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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
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    Dear Illustrious Community,

    been posting here for years about our several strawbale builds....this may stretch the scope of the forum, but we would much appreciate some pointers anyone in the know can give us. We are in an old quarry. We have a sheer 10m wall at the top of which on the other side is a very narrow road serving 18th century cottages. People living in the houses there have been parking extremely large trucks against the wall which has clearly caused the road to sag pushing the wall towards us.

    this morning at 6am the whole wall fell down into our garden. There is no pavement and the road is extremely narrow, a pinch point. We fear being left with the whole responsibility to re-build a wall at some considerable cost whilst nothing changes on the Highways owned road.....Can anyone advise us whether there are any precedents with other folks living in quarries and highways/boundary issues?

    Needless to say our building is nowhere near the bank and has no impact on it.

    With thanks for any help and apologies if I've strayed too far outside the boundary!
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2018
    Report it to your insurance company hopefully they will help and advise, do you have any pics?
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2018
    Good job nobody hurt.

    Google found this which suggests it might be down to the council to maintain the wall (in Devon at least)..


    Highway retaining walls

    Most retaining walls, which directly support the highway or support land carrying the highway (‘highway retaining walls’) and are within the highway boundary, are maintained by us. Occasionally such retaining walls have been built by adjoining landowners to create a more level site and so afford more useable space, for example, for a mill. These are generally owned by and should be maintained by, the landowner. Whilst this cannot be insisted upon by the Highway Authority, unless covered by an agreement, the highway does have a right of support under common law and this can be used if the wall starts to collapse.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2018 edited
    Posted By: tonyReport it to your insurance company hopefully they will help and advise, do you have any pics?


    Do it today as their might be a requirement to notify of potential claims within 24 hours.

    If not already done you might also notify the police - for highway safety reasons.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2018
    Found another document..


    UK Bridges Board Media Briefing Sheet
    Highway Retaining Walls
    UKBB Media Briefing Sheet - Retaining Walls Rev0.doc June 2011

    Responsibility for the maintenance of highway retaining walls

    Responsibility for the maintenance of highway retaining walls can be difficult to
    establish and particularly so for old walls. Responsibility for walls adjoining a
    modern highway will often be recorded on Deeds of Conveyance of the adjacent
    landowner, possibly as an easement granting a highway authority access for
    maintenance. Less satisfactorily the agreement on responsibility may be in the form
    of an exchange of letters but these are prone to being lost.

    In the absence of any documentary evidence, it may be possible to establish the
    purpose for which the wall was originally built. If a wall was built to construct a
    highway by cutting into existing ground or building up above existing ground it can
    reasonably be expected that the retaining wall will be maintained by the highway
    authority. An exception may be if a wall was built initially by an adjacent property
    owner and it was then rebuilt by the highway authority on a new line to
    accommodate a highway improvement. In the latter circumstances, ownership may
    remain with the property owner.

    If the owner of a sloping site adjacent to a highway, either above or below, wishes to
    create a more level site up to the highway boundary the owner will need to build a
    retaining wall. Such a wall would be the responsibility of the property owner
    irrespective of whether it supported the highway or the owner’s property. If the
    history is not known, digging a trial hole will often reveal the development of the site.
    Filled ground supported by a retaining wall would indicate it was built for the benefit
    of the person who has control of the land on the higher side of the wall. Undisturbed
    ground supported by a retaining wall would indicate that it was built for the benefit of
    the person who has control of the land on the lower side of the wall.

    If a retaining wall is liable to endanger highway users, the Highway Authority has
    powers under the Highways Act 1980 Section 167 to serve notice on the owner to
    carry out repair work to remove the danger.
    I am presuming it is a built wall rather than a wall formed by the process of quarrying.

    Apart from the above (+1) I would get in touch with the highways authority to get an immediate weight restriction placed on the road on the grounds of safety

    Do you have any maps (deeds etc.) to show the precise boundary so as to determine who owns the wall? 'cos if the wall is outside your boundary then I would suggest that you have no liability.
    Thank you, thank you each and all; such helpful suggestions which I will look into. needless to say we don't have insurance....
    needless to say we don't have insurance....

    Ooh err! Really? None? Not even 3rd party?
    No, we made our home and we've chosen low earnings in return for time and freedom to do the work we love and grow our own food....So no insurance...
    Peter in Hungary, yes, a built wall....old flint, chalk and brick - been lime pointed by us on the road side. Covered by conservation area but nothing in our PP or deeds etc connected with the wall.
    So who own the wall ??

