Friday, April 16, 2010

The Great Retaining Wall Project of 2010

This is the retaining wall at the end of our driveway. You can see the corner of the house at the right of the picture. That's where our garages are. So, the wall is holding the hill back from spilling into the driveway and making our garages unusable for their intended purpose.

This wall is not small. The long part of the 'L' is around 26 feet long; the short part is about 20 ft. Also, there is a small portion of wall on the other side of the stairway - right up against the house. As you can see, the wall is made of railroad ties - which look completely untreated to me. Now, I ask myself: Who in their right mind builds a retaining wall with untreated lumber? I answer myself: A cheap bastard who doesn't care about wood destroying insects, that's who.

We have lived here 3 years now. When we moved in the wall was not in the state it is in now. If you notice in the picture above, the wall is beginning to lean precariously in the WRONG direction.

In addition, soil shifting and insects are causing things like this to happen:

and this:
and this:

We knew last summer that our big project for the house this summer would probably be rebuilding this wall and doing so in stone so that it wouldn't get into this state again. It wasn't exactly my idea of a fabulous way to spend several thousand dollars because, you know, Hawaii would be far more relaxing, but it was either rebuild or risk having it fall over of its own accord.

Then Snowmageddon hit. That? Not helpful. Before all was said and done, I was shoving snow up against the wall and packing it down in an effort to help prop the wall up from all the weight of the snow on top of it. I was half afraid that that damn thing wasn't going to last the winter.

Luckily enough it did and here we are. We can't wait any longer so I started getting estimates on having it replaced with the Versa-lok wall system. Just the estimates make me want to hyperventilate while rocking in a corner and working myself into a heart attack. It looks like it's going to end up costing us about $6,500 to replace the wall.

Ok, I know I had a paper bag to breathe into somewhere close by...

Ah, there it is. Excuse me a moment...

[inhale] [exhale]

Ok, better now. Whew.

In the end, we're going to have to bite the bullet and just spend the money. The wall can't wait another year and it will only be more expensive the longer we wait. So, if you read a craigslist ad from a woman seeking to sell her kidney, you'll know why.


  1. If I knew where the previous owner of my house moved, I'd send him over. He built our retaining wall out of steel plates. It's not too pretty but it isn't going anywhere. It's serious wall overkill.


  2. Ann, that would probably cost twice as much!

    Where'd I put that dang bag again?!