Your Questions Answered
At Ashlar, I firmly b that an educated home buyer or seller is best equipped to make their own decisions. That’s why I take time out of my day each and every day to answer someone’s real estate question. And, when I think the answer can be useful to you as well, I share it here. So without further ado:
First step would be to take a look at your survey from your closing. If you don’t have it call the title company. I usually keep copies for my clients as well but most Realtors aren’t me :).
On the survey, see if there is any wetlands delineations or drainage easements. If there is, then you are very restricted in what you can do in that area so far as improvements, building, drainage. Ok honestly you can’t really do anything in wetlands without an ok from the state or paying big time fines.
If it’s not wetlands, take a look at your survey again. In rare cases you will have a survey with crosses “+” and numbers next to them. This is an elevation survey. They are usually special ordered as title will usually only require a boundary survey. You can hire an surveyor to do an elevation survey for you if you need one.
Solutions depends on where you are. While it’s tempting just to start digging and installing French drains, you need to evaluate where you are at.
If you’re in an HOA or planned community, there is usually a community drainage plan that you can not mess with… and doing so could put you at risk for tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. So let’s say you cut some new drains but now you end up flooding your neighbors land and maybe house, now you get to pay to tear your beautiful drain out as well as being sued by the HOA, homeowner and maybe their insurance company for the damage.
If you’re outside of an HOA, that doesn’t mean you can bring in a ditch witch and trench a star pattern of drains away from your home and backhoe and excavate a 5 foot berm around the perimeter. You still have to take into account your neighbors and the overall drainage of the area, and if your new drain now turns some of the neighbor’s land into a swamp then you are going to have major problems.
As an added bonus, let’s say your new drain pushes water onto an adjoining lot and this now waterlogged soil kills 3 large oak trees. Now you are liable for potentially hundreds of thousands in damages (the proverbial [/u/legaladvice]/u/legaladvice ‘s favorite topic… Tree Law). This one is actually a story from a client of mine so it does happen in this area.
Anyways, drainage is kinda like interior doors or kitchen cabinets. Something that on the surface seems pretty easy but needs care and attention to detail to deal with successfully.
Many locations will require drainage plans to be put together which is how we keep track of all this and make sure there are no obvious negative impacts that could be avoided. A call to your municipal zoning whether that be city or county or hoa will answer a lot of questions for you for how you need to go about it.