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Is this retaining wall even legal?

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  1. #1
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    Default Is this retaining wall even legal?

    Hi all,

    I posted this image in the fencing thread as looking to build a new fence right next to the block wall and it got me thinking....is this block retaining wall even legal or safe?


    At it's highest, the wall is 2.2m high. The blocks have a lip behind them so they don't slide off. I lifted a loose one and it had a bit of glue/resin squirted to join the blocks together.

    I thought that these blocks are for maximum heights of say 1 metre.

    The wall was built around 1998. Does anybody know how i can see whether it was permited and was engineered? Location is Brisbane.

    Thanks

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    Asking72, please use this site's image uploader for your pics.

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    cant see a pic so will make general comments.

    The block you are describing is a gravity wall block system,
    Some gravity blocks are only designed for a max of 200mm others can be built (engineered) to 3m or more. There are few engineering variables taken into consideration.
    Max height regs vary considerably from state to state and councils which can be anywhere between 200mm and 1000mm before needing approval/engineering and different requirements again on property boundaries 600mm to 1500mm.

    Council should have a record of a permit which would have approval for the final height/engineered plans (if one was obtained).

    Also, keep in mind, if one wasn't obtained, depending on how the wall was constructed, doesn't mean it wasn't constructed well or to a min required standard.....a permit reduces that risk with inspections/sign offs....only if they were done correctly by an inspector that knows what they are looking at!!!

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    Hi Asking72
    I posted in your original thread regarding the fence.
    Whether legal or not only you can find out through council, it appears to be a keystone wall (are there any fiberglass pins between the blocks?
    Normally top layer would be glued then pins located on lower courses.
    If it is a Keystone wall they could be engineered to over 10m high (some bunnings sites use these on elevated positions)
    They also had a product which only had lugs to "lock into place" (this could also be engineered to cover this height)

    As to whether safe, i think the fact its still their in its original line and level speaks well of its construction.

    I think your problem arises from the fact that a fence wasn't planned or constructed when the wall was originally built.
    I say this because if it was, the wall would have been constructed further in on your neighbor's property to allow for a fence on the boundary.

    Perhaps when constructed your neighbor and whoever owned your block agreed on the alignment as they didn't want a fence?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bart1080 View Post
    cant see a pic so will make general comments.

    The block you are describing is a gravity wall block system,
    Some gravity blocks are only designed for a max of 200mm others can be built (engineered) to 3m or more. There are few engineering variables taken into consideration.
    Max height regs vary considerably from state to state and councils which can be anywhere between 200mm and 1000mm before needing approval/engineering and different requirements again on property boundaries 600mm to 1500mm.

    Council should have a record of a permit which would have approval for the final height/engineered plans (if one was obtained).

    Also, keep in mind, if one wasn't obtained, depending on how the wall was constructed, doesn't mean it wasn't constructed well or to a min required standard.....a permit reduces that risk with inspections/sign offs....only if they were done correctly by an inspector that knows what they are looking at!!!
    Hi Bart. Many thanks for this. The top block (cap is hollow). The one below it is also hollow.
    I'm particularly concerned that after digging down 700mm I still didn't encounter any gravel.

    I will take your tip on checking with the council.

    On one hand the neighbour says that a 100mm x 700mm hole is debasltislilsing his wall. On the other hand he says his wall is strong.
    It's like I can't have any form of fence there.

    I'm now thinking of driving in star pickets and attaching lattice between them. This would cover any wind and weight concerns of theirs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cherub View Post
    Hi Asking72
    I posted in your original thread regarding the fence.
    Whether legal or not only you can find out through council, it appears to be a keystone wall (are there any fiberglass pins between the blocks?
    Normally top layer would be glued then pins located on lower courses.
    If it is a Keystone wall they could be engineered to over 10m high (some bunnings sites use these on elevated positions)
    They also had a product which only had lugs to "lock into place" (this could also be engineered to cover this height)

    As to whether safe, i think the fact its still their in its original line and level speaks well of its construction.

    I think your problem arises from the fact that a fence wasn't planned or constructed when the wall was originally built.
    I say this because if it was, the wall would have been constructed further in on your neighbor's property to allow for a fence on the boundary.

    Perhaps when constructed your neighbor and whoever owned your block agreed on the alignment as they didn't want a fence?
    Hi Cherub. Also many thanks for your input.
    The block below the capping is hollow too. And I don't see any lugs.
    Some of the blocks are bulging out in places.
    I spoke to an engineer and he said that he wouldn't go anywhere near it in regards to engineering a fence. I think that speaks volumes.

