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View Full Version : How to deal this client, retaining wall on a lake..


SouthernYankee
09-15-2006, 09:23 PM
Heres my problem, I want input from all you old veterans out there about how to defuse this problem.


I get a call from another landscaper asking me to come out and look at this job that hes got. Anyways its a brand new house on one of those mud pits, I mean manmade neighborhood lakes that everyone loves around here. He got hired to build a retaining wall on a lake with materials that some idiot tried to build with. Basically its 6x6 posts every 6 feet, with 2x12 pt screwed and bolted to them.

I am sure that at this point you see the problem. Anyways this landscaper did a decent job with what he had, I wouldnt have ever taken on this problem, but he made some nice loot off the job. Anyways all he wants me to do is to back fill the natural soil which consists of clay and river mud back into the wall.

I spend the day backfilling very carefully making sure not to hit the wall, or put too much pressure on the wall. In my mind I did what I was suppose to do.

Home owner calls the other guy, telling him that walls are somewhat bowed. The walls had moved moved a few inches due to the weight of soil, but I knew that they would move because they are not made out of concrete nor are they built with the right materials.


Anyways I have to go meet with this guy, what would you tell him? Or am I just an idiot for backfilling on a 2x12 wall on a lake!

YardPro
09-15-2006, 09:34 PM
are there any deadmen? or walers??? if not then you cannot help the shoddy construction of the wall...

here the walls will push out a bit with backfill, but you then go tighten the nuts on the threaded rod anchoring through the deadmen to straighten ot back out.

Dirty Water
09-15-2006, 09:37 PM
You just backfilled native soil against the back of that "Wall"?

Getting involved in that is a fiasco waiting to happen. Clearly specify to the homeowner that all you were was a skidsteer operator, and had nothing to do with the design (or lack off) of the wall.

dozerman21
09-15-2006, 10:53 PM
In hindsight, you should have agreed in writing with the homeowner that you're not responsible for the wall bowing or even caving in, due to the conditions. Chances are, that wall would have bowed in after the first hard rain if it hadn't already.

I would just tell the homeowner that you did all you could do to be careful, but the wall wasn't built correctly to hold that kind of weight. Top soil or at least dry dirt should have been brought in to replace the clay and mud too.:hammerhead:

It would probably be a good idea to talk to a couple of other landscapers who build retaining walls, and have them give you an estimate of the materials and specs they would use on a wall the same size. That will show the homeowner that his/her wall wasn't constructed properly, so you are not at fault.

Good luck! Keep us posted.

RockSet N' Grade
09-16-2006, 08:58 AM
Every job you do should have a signed contract by you and the other party.

If the wall was crap to begin with, you end up with the same as a finished product.....
The design of that wall, if in doubt, should have been done by an engineer with his stamp and signature on it and inspected as it was installed.
Lots of people are looking for a fall-guy when they created this situation from the beginning......I'd say that by the wall bowing now may be a blessing and they should thank you for exposing possible current and future problems with this structure.....

DBL
09-16-2006, 09:11 AM
how bad is it like everyones saying its shotty work but when that stuff fills how bad is the bow are the screws coming out or is it just arched in the middle

Dirty Water
09-16-2006, 10:52 AM
You should have put a drainage aggregate behind the wall, not native soil.

Scag48
09-16-2006, 02:28 PM
Yeah, there should have been some sort of drainage rock behind the wall if all the soil is muddy and wet as it is.

TXTom
09-16-2006, 02:29 PM
Well to me it sounds like you were hired by the other landscaper. Who is paying you? If it were me, I would not meet with the homeowner. Your "friend" that built the wall should do all of the talking with the homeowner. Especially since he made decent money building a wall that was poorly designed. All you did was move some dirt around. If you hit the wall, or pushed dirt against it to the point of failure then you might have some responsibility.

