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huge retaining wall needs removed, what to put in its place?

huge retaining wall needs removed, what to put in its place?

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  #1  
Old 08-06-18, 05:34 AM
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huge retaining wall needs removed, what to put in its place?

in front of my house i have two 6 ft high by 60 ft wide stone walls holding up the yard. in between the two walls are stairs to get up to the house. to the left of the left wall is a driveway and there are stone walls going up the driveway and up the steps.

the right side stone wall fell and was replaced in 1998 for 5000. very cheap! in 2005 i got an estimate for the left wall at 15K. today, you can guess will be much more than 15K. meanwhile about 4 stones on the top have fallen and in the right middle one has come out and another ready to fall any day. so something needs to be done

i want to retain the driveway wall and the steps walls if possible. i have built in lights in the steps walls which i think is pretty cool. on the left side of the house i do want to keep the mature japanese maple but dont care about the rest of the stuff up top. but of course the new slope cannot be too steep because of grass cutting.

so can the left wall be removed and some kind of grading or other landscaping done there. it HAS to be maintenance free. i hate yardwork. if it means a hill of stones with black paper under so nothing grows thats fine with me. I"m going to start calling around landscaping places to see their opinions but I wanted yours ideas and guesstimates of costs if possible. I'm guessing keeping the side walls will be hard but id really like to keep them.

i know it will look silly having 2 different walls but i cannot afford what is likely 25K or more now to do the wall. even 15 was insane.
 
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  #2  
Old 08-06-18, 06:18 AM
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Nothing is maintenance free so you're going to have to do something no matter what you choose.

One option is to have the walls removed and the yard graded to create a slope gradual enough for mowing. This will involve heavy equipment and it looks like a fair bit of soil and stone will have to be hauled away so it won't be cheap. You will also possibly loose some existing trees and shrubs.

You can have the existing walls removed and new walls built in their place. Stone like you have is possibly the most expensive option. You would also have concrete walls poured which would be more economical and ugly. Or, you can have new retaining walls constructed of pre-cast engineered retaining wall blocks which are more attractive than plain concrete and if done properly could outlive you and your home.
 
  #3  
Old 08-06-18, 06:20 AM
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to be clear. that 5000 dollar right wall is gonna stay. no way i'm tossing that money away. it was built with proper drainage and will last a very long time

i know would probably be a lot but i wondered if could use the stone to build some kind of water feature and water fall but i know that is definite maintenance. cheaper to use the stone than haul it. i know what tons cost to haul away.

so nice! http://zoomax.biz/uploads/fotos/back...8_1025_768.jpg

heck i wouldnt even mind some ground cover vines/bushes on the steep slope. just trim top and bottom when needed. neighbor has similar thing on not as much a slope
 

Last edited by luckydriver; 08-06-18 at 07:17 AM.
  #4  
Old 08-06-18, 12:10 PM
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hey maybe entire thing doesnt have to come down. keep lower 2 feet there and do something like this but something tells me not really possible to take down just upper courses

https://landscapingwaterwise.files.w..._4381_1024.jpg
 
  #5  
Old 08-14-18, 05:51 AM
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this is an old pic. tree doesnt hang over house anymore but wanted to show all what gotta go. guy came out yesterday. 30K for replacing the wall so that cannot happen.

said no way to save the driveway side of the wall and the wall next to my steps going up there is gonna be the slope of the yard. . its gonna be kinda steep slope. i may have to pay someone to mow it in the future. there was a chance of keeping the driveway wall since its intact but the slope from that side down would have necessitated expensive landscaping. heck he said even doing a stone yard would be too expensive

he's gonna estimate tearing down all 3 sides of the wall and removing all things in the yard except the one tree near the house. shame to get rid of jap maple but he said showing signs of disease. its gonna look so weird but is the cheapest easiest way to go.

sigh
 
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  #6  
Old 08-14-18, 04:09 PM
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How about getting 5 more contractors over for bids and ideas....and meanwhile chat up homebuilders, engineers, etc. Pay them 1-2 hours to come over for a visit and ideas.

How about stones out.....railroad ties and iron pipe in.......and cover with ivy or periwinkle or.....?
 
  #7  
Old 08-15-18, 07:12 AM
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oh i have at least 10 calls out. will see who calls back. one guy suggested an excavator.

ive seen pic online of just a wall covered with ivy etc and id be ok with that but something tells me they will say they cannot guarantee how the wall will come down and if the sides that go back to the yard can be preserved. i cannot imagine any saw cutting through 2 feet of stone for a 'perfect cut' so to speak to enable just the front to fall down and not the side be brought down with it. though maybe if you did the last few feet 'by hand' maybe they could control the destruction
 
  #8  
Old 08-15-18, 09:34 AM
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one local landscaper called back. said biggest he ever saw. i think he was scared of it. said many trucks needed and could bid it out of i wanted but said at least 40K..

he may be right but um. other guy could rebuild the wall cheaper than that lol
 
  #9  
Old 08-15-18, 09:55 AM
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Just curious but, is the wall on your property? My setback line from the road is my side of where that sidewalk is and I've see some even further. Friend got involved taking down a large dead tree and found it wasn't even his tree.

