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Re: Enforcement Question

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My $0.02.  These "code violations" are interesting. **Based upon my observations**  Once a residence is inhabited, there is almost always nothing that can (or at least will) be done about them.  Thank in part, the NAHB, but that's a different rant.   Also, some local code admin depts will do something, but it's rare.  Their reaction is a pretty good indication of your luck there.
Violations are basically the new owner's problem from a code stand point.  They are only forced to fix it in the case of immanent danger to life/ health in which case they can condemn the property.  If the ret wall fails and damages the adjacent property, the wall owner is responsible. 
It becomes a litigation issue.  If it can be proven that the previous owner knew, or reasonably should have known ( that means we SEs are in general more at risk) they will often be responsible for repair.  Otherwise it's "buyer beware".  Sometimes, with enough litigation, the adjacent property owner can force the current owner to fix it, if it can be "proven" that it is an immanent and immediate threat to life or property.  Either way, it's a legal issue.

>>> On 3/6/2008 at 4:08 PM, "Paul Feather" <PFeather(--nospam--at)> wrote:

I have a condition where we were asked to look at a retaining wall (a neighbor, don’t know why I let myself get sucked into these things).  The wall is over 12 feet retaining, is no where close to being built to code, in fact I have seen better construction in Tijuana.  There are 5 inch cracks at the end of the wall where it is separating at the returns, and the soil at the top of the wall has failed about 8 to 10 feet back and dropped 9 inches from the movement.  Basically it is a failure waiting to happen.  There are no records of a permit ever having been issued.


I wrote a report, and the property owner (recent purchase, hence all the legal ramifications) has taken it to the County.  The County basically said, hey not our problem, and just don’t want to know about it.


It is on private property, but it is also a code violation that presents a risk.


My question is why would the building department refuse to act or at least send someone to review and red-tag the wall?  What happens if we see something like this an area adjacent to a right of way?  Shouldn’t the county have to take some action or file a statement at least if a professional engineer is telling them about a problem?  Or do they wait until failure and then deal with citing for debris removal?


I would be really interested in hearing how some of the jurisdictions on this list would handle a situation where an Engineer brought an issue to the jurisdictions attention.


Paul Feather PE, SE