Rock Retaining Walls – St. George, Utah

st george utah rock wall At first glance building a rock wall in St. George might look pretty straight forward and most people are surprised there is actually a lot more to them than meets the eye. In many cases there are local building codes and ordinance requirements that need to be met.

If you’re like most homeowners looking to build a rock retaining wall in St. George (or just about anywhere in Southern Utah for that matter), you will want to answer the following questions before you build and in many cases these questions can effect the overall cost of building your home, so it might be a good idea to consider these before you put in an offer on your building lot.

  • Do I need to hire an engineer when building a rock wall in St. George?
  • I am putting in an offer on a building lot. Should I wait until it closes before getting an estimate for a rock wall?
  • Do I need a survey for my rock wall and will they stake it out for me?
  • How close can I build to my rock wall?
  • What is a Geo-grid and do I need it on my rock retaining wall?
  • What is the cost difference for rock walls with and without Geo-grid?
  • Are there other options other than Geo-grid?
  • How much on average do rock retaining walls in St. George cost?
  • Are permits needed when building a rock wall on my property?
  • Are there special code requirements for my rock wall in St. George?
  • Can we add rock retaining walls to a property with existing structures?
  • How long does it take to install a rock wall in St. George?
  • What colors can I choose from or What type of rock do you use?

Do I need to hire an engineer when building a rock wall in St. George?

A lot of people ask if they will need an engineer. The answer is that in most cases you will need to hire an engineer for the project. Depending on where you are with your project, you can usually have the engineering rolled into your house’s footings engineering (if you are working with custom plans) and it can save you money. We have worked with just about every engineering company in Southern Utah and can provide you a list of the companies upon request.

I am putting in an offer on a building lot. Should I wait until it closes before getting an estimate for a rock wall?

The best advise we can offer in this case is to get an estimate first. We have had phone calls where the new property owner had no idea what the cost was going to be and was disheartened to learn that the added excavation and expense in the rock retaining wall put them over their budget. We are not trying to scare anyone and hopefully we are not giving the impression that every job is going to equal a house mortgage either. Give us call at 435-627-9449 before you put in an offer and we will be happy to give you an estimate for what it will cost to get your lot ready to build on. One quick call can possibly save you a lot of headache and even thousands of dollars.

Do I need a survey for my rock wall and will they stake it out for me?

A survey is always a great idea. You probably don’t have to ask around for very long in any neighborhood to learn of disaster stories where a property dispute was caused by a fence, structure and even a rock wall being put in the wrong place. Sometimes they are placed within an easement or within a setback. We strongly urge our clients to get their property surveyed. The surveyor will come and stake out the corners of the property and this gives us our starting points. The survey usually runs a couple hundred dollars at most. The minimal expense of a survey versus the potential for some big problems down the road is an obvious choice!

How close can I build to my rock wall?

This actually depends on several factors, but the largest being how tall the rock retaining wall is, but as a good rule of thumb you don’t want to build any closer to a rock retaining wall as the same height of the wall. So if you have an 8 foot rock retaining wall you will want to set your house’s footing back at least 8 feet back from the retaining wall.

What is a Geo-grid and do I need it on my rock retaining wall?

In short, a geo-grid is a sort of rubberized mat that is placed behind a rock retaining wall in between the dirt and the boulders. It helps keep the soil and smaller rocks from washing away and in some cases from falling out from behind the wall. For example, if one of the large boulders was to ever come loose  in an earthquake, the geo-grid is designed to hold the earth back where the boulder falls out.
We install geo-grids by bringing up the walls in lifts, about every two feet. We place the geo-grid behind the boulders, grade out the dirt and compact that level to ensure that settling is kept to a minimum and start.

What is the cost difference for rock walls with and without Geo-grid?

The cost difference is actually very minimal.

Are there other options other than Geo-grid?

Filter fabric is the other alternative to Geo-grid. One of the things that sets us apart from some of our competition is that filter fabric is standard with our rock walls. We add it into every single wall, where our competitors don’t include it as a standard measure. Filter fabric really does a good job holding the dirt back while still letting the water drain out properly.

How much on average do rock retaining walls in St. George cost?

This actually depends on the lot and if we are providing the rock. We offer FREE estimates so give us a call.

Are permits needed when building a rock wall on my property?

Permits are required. It is common for people to ask who files for it. That really is up to the client, but we work with the local cities and know the process so we usually handle it for you.

Are there special code requirements for my rock wall in St. George?

As far as code requirements go, in St. George, the rule is you can’t go higher than 8 feet tall with the rock wall before you have to shelf it back. So if you have a 16 foot high wall then you are going to have to do an 8 foot high wall then step it back 4 feet and then we could go up another 8 feet. An engineer will come out and test every 2 feet for moisture and density.

Can we add rock retaining walls to a property with existing structures?

Yes, you usually can, but it’s definitely cheaper to install a rock retaining wall when there are not buildings in the way. That is because of the added time and labor of constantly moving rock and materials around the structure versus dumping it in the middle of the lot. When we dump the materials in a central location on the lot, we are usually able to reach it from any point and makes things go much faster which saves you money.

Another layer of complication is digging out the bank right next to an existing structure. If we have to cut the rock walls in close to the structure, it can compromise the structure’s foundation and it’s overall integrity because we have to over dig enough to put the Geo-grid in. Having us come in after construction has begun is a common and often an expensive mistake that a lot of home owners and even contractors make. It will save you time and money if we can come in first, then we can be sure not to compromise the structure’s foundation.

How long does it take to install a rock wall in St. George?

On average we can install between 300 to 500 square feet per day, but because every wall is different and there can be so many odd dimensions to each lot, it varies. For example one lot might only need 2 feet of rock retaining wall and it is straight down the property line. On the other hand, the very next property might need 20 feet of rock retaining wall and there might be jogs in the property line etc. So time frames do depend on the project, but just ask us and we can estimate how long the job will take.

What colors can I choose from or What type of rock do you use?

The most common rocks we use are: red sandstone, black lava, or a yellow and white sandstone. It is also common that we build rock walls from materials right on location, like in the case of over excavation of a basement. Depending on the location, these rock pilings are similar to stones and boulders that you might find throughout Southern Utah. This is sometimes a little risky because we have to assume that there will be enough material onsite to complete the job.