My town has a GIS web site that shows all property lines (approximately).

Bud
 
  #10  
Old 08-15-18, 12:03 PM
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when the other wall fell the township wrote me a letter saying fix it.

i assumed that means i owned it, id never think any township would demand in writing that i fix something they owned

but hey. then i want my 5K back! i like the idea of them owning it. but i cannot imagine that would be true
 
  #11  
Old 08-15-18, 12:19 PM
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Check for a GIS overhead view on your property, it will show that wall and your line. I agree doubtful they will take responsibility (unless it is on their property and you pushed) but you will want to be sure they approve of any changes you make.

Bud
 
  #12  
Old 08-15-18, 05:01 PM
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someone stopped by while i was at work so dont have the benefit of seeing all things i need to but he basically said to pull down the wall and just grade it a bit. maybe 3 feet back. meaning super steep slope. he said he would put geogrid? i think down until a few rainstorms then said the dirt wont move after that. no clue if true? then basically up to me if i wanna seed (how the heck would you mow that steep though). or mulch and ivy or something else

i was not clear on how the side near the steps nor the driveway woudl be handled and told him if i i was to consider him he would have to come out and explain in detail while showing me.

he said 9100 and most of that is the hauling away of stuff
 
  #13  
Old 08-15-18, 05:04 PM
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another guy stopped by and called me. bigger name company that does fancy stuff etc. said 1st option was i think the stone where you pour concrete wall and make it look like stone. 2nd thing was versablock but of course that would look stupid next to stone. 3rd was grading and excavating. then he mentioned my other wall and that its bad too. um no. it was new 20 years ago and i saw the guy build it with correct drainage. he said there were some rocks on the side of neighbors falling down. i think what he saw was that i have 3 PVC pipes that are my yard/drain/gutter pipes all draiining out the side there. i took quick peek at front of wall when i got home and looks fine to me. but he wants to price ripping both walls down and just one. so should have that in 2 weeks
 
  #14  
Old 08-15-18, 07:01 PM
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I know all towns are different but talk to them to see if they can get involved. Reason is, they have all of the big equipment and usually plenty of places to get rid of the dirt and stone. Plus, if your wall and that sidewalk are on or close to the line then they have an interest in how it turns out. Are there any sewer or water lines going out to the street?

As for your approach you may be trying to save too much. A big company could bring in proper machines and level the entire front removing everything and be done in a day. Then you go to work with a clean slate designing and building what you want. Years back I had a clump of trees I wanted to save on a large lot so I bent the driveway around them. Later problems came up and things had to be adjusted and that clump of trees had to go. In hind sight it made the rest of the project go much easier and the end result was much better.

Bud
 
  #15  
Old 08-16-18, 05:18 AM
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My city has a wonderful habit of sending notices to landowners to fix things even it it's the cities responsibility. They'll fix it if the land owner pushes back but they love to try and get someone else to pay for repairs.
 
  #16  
Old 08-16-18, 05:37 AM
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i cannot imagine in what world my little township owns my wall. wouldnt that be disclosed in the deed or something? i do not want to call them and be specific because i dont want to draw attention to the wall right now.
 
  #17  
Old 08-16-18, 05:41 AM
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re: sewer water those are located on the other side of my property so thankfully arent affected. no utilities on the bad side. at least i have that going for me

i hope one of the excavators call back with good news. its amazing. the one landscaper said there's zero cost to dump the stones and dirt because they have a huge chunk of land but is about 30 min for them to run their truck from my house to their place. so id have a few runs of that going on and thats what the cost it

then the next guy said all the cost is in the dumping of the heavy stuff and he said he's limited to 3 tons for the truck. to me that sounds like nothing. probably one bucket of stones lol. i dont know how he figured only 9100 to remove all that. guess there's a formula for stone/concrete or something. 6 ft x 60 x 2 feet thick plus about 2 or 3 feet dirt behind it gotta be huge amount.

for this guy i joked i should just put all the stones in my back yard. would be a huge BBQ pit and the equipment can just drive up my steep driveway and dump them right in the back yard
 
  #18  
Old 08-16-18, 05:58 AM
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You might get your final plan started on paper and remove whatever trees are going to go. Bet they are including tree removal and disposal in their bids. Once most of the trees are gone it will be easier for them to see what the job looks like.

You mention 3 ton limit, that says small machines to me and this job will goo much faster with big machines and maybe cost less. Ask each how they will attack the project, like what machines will they use and where will they be located and where will the big truck be parked. Also ask for insurance in case they destroy the driveway or sidewalk.