    These neighbours are threatening the other side to build a new dividing fence. We suspect that they want new fences so that they can sell the property.

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    How is that last paragraph relevant to your situation?

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    Quote Originally Posted by asking72 View Post
    .

    These neighbours are threatening the other side to build a new dividing fence. We suspect that they want new fences so that they can sell the property.
    So do you want a fence... or do they?

    Either your pics arent working in either thread so cant see whats going on
    Remember if you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing

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    Quote Originally Posted by havabeer View Post
    So do you want a fence... or do they?

    Either your pics arent working in either thread so cant see whats going on
    Hi Havebeer. I posted the photos as links as I wasn't aware that I had to use the uploader. Here is the photo through the site uploader


    We both would like a fence. However the neighbour would like the fence to be on my land and well away from his wall as it is only gravity blocks. The boundary runs right along the back of the blocks ( the peg is in the distance). Some blocks even encroach as I'm sure that the drainage gravel does...if there is any further down.

    He is now claiming that the rebuild of my new wall is resulting in his agi pipe filling with soil which is apparently coming out of the discharge point. He says that I may have to rebuild his wall which is a concern to him by the very fact that he doesn't want a fence there.

    It's absurd that I cannot use my land because of the his papier mache wall (loose gravity blocks). I dug a 10cm x 70cm hole 2 days ago (on my land) and he claimed that this has damaged his wall.

    He has also previous claimed that his house floods because of my property. But look how close his house is to the wall. I can't stop water from natural flow flooding his house which was excavated 2 meters below ground level.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails screenshot-2022-11-18-172254.png  

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    Looks a solid wall but doubt you're going to get a fence on the title boundary based on the survey peg and that wall construction method.
    If it's his wall, then he should have had it built a meter further into his property or constructed a wall with materials and engineering that allowed for a future fence to be placed on top ie: 150-200mm steel H beam sleeper construction....its as simple as that.

    EDIT: I see in another post, you've already had engineering advice the fence would need to be 2m away from the wall
    The 2 separate posts on the same topic/site....very confusing to be across what has been asked and responded to.



    What's down the end of that building...or is it a fence within your property...which looks to be close to the required 2m distance away

    Assume its your back/front yard you're wanting to fence/enclose.
    If so, maybe the simplest solution is to forget all the baggage/grievance's and put up a short fence with a gate to get access down your side. or if its already a fence that needs replacing, simply replace it...problem solved!
    The fence is effectively all on your property, would cost bugger all for you as its your "garden" fence and not a boundary fence....and would be a good compromise without additional significant costs/engineering/movement of property line.

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    How long ago was the timber retaining wall and fence built (which is offset from the boundary)?
    Was that by you?

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    Im still confused, why do you want a new fence on the boundary when you already have one further back on the timber sleepers?

    If engineers are saying no, you're going to struggle to get anything done, and most solutions are not going to be cheap.

    I'd rip the trees out and pretty up your side of the wood wall and pailings as best you can and call it a day.

    Could also put a french drain in where the trees where as well to try and control some of the water going into his yard.
    Remember if you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing

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    Star pickets and shade cloth FTW

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    Quote Originally Posted by cherub View Post
    How long ago was the timber retaining wall and fence built (which is offset from the boundary)?
    Was that by you?
    The timber fence and wall were built around 2000. I believe the block wall around 1998.

    Quote Originally Posted by havabeer View Post
    Im still confused, why do you want a new fence on the boundary when you already have one further back on the timber sleepers?

    If engineers are saying no, you're going to struggle to get anything done, and most solutions are not going to be cheap.

    I'd rip the trees out and pretty up your side of the wood wall and pailings as best you can and call it a day.

    Could also put a french drain in where the trees where as well to try and control some of the water going into his yard.
    The timber fence and sleeper wall are 1m to the right of the boundary (which is at the back of the block wall). The neighbours screamed about my sleeper wall rotting and potentially falling and bringing down their wall too. I got scared and thought ok...it's' 20 years old...better to be safe and so am building one on the other side into my land with a plan to have steps down to the boundary after the old wall and fence have been removed. I've only left them in place to protect the neighbour side.
    screenshot-2022-11-23-132900.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by r3nov8or View Post
    Star pickets and shade cloth FTW
    Sounds like a great idea except not with these neighbours as you'll see...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bart1080 View Post
    Looks a solid wall but doubt you're going to get a fence on the title boundary based on the survey peg and that wall construction method.
    If it's his wall, then he should have had it built a meter further into his property or constructed a wall with materials and engineering that allowed for a future fence to be placed on top ie: 150-200mm steel H beam sleeper construction....its as simple as that.

