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View Full Version : Would like your input


Dirt Boy
01-21-2010, 09:48 PM
I'm new to hardscaping, but have a person interested in "my" idea's for the attached picture.
Can't see everything, off to the right is a patio (walkout basement opens to the patio), and they would like steps with landings every so often coming from the patio, up and around the retaining wall, and up to the upper level, which is just to the back of the garage and would, I'm thinking, just stop at the top, perhaps go out to the grass.

I don't know if I'll do it or not, but I would like to stretch my brain around how to go about doing something like this.

Some of my thoughts were to include a sitting bench somehow into the retaining wall, or build out from it, could incorporate a waterfall feature, etc.

Guess since it's wintertime, I thought I would throw it out for some of you pro's that might like a little exercise!

Thanks a bunch

zedosix
01-21-2010, 10:55 PM
Quickly, first thing that comes to mind is to remove that eyesore of a retaining wall and incorporate a new set of steps with srw blocks. You may be able to veneer it if its constructed well but would still look weird in my mind. Good luck.

Dirt Boy
01-21-2010, 11:19 PM
That's a good idea, I hadn't thought of that. It could be removed I guess as much as desired, and it would give more area to work with.

castle555
01-21-2010, 11:52 PM
This looks like a pretty good project site -need picture to the right though.
I've done many yards and lots of elevation changes.
If you are planning steps, think safety first! You must consider the liability of creating a hazard people are going to use. Over 3' elevation -needs a handrail. People walking steps usually will fall while descending, so when considering a design I always use the 21" formula, a rise and tread total 21" or two rises and tread = 26" or 25"
For example, best layout for outdoor landscape is 6" rise and 15" run, or 4" rise and 17" run.
Do not change step height on any flight of stairs (use one formula or the other) and break it up with a landing every five foot of elevation.
And do not use the typical general contractor building 7" rise and 12" step. It is only for people who don't know any better and/or an emergency application in the landscape -i.e. no other way to get there.
Landings are best with a two-step pace before descending to the next stair tread.
You can make a jig out of 1x4 wood to check your rise and run and use it for a guide when you do your construction layout. And, there is always field measurement and adjustment. Start your finish grade measurement level from the patio and go to the top of the wall to determine your steps.

My advice to you on any wall would be to definitely waterproof it on the house side -use a combination of the Multicoat system, Amerdrain, Meldrain, HLM5000, and/or Drylock for masonry. You do not want any water movement to go into the house. The suggestion to use the wall area for your steps seems to be a good one -least waste of space.
let us know what you decide and how it turns out.

Dirt Boy
01-22-2010, 08:25 AM
Thanks for your input. I am aware of the step rule, and would definitely want to be safe, so thanks for that.
If you incorporate an hand rail, would it need to be on both sides, or is one side enough? I'm sure you could fall either way, but falling out towards the grass area, (I would think anyway), would be the greater of two evils, due to slope, etc.

Another question would be: If I did remove the wall, would you build the SRW off of the existing footing, or would I need to take it out as well and build a "normal" base under the SRW?

Am I in over my head yet?:)

zedosix
01-22-2010, 08:37 AM
You definetely need to redo the base, quite likely there is a footing which may creat some issues because your new design is not going to necessarily follow the existing concrete wall. I think if you need to ask then you may be "in over your head". If you have no experience please get proper guidance and help from someone who has done this and knows the "science" of srw block and step construction.

DVS Hardscaper
01-22-2010, 10:14 AM
Not to sound arrogant. But, please respect that I see things in black and white.

Ok, when someone comes online for help with a simple design - that tells me they're lacking experience / know how.

OK, thats what this site is for! We're all here to learn and share. Please don't get angry with me :)

I know many rootin-tootin cowboys here would love to bust that wall apart. But, I'm not so sure an inexperienced person should be removing that home's retaining wall. #1 if it's poured concrete - then it was poured with the home's primary foundation, all in one pour, meaning there is no seam. #2 We can't see the rest of the home's foundation corners. That exterior retaining wall just MAY be a STRUCTURAL re-inforcement for the back foundation wall.

A lawsuit could cripple you.

Best thing to do is veneer the wall with something like Eldorado lick and stick Stone.





