I have an old(ish) garden wall (mid 60's), about 6 foot high, which looks
like it has been subsiding for a long time.
I believe this may be due to poor footings. The previous occupants have
tried some repairs, then decided to hide the problem (with ivy) before
selling the place to some sucker. In some places it has dropped up to an
inch, and in one place has moved sideways by about the same. It's still
standing and stable but will probably become dangerous in another 10 years
The way I see it, my choice it to either completely demolish and re-build on
new foundations (way too expensive); or cut it down to about waist high,
re-build the bad bits, and build a fence on top. The problem would be fixing
fence posts; I could use the bricks removed from elsewhere to make pillars,
but I'm not sure it would be stable or strong enough to hold fence panels.
Any ideas or comments?
On Tue, 8 Jul 2003 05:01:15 +0000 (UTC), "Martin"
You might need to look at the problem in more depth (literally). If
the wall is moving then there's a possible problem with the ground
below. You'd need some expert advice with that.
And if you've got a drain running along or through that area you could
have other problems building up if the drain is collapsing.
At the very least I think you might be looking at digging out the
foundations of the wall and putting new foundations in. However I am
not an expert and this is a personal opinion only.
Do you need a handyman service? Check out our
web site at http://www.handymac.co.uk
Why "way too expensive"? Building a single skin garden wall is a
pretty easy DIY job, although it'll probably take a few weekends.
The financial cost is minimal - just bags of sand, cement and
Knock it down, reclaim the bricks (boring but worth it), and put
down some proper concrete footings. There's a wall footing reckoner in
the Collins DIY book IIRC.
This is of course personal opinion - I find laying bricks quite
relaxing and satisfying - YMMV!
It's only moved about an inch ? Martin, I've seen retaining walls at the
bottoms of hills with a four belly in them due to weight of soil their
holding back, and they are still stable. If it's only an inch then leave
the Ivy covering it up, and in a hundred years time when it's moved five
inches, then that owner of the house will do something about it.
What ever you do, don't fix anything to it, this will only make it unstable
and then you'll see how a wall can move, especially in a high wind. If it
looks uneven along the top ridge, put some light weight trellis along it and
level it off, then let the Ivy climb along that. Don't waste huge amounts
of money and time on something that doesn't need done.
How does the saying go " If it ain't broken, then don't try to fix it "
BigWallop may be right, but when you come to sell the house and
somebody does notice it, they may try to negotiate a price
reduction as a result, or even be scared off. It's one of those
issues that can loom large in buyers' minds.
I have a similar problem with two walls. The quality of the
construction (1970s) is lamentable - clearly not up to the job
One is right at the front the property in a prominent place and
it's a big crack that looks a sight. It has been going a few
millimetres a year for the last decade and a bit and is now
yawning. I'm sure it would last another 5-10 years before
reaching crisis point but our house will be for sale next year
and looking like it does and being where it is, it has to be
rebuilt. Fortunately that's a short and easy bit of wall to deal
The other is at the rear. Half the wall is beginning to tilt
forward leaving a small crack but in a far bigger wall (5m *
1.2m), again in a very visible place. This is hardly moving, if
at all. I'm in the process of fixing that now. My solution is to
build rectangular flower beds in front of it, and the walls of
the beds that meet the retaining wall are engineered as best I
can to buttress it against further movement. I shall then grout
the crack, patch up the render, and repaint the lot.
As others have said, the materials are relatively cheap. It's
very laborious work though and you quickly find an alarming pile
of spoil developing if you'll be excavating foundations, so price
in skip hire. I spent all of yesterday concreting. All the day
before excavating. Today I'm doing nowt becuase I ache!
Reclaiming bricks/blocks takes yonks. An SDS drill with rotation
stop and a 40mm chisel makes it far easier. Even then you may
feel that the price of new ones (and the skip to take the old
ones) would have been worth the cost. Shop round - the price
varies a lot. Eg. £1.59 each for a breeze block at Homebase, 74p
for a better breeze block at B&Q Warehouse. Phone builders
merchants for quotes.
Bulk concrete mixing is a pig by hand so think about hiring a
A business round here did something similar to strengthen a boundary
wall, they buried 3m concrete posts at 1.5m intervals, then built brick
piers around each one. This for a 1.8m high single skin wall, around 12m
Seemed totally OTT of course...maybe they thought they might get
Many thanks for the suggestions,
The house backs on to a small pocket of preserver ancient woodland, so I
thought I'd better contact the local authorities and find out what I am
allowed to do (which isn't much!); but they will send round an inspector to
have a look and advise; and because of the tight local byelaws, they don't
charge for it!
Thanks again folks,
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