Have you checked your screening wall lately?
It is a common misconception that the shared screening walls that border the boundary of a subdivision are not the responsibility of the individual property owner.
Oftentimes, these long, multi-lot walls are constructed during the development phase of the subdivision. During the sale process, individual residents purchase their new homes - with their section of the wall included! These screening walls are often built directly along the individual's property line, and therefore is their responsibility to maintain as time passes.
New subdivisions usually have a Homeowners Association (HOA) and a portion of a resident's member dues might go towards the maintenance of these screening walls. However, not every neighborhood has a current HOA or funds dedicated to repairing any deterioration that occurs.
Repairing a Dilapidated Screening Wall
Repairing a dilapidated screening wall, especially those made of brick or other masonry material, can be very costly for a homeowner. The City of Mansfield requires that masonry or other screening walls be maintained plus the parkway between the wall and the curb or street pavement.
What happens if I don't maintain my screening wall?
You can be found in violation of the Code of Ordinances for not maintaining your screening wall in good repair, as well as for not maintaining the parkway (the buffer area on the outside of the wall) up to the curb or street pavement. A violation can eventually lead to citations, or possibly abatement by the City in which they will place a lien against your property for the cost of repairing the wall.
Do I have to repair my screening wall with the exact same material?
The material that you are required to maintain or repair your wall with can be based on multiple factors, such as if your property has specific screening wall requirements per its zoning. Inquiries regarding construction materials can be directed to the Planning Department at email@example.com or by calling (817) 276-4229.
What if I don't want my screening wall at all anymore?
If you or your Homeowners Association are interested in removing a screening wall, requests can be submitted in writing to the Planning Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your property may still require containment along the rear, front, or side yards and require replacement with a privacy fence. All fences in the City of Mansfield are subject to the Code of Ordinances "General Provisions for All Fences and Free Standing Walls" outlined in Section 155.094 and must be maintained in a state of good condition.
Maintaining a Screening Wall
The best defense against costly repairs related to re-building a screening wall that has collapsed starts with taking preventative measures and proactively monitoring your screening wall for repairs that will help maintain its integrity.
Consulting with a profession for inspection and regular maintenance:
We recommend you request a thorough inspection by a professional, such as structural engineer or a professional mason. The benefits of an inspection are to identify the underlying issues that might be affecting your screening wall, and to recommend appropriate solutions.
We also recommend implementing a regular maintenance schedule, including checking for cracks, signs of water damage, and addressing any other issues promptly.
Identifying the cause of the issue:
- Soil issues: Check for soil erosion, poor drainage, or expansive soil, as these can contribute to the deterioration of the screening wall structure.
- Foundation problems: Have a professional assess the foundation for settling, shifting, or inadequate construction.
- Water damage: Look for signs of water damage, as water penetration can weaken the mortar in masonry screening wall structures.
Correct Drainage Issues
Ensure proper drainage near the base of the wall to prevent soil erosion and water-related damage.
Repair Foundation Problems
If the screening wall is leaning due to foundation issues, consult with a foundation repair specialist to address and stabilize the foundation.
For moderate leaning, wall braces or monitors can be installed to provide lateral support. These braces are typically made of steel and anchored into the ground. Be sure to consult a professional and check your zoning and building code requirements to ensure your wall braces meet the adopted standards and you have received the required permits for installation.
Helical Piers or Push Piers
Helical piers or push piers can be installed beneath the foundation to stabilize and lift the wall. This is often used for settling or sinking foundations. Be sure to consult a professional and check your zoning and building code requirements to ensure your piers meet the adopted standards and you have received the required permits for installation or repair.
Grout injection involves injecting grout beneath the foundation to fill voids and provide additional support.
Retaining Wall Systems
Retaining wall systems are designed to resist soil pressure and can help prevent leaning. While your wall might not have a retaining wall system, it is a good idea to consult a professional to confirm. We always recommended consulting with a professional to understand the unique factors specific to your screening wall.
Rebuild or Reinforce
If the leaning of your screening wall is severe, rebuilding or reinforcing the wall may be necessary. This can involve dismantling the affected section and rebuilding it with the proper reinforcement under the direction of a licensed professional.