    EDIT: I see in another post, you've already had engineering advice the fence would need to be 2m away from the wall
    The 2 separate posts on the same topic/site....very confusing to be across what has been asked and responded to.



    What's down the end of that building...or is it a fence within your property...which looks to be close to the required 2m distance away

    Assume its your back/front yard you're wanting to fence/enclose.
    If so, maybe the simplest solution is to forget all the baggage/grievance's and put up a short fence with a gate to get access down your side. or if its already a fence that needs replacing, simply replace it...problem solved!
    The fence is effectively all on your property, would cost bugger all for you as its your "garden" fence and not a boundary fence....and would be a good compromise without additional significant costs/engineering/movement of property line.
    Hi Bart.

    Yes I shouldn't have started that thread in the fence forum as the fence and retaining wall are related issues.

    Yes down the end of the building is another fence 200mm from their wall but it is shared with a different neighbour. They (my problematic neighbour) are about to take the others to QCAT to have the leaning fence replaced. Me and that neighbour are tearing our hair out. On one side they say their wall is so fragile that we have to keep away. On the other side when their wall is challenged they claim that 'there's nothing wrong with it'. But fences to their specification are ok.

    Anyway things took a very interesting turn yesterday.

    As mentioned before, I dug a 100mm x 700mm deep about 10mm away from one of their blocks. I wanted to see where the drainage gravel was. I didn't encounter any.
    Aha I thought! I can prove to them that their wall isn't sound.

    What happened then was that there was a storm and some of the sediment from clay from my earthworks must have escaped under the old sleepers and washed down the side of their blocks. It appeared in the stormwater in the street about 30m from the wall.

    I offered to wash down the side of his wall but was told there is NO drainage channel on the outside of the wall below the gravel. It really confused me as how the sediment got as far as the street then.




    The neighbour claimed that clay sediment washed into the hole i dug and then found it's way into the ag pipe and then out into the street.
    This confused me so much in that this means that the wall has no socked pipe nor geotextile. Or both have failed. Also how can a pipe determined which sediment to let pass (as that's the only sediment that appeared in the street). "only clay may pass beyond this point"

    The neighbour then proceeded to tell me that I may have blocked his ag pipe and will have to pay to replace it and it could involve replacing the wall (at my cost)

    This feels like a scam to me. I suspect that the neighbour's wall wasn't engineered and is failing and the neighbour thinks that he has found a way out.

    Now I can't even put a plant on my land incase he claims the roots have damaged his wall!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails screenshot-2022-11-23-114118.jpg   8888888.jpg  

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bart1080 View Post
    cant see a pic so will make general comments.

    The block you are describing is a gravity wall block system,
    Some gravity blocks are only designed for a max of 200mm others can be built (engineered) to 3m or more. There are few engineering variables taken into consideration.
    Max height regs vary considerably from state to state and councils which can be anywhere between 200mm and 1000mm before needing approval/engineering and different requirements again on property boundaries 600mm to 1500mm.

    Council should have a record of a permit which would have approval for the final height/engineered plans (if one was obtained).

    Also, keep in mind, if one wasn't obtained, depending on how the wall was constructed, doesn't mean it wasn't constructed well or to a min required standard.....a permit reduces that risk with inspections/sign offs....only if they were done correctly by an inspector that knows what they are looking at!!!
    I've been researching into retaining walls and looked into the building regulations around them. It seem that prior to AS4678-2002 in...2002....retaining wall design was a free for all.
    I suspect that my neighbour's wall, which was built circa 1998 (pre search engines), was constructed with a let's say with...'this will do' methodology and no engineering.

    If this is the case then it brings up legal issues in regards to that wall. Even worse...it bring a fear of landslide (My land is 800mm above NGL. There's about 2.2m below). So my home is 3m above theirs and so close too.
    While I'm ranting how the heck were they allowed to build 75cm away from a 2.2m wall and with no drainage (if true).


    Edit: Just spoke to the Council. That address has only 2 permits on record.

    I'm assuming one is for the patio they had put in 3 years ago. The other for house AND retaining walls combined? Hmmmm.

    I'm going to order them. Will keep this thread updated just incase it helps anybody else in future.

