A constant structure that you could always expect to deal with when constructing a building in a sloped area is the retaining wall. If you’re not familiar with it, the term refers to that structure that holds back the dirt (soil, or other materials) to prevent a ground of higher level from collapsing to a lower one and possibly damaging the structure found there. These walls are the construction industry’s answer to those slopes and contours that might be in danger of sliding down to your structure, or are just not aesthetically appealing. Steep sites can be turned to residential or commercial areas through the help of these walls – driveways, parking lots and garages could be constructed from leveled ground, thanks to these ‘retainers’.
Generally, these walls are made of concrete, although other materials are also used like wood, railroad cross ties, brick and paved stones. It is arguable that concrete is the most popular choice among contractors and homeowners for building retaining walls. Concrete retaining walls are known to last for more than 50 years. The material is durable, and is pretty much in abundance in the construction market today. Retaining walls made from concrete often pass through the same construction process as poured concrete foundation. They are also popular among do-it-yourselfers, mainly because the procedure for constructing them is pretty easy to understand and execute.
Concrete retaining walls are also useful for aesthetic reasons, particularly if you are planning to render it as a part of the overall design of the building. One example of this is when you want to make the retainer look like stair steps instead of being just one blank wall. Concrete can come in decorative designs. You could play with their colors and themes. You could put pattern in them, or add other designs, whatever suits your preferences.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that any solid retaining wall will do, as long as it sticks to concrete. Even if you use the most durable material for building retaining walls, if you don’t construct it with the right base and foundation, it’s bound to collapse too. Heck, even concrete could fail you if you forget that one important rule when creating a retaining wall – don’t forget to make a footer structure. Aside from this, there are other factors that could affect the durability of your concrete retaining wall, such as not using the right grade of the materials, cheating on the materials used, and others.
To ensure that your retaining wall would fully serve its purpose, it is best to stick with a reliable contractor and monitor the construction process yourself. Don’t hesitate to ask your contractor if your ideas are permissible to execute given the condition of the area (such as the slope of the land, the soil type and condition, among others). Lastly, always make it a point to check first the local building codes that are implemented in your area. There are certain limits to the height of walls, and you would be obliged to follow rules regarding them.