Bud
 
  #19  
Old 08-16-18, 08:00 AM
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so what would the least maintenance item be to put on the steep 6 ft by 60 ft slope? even though i'm not 6ft tall i'm sure i could work on it a bit but if its 2 to 3 feet back that could be challenging the higher up it goes.

my guess is even 10 layers of black paper and stones cannot prevent weeds from coming through but that would be my 1st desire i'm all for a stone garden
 
  #20  
Old 08-16-18, 08:08 AM
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re: the small equipment comment above

now that i think about it. that may be perfect. i removed a 3 ft tall cinder block wall in my back yard years ago because it was leaning. some of 1st course is still there. slope is very gentle. i could actually use that stone and dirt from the front and have them drive up my steep driveway and remove my one fence panel and have them dump the dirt and stone right there. heck i could do all the manual work then over time building the wall if they put the dirt where it should be. if the one guy is right that all the expense is hauling away this should save me significantly.

i just worry the stones will be all full of mortar but i guess could work around that or chip it off? heck i even hvae another block wall in back that is leaning but hasnt moved in 24 years holding up that part of the back yard. and its longer than 60 feet lol. so more i think about it, i should have them dump the stone back there and just use it myself to build misc assorted things in the back..perfect solution

and id probably lose a lotta weight lifting 40 lb stones and build up those muscles
 
  #21  
Old 08-16-18, 08:11 AM
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I always considered a "slope" to offer an opportunity to add character to a property, so many unique ways to finish it. Try this search with "pictures at the end and then click more.
"how to landscape a steep slope pictures" It is a popular topic and lots of visual ideas.

You could also talk to one of your nursery companies to see if they could suggest something and maybe even generate some graphics.

Note, if you do a rock garden approach that may need some maintenance design in some stepping stones like random stair treads.

Bud
 
  #22  
Old 08-16-18, 12:11 PM
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the 'fancy' landscaping company came back quick with estimates

versaloc ( cannot even imagine what he would charge for stone) is 35K for left side wall...34 for right side and 5K for new steps. can you say 'lottery' winner

left side grading.remove all trees (unless that one is up high enough), remove all 3 sides of the existing wall. grade and cut slope . seed and erosion control mat..grade to match slope of my steps. 17K also he said my idea of taking stone for something in the back is 'nothing' in the scheme of the pricing. unless id take a full truck load in back yard i guess. so i probably wouldnt take much if any stone unless had a real reason. would take 5 working days to do this and he said my sidewalk would probably be messed up but to be honest i dont even need sidewalk there. no one else around me has one so i dont see the point of even having it there lol. he said wont be any damage to the curb. and ill have full access to my driveway at all times as they dont need to go on it. probably have to move my mailbox from middle to end of the property line temporarily. he also has 10 and 16 ton trucks. he also said ideally 2nd week sept to mid oct in order to get the grass in otherwise this has to wait until spring


so now this gives me more food for thought. 17K for a 'pretty' very likely mowable side of the yard that never will have any soil or sliding issues but it really gonna be a shock to see. and way more than i wanted to spend. i was looking at 10K for a price

or 9100 from the other guy (smaller equipment etc) for basically removal of just the front wall and a steep slope just at the front of the yard that i have to worry about landscaping but i retain my rear magnolia tree for sure and possibly even the jap maple up front. and id keep the driveway wall which i really think is good. I think this guy has to come out and visually walk me through it all before any decisions
 
  #23  
Old 08-16-18, 12:36 PM
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i'm now wondering if steel plates across the sidewalk would prevent damage from the equipment. in fairness my sidewalk is virtually covered in green now anyway. i still dont know why i'm the only one around with a sidewalk. i think if just filled in with fine stone it would be fine. the gas company did that with the one section they dug to install my gas line on the other side.

no one uses my sidewalk because it leads to nowhere. everyone walks their dogs etc in the street in my neighborhood

side walk pic is on 1st post
 

Last edited by luckydriver; 08-16-18 at 12:56 PM.
  #24  
Old 08-16-18, 04:26 PM
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i checked the GIS map and clicked on easements. the only ones around me are behind me because the power lines run between properties. green is easement

in pic the one line i drew arrow to is the parcel line and you can see the black street line, which leads me to believe the wall is mine . i found a button that says slope. mine is 15 to 25%
 
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  #25  
Old 08-17-18, 06:32 AM
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related question. assuming they just take down the front wall and leave the sides up. then dig back maybe 3 ft for a steep slope.

will landscaping on that steep slope prevent water from washing away the 'hill'. i dont want to create a new problem

also since the walls going up the steps and up the driveway are in good shape, i'm assuming any pressure against them will be even less with the front wall gone but wanted to be sure. i dont wanna have to rip down other walls in a few years. they have been fine for 70 years. no reason to think that wont continue. and if i have to pay for somoene to maintain the steep slope i have saved 8K from grading the entire yard
 
  #26  
Old 09-07-18, 12:09 PM
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update.the guy that wanted 17 k to rip down the wall and grade the yard came out last week again while i was at work. they were to give me EST on just the front wall and keep the sides up. now he said since owner saw it in person that its 22K and he wouldnt even consider ripping only the front down.

which leads me to wonder if i can trust another guy 9K to just rip down front wall and landscape the steep slope. someone is wrong or lazy or smart here . just gotta figure out who
 
  #27  
Old 09-07-18, 05:48 PM
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Keep asking around. Different professions....out side the box. Some contractors have all the work they can handle, but.....if they can snag a job at 2-3x their normal bid....well, sure they can put some scheduled work on hold.....while they squeeze you in.

Have you had any "guests in our country" over ? I have had a lot of good work, at reasonable prices, done...over the years.
 
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