What to do when drainage is ruined by a neighbor's action

Q. When the apartment building next door was revamped for a condominium, they retopped the blacktop drive adjacent to my sidewalk.

Although the drainage was all right before, the extra height of the drive now causes rainwater to collect in two areas and against my basement door.

The concrete contractor insists that the entire 75 feet of walk from the city walk to my back gate must be chopped out and replaced. The cost is prohibitive.

I have read of a cementious material which can be tapered out to a feather edge and which adheres to existing exterior concrete. Are the concrete men correct when they say that frost and ice would crack such a topping?

J. Allen Evanston, Ill.

A. If I understand this matter correctly, you may have redress against the adjoining apartment property owner.

Seek counsel from your attorney concerning the legality of a property owner changing an existing drainage pattern and draining rainwater into adjacent property. Follow his advice.

One may indeed correct the new water problem against your basement wall by thickening the existing sidewalk with a special cementlike topping (not regular concrete). Here are three manufacturers: Okun Company, West Haverstraw, N.Y., telephone: (914) 947-1505; Hartline Products in Cleveland, telephone: (216) 451- 6573; and Sealwall Products Inc., Eastlake, Ohio, telephone: (213) 951-3445.

Topping materials made by the companies noted above may be feathered down to zero thickness.

If the cementlike sidewalk overlay is not chosen, another solution to the drainage problem is to remove about 12 inches of blacktop driveway next to your sidewalk and reform that area with an asphaltic swale to carry the driveway-water runoff to the street.

Of course, if your attorney finds the problem to be the responsibility of your neighbor, then the choice of proper drainage control is that of the neighbor, not you.

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