Last year a homeowner contacted us to evaluate his river view slope that he said was close to his house. When we first visited the sight we were shocked to see that the previous owner had built a very large house just five feet from the edge of a 35 foot high steep slope down to a tidal section of the Chickahominy River in Charles City County, Virginia.
All of the slope and ¾ of the house were located in the Chesapeake Bay RPA (Resource Protection Area). We tried to convey to the owner the steps that were needed to evaluate and design a correction to this slope. Fortunately our client had a neighbor who was an engineer that helped him understand the magnitude of the problems that he had with his property. Due to limited site access, we proposed to perform nine hand auger test borings at different levels of the steep slope to establish the existing soil profile from the house to the water. The owner accepted our proposal and allowed us to perform our study. Based on our findings we presented slope correction options to the owner, considering that all work would have to be performed within the RPA and would need to meet all Chesapeake Bay land disturbance requirements. The owner selected an option that would result in the least number of tree removals but still provide for some horizontal expanse of his rear yard.
The owner accepted the second phase of our proposal to provide design drawings for the retaining walls that would be required. The owner wisely hired a very competent landscape architect to assist us with the re-vegetation of the slopes to satisfy Chesapeake Bay requirements. After much discussion and meetings with the owner and his landscape architect, we developed a design concept that we were able to submit to the County Planning and Development.
The plan was approved by James City County and the owner retained the services of one of three contractors that we recommended to perform the correction. To satisfy the requirements of our plans, construction monitoring and testing was required. The contractor also had limited access to his work area while still protecting the existing vegetation adjacent to the work area.
As each section of the wall was constructed, we performed tests and inspections to verify that the work was proceeding according to the approved plans.
The goal of the plans and construction was to provide the owner with a setting that still provided them with a treetop view of the river with a slope that was landscaped with an accessible path to the water.
The owner was delighted with the results of the work.
The benches established on the face of the wall will eventually establish vegetation and become totally green to blend into the adjacent properties. The owner was not only able to now have a back yard, but he was also able to construct an elevated patio to enjoy the beauty of the scenery. The project turned out so well that the County Building Official asked for permission to use pictures of the project to show other landowners what is possible for their waterfront property.
(Clicking on any of the pictures here will open a larger version)