,

castle555
01-22-2010, 10:42 AM
I think you should keep on going and know what iti is you are getting into.
I consult with my brother who is a licensed California civil engineer when I get a project with segmented loads and footings, or a swimming pool for instance.
I think you are going to be okay on this one, but remember the old adage...a little knowledge can be dangerous.

Imho, it seems the wall is becoming a consideration. Just as previous posters (DVShardscape) have said.
It was probably poured with the house foundation and is rebar reinforced, also has a substantial foundation to it. 12' deep by 24" wide (guessing)

zedosix is right and makes some good points about using caution here, and you aren't quite over your head yet.

Generally, if the wall is working now and it appears to be quite structurally sound as an earth retainer -with no tilting or cracks over 1/16" anywhere, then I would incorporate as much of it as I could in the new design. I cannot see a segmented load by the house on anything you might be thinking of doing there either. The load of the house is on the bottom, not the top of the wall.

Also make an exploration hole to find out the thickness and depth of the foundation on that wall if you are going to use it, or part of it.
Even burying it would not hurt if it is sound. I would cut into a portion of the top if needed to make it horizontal, just make sure any steel you contact has 3" of mortar or concrete cover.
Some of these projects can be quite simple and fun or a nightmare.:hammerhead:
get all the information you can

pitrack
01-22-2010, 04:12 PM
I like the idea of veneering the wall with some type of stone. Make it easy on yourself and just install some steps around the wall and leave the wall there. Get some nice plants to cover up the wall if you do not go the veneer route. I would use nice limestone or similar stone steps, but I am for the all natural look though.

Good luck let us know what you decide.

Dirt Boy
01-22-2010, 09:23 PM
Thanks guys!
First off, your not going to offend me by suggesting I don't know what I'm doing!! because I'll be the first to admit it:)

I have minimal experience at this, and my thoughts are along this line: i.e. exercise myself to present some different ideas to customer, and if I think I'm going to be in over my head, point them to someone who could do it, and possibly help them. In this way, I'll learn, and they will still trust my judgment/responsibility for any future work. I would rather they be happy whether I do it or not, not that I don't want to make money doing it!

You've all brought up some good points that I would not have thought of - Rookie!

I think I know the people that put the foundation in, good friends, and I would get their input.

I can tell you some more info that might influence your thoughts also. Away from the house/patio the yard abuts to a lake.
I'm also learning, thanks to your input, that I should have taken some pic's of, and paid attention to the rest of the back, instead of just focusing on "steps up and around" for fitting it in with the rest of the area.

Your thoughts about doing away with the wall, or modifying it, got me to thinking that you could make a nice cozy little area there for relaxing or whatever, perhaps some lights, etc. going up the walk.

I will try and put this together for them, and see what happens. I can tell you it won't be for several months! snow, cold!!

Regards to all

Bru75
01-23-2010, 12:53 AM
I'm with DVS on this one, that wall looks like it is probably tied in to the foundation, if not part of the same pour. I wouldn't even think of removing it without talking to the builder or architect who designed it first.
I'd try to incorporate it into the design and veneer it to improve the appearance..

pitrack
01-23-2010, 02:34 AM
Thanks guys!
First off, your not going to offend me by suggesting I don't know what I'm doing!! because I'll be the first to admit it:)

I have minimal experience at this, and my thoughts are along this line: i.e. exercise myself to present some different ideas to customer, and if I think I'm going to be in over my head, point them to someone who could do it, and possibly help them. In this way, I'll learn, and they will still trust my judgment/responsibility for any future work. I would rather they be happy whether I do it or not, not that I don't want to make money doing it!

You've all brought up some good points that I would not have thought of - Rookie!

I think I know the people that put the foundation in, good friends, and I would get their input.

I can tell you some more info that might influence your thoughts also. Away from the house/patio the yard abuts to a lake.
I'm also learning, thanks to your input, that I should have taken some pic's of, and paid attention to the rest of the back, instead of just focusing on "steps up and around" for fitting it in with the rest of the area.

Your thoughts about doing away with the wall, or modifying it, got me to thinking that you could make a nice cozy little area there for relaxing or whatever, perhaps some lights, etc. going up the walk.

I will try and put this together for them, and see what happens. I can tell you it won't be for several months! snow, cold!!