jazak
09-16-2006, 03:01 PM
I would have NEVER gotten involved, suprised the wall didn't fall right over.;)

ksss
09-16-2006, 06:32 PM
You may have just worked your way into a real mess. If you chose to fix it or the homeowner pays for it to be done I would put deadmen into the bank that is being retained. I have taken large pieces of steel (whatever I could find in the rem pile at the steel shops) wield pieces of angle iron on the steel and bury them into the bank. I run angle iron strips on the back side of the wall lag bolted to the retaining wall and cable them together. Works great, large walls I have done over ten years ago are still as straight as when they were built. Why did they hire out such a small portion of the job. It would almost seem to me like maybe you were designed to be the fall guy from the beginning.

minimax
09-16-2006, 07:57 PM
Yes don't get in the wall business unless you know what you are DOING!!!!
A landscaper put up this wall without tie backs or any tilt back and went 28' tall;) ;) :hammerhead: .The wall fell over on a rented 320 cat, took a 325 ton crawler Crane to get it out. Scag you could buy this one cheap:laugh: :laugh:.Machine was totaled.Actwally happed here.
64493

minimax
09-16-2006, 07:59 PM
Here's one more pic64494

minimax
09-16-2006, 08:00 PM
And the last one.64495

RockSet N' Grade
09-16-2006, 08:25 PM
MiniMax.....those are great pictures!!! SouthernYankee, I have found myself (occasionally) in a jackpot like the one you are in.....If you did what you were told to do as you were told to do it - stick to your guns and get your money. You were an employee of the landscaper and had nothing to do with the design and construction of the wall....you were just a dirt flipper.
I have learned that when I do a wall, an engineer's design and an engineer's inspection throughout the whole process is cheap insurance in the long run....yea, I can design and overbuild them and have done that....but I'm getting too old for court and pissing matches and would prefer to transfer design responsibility to those guys that are good with a pencil and paper and just let me build what they have designed......back to my origional point here.....get your money!

Scag48
09-16-2006, 09:02 PM
Mini max, that was on Camano Island, right? If so, I've seen that site, just up the road from my parents new house that came at the expense of our excavation division.

If that's not on Camano, there is a site that is almost identical to that on Camano where it looks as if someone screwed up the wall and the blocks are strewn everywhere. Just thought it might be.

Shoulda seen a 315 that rolled off a trailer here last year. Rolled 25 feet down an embankment and finally landed upside down in a private residence driveway.

Dirty Water
09-16-2006, 09:36 PM
Yes don't get in the wall business unless you know what you are DOING!!!!
A landscaper put up this wall without tie backs or any tilt back and went 28' tall;) ;) :hammerhead: .The wall fell over on a rented 320 cat, took a 325 ton crawler Crane to get it out. Scag you could buy this one cheap:laugh: :laugh:.Machine was totaled.Actwally happed here.


Those look like ecology blocks (overpours). You can usually stack them about 6' high without any geogrid because of their massive size and weight (4000 lbs each).

28' feet. :laugh:

Scary, that could have killed someone.

grassmanvt
09-16-2006, 10:37 PM
I thought anything over 4 or 5 feet needed an engineer. 28 feet, yikes.

AWJ Services
09-16-2006, 11:04 PM
The wall fell over on a rented 320 cat, took a 325 ton crawler Crane to get it out.

Imagine if you were in the cab when it fell .:dizzy:

SouthernYankee
09-16-2006, 11:21 PM
I was paid up front by the landscaper who built the wall, ( I didnt have anything to do with this project other than backfilling) I never had any contact with the homeowner.

Basically its all about how the wall was constructed which in my opinion was wrong. I will keep you posted.

minimax
09-16-2006, 11:23 PM
Yes that is Camano Island where that happened, where is your parents house being build on Camano?? the guy running the 320 had got out to go get lunch down the hill when the wall came over the sad thing is a geotech was on site when the wall was build:confused:

Scag48
09-17-2006, 12:51 AM
My parents place is basically on the west end of Monticello Drive. If you take a right off Monticello going west, then drive 1/8 mile, hang a left, you're there.

tylermckee
09-17-2006, 03:04 AM
I love when guys build so called "rock walls" where they stack boulders 10 feet high and fill behind then with dirt, and the wall is 5-10' away from the house. I actually saw one where they did that, the "wall" ranged from 10-15 feet high, it was just some crappily stacked boulders, and get this i saw them putting in irrigation right behind the wall! the house was a nice house right on the beach, probably in the 2-3 million range, you could already see where some of the rocks had started shifting and it was still in construction. I wouldnt want to be the contracter doing that house, i would be crossing my fingers i made it past the warrenty period without the wall coming down and taking out the house, or worse hurt/kill someone.

