Commercial Retaining Wall Fail & Rebuild Question

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by CK82, Aug 16, 2014.

  1. CK82

    CK82 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 235

    Hey guys,

    So I have a customer who is looking for a bid for rebuilding a Versa Lok retaining wall that failed at there commercial site. I have determined the last of the geo-grid, was exactly where the wall is still in tact, which is about 4ft. from the actual top of the wall.

    My questions are:

    1) Can I strip the back fill, add and compact clear stone, install a layer or two of geogrid, reset suppressor fabric as you see, backfill with topsoil?

    2) Would you think I would need to get an engineer involved to further look into the issues causing the retaining wall fail?

    There is a parking lot above with a sewer drain, which I'm assuming overflows during heavy rains, sending the remaining overflow towards the retaining wall.

    Any help on this topic would be great.

    Thanks, Chris



  2. ReddensLawnCare

    ReddensLawnCare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,651

    Did you notice that joint to the left of the fail goes from the bottom all the way to the top. That can't be good.
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  3. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    In before dvs
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  4. Krafty

    Krafty LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from St. Louis MO
    Messages: 706

    I would take down the entire wall and start from scratch. Not nearly enough back fill stone, obviously vertical joint, poor drainage, some weird cuts with half blocks. I am sure if I can see that many things after looking at the pic for 30 seconds the rest of the wall is a mess. I would most definitely have it engineered, in our area anything commercial, or anything residential over 6' must be engineered.

    As far as pricing, price what it would cost you to remove the wall, and price what it would cost you to install a new wall from scratch.
  5. CK82

    CK82 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 235

    Guys, thanks for the posts.

    I did notice the joint from top to bottom on the left as well on my visit to the site. Very odd that joint would be there, almost seems like for a reason, otherwise just does not make sense. With that being said, the retaining wall is did not fail at the seam. It failed above the last layer of geo-grid.

    The overall retaining length of the retaining wall I would roughly estimate at 1500 feet or more, so a complete rebuild would be out of the question.

    I believe there is sufficient clearstone behind the wall, and grid. What I don't understand is, there grid is only installed to half the wall height. From there they have geotextile, 12" of backfill soil, woven landscape fabric, and lastly backfill soils to the top of the wall.

    I personally feel, if another layer of grid was installed further up on that section of wall, all would be good.

    At any rate, yes I believe having an engineer get involved is the best option with a wall this size.

    I'm open for more feedback, so please do so.


  6. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 801

    You may understand this already but if your not clear about the actual design you can go look at the master plans for the type wall, slope and backfill you have on Versa Lok's site to better understand what might have been done wrong. ( besides that crazy seam up the wall..YOWEEE !!!! ):dizzy:
  7. Drakeslayer

    Drakeslayer LawnSite Member
    Messages: 135

    What's with the wood on the fence posts. It looks like they are stacked on top of each other. I feel that this section of wall and everything associated with it has been compromised before.
  8. CK82

    CK82 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 235

    The wood posts are cut out like an "L" and bolted together. I believe then if the post above ground gets snapped off, they simply unbolt and attach a new upper section.

    The wall looks solid, well it should be right, since its 12ft. to 20ft. tall. What I don't understand is why there would have not been another layer of grid about 4 courses above the fail.

    At any rate, thanks for the reply fellas.

  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,580

    To the topic creator - i'm not trying to be an A$$, but I must be forthright.

    If you need to ask - then you have no business messing with this wall. I know this is the internet and you're thinking "screw you, DVS, come out from behind your keyboard Mr. Know It All".

    Walls are not to be taken lightly. They can be a big liability. If you build it and it fails.....again - the lawsuit aint going to be pretty.

    I recommend you start out with small walls, if you want to build walls. This isn't something you just leap into. I can tell by the questions you asked that you have little knowledge about retaining walls. Get some experienced with small stuff and you'll start learning as you go.
  10. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,665

    The remainder of wall looks intact, albeit a long vertical joint which is a no no!! But all said, I (me) would just rebuild the wall adding geogrid, clear stone, woven membrane, and use existing back fill unless its saturated. Rerouting of that large drain may be necessary but quite unlikely. If water continues to run into the wall it will likely happen again. DVS said it. Leave it alone unless you know what you're doing.

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