If you’ve considered high bank waterfront, but unsure as to the stability of the hillside, or what should be considered when purchasing, hopefully the following information will help.
A bank can range in height from a few feet to hundreds of feet. What is considered High Bank Waterfront is left up to the individual, as Local and Federal Agencies do not define the height, only the characteristics of the bank and what potential issues may arise during ownership.
Higher, more distinct slopes are called bluffs which are often referred to as “near vertical”. When considering high bank waterfront, look for the following potential conditions:
– Trees angled towards water
– Distinct breaks in the slope
– “Gullying” or surface erosion
– Piled earth or debris at the base of the bank
– 40 percent slope, or greater with 15 feet or more vertical relief
The above picture represents all 5 conditions. As long as one or more conditions exist, it is best to perform the following prior to making an offer:
Geotechnical Evaluation – Check with the seller to see if there has been a recent or updated evaluation. Geotechnical Engineers will review surface conditions, subsurface conditions through soil borings, geologic data for the site, conduct a land reconnaissance, and evaluate landslide conditions.
Talk with the neighbors – The neighbors may know of any recent landslide issues.
County planning department – Call your local planning department for information on the history of the property.
In many cases, the conditions found in a specific property can be greatly improved upon by implementing the suggestions provided by a Geotechnical Engineer and other local agencies, which may include redirecting rain water and adding French drains to the property along with dispersing the water at the base of the hillside or adding native vegetation. On the flip side, removing vegetation and adding impermeable surfaces will increase the potential for landslides and should be reviewed by your local planning department before making changes.
Feel free to contact me for more information regarding waterfront properties. Thank you!