Retaining wall costs

ivparker

Well-known member
Aug 28, 2016
45
Byron Center, MI
So not sure who to ask so thought others on here may have also needed to put in a retaining wall and maybe could help. We are starting to get quotes for a wall and they are coming in from $15k to $30k. $15 k was our first quote and that seemed high but now it’s looking good. Our wall will only be 3 ft tall at its highest. Worst case scenario 300 face sq ft of wall. But more likely 225 . This is the cheapest concrete block. From searching the web, the high price should be $40 a face foot. So $12k Max. What’s up? I will say that I feel like our pool prices are higher as well. We aren’t in a high cost of living area, west Michigan, but figured they didn’t do lots of pools but I’m sure lots of walls. Our pool with fence will be $60k. Vinyl pool with shelf and concrete deck. Heater and swg but nothing really that special. Any thoughts?
 
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Bama Rambler

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Does the wall have to structurally support part of the pool, even indirectly?
How close is the pool to the wall?

Looks like you have about 100 lineal feet of wall. I think $15k doesn't sound bad.
 
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ivparker

Well-known member
Aug 28, 2016
45
Byron Center, MI
It’s going to be about 4 ft from the decking. I don’t think it’s really structural but more of a wall to hold dirt to give us flat land. Yes probably 100 linear feet about 60 ft on the long side and 20 ft up each side. So lots of stone for base and drainage.

Does the wall have to structurally support part of the pool, even indirectly?
How close is the pool to the wall?

Looks like you have about 100 lineal feet of wall. I think $15k doesn't sound bad.
 
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jimmythegreek

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Aug 10, 2017
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Morris Cnty NJ
We do large scale walls and there is no sqft price. There are basically 2 wall styles structural and decorative. The price breaks down into 2 things. Length of the base course then the rest of the wall. There are some additions for geogrid and extra drainage depending in the site. For example a 100 ft long wall 3 ft high is way more money than a 50ft long wall 6 feet high but both are 300 face feet. The excavation is way more for base course and the base takes the longest to set out of the whole job. Once set it's like stacking lego blocks and back filling and geogridding the rest goes fast. We almost exclusively use versalok standard it's a pretty solid block that's cheap and pins 2gether from the top and 1 block can be split and made into corners stairs you name it. Its sold everywhere in the US pretty much here in NJ it's made by CST but many others have rights to it and sell it under their name but still called versalok
 

ivparker

Well-known member
Aug 28, 2016
45
Byron Center, MI
Yeah, we were thinking that a lot of the cost is probably labor. The $30k quote only had about $5k of that in supplies and the rest labor. They also are thinking we need wall all the way to our house, which others didn’t believe. It was also weird because at first the guy didn’t understand why we needed a wall. He said usually you would need it for an above ground pool. We looked at him blankly and confused. He is from a high end big company but also with the $30k price tag and his weird comment., We will pass on them. One of the landscapers did give me a book that had Versa-Lok in it. I do like how it’s flatter. I asked him to price out the tandem wall rock as well. I love the modern stone look. But, the stone will be on the other side of the pool, so we won’t see it very much, so may be silly to get pretty rock.

We do large scale walls and there is no sqft price. There are basically 2 wall styles structural and decorative. The price breaks down into 2 things. Length of the base course then the rest of the wall. There are some additions for geogrid and extra drainage depending in the site. For example a 100 ft long wall 3 ft high is way more money than a 50ft long wall 6 feet high but both are 300 face feet. The excavation is way more for base course and the base takes the longest to set out of the whole job. Once set it's like stacking lego blocks and back filling and geogridding the rest goes fast. We almost exclusively use versalok standard it's a pretty solid block that's cheap and pins 2gether from the top and 1 block can be split and made into corners stairs you name it. Its sold everywhere in the US pretty much here in NJ it's made by CST but many others have rights to it and sell it under their name but still called versalok
 

bljamison

Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
10
SW Oklahoma
Nice! That’s close to 450 face sq ft and much prettier stone. Everyone is quoting us the basic rough stuff as it’s the cheapest. Yours is pretty.
I agree with Jimmythegreek's post about the bottom row of blocks being the longest and hardest to install. They had to dig out the row in the dirt and meticulously place each block to ensure it was completely level since it was the base. After that, it was still very meticulous, but not as long as the initial row.
 
