Mar 05

Backyard troubles

Tag: The HouseEmily @ 12:57 pm

Well, problems have moved from one area of the house to another. Luckily, the inside of our house is looking great! Maple Street has really impressed us with how many little things they are noticing and fixing in the last week of cleanup before the walk-through. I’d say about 35+ of the things on my list of 43 concerns are already fixed and there’s still a week to go before the walk-through.

Our concern now is the backyard. We were told that it wouldn’t be graded and seeded until the spring. That was fine with us, and we understood the weather conditions that were the best for the backyard project. However, late last week, they did add manure to the dirt, mix it all in, and pretty much grade it to what it looks like, is the final “layout” of the backyard. I had a meeting with LJ at the house and told him my concerns about the yard.

When we bought our lot, it was for the most part, a flat lot. The last 10 feet or so on the back right corner sloped down a bit (maybe 2-3 feet) but the rest was flat. We paid a premium on this lot (we thought, because it was flat). Now…the lot is very sloped.
If you remember my conerns from December…when they were doing the basement, how they only dug 5-6 feet down and built the house up from there. Well, that has really affected the lot. Now that the house was essentially built 2-4 feet above the sidewalk/lot level, they have to compensate that with dirt. So, where we thought they would dig down for the whole basement, they dug about 2/3 of the way down, and then built up. So, they have to push all of the extra dirt up against the house, making the yard very sloped. It’s really bad.

We went from dreams of putting swing sets, and having bocce and cornhole games in our yard, to a point where we are already dreading mowing it because it’s so steep. Yes, it’s that bad.

I’m going to have to get better pictures tonight of the yard, I was out there yesterday at a bad time of day and the pictures are all wierd. When I get those I’ll put comparative pictures up.

LJ is going to talk with the building supervisor and construction manager about this. We’ll see what comes of that.

13 Responses to “Backyard troubles”

  1. Chris says:

    Same thing happened with my backyard, though not to the same extent as yours. I knew there was going to be some slope, that it wasn’t going to be completely level, but it ended up being a lot more sloped than expected. They shouldn’t have told you or given you the impression that it was going to be a completely flat lot, as most aren’t. They have to do something to keep water from pooling around the foundation, and they typically only dig the foundation 5-6 feet down, at least from my experience and what I’ve seen and heard from others. They may be able to flatten it out a little, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up for what you were expecting.

  2. Kurt says:

    I had to bring in 300 cubic yards of fill dirt to gain back my yard. (Yes that is 30 large dump trucks.) We back up to a field and the last 10-15 feet of our yard had a 7-10 foot drop off for the entire lentgh of the back (about 150′). So we had to bring in the fill and fill it in ourselves to gain that yard back. But dont know if that is an option for you guys.

  3. Emily says:

    I don’t think it is. We have a house right behind us so I doubt they’d let us fill it in. I’m hoping that they’ll just lower the dirt level on the house by 1-2 feet, making the yard have to be less sloped. I can deal with a little slope, but what we have now is crazy.

  4. Kurt says:

    Two words: Retaining Wall

    If you want the flattest yard possible its the only way to go. Of course they can get quite pricey also.

  5. Chris says:

    I can’t do anything with mine because of EPA regulations, or something like that. It has to be sloped like it is for water runoff. At least that’s what they told me…

  6. Emily says:

    I imagine it’ll be the same for us, Chris

  7. Kurt says:

    Yes there is a minimum slope required for water runoff. These grade plans were approved by the city prior to any building begining. The plans were approved before the streets are even poured in a subdivision. But you can check to see what can be done on your lot. if you can raise your yard without effecting the runoff flow of your neighbors than more than likly you would be allowed to make the changes. But like i said retaining walls get expensive and unless you use block or rock they have a set lifespan. It is not the typical answer for someone building in a new subdivison. I am just throwing it out there as a suggestion to get your yard back. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

  8. Kurt says:

    WOW, ok the pictures explain alot. A retaining wall would be possible, although after looking at the pictures HIGHLY unlikely. It could be done but it would really piss off your neighbors. That really stinks guys, are you sure the premium was not for a flat lot or was it for a corner lot? I have never heard of a flat lot premium (but i am from texas and all lots are pretty much flat).

  9. Emily says:

    Who knows what the premium was for…but we specifically bought that lot over any others because it was flat. Our sales consultant knows how much we liked that lot b/c it was flat. Just grates my nerves. Those newer pictures of the backyard aren’t that great,but I haven’t had a chance to get out there and take better ones. The pictures don’t really do it justice…I may need to get a video.

  10. kurt says:

    Here is my suggestion to try and get it corrected some. There is a maximum slope allowed. For KB is 3 to 2. So for every 3 feet in length the ground can drop 2 feet. Now that is still a pretty drastic drop when you think about it (about 35 degrees). I would suggest measuring the angle of the steepest drop. There are a few ways to do this (the easiest being an inclinometer, they sell them at home depot) if you need other ways just call me. Then ask either your salesmen or your construction supervisor what the maximum slope allowed is and see if your is greater, if it is tell them it needs to be corrected before you sign anything. My 2 cents. (which now equals 10 cents for this thread.)

  11. Emily says:

    We’re meeting with the construction supervisor of the builder tomorrow morning at 8am to address our concerns. When I get to work I’ll post what he says.

  12. Greg says:

    Another bit of advice to add to what kurt is saying… call the inspector for the city up. If you’re worried about the builders getting pissed, I’ll remind you that this is YOUR home and you’ll be living there for some time.

    Kurt is right, there is a max slope allowed in most areas, but usually that only applies to commercial area’s and residential area’s usually have that ordinance waived because of the drastic places people build homes. What does your contract say about the site and how it is to lay?

    Oh, and they don’t need to slope the ground for water runoff, it’s not an impermeable surface, water does not run on the top of the dirt. The water will drain down to the water table or the next aquifer and then settle. As long as the slope isn’t negative (toward your foundation, it’s irrelevant.

  13. Emily says:

    Ok…we met with the construction supervisor. He was really nice, and understood completely our complaint and concerns. He talked to us about options and limitations. He called us back later tonight after walking the lot later today and talking it over with some of the workers. He said he could most likely get us 15-18 feet of flat yard extended out past the jut out point of the kitchen. The yard is about 50 feet deep from the house. That way most will be flat, then the rest slightly sloped. He did agree that the slope of the yard was steep. Sounds like they are going to try really hard to make the yard useable and more what we had in mind when we bought it. Total flatness is not an option, due to having dirt from the basement hole that has to go somewhere, but for the majority of the lot it will be flat, with just the back part slightly sloped. Guess we’ll have to deal with that and make the best of it. We’ll see how it goes. He said they’d start re-grading it in the next week when they backfill the foundation of the house next to us.

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