Retaining Wall

I have a property on a corner lot which has a perimeter on two street-facing sides of more than 300 feet. The lawns on these two sides slope down to sidewalks on a steep enough angle that it makes lawn mowing and erosion a problem.
I would like to build a small retaining wall, and I am looking for suggestions on how to keep the cost reasonable. One contractor gave me a price of $40K for a 3 foot wall using natural field stone. I'm hoping I can get something attractive for less. I don't particularly like the look of manufactures blocks. I have seen some decorative poured concrete which looks pretty good driving by at 25 mph.
Any ideas/suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks....
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To a fair approximation, you have about 1,000 sq ft of "wall" you want built. Your contractor has quoted a price of about $40/sq ft.
That seems a bit on the high side.
First step is to find the cost drivers. Possibilities are: 1) contractor greed in his hoping you don't get other bids; 2) cost of materials; 3) basic cost of installation.
Frankly, I would take a second look at those stackable concrete blocks. The material cost for the wall itself (the foundation/base would be extra) would be on the order of $4k. They "come in colors" and you can mix and match to create either a patern or a "random" look.
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John Gilmer wrote:

...
The likely problem here is 2) -- a real fieldstone is likely pretty pricey compared to some options.
One thing you might look at is the "fake stone" veneer--there is some of it now that looks just pretty doggone good and is a significant cost factor cheaper and easier to install as well which will translate into lower labor costs.
Again, a block wall w/ the veneer should be cheaper, too...
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A concrete block wall should be less expensive than a concrete wall. You could put a stone or stucco veneer on the concrete wall to make it look better. Both concrete and a concrete block wall needs a concrete footing. The concrete block wall will need to be reinforced with rebar and those cells filled with grout (a fluid concrete).
The segmental block wall (the manufactured look you don't like) is probably going to be the cheapest. It doesn't require a concrete footing, but only a 4" to 6" base of crush and run stone. There are companies out there that make (in my opinion) a very attractive segmental block... some of the blocks are tumble to look like natural stone. A 3 foot tall wall shouldn't require geogrid reinforcement, but segmental block walls are proprietary products that have there own earth reinforcing requirements.
No matter what type of wall you decide to build, make sure you provide adequate drainage behind the wall (ie. layer of #57 stone behind wall with french drain, or weep holes, etc.). Also, make sure the backfill is compacted. Uncompacted fill with rain can can overload a wall and make it fall...I have seen this before.
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And separate all gravel in the stone footing and the gravel back fill from the dirt with textile landscaping type cloth.
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Fieldstone is by far the best looking. Alternatives are a poured concrete or block wall with a facing of real stone or brick. As for the manufactured block, some are better looking than others so take some time to see if there is one you like at a reasonable price.
Comes down to aesthetics versus price. You should be able to get a fairly good looking wall for $20k less.
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lanman wrote:

Footer Block Stucco (optional) colored or not Cap Paint (if no colored stucco)
Where I live you could get that done for about $3000 if you paint it yourself
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lanman wrote:

I'm puzzled.......a retaining wall, apparently, will solve the erosion problem. What about mowing? Is landscaping a consideration? 40K will buy a lot of plants :o) How long and steep is the slope that is eroding? Something simple, like islands with or without some rock or other obstacles, along with the right plants, can slow the flow of water enough that erosion won't take place. A good extension service likely would offer good suggestions if you are interested. Islands would probably cut down on mowing, too.
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You will need a surveyor to layout exactly where your property ends and the city's property starts or you could be ordered to tear it down. Some people think the sidewalk delineates the edge of their property, it may and it may not, you need to know. You will also need to know where underground wires, pipes and other items that need to be located so that you don't damage them when you dig and build.

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