New Construction Next Door? Here's What You Need To Know About Potential Flooding On Your Property

New construction job sites are very noisy and dusty, especially when they are right next door. You breathe a sigh of relief when construction ends. But, just because these nuisances are over doesn't mean you're in the clear yet. Your property and basement could be at risk of flooding. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do. Here's what you need to know.

How Do Changes to Neighboring Property Cause Flooding On Your Property?

Whenever there are changes to the ground of a neighboring property, your home has a higher risk of flooding due to the displacement of surface and ground water. Changes to your neighbor's property that could affect yours include the following:

  • Change in slope
  • Foundation with basement
  • Pool excavation
  • Large driveway or parking lot

The displacement of surface and ground water from the neighboring property to yours may cause additional hydrostatic pressure on your foundation walls. Hydrostatic pressure is the force of ground water on foundation walls. When your home was constructed, the builders may have only accounted for the groundwater level at the time of construction. Your home's foundation may no longer be protected from hydrostatic pressure. This can cause your basement to flood.

Caution: You may not notice any problems until the first heavy rainfall.

What Can You Do to Prevent Flooding In Your Basement & On Your Property?

You can wait until the first heavy rainfall to see if your property has been affected and then take action to prevent flooding to your basement in the future. However, it may be a good idea to be proactive instead. That way, you won't have to worry about flooding in your basement. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Install an exterior drain tile, also known as a French drain
  • Improve your sump pump by hooking it directly into your sewer drain
  • Waterproof your foundation walls. You can check out the site to find a company that offers this service.

Helpful tip: Relocate furnishings, electronics and anything else of value until after the first heavy rainfall to see if your basement floods if you choose a wait-and-see approach.

Can Your Neighbor Be Held Legally Responsible?

While your neighbor may be fully justified to make changes to their property, they legally cannot unreasonably change their property in a way that may adversely affect yours. The first thing to do is to contact your local storm water management office to assess the issue. Your neighbors should have been given the go-ahead by a representative of this office before making changes to their property. If they didn't, they may face fines from not getting authorization from the storm water management office to make the changes.

The storm water management representative will assess what your risks are. If your risks of flooding are higher you may be able to hold your neighbors legally responsible, but only if they were not reasonable with their changes. For example, they may be legally responsible for flooding on your property if they sloped their land away from their home towards your property without installing a drainage system.

Hire a real estate lawyer who specializes in property disputes, and inform your homeowner's insurance of the assessment from the storm water management office. Together, these professionals can determine whether or not your neighbor may be held legally responsible. If so, then you may be able to file a lawsuit for any damages to your property and/or waterproofing improvements you may need to protect your home and property.

The end of construction on a neighboring property may not be the end of nuisances that affect you and your property. Your property and basement may flood. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your home's foundation, and your neighbor could be held legally responsible. 

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