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The terracing quotes (part 2 of what to do to sell this house

Posted by cimmaryn (My Page) on
Fri, Dec 5, 08 at 11:12

I have gotten 3 quotes for the terracing that is required in back of my house (check the link, password 'house'). One person was significantly more expensive than the other two, so he is out. For the other two:

6x6 Timber -- bid 1 $23,000 bid 2 $21,355
Alan/Key block -- bid 1 $26,532 bid 2 $28,250

I am planning on asking if they would come down on these bids. If I could install the blocks for under $24K, I'd be tempted.

Since I am fixing the terracing in order to sell the house -- should I just go with the least expensive? That would actually be the railroad ties @ $19K. Or go with the best (block) -- or just hit is somewhere in the middle with the timbers?

Btw, the prices include proper drainage for the wall and backyard (a problem now), removing the dirt from the first terrace, straw/seed, and taking down/cleaning up trees in the area.

I am going to have them remove the first terracing and create one wall where the second terracing stands. This will expand the yard by 12+ feet -- making it 22 feet deep, which will be a huge improvement. I think this makes the most sense, especially if a buyer has children/pets.

So, which would you choose? Railroad ties, Timbers, or keystone/alan blocks? How much would you try to negotiate the price down to?

Also, how complicated is it to do a job like this (say the wall will vary from 4 ft to 15 ft high)? My son wants to do the job, but he has limited experience at building retaining walls, and certainly has not ever built one like this. Is this a job for an expert only?

Thanks!

Kimberly

Kimberly
Just for giggles -- one of the quotes states the wall will be 1500 sqft of wall!

Here is a link that might be useful: the house...


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The terracing quotes (part 2 of what to do to sell this house

as a buyer, I would prefer the Allan wall but I don't know that it would pay you to put one in.

I am frankly surprised that the differential between the quotes is as narrow as you mention. I thought the Allan wall would be a lot more

I don't think your son should tackle this. My husband did it, but only after much study. He also never went beyond 4 feet per terrace. He would not have taken on a 15 foot high wall by himself.

1500 sq feet doesn't seem to me like something to giggle over. You must remember that the first course of material will be underground. It is easy enough for you to check for yourself. Just multiply the number of running feet by the height of the wall.

My neighbors are currently dealing with a wall that was improperly installed by the previous owner. They had failed to put the first course underground so it all has to come out and be re-done. My neighbor across the street has a failing wall of rotting RR ties and this time around she will have to pay to have it redone because she no longer has the strength to deal with it.


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RE: The terracing quotes (part 2 of what to do to sell this house

All three of the contractors had a similar price difference between the timbers and allan wall. I prefer to do the allan wall myself, and if I was going to live at that house, I would definitely do that. It is harder to decide since I just want to sell the house as soon as possible.

The wall behind this house was build incorrectly, also, and has a significant lean to it. It's a mess!

I was not meaning 'giggle' as in 'it's funny, ha ha'. I was just amazed to find out the square footage of the wall!

Kimberly


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RE: The terracing quotes (part 2 of what to do to sell this house

I'd go with the timber unless I could get the cost down on the block. Wonder how accurate the bids are. I know unforeseen things can happen, but if you start the project at the top of what you want to spend, you sure don't want to hear the dreaded "well, we ran into a problem here & it's gonna be another $5,000....".


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RE: The terracing quotes (part 2 of what to do to sell this house

That is a good point about the potential for increasing costs during the build -- is there anyway for me to protect myself against this problem? Can i put something in a contract that says 'no more than 10% in overages' or 'contractor is responsible for overages' ?

Kimberly


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RE: The terracing quotes (part 2 of what to do to sell this house

My position is not a popular one, but cheap and done right usually do not work. A block wall installed correctly involves alot of details. Miss a few or even one and you have a complete waste of money.

Personally I would bring in the most expensive guy. Ask him why he is more and get a few references. Make your concerns known and see how they are dealt with. By all means have a contract and split payment schedules up to where there is a substantial amount due upon acceptance of the completed project.

Bring in another bid and interview him over "apples to apples" details of the project. He may shed some light on things or not. Often you will start being able to get a feel for one or the other.


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RE: The terracing quotes (part 2 of what to do to sell this house

A 15' high wall is a major engineering feat that probably requires permitting and inspecting. You're not going to be able to use "plain timber" or an interlocking block system for this unless it has several "keys" back into the hill. That will involve excavating several trenches back into the hill and removal of a LOT of dirt that will have to be disposed of and the delivery of gravel to help it drain properly. Otherwise, the pressure of the wet earth when it rains wll collapse the wall. This is NOT homeowner doable unless you happen to be a 6'5" all muscle guy with an soils engineering degree. Personally, for such a large and dangerous job, I'd want any company that undertook it to have an engineer's inspection report and written plan as part of their bid package. If any firm didn't include that, I'd have to eliminate them from contention. I'd also make sure that it was known that the local codes enforcement inpection would be expected, and if none planned on getting the building codes folk involved, once again, I'd elminate them entirely. The successful bidder would also have to carry good liability insurance and be bonded.


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RE: The terracing quotes (part 2 of what to do to sell this house

Both of the guys who's prices I listed above are planning on getting permits and the required engineering inspections. I made it clear I want them to do that. They are also bonded and licensed in GA. I went through the Service Magic referral service, since I did not know anyone who did this type of work. Both discussed the need to anchor the wall into the hill properly (in fact, both discussed how the current wall only had about half as many 'dead men' as it needed -- which is probably why it is leaning). The timber they referred to is landscaping timber, 6x6.

The most expensive bid was given by a guy who spent very little time measuring and looking at the wall, and even less time talking to me about what I wanted and the current problems with the yard.

Thanks, guys, for the input!

Kimberly


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