Retaining Tree

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

I often see retaining walls.  If I had to guess a percentage I would say that about half have some movement.  In this case, it's a darn good thing there is a retaining tree!

This tree has been on the job a long time!

I see fences all the time that are held up by vines and plants.

I see sheds all the time that are held up by vines and plants.

But I have seldom, if ever, seen a retaining wall held up by a tree!

And this wall frames a working driveway and garden!

This tree is important!

Another couple of years and maybe another one will be needed.  Maybe two or three!

They should think ahead!

Let's see, what kind of tree would be best?

Should this wall be repaired?  Doing so might actually harm this tree!  And then it would have no reason to live.

My recommendation:  sometimes things look bad, but really might not be!  In this case, though, a couple of more 40 year-old trees might be advisable!

Actually you can see that the wall is crumbling around the tree.  How much longer will the wall last?  I am being tongue in cheek about it being held up well and that only a couple of trees are needed.  When this collapses it will be a mess, and the driveway will not be usable.  It's probably best to get a real wall there now!  I don't know who has responsibility for the wall, but when replaced, obviously, it will need a good guardrail!

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Anne - codes change but I suspect this wall would have required a guardrail when it was installed.  It is high.  It is also at the edge of a big property and not in town, so no County person has probably seen it.  But again, I don't know who the all belongs to!

Behind the wall?  I can do that post.  I'll think about it...

Dec 27, 2011 10:40 PM #10
Rainmaker
789,399
Carol Zingone
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS

Jay - I have not seen that in our area, but am pretty sure it does exist somewhere in the greater Jacksonville area - amazing how homeowners can become complacent about things like that, isn't it?

Dec 27, 2011 10:55 PM #11
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That is something that has happened a little bit each year for a long, long time Carol!  They may not even notice!

Dec 27, 2011 10:58 PM #12
Rainmaker
4,699,922
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
"Franklin MA Homes"

Good morning, Jay.....cha ching, cha ching, cha ching.....now's the time to find an unemployed mason who will work for short money....

Dec 27, 2011 11:25 PM #13
Rainmaker
2,628,672
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Well I guess it's a opportunity to make a pretty wall, right?  Good thinking on the handrail as that can be a real safety hazard.

Dec 27, 2011 11:52 PM #14
Rainmaker
455,517
John Mulkey
TheHousingGuru.com - Waleska, GA
Housing Guru

Jay - Few of the "older" retaining walls were built correctly; and as time passes their shortcomings become apparent. Perhaps some good old kudzu could help.

Dec 28, 2011 01:14 AM #15
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Miss T (from the calendar department, on the desk even now!) - not my problem!  But I think that wall would be a pretty penny, not short money.

Debbie - I would have been doing handflips off that wall as a kid.  Watch Mom!

John - I said in the post that I have seen many a structure held up by plants!  That is certainly the 60s - 70s way of doing a retaining wall!  See all the weep holes?

Dec 28, 2011 03:07 AM #16
Ambassador
1,323,660
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jay, in your photo it looks like there is one tree fighting to hold the wall up and another tree fighting to knock it down :)

Dec 28, 2011 03:50 AM #17
Rainmaker
86,852
Eric Middleton
Closer Look Property Inspections Inc. - Uniondale, NY
Professional Property Inspector

Jay - "a huff and a puff" that retaining wall will be blown down!

Dec 28, 2011 05:16 AM #18
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That leaner on the right is certainly part of the problem with the wall Charlie.  It's only about 5' away.

Eric - another really wet year and that might be true!  Hard to predict anything with retaining walls though.

Dec 28, 2011 05:47 AM #19
Rainmaker
1,475,570
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

I see a lot of this type of retaining walls in the older part of the city.  I've wondered for years not if, but when were they going to fall onto the sidewalk.  A lot of them around here have those big trees in the yard above the wall.  Scary stuff. 

Dec 28, 2011 06:20 AM #20
Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Jay -- yes, just planting more leaning trees won't help much with more soggy weather - unless there are some retaining bars between the trees.   Nope, new wall, properly constructed and drained is really the only answer - short of removing lots and lots of dirt.

 

Dec 28, 2011 06:23 AM #21
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Mike - I see these all over town too!  And, as John said above, this type is very old school.

Steven - of course I was being silly and tongue in cheek in recommending more trees.  Surely a new wall is necessary here!

Dec 28, 2011 06:25 AM #22
Rainer
30,542
Katie Munoz
Moving Forward Inc - Seattle, WA

Jay, You are so funny.  I get a real kick out of your posts. 

 

Dec 28, 2011 01:47 PM #23
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thank you Katie.  You mean my tongue-in-cheekness comes through now and then?

 

Dec 28, 2011 09:42 PM #24
Rainmaker
683,580
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Tear down this wall Mr. Seller. That phrase some how sounds familar to me ;)

Dec 28, 2011 11:17 PM #25
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Jim - I never did find out who the wall belongs to!  Even if it is the house to the side, it is still an issue for the buyer.

Dec 29, 2011 07:34 AM #26
Rainmaker
233,419
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

I always hate reporting on retaining walls.  How long will they last?  Who knows. When I moved in to my last house about eight years ago, one of my neighbors had a retaining wall by the road that I was sure would collapse any day.  After walking by it every day, I found it never moved an inch.  

Dec 29, 2011 01:42 PM #27
Rainmaker
641,496
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

Hi Jay,

Good thing this was a strong tree.  Maybe that was the plan from the beginning and the orginal owners had the good sense to pick a sturdy one!  

Hope your 2011 is ending well and your 2012 is a healthy, happy, and successful year for you!

DeeDee

Dec 29, 2011 04:24 PM #28
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Reubs - I think had this tree not been there that wall would still not be.  On inspections people ask me about how long a wall will last I say, "One really wet month or maybe twenty years, who knows!"

DeeDee - that was a really old black walnut with a cleft near the base!  Strong tree.  Thank you and the same bakattcha!  I like the new photo too.

Dec 29, 2011 11:25 PM #29
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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