Regards to all


I'm with you, ready for the snow to get the hell out of here!

Best of luck!

Groomer
01-23-2010, 03:23 PM
thats one hellofa stand of turfgrass!

Bustedblade
01-23-2010, 03:48 PM
Get the original site plan the builder filed for the CO. Do not remove the retaining wall, it appears to be acting as a phliaster for the wall. Is the footer gravity drain?
Sump? Both?
Start with the original site plan and see what the town approved and DO NOT change the directions of water flow, also see where the footer drains, a little research can prevent a disaster.
Be safe, would like to see when done.
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Bustedblade
01-23-2010, 07:33 PM
Exposed ag concrete in silver smoke goes AWESOME with that landscape rock, I have a job coming up that is going to be porch, sidewalk and patio all in it, can't wait till the weather breaks!!
Exposed ag is always good for a few more jobs, once the neighbors see it, they have to have it!!!
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Dirt Boy
01-23-2010, 10:19 PM
Bustedblade:
do you have any pic's of what this looks like: Exposed ag concrete in silver smoke
Or website of some?

Thanks

Bustedblade
01-23-2010, 10:43 PM
I don't have access to a pic of the silver smoke but I'll shoot a pic of a sidewalk I did in sandstone. The ss looks slightly lighter than pencil lead and is money, Especially with a grey, white, blue or green house... I'll post the pic in am, can't do it from phone.
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Bustedblade
01-24-2010, 10:40 AM
here is a pic of exposed ag on my front porch, this stuff is awesome, like i said before, everyone likes it and it wears great.

Bustedblade
01-24-2010, 10:44 AM
Hope that helps

GreenswardLLC
01-24-2010, 07:41 PM
I agree with DVS, it looks like a flying buttress or a wing wall. Veneer it, extend it, and or end it more gracefully (column), and add some plantings to soften and obscure it, but don't do anything to compromise its integrity without a structural engineer's stamped drawing. good luck

Andrew
www.greenswardllc.com

CertPro
01-24-2010, 11:32 PM
typically walls like that are not structural, merely a cheap way for builders to add a retaining wall when dealing with grades and walkout basements. We see a ton of them here. However, I wouldn't think about removing it as it was poured at the same time the foundation was. Do as the others have said, veneer it, add a pillar to the end, etc.

Bustedblade
01-25-2010, 03:25 AM
Dollars to donuts that thing is acting as a philaster to the poured wall. I say that because the step from poured to wood frame is 100% and not graduated, therefore a philaster is dictated for lateral structure. I don't doubt some are done without them, if they were all done right by the builders from the jump we would not need inspectors. Back to my original point, see what is on file as far as a site plan.
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DVS Hardscaper
01-25-2010, 10:30 AM
Yeah, initially I spoted something in the picture that triggered me to feel that the little retaining wall may merely be something more than a retaining wall for earth.

As far as removing it (just speaking hypothetically), it's not that hard. We never done it, but I have seen it done.

Did the creator even pull a budget from these people? All these posts in this thread, and I'd be surprised if ny decent work comes about. The house doesn't look like much for investing in veneered stone, plantings, patio, etc.



,

glaciator
01-28-2010, 03:55 PM
I know this is the hardscape section, but let's make this a little easier....my suggestion:

Cut out some of the sod to the left. Install natural stone slab stairs well away from the foundation and protruding wall (into the existing sod area) and let the stairs curve down and around to the bottom of the prodruding wall and exit toward the patio to the right.

Then, plant foundation plantings along the home and smaller shrubs and perennials on the outside of the new stairs between the stairs and new sod line. Use the slope for a character boulder or three with ornamental perennials around them for the splash of year round color.

Get rid of the river rock and replace with quality wood mulch (Washington Cedar here, probably the same for Nebraska).

Finally, trellis the foundation wall and plant clematis at the base. The trellis could follow the slant of the wall, or be square (flush with the top at the high end, and 2' or so higher than the wall on the left end). This covers the ugly concrete and provides color and interest to the area. Plant selection for this slope is KEY!!!

Dirt Boy
01-28-2010, 09:56 PM
Thanks Dave!
Not sure how open owners will be to moving the lawn "line", but I will present something like this as well.

Regards