Gravel Rat
09-17-2006, 02:29 PM
Any retaining wall over 48"s here has to be engineered we have had contractors nailed for building rockwalls that were 4 to 6 inches above the 48" mark.

I never seen those style blocks in the pictures minimax posted the ones we have here are a full 2 tons they lock together. Usually we can't build with them no more than 2 to 3 high any higher than that you need engineering so much rake back etc.

Poured concrete walls are so much easier to deal with form it up pour the concrete let set for 14 days and backfill.

As for a retaining wall using 6x6 posts and 2x12s is mickey mouse. A 2x12 really doesn't have any strength to have a load pushing on it sideways its strength is on edge. I wouldn't have backfilled it with wet muddy material because its heavy . Put lots of drainrock behind the wall then move in some good compacting soil and hold it back away from the wall a little bit and left the space bettween it and the wall a little loose so it doesn't put pressure on the wall.

tylermckee
09-17-2006, 02:40 PM
Maybe you could dig out ~3-4' behind the wall, and do something like ksss said to hold the wall back, then backfill with drain rock.

Gravel Rat
09-17-2006, 03:31 PM
One thing you can say is this is another one for experience. Myself I wouldn't have done the job backfilling just from experience knowing what it takes to hold back material. I have done lots of concrete walls from over the years I know how much force (weight load) of heavy wet material does to wood. One job I was on told the guy thats not enough bracing and strength started to pour the wall and I could see it bulging. I said let it cure a little bit again refused my advise he started rodding the concrete poof the form let go.

Wet heavy clayish mud is heavy its like concrete it will put so much weight load on a wall you need good strength to hold that back.

Another job poured foundation building contractor in a rush to have it backfilled too much weight cracked the wall.

Good Luck I hope you get the person that built the wall to help you fix the problem as there will be lots of hand digging.

SouthernYankee
09-17-2006, 08:13 PM
The more I think about it, I probally shouldnt have taken on this job, but things are slow here. Anyays the guy who built this sunk 6x6 posts 4 feet below the ground and cemented them in place, but they are put every 6 ft or so.

The original guy cut around 8 feet into the bank to put stairs in, this is where I am sure that there is some bowing.

Mike33
09-17-2006, 10:18 PM
I build walls all time and that is not good business to get involved in some ones elses mess. First of all any good wall builder is going to have his own equiptment, especially for backfilling. Improper drainage is the # 1 failure to any kind of wall. I dont care if its vera-lock, allen block, ties, or even silly putty they have to drain of they will fail. I sometimes sub a little excavation in our area we have hard shale at times i need a bigger machine . But any body building a wall that does not even have a bobact for backfilling should not be building walls. I would not get involved in any matter of it, it couldnt of taken that long to backfill so how much moey did you actually make off of it to be involved in such possible disaster to happen. My season it actually close to winding down , i pick my jobs and this one would not be one.
Mike

ksss
09-17-2006, 11:00 PM
That really was my point if your hiring out the backfilling that may be a clue to problems. Hope it works out.

Scag48
09-18-2006, 01:20 AM
That really was my point if your hiring out the backfilling that may be a clue to problems.

I started scratching my head as well. Even the crappy wall builders around here have means of backfilling even the largest of walls without having to sub it out.

imjustdave
09-18-2006, 11:01 AM
:usflag: Maybe the builder was hoping that when you backfilled it, it would fail and you would have to pick up the costs of replacing it. or as I suspect is really new and figured walls would be easy to build, built one made some cool green and now is in a situation he doesn't know how to deal with.

Its like when you break your first gas line.:dizzy: .... your like #^% now what do I do .... Maybe I should just leave and it will fix itself... but provaling heads figures it out and everybody moves forward, the line gets fixed and everybody is happy.

Maybe you should call the builder up and say look, your wall is ****, you know it I know it and the customer knows it, and work from there for a fix, maybe even play advocate to the customer so they know that your just the Iron owner and not the builder of said wall.

