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Post/Railing suggestion off elevated deck and following driveway retaining wall

Post/Railing suggestion off elevated deck and following driveway retaining wall

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  #1  
Old 01-17-12, 12:43 PM
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Post/Railing suggestion off elevated deck and following driveway retaining wall

I live in SW Pa and this past summer we constructed an 8' elevated free standing deck AND a driveway retaining wall that goes from ground-level at the bottom to the 8' ft. height level of the deck as it curves around up to the East entrance of home.
Do you have any recommendations for posts/railings - not for the deck which we built with railings - but for following the retaining wall and driveway around and down to ground level. There is a foot or so space between the end of the deck and the retaining wall at the decks highest point on the East end. Then around 24' - 30' following the retaining wall, you could step over from the top of wall and jump down to the ground. We're wanting to either set up some kind of post/railing or plant some kind of shrub next to the retaining wall to keep foot traffic away from the top of the retaining wall.
Also if you know anything about general building codes regarding this type situation - appreciate your reply.
Greynold99
 
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  #2  
Old 01-18-12, 02:59 PM
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It's too late for building codes. An architect should have been consulted first, not to mention that you probably needed a permit for the deck. In any event, post some pics to photobucket.com & link us to them.
 
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Old 01-20-12, 05:51 PM
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Why not just extend the retaining wall vertically, using the same product it was originally constructed with? Doing so would look the least obtrusive, and would be quite effective at preventing accidents if made at least 3' or 4' high. I'm thinking of little kids, unsupervised (are they ever?), or even a party-goer on your deck who gets a little too "lubricated." Waiting for shrubbery to grow and become dense enough to be an effective barrier could be too late. And the tons of water you'd be dumping behind the wall to keep the shrubs growing wouldn't be the best thing for its long-term performance, either.
 
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Old 01-20-12, 10:17 PM
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Bldg.codes? Architect? Those things are out the window.

WHO engineered the 8' retaining wall??
 
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Old 01-27-12, 11:14 AM
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Thanks Pulpo, Bridgeman45 and Lefty for your replies

Sorry I didn't contact an Architect but did ask the local code enforcement officer to go over the construction plans for the deck and retaining wall. No permit was required as I was replacing a dangerously cracked concrete slag on top of a 20-30,000 lb. dirt mound (probably backfill from the basement excavation) which we removed. Whatever the reason, he did not require me to get a permit - which if new construction according to him, I would've needed a permit. Go figure.
As far as the retaining wall, I had a licensed Versa-Lok contractor install it. Unfortunately, with the back-angled install technique used by Versa-Lok to keep horizontal pressure against the driveway. I didn't think about extending the height since there's a gate entrance from the driveway-side to the deck. At that point I have 2 stairs from driveway level to deck entrance (about 1 1/2 ft. difference between the height of the driveway at that point to the deck).

Anyway, what no one suggested was what type of railing or for that matter what codes are in effect in your area for this type of railing. I've considered 2" galvanized pipe with the posts sunk into concrete but wife thinks those type railing next to our retaining wall would be ugly. That and I really don't have any way to bend the pipe as it follows the bend the driveway follows from the end of the house down to basement level.
 
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Old 01-27-12, 03:16 PM
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greynold99,

I don't know about anybody else, but I need pictures to see what we're dealing with before I can suggest anything for a railing.

Post them on a free site like photobucket and post the URL in here, or Chandler or somebody can tell you how to post them directly in here.
 
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Old 01-27-12, 03:39 PM
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Sorry, but I'm sticking with my original suggestion (of extending the wall, using the same product used to build the original wall). I agree with your wife--galvanized steel pipe handrails just wouldn't cut it, and a custom-fabricated setup would probably cost as much as using Versa-lok blocks.

Just now looked at Versa-lok's website, and they show quite a few applications using their blocks to build fence-type structures, that would be ideal for your application. Could match perfectly with the blocks your wall is made of, and transitioning from a sloped face to vertical for your fence would not look out of place. If you're planning to do this yourself, you'd probably want to "glue" the fence blocks together using a low-modulus epoxy gel or polyurethane adhesive, to hold them in place--both products offer some flexibility while still adhering to the block, to allow the fence to move as the wall beneath it does. You could even throw in a few pilasters with down-lights in them, to fancy things up. If cost is no concern, just give your Versa-lok contractor a call, as I suspect he'd be happy to do the work for you. Might even have a few ideas to ensure you and the wife will be pleased with the finished product.
 
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Old 01-27-12, 07:11 PM
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BridgeMan45,

Extending the wall up to become a railing or barrier is certainly one option, but, at least for me, photos of the situation are a must before I'll offer an opinion. greynold99 has tossed several numbers around, but I'm still not able to get a clear picture of the situation. He's mentioned what appears to be an 8' tall retaining wall, built without engineering or a permit, and the Code Enforcement Officer didn't have a problem with it?? What's up with THAT??
 
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Old 01-27-12, 08:58 PM
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Lefty,

You should know by now that code enforcement is from the land of never-ending surprises. Where things are in a constant state of flux, and can significantly change from day-to-day, place-to-place, etc.

I remember a county building department inspector in SW Colorado a few years ago telling me 2 completely contradictory requirements regarding the depth of a garage man-door threshold, exactly one week apart. Made him sign off on the second visit's opinion that I wrote on the back of my business card, in case I made the change and he came back with wanting it changed back. On another job in the same subdivision, a spec house up the street from mine had all of its footings poured using concrete that had exactly zero rock in it, just concrete sand. When I called and inquired if doing so was in accordance with the county's building code, the same inspector told me "we're not responsible for quality control, that's the home owner's responsibility." When I told him there wasn't a home owner yet, being a spec home, he responded with "that's not my problem."

I'm sure others have similar experiences with local codes and inspectors.
 
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Old 01-28-12, 06:33 AM
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Lord knows there is no consistancy in code enforcement BridgeMan45. Like you said, it varies from one jurisdiction to the next, one inspector to the next in the same jurisdiction, and, on rare occasions, from one visit to the next from the same inspector.
 
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