Monday, March 24, 2014

Q: We just love the house you sold us a few years ago. We have also loved all of our neighbors, up until now.

The couple next door became our best friends but the husband died last year and his wife moved back east to be near family. So new people bought the house. They’re awful! The first thing they had to do was to start bugging us about the fence. They claimed that our fence was on their property. After spending a bunch of money on a new survey, it turned out the fence was right where it belonged, on our side. Then they started complaining about our dog. They claim she comes over and digs in their yard. That can’t happen because we have invisible fencing for her and she never leaves our yard except with us and she’s on a lease. What can be done about people like this?

A: Unfortunately, the world is full of folks who don’t seem happy unless they are causing other people grief. I don’t want to sound like a psychologist here, but I believe those are very unhappy people, wouldn’t you agree? They’re never satisfied. They obviously lack something important in their lives and to compensate for that they fight everybody over everything. Sadly, your story is all too familiar.

As far as the boundary and dog issues are concerned, you will just have to deal with whatever they come up with unless you want to talk to an attorney about legal options. That’s very serious and could cause more trouble than it’s worth. Be sure that you are, indeed, doing everything you can to keep from fueling their complaints. Maybe they’ll get tired of picking on you and move on to someone else.

As for the way this makes you feel, a little meditation on the good in your own life and some sympathy or pity for these difficult neighbors may help. It’s hard to be charitable when you’re being picked on for no good reason, but gratitude for your own happiness can ease the situation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Q: We’ve only been in this house for a couple of years but the last few weeks of rain are creating a huge pond in our front yard for the first time.

We can hardly drive down the driveway because it’s become a river! What can we do? What damage does this do to the property! Will the house flood?

A: Let me begin by saying welcome to the northwest! Many parts of the entire western portion of our state get flooded annually, some years worse than others. We have a very high water table so it doesn’t take much to flood. It isn’t always low areas either. However, it is a normal part of living in western Washington.

As for your yard, as long as the water isn’t causing any major issues with your home, like flooding a basement, it should recede as soon as the rain stops for awhile and do no harm. I have flooding on my property in heavy rains but it’s absorbed in a day or two and replenishes our aquifer.

If the water sits a long time or is causing damage to your house you should consult a good local contractor or a drainage expert to see if "French" drains, or curtain drains would be a good idea to protect your home. On small lots, a sump pump under the house might be a quick and relatively inexpensive fix.

Many people new to our region get upset because of rainwater issues. Please keep in mind that all that rain is why we have such a lush and green environment here and part of the reason we can grow pretty much any fruit and vegetables except citrus. Channeling and saving that water is both an art and a science. Many Vashon folks are saving rainwater and using it for irrigation or even as an integral part of their home water system, like using it for flushing toilets. Even our local school district is doing that at our new high school.