SouthernYankee
09-18-2006, 11:33 AM
Well I am back, met with the guy he was a jerk and wouldnt listen to a word that I said, basically I wasted my time and my gas! Anyways when I told him that I didnt build the wall, therefore I dont know how strong it is , how it was built etc.

Ready for this one, he wanted me to hook my bobcat up to the post and pull the wall back!! This guy was a know it all type and he knew everything, so I couldnt tell him a thing. One thing I completely forgot to mention was that the homeowner lined the INSIDE of the wall with plastic wrap!!! I asked him about this and he avoided question completely.

He walked off saying some nasty words, and I told him to have a great day.

I would consider this a great learning experiance, thanks for all of your help. SY

Mike33
09-18-2006, 05:14 PM
Well I am back, met with the guy he was a jerk and wouldnt listen to a word that I said, basically I wasted my time and my gas! Anyways when I told him that I didnt build the wall, therefore I dont know how strong it is , how it was built etc.

Ready for this one, he wanted me to hook my bobcat up to the post and pull the wall back!! This guy was a know it all type and he knew everything, so I couldnt tell him a thing. One thing I completely forgot to mention was that the homeowner lined the INSIDE of the wall with plastic wrap!!! I asked him about this and he avoided question completely.

He walked off saying some nasty words, and I told him to have a great day.

I would consider this a great learning experiance, thanks for all of your help. SY
When it was all said and done how much did you actually make off of backfilling? Was it worth it? Never be to proud to turn a job down there is always some one that will jump in. But we all have made mistakes taking on jobs at times, learn from it and move on.
Mike

SouthernYankee
09-18-2006, 05:52 PM
I made $400.00, but it wasnt worth the hassle,but I learned a lesson

RockSet N' Grade
09-18-2006, 09:41 PM
SouthernYankee........there are lots of lessons there....here's one of mine to make you feel better.....

We demo'd an industrial building in Los Angeles, Calif. About lunch time, we noticed an abnormal amount of Pacific Bell (telephone) trucks running up and down this main drag we were on. I asked the guy I was working with if he had called Blue Stakes (he had but after the job started...oops!) Long story short, we smashed/cut/ripped out a 4" diameter phone cable that serviced most of this heavy industrial town......I called a buddy at Pac-Bell and within 15 minutes of the call we had 10-15 trucks with full crews of Pac Bell who worked until about 4am to get this fixed.....I stayed and bought them coffee and donuts and food until the job was done......Here's the fun part (NOT!)....the bill was $18,000 which came out of my pocket.....That was my lesson about blue stakes, and now, 30 plus years later.....I call Blue Stakes for everything.....I learned that lesson painfully well.......
So, for $400, the lessons you have been presented are relatively CHEAP....learn and move on.....

Mike33
09-18-2006, 10:07 PM
I made $400.00, but it wasnt worth the hassle,but I learned a lesson
I dont think any one here is beating on you either, like my self and others said learn and move on. At least you had the balls to share your experience on this forum. Trust me any one that has been in this business has been there and maybe worse, i can start with my self. Good luck to you in the future.
Mike

farmboy555
09-19-2006, 02:55 PM
you did what you where hired for. Backfill the wall with dirt. pay me. Anyone with problem's or question's, take it up with the designer & builder of the wall.

minimax
09-19-2006, 06:44 PM
Hey Scag, did you do the dirt work for your folks or who did they use? And who is building the house

Scag48
09-19-2006, 11:00 PM
No, we didn't do the work. My parents caught sight of the house just after it was framed and went from there. Kim Nesje is the general contractor and his son, Eben Nesje, did the excavation. If you ever need a builder, Kim is excellent, he has worked with my parents so well. He is extremely detail oriented and goes the extra mile to get things done the right way. Having dealt with tons of contractors through the last couple years he's definately a guy I wouldn't mind working for and I hate working for contractors, I think that's saying a lot about how he does business.

The house is pretty much done, they're just finishing up some painting. Otherwise the house is pretty nice, I was there last weekend actually.

boxsky
03-26-2007, 11:37 PM
Plastic?????

Glad it worked out for you and you got your money.