Builder Added a Huge Cement Top Drain in My Yard

jmwoody99March 19, 2012

Hi there. Im having a new home built out of state. I recently went to check on it and, unfortunately, the builder has added a large cement-topped drain in my back-yard about 20' from my back porch (the lot is about 25' deep). I understand the need for drainage easements, the problem is the large industrial-looking cement top that makes it very unsightly (esp in such a small yard--about 18" high and about 4-5' across). I was not made aware of any easements on the lot when I signed the contract (as a firs-time buyer, I didn't even think to ask for a plat map). I have photos that show there was no cement structure when I signed for the lot. The truth is, I love the home...but my dream home does not contain a cement sewer-drain looking device in my yard. Any opinions/thoughts? I don't want the home since the lot has been modified (need for a drain was not disclosed prior to contract signing nor after). I would accept the same home on a different lot, though. Pls advise. Thank you.

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brickeyee

Probably no grounds for any action.

Your failure to review the plans of the builder is not their fault.

Plants some bushes between the concrete and your porch to hide it.

Be aware that if they need to work on the drainage they probably have an easement for access.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 10:12AM
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sweet_tea

if it is flat on the top you could put potted plants on top of it, and use it like a ledge. with bushes on the side of it per the above suggestion, it really wont be noticable.

if you want out of the home, check your contract for provisions. You probably will lose all money you put down if you walk away.

You could always discuss with the builder to see what the deal is. maybe they plan to pile dirt next to it to hide it and maybe they will put bushes around it as well. just ask "what's that concrete thing in the yard and what are your plans for landscaping around it?" Then stay silent and listen to their answer.

If it truly is a drain, it would likely be flush with the ground so water can drain into the grates. So they might be planning to bury it(??)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 10:45AM
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ncrealestateguy

Did you use the listing agent or were your interests being represented by a good buyer's agent?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 7:30PM
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jmwoody99

The cement top is at least 18" off of the ground. And I've seen a finished one--it's an eyesore.

I didn't use a buyer's agent. And I'm cursing myself except for the fact that I have many satisfied friends who used the listing agent/builder.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 11:00PM
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lyfia

Doesn't sound like a drain - wouldn't be off the ground. Time to read your contract to see if you can find an out.

Have you asked the builder what it is and why it is where it is? Depending on where/what it is maybe you can negotiate having it moved over to an area where you could easier landscape around it/camoflage it.

Often the trades will just put things where it is easier for them without caring how it will look to the homeowner.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 11:30AM
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brickeyee

"Often the trades will just put things where it is easier for them without caring how it will look to the homeowner. "

Storm water drainage and heavy concrete work are not normally a "trade" option for location.

The builder likely has a set of plans for the whole development that covers roads, drainage, landscaping, etc.

Every buyer should review the plans before purchasing.

It should have been part of choosing a lot.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 11:58AM
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DLM2000

"Every buyer should review the plans before purchasing. It should have been part of choosing a lot."

I totally agree. But....... So what is an inexperienced home builder, lot buyer to do? If you believe you've asked every pertinent question, looked at the survey for your specific lot, gone over development plans if that's applicable, at what point can a buyer feel they've covered all their bases and have recourse if something like this takes them by surprise? I'm not saying the OP is right or wrong, checked everything or left something to chance, I have no idea. But I truly am curious how a buyer (who is not an expert) can cover all bases and be confident they are getting what they expect without 'serious' surprises? That's a big question, and maybe better asked in a thread on its own. But as a relatively new reader to this forum and in the *should we/shouldn't we build* thinking, wishing phase, I have to say that some of the things I've read scare the daylights out of me in terms of building! It's not possible to learn from everyone else's mistakes or tragedies what to avoid because there always is something else that can happen!!! Buyer beware - of course - but how do you know???

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 3:38PM
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ncrealestateguy

A look at the survey would have shown any drainage easement on the lot. And yes, there are drains that have caps that are raised quite a bit off the ground. They have them here too.
Let us know what your builder's rep says, keeping in mind that she represents the builder 100%, not you.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 4:58PM
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sweeby

A neighbor down the block from us has one of those things in the drainage ditch in front of their house. Yes, it sticks up about 18" and is 4-5' wide, and it's *ugly*... Fortunately for them, it's inside a ditch, so does not really stick up above the 'normal' elevation of the front lawn.

If it is a storm drain, that 18" rise may be necessary, and planting shrubs in front of it may not be possible without compromising the function of the drain. Also, having a drainage easement is one thing -- but that doesn't necessarily mean they'd have to install one of these concrete honkers.

Many real estate contracts have some sort of clause where the prospective buyer is released from obligation if their loan paperwork doesn't go through. If you decide you really want out, given today's ultra-stringent lending climate, doing something that tanked your loan application would probably not be terribly difficult.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 5:40PM
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brickeyee

"So what is an inexperienced home builder, lot buyer to do?"

Try and complain and hope the builder is hard up for any buyers.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 7:05PM
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mellyc123

Look at the survey immediately to see if an easement is shown or not.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:52AM
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berniek

Usually distribution or drainage pipes have manhole/manway access every so many feet, or in distribution pipes vents on high points and drains on low points etc.
The recording of easements is required to grant the owner of the easement access for maintenance and repairs.
The easement document spells out the the easement holders (Grantee) obligations and rights and the property owners (Grantor) remaining "bundle of sticks" rights.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:38AM
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brickeyee

If you have not closed on this property and the builder owns the land, there may not have been a deed prepared, or even a detailed plat.

If the builder owns the larger plot, and is subdividing it you actually own nothing at this point.
You have a contract to build on a lot and then have it all delivered to you.
Look to the contract.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:42AM
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revamp

Worst case, it seems that you could place a firebowl on top of the whole thing and arrange a nice seating area around there to make what would otherwise be an eyesore into something at least functional (without impairing the function of the cap/drain).

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 3:49PM
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