"Wing walls need railing," was on the FHA appraisal, and the client was mystified.
Since it was an FHA appraisal and it involved a railing, I knew the appraiser was talking about a wall or ledge off of which someone could fall. I had never heard the term "wing wall." The house did not have an open stairwell, so I asked the client if there were any photos. "Only of the outside of the house," she said.
That was the clue I needed, as I realized the appraiser was talking about the retaining walls on either side of the walk-out basement.
A retaining wall at the corner of the house is a wing wall. While remembering that term is not important for homeowners, knowing that those walls can be cited as a safety hazard is important.
A retaining wall anywhere on the property may be a target for an FHA predication, even those retaining walls that separate yard from driveway when a raised ranch or split foyer house has a basement level garage. Sellers need to know that they may be asked to erect railings in those areas.
The photo at right shows the same house as the photo above, but the railings have been installed. The retrofitted railings satisfied the FHA predication, and the house sale concluded successfully.