Couple Takes on Home With Mudslide

Contractor builds strong wall to keep backyard from washing away

By Omar Villafranca
|  Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012  |  Updated 12:31 AM CDT
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A couple is making changes to a Southwest Dallas home where heavy rains swept away the backyard in 2009, leaving the house standing on a small cliff.

Omar Villafranca, NBC 5 News

A couple is making changes to a Southwest Dallas home where heavy rains swept away the backyard in 2009, leaving the house standing on a small cliff.

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A Dallas family is taking on the challenge of a home that was in danger of slipping away in a rainstorm.

The backyard of the Southwest Dallas home in the 8400 block of High Brush Drive eroded years ago. The back porch opened up onto a 15-to-17-foot drop. The erosion was so bad that the home's foundation was exposed.

But Mike Trash's wife fell love the first time she walked into the house.

"The inside is nice," he said. "We looked at the view, and it was great. And I stepped into the backyard and I said, 'Get me out of here.'"

Terry and Patricia Palmer previously lived in the home. The couple had spent thousands of dollars on landscaping when heavy rains swept away tons of dirt in October 2009, leaving the home standing on a small cliff. The house's foundation was steady, but fixing the backyard proved difficult.

Terry Palmer told NBC 5 his insurance company didn't want to pay and he didn't have the money to fix it himself. Ultimately, the Palmers had to move away, and they lost the house.

The Thrash family knew the home's history but was determined to make it work.

"I had a couple of contractor friends tell me to run the other way, fast," Thrash said.

He hired Devan Hall to build a strong wall to keep the dirt from washing away. Hall said a natural spring found just a few feet below the house contributed to the erosion problem.

"The ground stays wet pretty much full time, even when there's no rain," he said.

Next door, Hall built a wall with wall piers at least 15 feet deep. He even used mortar and other materials to construct another wall safety wall to stop the flow of mud and dirt. Hall said the wall will hold back the dirt and let the water properly drain out.

"I'd say it'll take a Mack truck running 100 mph to even dent it," he joked.

Hall still has a few weeks of construction left before the yard is finished, but Thrash is already daydreaming about his new backyard.

"[I will] have a private little terrace with a sitting area," he said. "I picture putting a tree there that'll have some shade."

The whole process has been both scary and rewarding for Thrash.

"Actually, I'm watching it unfold, and it's kind of fun to see," he said.


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