Structural report for retaining walls

A retaining wall is a wall separating two areas where the ground is at a different level. 

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A retaining wall is a wall separating two areas where the ground is at a different level. 

They might be anything from a knee-high wall within your garden to a storey-height wall at the boundary of your property.  It is common for them to suffer from structural problems such as leaning, cracking or general deterioration.  These occur often in retaining walls as builders historically did not always build the walls as robustly as they built the adjacent properties.

Other professionals in the construction industry such as surveyors, builders or architects may give advice on such matters but unfortunately their advice cannot always be relied upon.  For that reliable advice, you will need a structural engineer.

Retaining walls leaning more than they should is the most common problem we see at Structures-Made-Easy. This may occur because an adjacent tree, shrub or bush is physically pushing the wall over or is affecting the foundations. Alternatively, the leaning may be due to problems with the foundations of the wall or the local ground conditions. The leaning may also have occurred because conditions around the retaining wall have changed.  Perhaps ground levels or the use of the land on the uphill side has changed have been changed since the original construction.

Cracking or deterioration is also often common in retaining walls, possibly for the same reasons as the leaning but also again because the original builder didn’t adopt the same construction techniques they used for the main building.  It may also be because the exposed face of the wall is constantly open to the elements.  

Structures-Made-Easy would visit to inspect the wall and the surroundings, including taking measurements of any leaning.  Using this information we will then report to you describing the cause of any defects together with recommendations on repairs or remedial works. Our report will give guidance on the urgency of remedial works or whether rebuilding is required or most-cost-effective.  Those repairs may involve addressing that root cause then repairing or stabilising the wall.  We will give options if rebuilding is required since there are often more suitable options for a new wall than reproducing the original.

There are a wide variety of options for the wall and its foundations, depending of the difference in ground level on either side of the wall and the preferred appearance. A low wall might only need a new concrete foundation whilst a higher wall might best be served by small piled foundations.  Piles are effectively long cylinders of concrete that reach down to the stable ground deeper below the surface. 

Early on in any investigations into retaining walls at your boundary, it is worth establishing the ownership of the wall.  There are standard rules for this but the title deeds of your property should give guidance. This will help determine whether it is you or your neighbour who are responsible for repairs to the wall.

If you would like to discuss further please feel free to contact us using our email support@structures-made-easy.co.uk or call us on 0207 965 7376

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