Go ahead, call the big franchise contractors in town. Sit through the sales demonstration and then do yourself a favor; call a local, independent contractor like Colorado Structural Repair for a no-fuss structural inspection. We’ll give you the straight talk and a fixed price (that doesn’t get better if you sign up today) without the monkey business. Rest assured your money stays in the local Colorado economy, which makes this a better place for all of us!
1. Is there adequate drainage? If water flows down the hill, will it move away (or past) the wall or will it pool above the wall?
2. Is there a drain installed at the base of the wall? If a large amount of earth is being held back and the wall is tall, chances are you’re building a dam unless you have a drain along the footing.
3. How will the wall be laterally supported? There are various methods for supporting a retaining wall; geotextile fabric can be used, as can earth anchors and good old fashioned rebar.
4. What are you building the wall out of? Will it stand up to time? Timbers look great but will rot, concrete will last but can look unappealing.
At the end of the day, don’t build a retaining wall without talking to an expert. If the expert doesn’t talk about each of these options, they’re not an expert.
Often I get asked why a wall is failing and nine times out of ten it is because of poor drainage. Clay soil will only expand with water. If your wall is moving vertically or laterally, first thing you need to do is ask: where is the water coming from?
Walk around your home with a garden hose and water your walls. If the water pools within 5 ft of your foundation, you need to add some grade.
Sometimes all is needed is a simple intercept drain to divert the flow of runoff. Sometimes helical or resistance piles or piers are needed. Sometimes you need a stick of dynamite.
No matter what the outcome or solution is, water is a foundation’s enemy in Colorado soil.