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Estimating retaining wall costs before you begin your project helps you determine how this landscaping element fits into your budget. A retaining wall may be very simple and rustic, relying on gravity to hold a sloped section of earth in place, or very complicated, with reinforcements that must be designed by an engineer. Because building retaining walls requires a consideration of drainage and weight resistance, even a very basic project can benefit from the input of a professional contractor.
Creating an estimate of retaining wall costs begins with determining the dimensions of the structure and deciding what type of materials you want to use. The taller and longer your retaining wall, the more blocks or stones you'll need and the higher the costs of your materials. You can calculate your costs based on the proposed square footage of the structure. Costs are often estimated in terms of footage, so you can compare the price for various materials before you make a decision.
If you're looking for ways to reduce the costs of your project, consider a more affordable building material. Granite or limestone blocks are timeless, elegant and beautiful, but less expensive field stones may be just as visually appealing. Compare the price per square foot of natural stone with pre-cut blocks, segmental units or timber. If you can achieve the same improvements in your landscape and an equally striking visual effect with less expensive materials, this is an effective way to reduce retaining wall costs.
In addition to the blocks, stones timber or poured concrete that you use to build your structure, you'll need to include the price of backfill materials and drainage equipment in your retaining wall costs. A basic, low stone structure assembled without mortar may allow water to drain through the cracks between the blocks. A more complicated project will require gravel or another backfill material and a drain tile to allow water to escape from the soil when it builds up after a rain or a thaw.
Hiring a professional contractor and a construction team will add to your up-front retaining wall costs. However, you may be more satisfied with your results if you work with professionals from the beginning. If you're planning a complicated, multi-tiered project or a structure that exceeds a specific height, you may need advice from an engineer on how to provide the correct reinforcement and drainage for the structure. Correcting any errors after the project is complete will add to your retaining wall costs.
Constructing your project may require digging a trench for the underground blocks, assembling the blocks or timber and filling the area behind the structure. Dry stacked walls, which rely on the natural arrangement of stones for structural support rather than the use of mortar, may be assembled in just a few days, depending on the dimensions of the project. Reinforced walls will require more time and labor, as well as the additional fee for hiring an engineer if your project is complicated and requires compliance with local codes.
If your plan exceeds 3 or 4 feet, hiring an engineer is a wise idea. Although a skilled do-it-yourself expert could complete a project from scratch, there are many risk factors to consider with a large structure. Reinforced walls must be capable of bearing a certain amount of weight in order to avoid bulging or collapsing. Contact the agency in your area that is responsible for local building codes. In many areas, the height of the project is restricted unless a professional team is involved.
Comparing retaining wall costs from multiple contractors in your area will help you make the improvements you're looking for at a price you can afford. Look for a professional team with a strong reputation in your area and a reliable set of references. Hiring an experienced, qualified contractor is well worth the price. Cutting corners on retaining wall costs may result in a costly and messy disaster if your structure collapses with the first heavy rain.
The more you know about these popular landscaping elements before you start the project, the better your chances of getting a competitive deal on materials and construction. Review photos of walls online or in landscaping magazines to determine which type of construction material will complement your landscape. Review your options with a qualified contractor to see if the blocks or stones you're considering are appropriate for your area.
A retaining wall can add new depth and beauty to your landscape by shaping a sloped area and creating an elevated space for your gardening projects. Retaining wall costs are an important consideration, but you'll also want to consider the quality of workmanship that a contractor provides. Consult several professionals before you take the first steps in this landscaping project.
Our back yard is really hilly so we were having tons of drainage issues when it rained. This site made it easy to find a great retaining wall contractor to help fix that.
Rick & Sara, Fresno CA