Retaining wall question

Hi, everyone,
The scenario is here.
I did inspection a home few weeks ago. and there were partial unsecured stones on the retaining wall. See the picture.
So I mentioned, “Retaining wall movement/Loose noted. It should be secured for children safety reason.”
I was feeling that the loosen retaining wall can be safety hazard when children playing.
by the way, the selling broker ask me why did you report like that unnecessary items.
I’m really curious. Am I wrong?
Any advise, Thank you…


I wouldn’t have referred to it as a “retaining wall.” I would have said something like “the stacked rocks used as yard walls are loose and displaced. You should have the stacked walls secured by a qualified contractor, or removed for reasons of general safety.”

Of course, I live in CA, where these will topple over at the first minor tremor. I don’t know where you’re inspecting, so maybe it’s less of an issue in your area. . .

There can be not an issue item… Needs to be considered…
Thank you~~ Jaff…

I wouldn’t have addressed it at all. If the landscaping doesn’t affect the structure of the home it’s not inspected.

Do you report the potential hazards of bird baths? They can fall over and hurt the poor child who happens to be beside it. How about the tire swing? Jimmy may break an arm. The list goes on and on with items outside the home. My PIA disclaims them all.

I do. . Walkways, yard walls and other landscape features are included in the report.

Tire swings? No.
Tree houses? No.
Playground sets? No.

The list goes on. . .

One of the benefits we offer as home inspectors…that the AHJs who preceded us do not…is that we can write our reports to address the needs of our particular clients.

Code be damned.

If you know that your client has 7 children, ages 1 to 8, and can see a potential hazard that the dwelling or landscaping provides…write it down.

Next time a real estate salesman offers advice as to how to write your report, ask how much of their commission they plan to share with you for helping them sell the house…wink…and go back to your writing.

You report a low, loose stacked landscape wall but not a trampoline?? How do you decide what is report worthy when it comes to potential hazards on the property? What about the drowning hazards of a pond or nearby lake? Does that go in? What about if you see a Toyota in the neighbor’s driveway? Does that get reported? :slight_smile:

I’m just thinking calling out a low landscape wall is pretty picky when there are so many other things that can get someone hurt. Life is full of hazards! They can’t all be eliminated unless we curl up in the corner and never leave the room? The most dangerous thing most of us do every day is get in the car. There’s a significant chance of death there…but that loose, 2’ high wall needs some service to protect Jimmy?

"According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), 246,875 medically treated trampoline injuries occur annually in the U.S. Of this total, 186,405 of these injuries occurred among children aged 14 or younger.* **According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) hospital emergency room-treated trampoline injuries almost tripled in the last decade - from an estimated 37,500 in 1991 to almost 100,000 in 1999." **

Forgive the rant. Haven’t had my coffee.


I write up all loose wall stones around every property, period.

I was a kid once too and I remember climbing many walls in my younger days. If a stone falls and injures a child, I told them so.

For the most part, landscape features are part of the purchase. Personal property (in most cases) is not.

If I were buying the home, I’d tell the sellers to take the trampoline - I have no use for it, nor do I want it cluttering the yard. I would not expect them to start dismantling yard walls or other landscape components.

What is at issue with a retaining wall is whether or not it presents a danger by falling from improper installation or hydrostatic / lateral forces exerted upon same…not a hypothetical scenario of children playing on them.

Did the wall present a clear and present danger in and of itself? I would say No.

Was the wall improperly built for its height? I would say No

Is the construction of the wall such that it will hold moisture thereby creating hydrostatic pressure on same which would eventually create a condition for failure? I would say No

Were you wrong to report it?.. I would simply say that in light of the fact that there seems to be no indications that the wall presents a clear and present danger in failing (other than your what if scenario), you were unjustified in how you reported this item.

Use it as a lesson in how to get your point of concerns across without becoming an alarmist on an issue that does not adversely affect the home or is occupants.

Stone wall, 1 cubic foot 140-150 lbs… Looks like crap.
Landscape is in need of dire maintenance. Recommend a landscape contractor to repair the stone wall and flower garden. :mrgreen::wink:

I also would have pointed out the potential Safety Hazard of the wall…

Just like i would for a pond/fountain/bird bath/ etc…

Yep, same here every time. My clients really appreciate that I look at the property as a whole, and how it may affect their family. Many realtors are actually impressed and have commented that “my other inspectors never check that”! :D:D:D