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Bama Rambler

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It’s going to be about 4 ft from the decking. I don’t think it’s really structural but more of a wall to hold dirt to give us flat land. Yes probably 100 linear feet about 60 ft on the long side and 20 ft up each side. So lots of stone for base and drainage.
If it's 4' from the decking and the decking is 4' to 6' wide then that wall is going to be somewhat structural. Has any of the contractors provided you with a plan on how they will install the wall? Even in general terms?
 

ivparker

Well-known member
Aug 28, 2016
45
Byron Center, MI
If it's 4' from the decking and the decking is 4' to 6' wide then that wall is going to be somewhat structural. Has any of the contractors provided you with a plan on how they will install the wall? Even in general terms?
They say compacted stone base and stone infill. First block in ground for structural support. Drainage behind the wall.
 

bmoreswim

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Here's an option you may not have considered. We have a roughly 200 linear foot retaining wall. You wouldn't know it by looking, but it surrounds the whole pool shell. It is poured concrete, done via the StoneMakers | Welcome to StoneMakers, The Hardscape Artisans process. Since it's poured, the base sits below the frost line. So the exposed wall is only half of the wall in our case (for the uphill part of the structure). Starting at this post in our build thread Pool Build - Baltimore you'll see construction of the wall. It is typically cheaper, from what they say, than a block wall because of less labor. They did this wall in three days. One day to dig, set rebar, and pour the integrated footer and two days for pouring/carving of the wall. Then later to paint/stain. The additives make the concrete similar to gunite in that it doesn't need forms to stand vertically, though it's different because it's not applied with a nozzle. It's applied either with a concrete pump or wheel-barrowed in then hand cut/carved to the desired appearance. In 2013 that whole wall structure, excluding the seat walls/tables, was just over $10K.

At the time of our project, I didn't actually know the wall structure would surround the pool. I just knew that they had planned for a turned down concrete deck, to support the deck on the lower side since it was above existing grade. And this is how they did it. I have to say though, that the $10K for the wall may possibly have excluded the lower half/portion of the wall. They may have budgeted that in the decking portion (turned down concrete). The deck was $17.7K for 1750 SF or roughly $10/sf.
 

ivparker

Well-known member
Aug 28, 2016
45
Byron Center, MI
Wow! That turned out really nice. I just put in my information on the website to see if they have any dealers near me and will wait to hear back from them. Thanks for the information!

Here's an option you may not have considered. We have a roughly 200 linear foot retaining wall. You wouldn't know it by looking, but it surrounds the whole pool shell. It is poured concrete, done via the StoneMakers | Welcome to StoneMakers, The Hardscape Artisans process. Since it's poured, the base sits below the frost line. So the exposed wall is only half of the wall in our case (for the uphill part of the structure). Starting at this post in our build thread Pool Build - Baltimore you'll see construction of the wall. It is typically cheaper, from what they say, than a block wall because of less labor. They did this wall in three days. One day to dig, set rebar, and pour the integrated footer and two days for pouring/carving of the wall. Then later to paint/stain. The additives make the concrete similar to gunite in that it doesn't need forms to stand vertically, though it's different because it's not applied with a nozzle. It's applied either with a concrete pump or wheel-barrowed in then hand cut/carved to the desired appearance. In 2013 that whole wall structure, excluding the seat walls/tables, was just over $10K.

At the time of our project, I didn't actually know the wall structure would surround the pool. I just knew that they had planned for a turned down concrete deck, to support the deck on the lower side since it was above existing grade. And this is how they did it. I have to say though, that the $10K for the wall may possibly have excluded the lower half/portion of the wall. They may have budgeted that in the decking portion (turned down concrete). The deck was $17.7K for 1750 SF or roughly $10/sf.
 

