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“my immediate neighbors have been doing unpermitted, illegal DIY construction for the last few years”

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“Dear PoPville,

I’m hoping you may have a few ideas for how to address this problem. I own a typical Petworth row house, and my immediate neighbors have been doing unpermitted, illegal DIY construction for the last few years. Most notably they were digging out an expansion of their basement under their front porch by hand (yes, with a shovel and buckets and zero structural reinforcements).

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They received a stop work order from DCRA for that project last summer and since then a giant, muddy hole has been growing in their yard and onto my property. The hole has gotten so large and deep that the gutter drain spout leading from my house that was previously buried is now exposed. We have asked them several times about the hole and asked them to repair it.

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They put up some very makeshift 2×4 reinforcements under their porch but have done nothing to address the ground erosion. I’m very concerned about any possible structural damage that this could be causing my home, not to mention the possible impact on the value of my home (I am considering selling in the next year). Further, depending on how extensive the construction has been inside the basement, I wonder if the house is even safe to be inhabited, and there are several children living there.”

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