    Oh and on the subject of insurance I would have 3rd party insurance as a minimum. Its not expensive and you only need a trades-person or the postman etc. to slip up on your property and it could cost you your home!
    We own the wall unfortunately!
    I understand that home insurance is often related to to borrowing for a mortgage which we haven't done?
    ''We own the wall unfortunately!''

    Ahhhhh...... I wonder whose standards you have to rebuild it to?

    ''I understand that home insurance is often related to to borrowing for a mortgage which we haven't done?''

    It needn't be. I do understand that having a 'non-standard' house-type will reduce your potential pool of insurers (and of course up the price), and that it might be a matter of a risk-assessment exercise as to whether you cover the rebuilding costs of the house itself, but on the matter of 3rd party risk I am in agreement with P-in-H
    Well it's an interesting question as to whether or not we rebuild the wall. A good friend today suggested that this may not be achieved safely as we have a sheer wall our side of the road so would have to build the wall from the road. Neighbours with portions of the wall have opted not to have any wall with no apparent comeback. Highways have now put temporary fencing at the top with cones so must accept some responsibility?

    We have written requesting a weight and parking restriction. The owners of the enormous 4x4 have at last started parking elsewhere having refused our proposal that there was a connection between the years of parking against the wall and the bowing/sagging of the side of the road at the foot of the wall.
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2018
    Posted By: Carol hunterI understand that home insurance is often related to to borrowing for a mortgage which we haven't done?

    I don't have a mortgage and do have insurance, including rebuilding of my straw bale house in my case. I can let you know the broker if you're interested, but it shouldn't matter much for third-party insurance, I'd have thought.

    I still don't understand exactly what this wall is like. 10 m high, and exposed on the road side, but presumably not for the whole 10 m? And what is on the other side? Is the road immediately adjacent to the wall or is there a verge of some kind? If so, who owns the verge? When did highways adopt the road? What class is it? Are there any kind of weight restrictions, or other traffic restrictions, on the road? What's the speed limit?
    About the value of 3rd party insurance - imagine if a vehicle had been parked adjacent to the wall when it collapsed and the extra weight caused the vehicle to fall down the wall, you would now be facing a claim for the vehicle damage because you had failed to maintain your wall. In a worse situation if a person happened to be in the vehicle at the time..... Unlikely events may be - but then so was the collapse of the wall. 3rd party insurance is fairly cheap and IMO worth every penny.

    I would have expected the liability for the maintenance of the wall - if it is a retaining wall for the road - to come out in the searches that should have been done prior to your purchase of the site. The maintenance of the wall could be a significant factor in the decision to purchase and I would expect some liability for failure to point out the wall liability to attach to the office doing the searches.

    It may turn out to be detrimental that you have in the past done maintenance on the wall as this may indicate your acceptance of your liability for the wall and its safety.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeOct 5th 2018 edited
    Posted By: Carol hunterWe own the wall unfortunately!

    Humm. I can only see a few unlikely ways to avoid paying to repair it...

    1) If the wall was built more than say 120 years ago it would only have been designed to support horse and carts on the road. You might argue the highway agency should have imposed a weight limit? This raises the interesting point... what happens when the law is changed to allow heavier lorries on the roads? Does everyone in your position have to rebuild their supporting walls at their own expense? Question for a lawyer. Think there is a garden law forum somewhere.

    2) If the wall was never intended to be a retaining wall. For example you say it's a quarry, if its a rock quarry it's possible it's was never designed to be a retaining wall because that wasn't thought necessary. If the wall was never designed to be a structural retaining wall then the highway can't be relying on it for support.Would need an engineer to confirm by looking at the design. You might argue it's clearly not and never was a retaining wall therefore you can replace it with a fence or not at all.


    2) Somebody saw a vehicle knock it down. In which case you might claim off their insurance.


    3) Where exactly were these heavy vehicles parked? If they were on the highway or highway verge then that's probably not enough to claim against the driver (unless there is a clear weight restriction on the road that he might have breached). If they were parked with some wheels on your land then might be worth contacting their insurance co. If they won't give you their insurance details you will have to report that to the police.

    Good luck.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeOct 5th 2018
    Posted By: Carol hunterPeople living in the houses there have been parking extremely large trucks against the wall which has clearly caused the road to sag pushing the wall towards us.

    Did you warn them about this before it collapsed? If so you might have a claim for negligence. Something to mention to your solicitor.
    Thank you all.DJH and peter in Hungary, the wall in question is about 4 1/2 ft high around the whole of the old quarry and was built well over 120 yrs ago. It is completely down in places at the back of other peoples' plots down here. It sits on top of an 8-10 meter wooded bank. The houses and the road in question are at the top of our bank so the road is only "held back" by the bank, mostly solid chalk and dense undergrowth.