HeyEng

Silver Supporter
Nov 7, 2018
371
Oklahoma City, OK
In SW Oklahoma we had a wall installed that was about 9 feet tall and about 48 feet long. It ran about $12.
I see some Lake Lawtonka back there... :) Wife's family owns a bit of land that abuts the refuge; it's our little getaway when we need a break from the "big city life" of OKC.

OP...price sounds about right for my neck of the woods, too. Before we bought this house, we were going to custom build and the high price of a required retaining wall kept us from doing it. As you can see in my profile pic, we have a wall as well...I would HATE to know how much it would cost to replace it!
 

jimmythegreek

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Aug 10, 2017
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Morris Cnty NJ
Segmented retaining walls are often cheaper than a poured concrete wall in freeze thaw climates. That is for bare concrete, if we had to finish or veneer the wall it would be way more about 50 to 100 percent more. Regardless of what you do that wall will be holding up your deck it is considered structural because of the static load. I would pay a little extra and make sure they throw at least one row of geogrid in the upper layers. And yes they have to bury at least 1 full block with a 24" wide and 6" deep minimum gravel road base material thays compacted well. Depending on your dirt you may wanna go deeper and stabilization fabric under the base is cheap insurance
 

bmoreswim

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Jul 16, 2012
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Central MD
Segmented retaining walls are often cheaper than a poured concrete wall in freeze thaw climates. That is for bare concrete, if we had to finish or veneer the wall it would be way more about 50 to 100 percent more. Regardless of what you do that wall will be holding up your deck it is considered structural because of the static load. I would pay a little extra and make sure they throw at least one row of geogrid in the upper layers. And yes they have to bury at least 1 full block with a 24" wide and 6" deep minimum gravel road base material thays compacted well. Depending on your dirt you may wanna go deeper and stabilization fabric under the base is cheap insurance
That pricing doesn’t seem to be as applicable with Stonemakers. No need for using forms with the concrete and finishing does not involve purchasing additional product. It was either cheaper or really competitive in my case versus segmented. I have no doubt on standard poured walls that the above is true. But it’s also a look you have to like and have the appropriate contractor.
 

JohnT

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We built our own 150ft wall after getting a $16K quote. Less than $3K cost since we found a sale on the block. Not sure exactly as I traded some work for the excavation, but it was only a couple of hours.

I ended up buying a laser level as it made the job way easier. Compacted stone base then leveled each block. Not really hard. Once the first row is in it’s just stacking blocks
 

jimmythegreek

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Aug 10, 2017
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Morris Cnty NJ
Just have to be careful when ita an application like this. A retaining wall holding dirt is forgiving but one holding a deck back has to be perfect and not move. Geogrid is a must for this aspect
 

bljamison

Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
10
SW Oklahoma
I see some Lake Lawtonka back there... :) Wife's family owns a bit of land that abuts the refuge; it's our little getaway when we need a break from the "big city life" of OKC.

OP...price sounds about right for my neck of the woods, too. Before we bought this house, we were going to custom build and the high price of a required retaining wall kept us from doing it. As you can see in my profile pic, we have a wall as well...I would HATE to know how much it would cost to replace it!
Hey Eng, you are right, that is Lake Lawtonka and Mt. Scott in the background. You have a good eye.
 

bljamison

Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
10
SW Oklahoma
I see some Lake Lawtonka back there... :) Wife's family owns a bit of land that abuts the refuge; it's our little getaway when we need a break from the "big city life" of OKC.

OP...price sounds about right for my neck of the woods, too. Before we bought this house, we were going to custom build and the high price of a required retaining wall kept us from doing it. As you can see in my profile pic, we have a wall as well...I would HATE to know how much it would cost to replace it!
The pic of your pool and landscaping is beautiful!