Yes, it is essential to have a civil engineer design a retaining wall. As you’ll find out below, retaining walls are pretty important, for a number of reasons. In this article we’re looking at why retaining walls should be handled by professionals, a few things civil engineers consider when designing and building retaining walls, and how to arrange a retaining wall quote today.

The importance of retaining walls

Retaining walls are meant to hold back large quantities of soil and other materials. You’ll find them commonly used in areas where buildings are built into the side of a slope. Retaining walls are built to retain materials and keep them from sliding down and possibly damaging or compromising the structure or developments below.

What do engineers consider when designing a retaining wall?

There are six things we feel are important:

  1. Loads to be supported
    The amount and type of soil behind a retaining wall, the angle of the soil, any possible vehicle loads and other future building above the wall must be extremely well understood.
  2. Dimensions
    Another vitally important consideration any engineer should think of when designing a retaining wall are the dimensions of the wall. The length of the wall is important, but the height is way more important.  What may seem like a small increase in height can make a major increase in the loads the wall must support.  And finally, the engineer will calculate the thickness of the wall which determines how strong it will be.
  3. Materials used
    The material being used to build the retaining wall will impact a number of things, including its strength, cost and lifespan. Common materials include reinforced concrete, brickwork, steel, sheet piles, precast concrete blocks and gabion baskets.
  4. Founding Material
    All retaining walls rely on the soil or rock beneath their foundations to prevent them from collapsing.  A layman does not have the skills and experience to evaluate this.  Even a minor trench excavated in front of a retaining wall can cause it to fail.  This item is often overlooked – at the owner’s peril.
  5. Drainage
    Retaining walls are put under immense amounts of pressure and that pressure increases when there’s water in the soil behind it (ie when it rains). For this reason, engineers will consider how water will drain successfully from the retaining wall.
  6. Municipal approval
    It might be the last item on the list, but it’s definitely very important. All retaining walls built in South Africa must be designed by a Competent Person (Engineer) and the official plans must be submitted to the Municipality for approval. Any retaining wall built without municipal approval is an illegal structure.

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RJB Projects are trusted Durban civil engineers, placing emphasis on constructing quality engineering solutions that last. We solve our clients’ problems and try to make the entire process as pleasant as possible for them. We work across five core divisions. These are residential and commercial, civils, environmental, mine waste management, and special projects. Get in touch with RJB Projects today and let us help make your perfect civil engineering project a reality.

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