how high can a retaining wall be without council approval

Do you know if you need council approval for the retaining wall you are planning to build?

Residential and commercial landscaping applications often make use of the retaining walls to retain soil, reduce land erosion and level off sloping land. Retaining walls have such an impact on the surrounding environment and can be subject to collapse if not constructed properly, hence council approval is often required before building one. The higher the wall the greater the risk it is to people. Here is what you need to know about how high a retaining wall can be without council approval.

1. Does one need the approval to build a retaining wall?

Your local council sets the legislation on the construction of retaining walls and all councils differ so it’s best to get the right advice. If you are building a retaining wall that exceeds the maximum non-engineered height set by your council, you need to lodge a building permit application with your local council. An engineer will also be needed to design the wall and a building certifier will need to sign off on your handy work to complete the approval.

2. How high can l build a retaining wall?

Two conditions will determine how high you can build a retaining wall with or without council approval. These are the height restrictions set by your local council, and the physical capability of the retaining wall block, or sleeper wall, that you would like to use. Retaining wall manufacturers will specify the maximum height that products can be built to without engineering but in some instances, you may still need an engineered design to build below the council height limit.

3. Retaining wall regulations vary by State

Regulations on how high a retaining wall can be without council approval vary from state to state and even from council to council. For example, in New South Wales, you  can only build your retaining wall up to 600mm from ground level without council approval while on the Gold Coast of Queensland, you need building approval for retaining walls 1 metre or more in height. In other areas the maximum height of your retaining wall without council approval is limited to 800mm.

Besides height regulations, other regulations to consider include how close your retaining wall is to your boundary. In NSW, a retaining wall must be at least 900mm from a boundary line while in parts of Queensland, the retaining walls must be at least 1.5 metres from an adjoining property. A good retaining wall supplier and builder can help you choose the best materials to use as well as guide you through the process to ensure your application is approved, if you need one.

4. Do I need to build a retaining wall?

There are many reasons why people opt to put up retaining walls. Properties that are on a steep slope need to have one. This is because a retaining wall stops soil and debris from sliding down the hill and disrupting the building. During the rainy season, it can get very bad if your property is on a steep hill. You can get water damage to your basement and a retaining wall stops that from happening. Retaining walls also add beauty to your landscape, the variation they give is unique and there are many styles to choose from. You can also use retaining walls to add elevation to a flat yard.

5. Can I put a fence on a retaining wall?

Yes, you absolutely can. You first need to get council approval and then you can start building. Sometimes approval is not necessary, but it is better to check first. There are three ways you can add a fence to your retaining wall. You can add it three feet behind the retaining wall. This design relieves pressure on your wall and is sturdy. If you want to put the fence closer than three feet behind the retaining wall, plans will have to be drawn by a professional to make sure that the top of the retaining wall can withstand the pressure. Lastly, you can build on top of the wall. This needs an engineer to be consulted and the wall needs to be secured.

6. How much do Gabion retaining walls cost?

There isn’t one set price for gabion retaining walls. A couple of factors will determine how much it will cost. Firstly, the size and scale of the wall you are planning to build, its height and what type of stones you plan to use. Second is the design and consultant fees and what will be required when you excavate and what drainage will be put in place. Gabion retaining walls are labor-intensive, factor this into your expected cost as well. Curved walls also cost more than straight ones as they require a higher level of complexity.

Where to go for all your retaining walls advice and supplies?

Contact Concrete Sleepers Sydney today. We are the leading supplier of garden step kits, retaining walls and sleepers of all kinds. We have several years of experience working with concrete sleepers and retaining walls, providing low-cost, affordable, quality concrete retaining walls to our customers.