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The owner of the property next to mine recently reported that a portion of the retaining wall next to my property has cracked and is bulged out somewhat due to the tree roots from a tree on my property. Once notified of this, I had the tree removed. At this time, the owner of the neighboring property is asking me to repair the retaining wall at my expense. Due to the fact that the retaining wall is most likely over 86-years-old, I requested that the neighbor share in the expense of the repairs. My question is, should I bare the total cost of this repair, and if so, to what degree do I need to have it repaired? Would repairing the cracks be sufficient or do I need to replace the whole section that shows any movement?
I’ll answer your second question first, since it’s what you should do first anyway. The only way to determine what needs to be done to repair the retaining wall is to get an appropriate expert out there to give you an opinion, and a bid. This might be something a contractor could do, or it might require an engineer. Regardless, your first step should be to find out what needs to be done and how much it’ll cost.
Once you know the cost, you can consider whether it’s worth submitting this as a claim to your homeowner’s insurance. There are two factors which would weigh against submitting: 1) the size of your deductible relative to the cost of repairs, and 2) whether it would be covered at all, as many if not most policies don’t cover damage from slow-moving things like tree growth.
In the unlikely event that you decide to deal with this through your insurance, that solves the other problem, since your company will seek whatever reimbursement is appropriate from the neighbor’s company. If not, however, I would suggest you get an opinion or two from the people bidding as to the useful life of this type of retaining wall. The closer it is to the end of that time period, the better your argument that your neighbor ought to chip in.