Retaining Walls

Parent Q&A

Retaining wall repair Nov 4, 2021 (2 responses below)
Design-build firm for retaining wall and landscaping? Jun 11, 2020 (2 responses below)
Retaining wall replacement Sep 10, 2016 (1 responses below)
  • Retaining wall repair

    (2 replies)

    I asked this question two years and didn't get any responses so I thought I'd try again. Can anyone recommend someone to repair a failing retaining wall? I'm looking specifically for repair specialists and do not want to replace the wall at this time. Thank you.

    RE: Retaining wall repair ()

    I don't have any contractor recommendations but it's usually much more cost effective to replace a failed retaining wall than to try and repair it. Retaining walls typically fail by tilting over. As time progresses the tilt will get progressively worse. There's no way to repair this. The best you can hope for is to do something to stop it from tilting more but due to liability and costs I can't imagine a Contractor picking this up.

    RE: Retaining wall repair ()

    Reason you didn’t get a response is because you wanted a repair and not replacement.  If the wall is falling it has failed.  Any repairs will probably make it worse and no contractor/professional wants the liability or be associated with repairs which will fail and the customer blaming them for it failing.  Then there’s an issue with permits and building inspector not passing a repair.  As someone who has dealt worth and built many retaining walls hire someone to do it right, get the leaning wall replaced not repaired.  Personally I would not trust anyone says they can repair a failing wall.  

    Not the answer you are looking for, but sometimes we need to face the facts.  Hope this helps. 

  • We have a large retaining wall that's on its last legs that we need to rebuild with permits. We also want to do some other landscape related work in our backyard, like a deck addition, building planters and other less heavy duty items. Are there good firms out there that can handle both the design and construction aspects of all of these projects for us? We've had some work done on our house and I'm getting construction research/decision fatigue; would love to work with a reputable one stop shop for all these projects if one exists. Thanks for your advice and recommendations.

    We’re currently working with Oscar Martinez and have been super happy with his and his team’s work. They’re doing design and build, in communication with us. Retaining wall, irrigation, drainage, concrete, patio, grading / the works.  They’re super friendly and upfront. Highly recommend! 
    You can reach him at (415) 786-2335 and he can also supply lots of pics of his work. 

    I love working with Ingrid at Earthly Sites -

  • Retaining wall replacement

    (1 reply)

    I have a 50 ft retaining wall that is falling down in my back yard.  I didn't see any current posts with recommendations for this type of work.  Does anyone have someone they would recommend who does quality work at a reasonable price?

    RE: Retaining wall replacement ()

    We used Collins Building in Oakland in 2012 for a wall of about 40 feet of varying  height (mainly 4 or 5 feet).  This was a fairly major job that required excavation into the hillside past where the old wall had been and deeper footings.  With permit, structural engineers report (required by the city & this is not the sort of job I would recommend anyone try without a permit) and color added concrete, it ran about $30K.  I had cheaper estimates but they were for a more slapdash wooden posts and boards (like the wall that had failed as the wood rotted) and I feel very relieved to have a retaining wall I can trust for years.  I can email pictures if you like.  I've used the Collins brothers (Michael and Seamus; there may be a third) for roof, siding and the wall, and I've always been very pleased with their professionalism and the quality of their work.  AboutTheSame

Archived Q&A and Reviews

See also: Structural Engineer , Brick and Stone Masons and Landscape and Garden Design

Oct 2007

I am looking for a reliable, resonably priced person to redo a retaining wall that is currently in need of replacing. I have checked in the achives and everything is a bit out dated. I live in Lafayette. Thanks in advance for your recommendations. Carole

I can recommend my landscaper, Jose, to you. He does retaining walls and also sod and sprinklers, and all things landscaping. He's reasonably priced and does really nice work. He has experience in so many areas and always has great suggestions on how to make things work for you. You can reach Jose at 510.233.9261. -Happy Yard I wanted to spread the word about Double A Paving2. We hired them to build a significant block retaining wall in our back yard and they did a terrific job. They did excellent work, were competitively priced, on time, etc. The owner, Aidan McNally, is super-nice and has a phenomenal crew. I have done a lot of work on my home and have never posted a positive unsolicited review but this guy is worth it! erin

Jan 2007

I need to have a 3 ft wooden retaining wall and fence built in front of my house in Montclair. I do not want to pay a full contractor to do it -- I do not have that kind of money, and after all, he would pocket half the money and sub the job out. I would like to hire a reputable crew (probably Mexican or Central American) who can do this work. Can anyone recommend a person or crew who can take on this sort of project? rogert

Ignacio Medina and his hard-working crew built a gorgeous stacked-stone retaining wall in my back garden, about 2 1/2 feet tall and 20 feet wide. I was going for a cement wall and for just about $1200, they created a thing of beauty that adds to the landscape. Ignacio is at 510-292-6429. Lauren

May 2005

I'd like to put in my 2 cents here in response to the frequent inquiries I see by people looking for someone to build them an inexpensive retaining wall.

Any structure that is actually a retaining wall is either: a) going to cost a good chunk of change, or b) not going to last very long and could cause damage to property as it fails. Choice b) is equivalent to tossing your money down the toilet. Actually, a) and b) are not mutually exclusive- I've seen plenty of supposed retaining walls that cost the homeowner plenty of money to have built, and then failed within a few short years.

A retaining wall holds back soil, that for several months of the year is wet soil, and here, is most commonly heavy clay soil. Any load that a retaining wall carries has to be engineered into its design- this includes all the weight uphill of the wall, often including an uphill neighbor's house.

Any retaining wall over 3' high has to legally be reviewed and 'wet-stamped' by a civil or structural engineer, and installed under permit. Skipping the permit is very very unwise. It provides you with objective third-party review of your plan and oversight of the construction process.

To protect your investment and your property, please don't cut corners when it comes to retaining walls! They are as critical as your house foundation. Don't let any builder try to talk you out of proper permitting telling you that the permit just costs money- it is in fact a very cheap way to hire what amounts to an outside consultant for your project, and any respectable builder who really knows what they are doing will be just fine with that.

You don't always get what you pay for- in this case you can spend a lot and not get what you thought you paid for at all. But the wall will likely hold up just long enough for an irresponsible builder to slip away out of sight. Cecelia

May 2004

We are looking for someone to replace/augment a four foot high very long retaining wall that has limited access. There was only one recommendation listed and it was two years old. We'd appreciate any recommendations of workers who could do this with or without permits. Thanks.

We had a very similar problem on our property with a retaining wall that was falling down. Our realtor recommended MW Construction (510-336-1725). They put in a replacement wall that included drainage system for a pretty reasonable price.