Inspecting Retaining Wall

I am buying a house which has a 4' tall and 150' long timber retaining wall about 8' from the back of the house. The wall makes one short turn and spans two houses.
My question is... given that it is alreadly completed. How can I inspect the wall to ensure that it was built correctly. What specific things should I look for?
I am concerned because a collapse could directly impact the house, not to mention the additional cost of doing it again.
Thanks.
Tommy
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Make sure the timbers are tied into the hill there should be timbers that go back into the hill to stop the wall from falling forward. Make sure the timbers are in good shape and not rotted or soft. Are they pressure treated? Was a permit pulled for the wall was a drainage plan done?
How are the different layers of the wall tied together?
That should get you started!
Wayne

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Many cities and counties require a permit for any wall that is over a certian height. Sometimes it's 3 ft and some areas it's 4 ft..
If your house is in and area that requires a permit, then I would check with the goverment agency that issues permits.. There should be approved drawings or details on file..
I will have to admit that I do a lot of things without permits if I feel confident in my skills and judgement (not an excuse). It sounds like your wall effects two homes so it may have been built by a licensed contractor or the developer that built the homes. Here again, the drawings and permits should be on file..
However!! If you check with the permit office and find that the wall never had a permit, you run the risk of being required to prove that the wall is to code requirements, etc..
--
My opinion and experience. FWIW

Steve



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There should be a drainage system. If you dig a foot or so down behind the wall you should hit gravel (preferably wrapped in cloth). The joints for the timbers should not be aligned... they should be interlocking and you should see some small pieces in the wall which are timbers that are perpendicular to the wall and anchor it by the weight of the soil. I would hope the treate lumber is 6"x6". If in doubt higher an engineer to check the wall. And if you don't know much about houses, have him check the house particularly if it is stone, brick, stucco or similar materials.

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On 16 Dec 2003 13:34:57 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@go.com (jacktripper) wrote:

Sue the bastards! (sarcasm)
Your efforts are middirected. You state that you are buying the house and that the wall is completed. Since everything is already done, then you should now be asking how you can spot a problem before it does damage to your house and how you can prevent any further movement from occuring.
I would just take several measurements from your foundation to the retaining wall and follow up on annual inspections. You are right to be concerned as the property will continue to move downhill, but hopefully your retaining wall will slow it down, enough.
PJ
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