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Re: Retaining Wall Problem

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I was involved in litigation (as an expert) in a similar situation at the same venue. It was a mess, even though the wall was like 80 years old, and both neighbors bought their properties "as is", recently, with no new construction, and, amazingly, no new damage. 
I would try what Harold recommends, but there is a good chance it's not going to happen.  If it is going to happen, I would make sure that any agreement considers long-term conditions and is reviewed by a lawyer.
I would:
-keep any construction away from the neighbor's property, relying only on my "own" soil to support any retaining wall;
-as part of design, I would demonstrate that the design and construction of the wall does not affect the neighbor's property in any way;
-make sure that the design and construction assure excellent drainage of the retained soil.  
I am pretty sure it can be done.  Good luck.
V. Steve Gordin, SE
Irvine CA
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 07:14
Subject: Retaining Wall Problem

Dear Fellow Engineers:
San Francisco friends asked me about a problem re a
new home they are  building in the city. It will be
located on a steep hill tucked in between two existing
homes and will require excavation and retaining walls.
To minimize construction cost and lost floor space, my
friends' shoring engineer designed a tied-back
retaining wall for the uphill side that also underpins
the uphill neighbor's home foundation. The height of
the retaining wall will vary from 4 to 15 feet. It
uses helical anchors to tie back the wall; these will
also run beneath the neighbor's home. The excavation
is done starting from the top and working downwards in
segments. In each segment steel reinforcing is placed
and shotcrete is sprayed against the exposed dirt.

1. Do you have concerns with this excavation /
retaining wall design?

2. So far the uphill neighbor hasn't agreed to
authorize work under his home; any suggestions on how
to convince him to allow the work?

I'd appreciate your opinions.

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