On Wednesday in Portland a house slid down a hill about 300 feet, crashing into the house below it. Oregon has landslides every year due to our clay soil and rain. In this case, we haven’t had a lot of rain lately, but they think a broken sprinkler line or sewer pipe may be the cause.
The owner of the home, Kathy, has some great neighbors. Her neighbors heard the cracks and groans as the house gave way and managed to get her out as the house toppled over and slid about 50 feet. The house then slid the remaining 250 feet down the hill.
This made me think of our local issues here in Salem, OR.
Last year I had a buyer who called me about a house they were purchasing on a “hill” as apparently a man feel into a sinkhole while sitting in his home. (I put “hill” in quotes because from a Salem perspective, the house was not on a hill). Anyway, she was concerned about this, so I pulled the maps for her and encouraged her to call the city with her concerns.
Since then I have had clients ask me about earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other natural hazards so I thought I would put out there some information about our local hazards, starting with landslides.
Due to the amount of rain we get, we do get landslides. It’s pretty much basic physics: it rains, soil becomes saturated and heavy by the rains, and gravity pulls it down. Voila…a landslide. Most of our landslides seem to occur along the coast in the Oregon Coast Range, but home buyers in Salem, OR do need to be mindful of this hazard.
Our city and state codes require homes that are built in a designated landslide area be engineered to certain standards. That is great for new homes, but homes built before codes may have future problems.
What you need to know as a home buyer is that if you intend to purchase a home in South or West Salem, you do want to double check to see if the house is in a designated landslide area. The risk is from low to high, and that is important for you as a homeowner. Purchasing an older home in a high-risk area can be a source of many additional repairs to the home or foundation since they weren’t engineered to current landslide standards.
Chapter 69 of our local city ordinance talks about city codes for these areas and if you plan to buy or remodel a home in one of these areas, please read the codes. They may make or break a purchase for you.
Now if you don’t believe me that living in a landslide area is cause for concern, please read my blog I thought Niagara Falls was in NY.
(c) Copyright, 2008. Melina Tomson, All Rights Reserved (ie…be nice and create your own content. Don’t steal mine…)