Homeowner Headaches

I live on a corner. The next door neighboor on my street is doing major renovations to his entire property, converting it from a monstrous three unit back to a fully restored-to-the-period single. This is great for the neighborhood as the place metamorphoses from an eyesore into something really spectacular. This week the neighbors are having their driveway and back yard replaced. I am enjoying listening to backhoes outside my bedroom window every morning. The previous landlord had blacktopped the driveway and the entire back yard. No yard maintenance that way, right? My neighbor wants a proper back yard and a place for his six kids to play. (I didn’t even think people had families that big any more but they seem to be pretty religious so I guess that partially explains it.)

I was talking to my other next door neighbor on the cross street side. Ray has a short lot which is perpendicular to and ends where my other neighbor – who has a really deep lot – is putting in the new yard. Ray is absolutely delighted about the work going on behind his property. He tells me that the previous owner, an absentee landlord, had just slapped down that asphalt in the back yard some years ago without a thought to proper drainage. Ever since then, the runoff from rain and melting snow has been leaking into his basement, literally causing a stream running from the back to the front. Ray says Joe, the guy who lives on the other side of him, has similar problems, also from the runoff. Then Ray tells me this is probably the reason one of my concrete driveway pads is cracked and sunken, that my garage has foundation cracks and lists slightly and that I have other foundation problems. I’ve also had some serious cracks in my basement walls repaired already.

I believed that some of the foundation problems I have, especially those at the front of the house, were caused by the house settling over the years. Since I’ve only been here three years, it never occurred to me that the negligence of the absentee landlord could have caused alot of my problems. Of course, when I bought this place I was really excited and not fully aware of the exent of the problems. Even if you could fault someone miles away in another state, it’s way too late for that now. Ray says he prays every day for one thing. “What’s that?” I asked him. “That your neighbor doesn’t run out of money before he’s done fixing up the exterior of the house.” Good point. At least the neighborhood property value will be maintained or increase.


  1. didn’t the absentee landlord have to get permits to completely cover the backyard in asphalt? if so, zoning would have had to study the implications of run-off before approving the permit. sue the city/county for damages to your properties. if he didn’t get the proper permits, then sue the absentee landlord for the damages. i really dislike inconsiderate people.

  2. I remember one wonderful day when my next-door neighbor was having some cement steps removed — about the distance of two rooms away from my office. It was dueling jackhammers all day. And did I mention I was trying to write something on deadline? And I had a migraine?

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