If you live in a congested area, you want to make the most out of every centimetre of space that you have, but may feel that you are not taking full advantage of your garden space. You may wonder what to do, as the terrain is not flat and it’s difficult to plan anything significant. Perhaps you just need to create some structure first with a retaining wall. So, how much does it cost to build a retaining wall? You may have more questions than answers and are looking for some guidance before you begin.
The average retaining wall cost can be anywhere between £200 and £300 per square metre and much of it will depend on the materials used. For example, pinewood is the most economical choice and you can expect to budget toward the higher end of the range for concrete or decorative blocks.
Before you begin, be sure to enquire if you need building regulation approval. Although gates, fences, and walls may not need planning permission, hiring a professional will help you ensure your structure follows proper building regulations. You may also need to bring in a structural engineer if the wall will be over a certain height. So if you plan to build a large stone retaining wall, costs may include planning permission approval. Expect to get permission from your local council if you want to build a retaining wall along your property boundary, as this may affect your neighbour or the legal definition of your land.
Don’t underestimate the challenge posed when you build a retaining wall. The weight of the soil behind the wall may be significant and if it’s not done properly the structure could fail and cause a danger to a person or property. Standards do vary and it’s best to check with your local council directly.
For example, the maximum height for concrete walls that are 100mm thick is 0.45m, whilst it is only 0.35mm for the same dimensions in Edinburgh. Always check with your builder to see if they have the experience and, in many cases, the licence to do the work for you. Also, see if they have included the cost of a structural engineer as needed.
The materials used is a big factor when it comes to the cost of a retaining wall in the UK.
Timber is one of the most popular materials when building a retaining wall and these range from treated pine at the lower end of your budget scale to sleepers made from hardwood at the upper. Hardwood timber sleepers are much more substantial and recommended for a more extensive job, or where you may want to contain the effect of erosion. Choose the actual product carefully, especially with treated timber, and turn down any material that appears to have any imperfection.
Concrete blocks can be very sturdy and long-lasting. These may be a better solution if you’re especially worried about stability. Remember to allow for drainage so that you do not get a backlog of water behind the wall, causing unwanted pressure.
If you’re concerned about the aesthetic of the finished job, then consider a wall made from natural stone. If you’re particularly worried about how much it would cost to build a retaining wall, then this option may not be for you as it will likely be the most expensive. You can choose from granite, limestone or sandstone, but each brick will typically have to be laid individually and this added time can rack up the cost.
You will have to take into account many different factors when you prepare a budget for this type of job. Materials costing will have the largest impact on your contract, ranging from treated timber to decorative stone. Stone veneer retaining wall costs differently compared to other materials, such as reinforced concrete. Next, determine the height of the wall at its greatest and work back from there. Not every wall has a uniform height, and your plot may slope from one site to another.
You will also need to think carefully about site preparation. This is part of knowing how to estimate labour cost for retaining walls. If the contractor will need to excavate and remove existing materials or soil, they may have to figure out how to deal with run-off water. These tasks may be added to the invoice. The builder may have to sink drains at various spots and connect these to a natural run-off area or your sewer lines.
Don’t forget to include any licensing cost, or the time of a structural engineer, if one is needed.
You can expect three different areas to be covered in any individual quote.
Materials will generally be calculated on a square metre basis and according to the type of material chosen.
Labour will be quoted based on the amount of time expected to complete the job.
Other costs will include the submission of plans to your local council for approval and input from a structural engineer or other consultants.
Before you reach out to find a builder who can help you to install your retaining wall, do your analysis first. Gather some measurements to give the builder an idea of what you want, including the width of your property and the anticipated height of the wall.
The more accurate you can be here the better, to get a quote that is going to be closer to the mark. If you think that any impediments may need to be removed, add this to the brief and in short, try to look at this from the eye of the contractor.
If you think it may be difficult for them to access the site, include some information so they can work out a plan of action.
As reported on Airtasker, the average cost of building a retaining wall based on material per square metre:
Timber — £100
Gabion — £200
Concrete — £200
Stone — £300
The UK is renowned for its outdoor lifestyle and yet you have an exterior space that you’re not taking advantage of. The only way that you can fix this is to repurpose that land and you’ll need to price how much it will cost to build a retaining wall.
You will find several builders on the Airtasker website, waiting to provide you with a quote based on your specifications. Provide a detailed brief, gather these quotations, and don’t be afraid to ask any questions to clarify.
To make sure that you choose the right builder for your work, do your research first. Have a look at their profile for examples and follow-up any references they supply. Ask them if they are insured properly and have the right licence. Make sure they can give you a proper quote and estimate how long the job will take to complete.
If you are on a tight budget, you may be tempted to choose the lowest cost material available, but you have to be realistic as well. If you need to “hold back” a sizeable amount of material and you know that you have some existing challenges when it comes to drainage, then you may need to choose something more substantial. If you’re not sure, ask the building expert to help you decide.
This type of solution works best where you have some undulating land or a garden that may have a significant slope from one side to the other or from top to bottom. You may not be able to use this space from a practical perspective unless you provide structure, and this is where a retaining wall would be perfect. You may be able to: Create flowerbeds on a level surface either above or below the wall once the work is complete. Install a gazebo or other outside entertainment space, once you have a level surface to work with. Make your garden a much more pleasant place to be!
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If you’re reading this, it means that you want to learn how to build a retaining wall. This article teaches you how to get it right, the first time.