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    How to: Build a retaining wall - Part 1

    Published on 29 February 2016, Monday, 2:03 AM

    Building a retaining wall is a big undertaking that can add serious value and enjoyment to your property. It also requires a lot of planning and skill to get it right. So, before you go and grab yourself a saw and laser level, let's have a look at what you'll need to consider before starting on a retaining wall project.

    1. A lot of skill

    Knowing your limits is a key part of any DIY job. Make sure the project you are undertaking is appropriate to your level of skill and knowledge. Consulting professionals where necessary is a must - especially if your wall will need council approval.

    2. A plan

    You'll need to layout a detailed plan of exactly what you're going to build. This will help you to envision the end result and come up with design details with your partner or anyone else concerned. It will also reveal whether a permit will be necessary and will help you when you are planning to dig.

    Before you turn the keys on your digger to excavate the site, you'll need to know if there are any service or utility lines buried where you want to dig. Your scaled plan will certainly help in this regard.

    3. More or less soil

    When you're building your wall, you'll need to either cut into a sloping section of land, or build the wall and back fill behind it. If you're cutting, you'll need to plan what to do with the excess soil. For those projects where additional soil will be needed, plan ahead and order your soil from a local supplier.

    Talk with them about the various types of soil and what will be appropriate for your particular project. As the soil is effectively a structural component in this situation, getting this right is essential.

    4. Choose a material

    Two of the most common retaining wall materials in Australia are wood or concrete. A retaining wall made of concrete is out of the reach of most DIYers, but is desirable for its sturdiness and resistance to moisture. If your day job involves concrete care or installation, this could be an option for you.

    Wooden walls can be created with a variety of desired looks, are much easier to build for the DIY weekend warrior and require less space to build than a concrete wall.

    Each material has its ups and downs and the decision should be made with all factors carefully considered. The rest of this series will be concerned with wooden walls, as they are the more practical choice for DIY installations.

    Nathan Mills portrait image
    Nathan Mills
    Nathan is a seasoned Kennards Hire team member passionate about empowering DIYers in their projects. He loves everything DIY and brings together years of equipment and project experience to help customers get the right tools for their next job.