DIY retaining wall w/ fence.. Need it redone and done correctly..

njbuilding143August 7, 2014

Ok.. so we are getting ready to build and I have mentioned this in another section but figured I would post it over here.. The wall that is currently on the property was done totally incorrectly.. Basically they just stacked some blocks and hoped for the best.. No geogrid, no drainage, no proper backfill, etc... I am the do it yourself type of guy and figure with the help of some friends and family we can get it done right.. At the highest the wall should not be over 4ft.. That is measuring from the ground up, not anything below grade..

We do have some restrictions.. While we want the wall done correctly, we dont want to sacrifice/lose to much of the property doing this.. We have family living next to us so it helps with putting the wall in and digging into their property.. With that being said there is only 2 feet of space between the back of our blocks and the beginning of their walkways start.. I am thinking of using something similar to the Allan Block 824 style block with the long anchoring unit.. From what I have been gathering these blocks can be used to build walls greater then 9ft in height and help when there is not enough room to use geogrid.. This also helps with limiting how much space we use.. We are hoping that we can dig into our family's property about 1 foot and then have the remaining 1 foot onto our property.. (Blocks are 2 feet deep).. We were also looking at the Keystone Standard blocks which are also approx 2 feet deep... The wall will be approximately 140 feet long and 4ft high at its highest point..

Just wanted to see if anyone had experience with either of the above products or with gravity walls in general.. I have been reading up on them and getting more detailed information.. I am going to get a price quote to have a professional do the job, but if I can do it myself I would be interested..

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Oh.. and just to give you an idea of what I am working with:

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 12:41AM
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Sophie Wheeler

You need an officially engineered designed plan for the permit. DIY grunt labor may accomplish that plan, but only a pro can design it and get it through the permitting. It's likely to need some heavy equipment operated by experts as well, operated under OSHA guidelines for worker safety. Trench collapses and dirtwork is a lot more dangerous than you think. Retaining walls are a lot more complicated than you think as well. They hold back thousands of tons of wet soil, not to mention having to maitain the stability of any adjacent building's foundations during and after their construction.

If this is done incorrectly, and the adjacent building collapses during your construction, you woud be liable for any loss of life as well as the financial repurcussions of damaging their property.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 7:51AM
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Hire a pro. You don't want your neighbor's house to fall in when you start digging.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 1:14PM
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Thanks for the input.. I was under the impression that the wall didnt require any engineering.. From what I have been reading it seems that if the wall is going to be 4-5 feet or higher then you need to bring in an engineer.. Will have to make a few calls..

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:49PM
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I don't quite get the picture. Is that white fence on your side?

Make sure you have a survey.

I have a keystone wall - 200 ft long, ranges from 3 ft high to 9 ft high.

Keystone has lots of info to help you build the wall.

Check with the city, I don't think you need an engineer for a four foot wall.

Don't over excavate the ground under the wall's foundation. It is naturally compacted.

You will have to excavate probably the depth of 1 1/2 blocks. The foundation should be class 5 limestone or con-bit (ground up concrete / bitumious). Spread the stone, wet it, and run a compactor over it.

Use sand to level the first course - the first course should be ground level (anotherwords, bury one block).

Those 'standards' are 110 lbs each. You will need a lot of space to build that wall. Both in front, and in the rear.

In the rear, lay a perforated drainage pipe, and back fill about one foot, with class 5 limestone. To backfill, use a piece of plywood to hold the fill.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 4:31PM
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They may be family now, but if they someday move the new people may not want you to be using even an inch of what is technically their property. They would have the right to make your remove it. I wouldn't put something as hard to move as the wall you are considering.

I know it's not what you asked about, but I thought I'd put it out there for you to consider. Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 3:15PM
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Whether or not it requires engineering may also be municipality-dependent. Check in with your permits office.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 2:13AM
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They may be family now, but if they someday move the new people may not want you to be using even an inch of what is technically their property. They would have the right to make your remove it. I wouldn't put something as hard to move as the wall you are considering.

Not a bad point, but often fences and retaining walls end up being easement issues, or jointly owned, etc. Especially retaining walls. However, I'd talk to a real-estate lawyer about how to structure this so it's not a problem for anybody if either property changes hands in the future.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:47PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

am i missing something ...???

you need a wall ...

whats there does not APPEAR to be retaining anything..

so why is RETAINING WALL BRICK.. a solution to the problem ...???

it APPEARS its not backfilled.. because of the pvc fencing ... i suspect its to stop cars from bumping the fence ...

it would seem easier.. to put in a parking lot guard rails on 4 x 4/6 ... to stop the cars from hitting the fence ... see link

find some other use for the retaining wall block ...


Here is a link that might be useful: 15th pic and others ....

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:59PM
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There's a lot of scary talk here, but the gist is that a retaining wall is trivial except when things go wrong. These things can include anything from waterlogged soil to earthquake, but we won't think of them too much lest they come true.

Here in Arizona, the counties regulate building codes, and Pima County says: "Engineering is required if the wall is over 4 feet high, measured from the bottom of the footing, or for any wall height with applied surcharge loads" such as driveways on top or slopes pushing sideways.

Also, and here's the good part: "For retaining walls up to 8 feet high, Pima County Building Safety pre-approved details may be used." That means they have a homeowner-oriented form designed to make it easy unless you're dealing with an intense situation.

Forget engineers. Forget lawyers. Call the building permits people and ask THEM, not us. If you follow their plans and have it inspected by them you can expect a reliable wall and a lawyer-free future for it. If your building codes/permits people donâÂÂt have such a handout, get the one from Pima County and see if theyâÂÂll accept it. ItâÂÂs very BS free.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 1:24PM
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As I see it you don't want the white fence to get hit! So a guy backs into all those loose blocks- think they are going to head right into that nice white fence. If you got a number of large boulders & placed every 3 ft. I think they would think twice about hitting those. Would look attractive along there & could put in low growing ground cover or just some gravel to complete the look.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 11:11PM
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