Someone ruined my lawn

Yesterday, I came home from work to find that someone had driven a large piece of machinery through my side yard and across the backyard. Whoever it was dug a large hole in the backyard and then partially filled it back in. The ground was very soft from an entire weekend of rain, so whatever machinery was used (a backhoe or something similar) left deep tire tracks and destroyed most of the grass. There’s also a large pile of dirt still sitting next to the hole they dug.

What should I do? My father thinks I should call the police, but that seems a little extreme. Could the cable or telephone people have been digging for something back there? Possibly the gas company? If it was one of the utility services, will they fix my lawn?

IANAL, but I am a homeowner. Check with the obvious neighbors who would’ve needed access through your yard to get some equipment through. They are liable for the damage, not to mention they needed to obtain your permission.

If it’s not a neighbor, call the police to file a report. Then start calling the utilities. You’re only filing the report as an incentive for the utility to cooperate. They’d probably be willing to make good without the pressure, but it’s easier to get a police report now than it will be in 3 months of them shifting blame (not that I would expect that to happen).

If it’s a utility (and it probably is), start calling the obvious ones and see if they did work there. They do this all the time, so they should be fairly expedient about having the damage repaired. They probably don’t realize there was damage because the driver/operator didn’t report it. Mention the police report, but don’t start waving it as a threat. A simple, “Oh, I filed a police report because there was no notice or anything left at my home by your company. I was concerned it might have been something worse than emergency utility repair…”

Do you have a septic system? Could it have been a regular service call?

Get lots of pictures, too. Do you have a surveyor’s report of your property? If you can see where the utility rights-of-way are, you might be surprised to learn that the damage isn’t even on your property. One of the joys of home ownership - you get to look after a whole lot of city property. In my last backyard, we had a utility pole at the back, with a guy wire going up into our yard - it took dozens of square meters out of our yard with the right-of-way the City reserved around it. I’d like to think someone working on the utilities would let you know before they start digging in your yard, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Nope, there’s no septic tank. I’m fairly sure it wasn’t one of my neighbors because the yard is 90% fenced in with no access to the neighbors’ yards. The side yard is the only place without a fence.

Well, I’ll start calling the utilities this afternoon and see if anyone will fess up. You’d think they could have at least left a note or something.

There isn’t a hand sticking out of the ground, is there?

I wonder if it was a wrong address? Does there seem to have been a hole dug? Or dod they seems to have just driven around for a while?

There’s a hole and a pile of dirt. The hole is at least 5’ x 5’. No evidence of buried bodies or pirate treasure, but I didn’t look very hard.

It’d call City Hall and go from there.

Here is how you should proceed. Let us know when you hit the layer of logs.

Been planning any landscaping changes? I guess you could use the hole as a pre-determined spot to plant a new tree or a clump of shrubbery. Silver lining and all that. They already did the hard work of digging the hole for you, plus by filling it partly back in they loosened, aerated, and tilled the soil a bit. A 5’ x 5’ area would make a decent little raised bed for some veggies.

Maybe they’ll be charging *you *for the service? :slight_smile:

Probably a utility company. Water, electric or gas. And they probably have either right-of-way or an easement across your property.

But they handled this poorly and should offer to fix it. And they should have contacted you to inform you of what they were doing.

Does homeowner insurance cover this?

Since the OP is seeking opinions, this is better suited for IMHO than GQ.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

When Verizon was installing fiber optics in our neighborhood, they did quite a bit of damage when they ran the cables from the curb to the house. They also did a really good job of fixing the damage. I’m surprised that whichever utility did this didn’t notify you, but I would think that it will be repaired.

Check your title insurance policy to see if there are any recorded utility easements. They still should repair any damage they did to your property getting to and fro. Surprised they didn’t do a JULIE (is that term comon other than Chicago for utilities check?) dig beforehand.

Miss Dig” in Michigan.

Good call. Here’s where the OP took me.

Just about every state has a system where anybody who puts a shovel into the ground is required to call a one-call central clearinghouse in advance to ensure that they are not going to hit a buried utility.

The OP’s location is listed as “Dayton.” Assuming that’s the one in Ohio, call the Ohio Utilities Protection Service’s Call Before You Dig number at (800) 362-2764 and find out who took out a dig ticket. The dig ticket will have all of the contact information of whomever did the excavation.

I second calling City Hall. They have code enforcement officers for a reason. Also, the City might have a ROW permit out for nearby utility work that could clue you in to which utility might have been doing something.

They should also be able to help you find out if you have any easements on your property which a utility company might have used.

Also, anyone using an easement typically is required to leave it in ‘as good or better’ condition.