So, I am building a large number of retaining walls this Summer and thought I would start a thread on How To. I'm no Pro, just some house building experience, so this is very much a learn as you go project for me.
If you are considering anything bigger than a flower bed (2' high or so) I would recommend the following:
1. Mock-up a concept of your wall on paper or in Sketch-Up. Draw Plan and Section Views showing approximate grades into and away from the wall.
2. Take your Concept Drawing to your Building Code Enforcement Office: Many won't approve or permit a wall that big without Engineering, lest it fall on someone. Ask if he knows an Engineer that works with Homeowners (many will not).
3. Consult an Engineer: Even if your Building Code Office allows a big wall with no Engineering, you should bring one on for peace of mind. That is a lot of work if it falls over next year (on someone ). Your Engineer may want to see Topographical Surveys of the area.
4. At the very minimum read "The Homeowner's Guide To Drainage Control & Retaining Walls" by Erickson
5. Produce solid Working Drawings. If your Engineer hasn't already provided Drawings, take yours to an Engineer and have him 'run the numbers' to see if your wall is safe.
6. Knock yourself out (figuratively speaking)
I'll add to this Thread as I learn more and my mistakes become apparent. For a less formal version, check out my Thread "Talk me off this ledge..." in the Landscape and Garden Section.
If you're looking for an engineer, ask if they have retaining wall software. I do retaining wall design, and the right software makes extremely quick work of designing retaining walls and producing full sets of plans, details, etc. Very, very quick.
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