    The wall at that height has no discernible useful function in keeping cars from falling down our bank if they bump into it or otherwise damage it. I'm not sure that it is a "retaining wall" as it dowsn't have that function; I've used the term loosely.
    At the moment there seems to be more concern about the owners of the enormous 4x4 responsible for the years of parking in the same space than about our safety underneath a huge truck falling down the bank. They are needless to say STILL PARKING THERE!

    The road is very narrow at the top of the bank and we frequently witness large lorries trying to pass other vehicles and driving right up to the wall. There is no verge on the road, it is simply narrow road with the alarming sag/dip at the side of the bottom of the wall from years of parking.

    I need to look out the deeds etc which state clearly who owns the wall. Highways have put up a temporary fence and cones so that looks to us that they are taking some responsibility. It's hard to see how Highways can be allowing the road to be used by any traffic at all since the road and quarry wall was never built with that in mind. It's an old drove....It currently has a 7.5ton weight restriction which a quick look on the internet suggests is not infrequently exceeded.

    I know it's out of the scope of this forum, but if anyone can whisper to me about suitable insurance as mentioned above I would be most grateful. With my thanks.
    Carol, not essential, I guess, and you may wish to keep specific details 'private', but any chance of pics? In particular the (ex) wall, the 'dip' and the bank below, including visible 'bulging' if any.

    (Talking of dips, legendary Teesside folk-singer and raconteur Vin Garbutt (R.I.P.) said he was confused about road-signs saying 'Hidden dips', until he rounded a bend and pitched straight into a vat of houmous).

    And not looking to de-rail the thread, but while Googling re 3rd pty insurance I saw this, which might cause a little start to many of us: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/apr/08/hole-home-insurance-pipe-bursts-home-contents-cover-third-party
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeOct 6th 2018
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: Nick Parsons
    (Talking of dips, legendary Teesside folk-singer and raconteur Vin Garbutt (R.I.P.) said he was confused about road-signs saying 'Hidden dips', until he rounded a bend and pitched straight into a vat of houmous).

    He's a sad loss Nick.
    He also replied, when on Totnes railway station, if he'd enjoyed his visit. He replied that it was nice, but he never did see the Monster.:bigsmile:
    By any chance is there still quarrying going on at any part of the site, or nearby? A friend found that quarrymen are really adept at assessing and stabilising slopes, and have all the machinery on tap, and in their case were keen to be helpful neighbours.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeOct 7th 2018 edited
    Carol I think you should edit out your email address and ask for a whisper. With regard to insurance perhaps talk to a couple of insurance brokers. From your description of the wall lt sounds like it is a wall above the ground level and as such would not be a retaining wall and the road is supported by the bank with the parking of heavy veichles causing subsidence which caused the collapse - is this about correct?
    Yes Peter, that is correct and a very helpful way to form the sentence! I will add photos as Nick suggests.
    So are the vehicles being parked on your land or the road authoritys land? If it's your land then you can stop the parking and you should write to the owners holding them liable for the damage, if it's the authorities land the you should write to them detailing the problems, with photos, telling them of the unsuitablity of the location for the parking complain about the overweight traffic and inform them that you hold them liable because they are allowing the use of a road that is clearly unfit for purpose. You can also write to the police with photos (showing number plates) complaining about the weight infringement and the damage caused as a result and ask them to enforce the limits.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeOct 7th 2018
    Posted By: Carol hunterIt sits on top of an 8-10 meter wooded bank. The houses and the road in question are at the top of our bank so the road is only "held back" by the bank, mostly solid chalk and dense undergrowth.

    Ok yes so its not really a retaining wall. That's good as it would be much less expensive to fix if you were liable.

    I think I would wait and see what the highway agency or council do. If they think you are liable they will write to you eventually.

    Meanwhile do check your deeds and the plans to see if you really do own the wall.

    It is completely down in places at the back of other peoples' plots down here.

    If it's been down for a long time behind another house ask them if they had received any letters.
    • CommentTimeOct 7th 2018
    If it is yours and its not a retaining wall, then I don't think you have any obligation to rebuild it. You might be able to do nothing, or replace it with a post and wire fence or a close boarded one, depending on your concerns. I'd also go along with PiH's comments. If you're concerned, or if you do receive any communication from any authorities, then I think you would be wise to consult a solicitor.
    • CommentAuthorphiledge
    • CommentTimeOct 7th 2018
    Dont know what the law says but if the highways want a retaining wall for their road, Id leave them to sort it out. If they have put cones out then they are aware of the road condition and I'd be pretty sure they would now be responsible for keeping the road in a safe state from now on.
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