What are retaining walls, and why are they needed?
Retaining walls are built to retain soil laterally at different ground levels on both sides of the wall. These walls need to be designed in a structurally satisfactory manner as the weight of the soil applies more pressure than what can naturally be supported – meaning that it could collapse if it is not built sufficiently enough to provide the support that it needs to hold back the soil.
What is the importance of a well-built retaining wall?
Retaining walls play a pivotal role in protecting structures from damage related to soil and hydrostatic pressures. Soil collapse can not only put your home at risk for damage, but it can also put bystanders in physical danger, so it’s important to build and maintain your retaining walls properly and to understand their role in the protection of your home. A retaining wall is erected post-excavation or filling an embankment to provide support. This in turn helps prevent soil from collapsing suddenly and/or eroding slowly.
What needs to be considered in the design process?
These walls may be constructed from a range of materials such as limestone blocks, reinforced concrete, un-reinforced or reinforced core-filled brick or concrete blocks, timber or concrete sleepers, or stone boulders. Our team of engineers can design retaining walls to suit each situational need, which affects the size, scale, height, materials used, and overall design of the wall. When designing or assessing a proposed plan, our engineers take into consideration that different materials have different durability and lifespans.
Do I need certification to build a retaining wall?
It is recommended and sometimes mandatory by law that you attain a certificate of compliance from a structural engineer prior to building a retaining wall. Our team will be able to certify your project once we have assessed your proposed plan or after applying amendments to ensure that your retaining wall complies with its respective development standards.
Ultimately, the general rule is that the higher your wall is, the greater the risk will be. Your safest bet would be to consult with a structural engineer to ensure that the wall you are building is going to be safe and sturdy.
Whether you need permission and certification to build your wall is generally based on the:
- Location of where you want to build your wall
- Rules and regulations for retaining walls in your local government area; and whether you need your design certified by an engineer first.
- For WA: the general rule is that the wall must not exceed 500mm – Otherwise it needs to be certified by a structural engineer prior to carrying out works.
What Structerre can do for you
Here at Structerre, we offer a versatile approach to designing retaining and screen walls, from small garden walls to support structures. Whether you need certification for a retaining or screen wall, standard details for a simple project, or have more complex requirements, our experience working with different materials and pre-cast systems means your job is in safe hands.