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Cheap Retaining Wall Construction in Atlanta

Thank you for this enlightening resource on retaining wall companies and local regulations. Please share my experience with a licensed, respected and experienced general contractor whose inexperience building retaining walls has cost many tens of thousands of dollars.

We purchased our “forever home” from a highly-respected home builder. The home was just finished and included a short yet very long timber retaining wall which ran along the entire property. I explained to the home builder that if we were to purchase his property, my vision was to enlarge the backyard area by “pushing back” the retaining wall and replacing it with a taller one that generated more space.

The builder assured me that realizing this vision would be possible. So, after moving in we hired him to push back the hill and rebuild a taller retaining wall. Since the builder had designed and built the house, we assumed he must possess a mastery of all forms of construction. So, we purchased the property and he reconstructed the retaining wall.

The top of our brand-new timber retaining wall warped and its bottom buckled following the first rainfall. Over the next few months, the warps and buckles on our retaining wall expanded at an alarming rate. My wife and I imagined the wall collapsing during the night possibly crashing into home; this fear kept us from sleeping at all.

"Making matters worse, water squirted like a fountain through the retaining wall toward our home during heavy rainfall. The excess water is causing various problems including mold and mildew to grow on our walkway and up the side of our one-year-old home."
water pouring through retaining wall

But the worst part is enduring the feelings of impending doom that this wall will collapse, bring down weight and force of the hill, and destroy our home.

"Let us share with your readers what we have learned from this expensive lesson on cheap retaining wall construction."
  1. When planning a retaining wall project, hire an experienced “retaining wall contractor”, trust no other type of builder.
  2. Do not be in a hurry! Retaining walls are structural systems, so planning and building them is a process that requires many professionals including inspectors, surveyors, and engineers.
  3. Make sure that engineering plans are a part of the very first discussion with retaining wall company. Trust no one who tells you engineering a retaining wall is unnecessary!
  4. Use the retaining wall company’s engineer. Do not shop for the cheapest engineer that sells plans for retaining walls. We did, and the clerks at city hall would not accept it. That was a $2,500 lesson!
  5. Do not assume just any general contractor can build a retaining wall. Call references and request pictures of their work.
  6. Keep this in mind, contractors want business like anyone else, so they become good at selling projects, and may sound very convincing. But don’t sign any agreements until you verify they have actually built successful retaining walls just like the one you need. Our contractor, who did not specialize in retaining walls, failed to appreciate the intricacies of retaining walls and it cost us our savings. A consumer shouldn’t suffer financial losses because a contractor wants business! Hopefully one day better laws will protect consumers from inept retaining wall builders.