or maybe three sides---not all the same height--
the homes on my street are on the outside of the development--
our lot had fill dirt added I think--but it has a piered beam slab so not too worried about bad subsidence
the homes across the street from us are at the bottom of a tall hill and have retaining walls of various heights going up the hill where their yards end...
sometimes they get some bad runoff from water coming out the weep holes and over the edge of the lots at the top of the hill...

so that makes another concern---what kind of runoff from lots that might be taller than yours or higher that will run onto your property...
that basically is "flooding" which can be insurance issue if there is damage to your home

One thing you might do is go to the city office that has to approve development plans and ask what the standards are for an engineered wall that tall
THOSE plans should already be filed with the city planning office--
ask to see them
ask if the construction standards have been upgraded since that wall was constructed
depending on when the wall was constructed, the standards for NEW construction could have been upgraded...

Last edited by loves2read; 08-18-2013 at 05:32 PM..
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Old 08-18-2013, 05:45 PM
 
27,521 posts, read 44,973,761 times
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OK--didn't see that photo until now--
couple of questions/points===-

note that there is rock wall along that right fence line--
what is the drop on the other side? how steep is the drop to the yard next to yours?
Looks like some erosion maybe caused that dip 2/3 back...why?

based on my neighborhood I would say that rock wall at the back IS on the property line of the two lots---just as the rock wall to the left in the photo is on the property line of the two homes built on adjacent lots...that is how it is in my neighborhood...
the BEST way I have seen to make a positive out of a negative like such a tall retaining wall was in some home magazine where the homeowners on the bottom lot added an exterior rock fireplace to that retaining wall and turned it into focal point of their back yard...
doing something like that required probably approval from the city and depends on city code but would also depend on whose wall it is...

check for weep holes on back wall--there should be one every 24" or so at various heights all along that wall---
I only see one--toward the right side at end of the photo...
where is the water that falls on that lot going???

what I have found to be fairly accurate is that anytime a house is built, a lot is graded...
while it is SUPPOSED to be graded a specific way according to the plans approved by the city for proper drainage---that is often ignored for various reasons and the city inspector doesn't always catch mistakes or bother to have it regraded...
the last lots in a subdivision are always at the mercy of the previously constructed lots for how the drainage falls....
all builders want water to drain AWAY from their house--ergo it usually drains onto someone else's lot/house...

that dip in the back 2/3 of the lot can have dirt from level for foundation put on it...but that means the fence between lots will be lower because of dirt that is added back there...
privacy issue in future maybe...

don't know this developer but looks like shoddy job of initial lot leveling...with erosion problems developing from runoff issues...
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