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    if you've had surveyors out and located the boundaries and its the top of the wall... so this sentance from your other thread
    Then if the neighbour wish to have a proper dividing fence, they can work out how to have one installed
    you've got an engineer that says don't do it. Let this nut case goto QCAT and let them sort it out.

    I would have thought with a wall like that, that the wall IS the fence.

    I also go with your original idea of some start pickets and lattice or netting, tell him its a safety hazard having a huge drop like that and you're just putting this up temporarily till something can be worked out but you don't want to fall down in the mean time.
    also tell him that there are plenty of plumbers that do pipe jetting and clearing so he has no worry about replacing the wall for a blocked ag pipe.
    another random thing, isn't part of retaining walls "who ever needs the land retained is responsible for it" so if the neighbours either side natural ground level is roughly even and he's cut in 2m into the ground level... well his house needs the wall so he's responsible for it.
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    See if they ever got a permit for the wall simply to have this card up your sleeve if you ever need it.

    If the wall was built prior to engineering requirements, then it is what it is, and you can't change it unless the wall is rebuilt (which needs to be to the current standards)
    The wall looks solid, it's been there for 20+ years, still looks solid by all the photo's so must have been constructed well. I've seen walls half that age about to crumble, this one doesn't look like its going anywhere anytime soon ie: unless there was an earthquake, I'd bet my left nut it will still be there intact in 50 years time, so move on from that angle

    So do what need to do on your place and don't put any garden fences/retaining walls with 2 meters as per engineers' recommendations, be mindful of any earthwork works that will alter drainage flow and push "more" water his way and move on by not buying into the neighbor's BS as you're on a hiding to nothing

    Other than that, take Havabeer's suggestion :

    - you've got an engineer that says don't do it. Let this nut case go to QCAT and let them sort it out.

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    Just near my place there are several diamond block walls at least 3m high. Two have fences on top one behind the top blocks the other about 1m back. I have seen high walls built in two stages. First one is built and for a set distance back the second wall is built. I can’t see any problems building a second wall set back from the diamond block wall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bart1080 View Post
    See if they ever got a permit for the wall simply to have this card up your sleeve if you ever need it.

    If the wall was built prior to engineering requirements, then it is what it is, and you can't change it unless the wall is rebuilt (which needs to be to the current standards)
    The wall looks solid, it's been there for 20+ years, still looks solid by all the photo's so must have been constructed well. I've seen walls half that age about to crumble, this one doesn't look like its going anywhere anytime soon ie: unless there was an earthquake, I'd bet my left nut it will still be there intact in 50 years time, so move on from that angle

    So do what need to do on your place and don't put any garden fences/retaining walls with 2 meters as per engineers' recommendations, be mindful of any earthwork works that will alter drainage flow and push "more" water his way and move on by not buying into the neighbor's BS as you're on a hiding to nothing

    Other than that, take Havabeer's suggestion :

    - you've got an engineer that says don't do it. Let this nut case go to QCAT and let them sort it out.
    Hi Bart1080.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Yes the wall looks like it isn't going anywhere. But that's only if a dividing fence isn't put within 2 meters of it.

    Here where I guess we cross over into the world of law. I cannot enjoy my land because of a wall that cannot support a fence or anything for the matter within 2 metres of it. We're talking about 50sqm of my land. Not an insignificant amount that I continue to pay rates on.

    I think there are 3 potential outcomes through QCAT.

    (1) As per some clause in the Fence Act, QCAT can order for works to be done on a retaining wall in order to allow a dividing fence to be constructed.
    (2) QCAT orders an easement on the land within the zone of influence (neighbour compensates me for this).
    (3) QCAT orders a valuation of the land that I cannot use, and it is sold to the neighbour.

    I like Havabeer's suggestion!

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    If your up for dealing with a little more friction with the neighbor, you could simply rip down your old "garden fence/retaining wall" to look down upon your "loyal subjects" to push the issue

    Despite what the engineer says on the 2m distance as they will always be ultra conservative, I think structurally it wouldn't have any effect on the wall if you hammered in either 1300mm or 1650mm star pickets 400mm in the ground (what they are designed for), say 500mm off the boundary, 1500mm apart for a low ~1m high "safety" barrier and put-up lattice work.

    That wall and fence has been there for over 20 years right??
    It may not be as simply as your 1, 2 3 outcomes as another outcome could be squatters' rights although its never a simple process and not even sure its within QCAT scope ie: it might be a civil matter you would need to check??


    EDIT: Droogs links he mentioned. These seem like a commonsense approach. I'd even mention to the engineer about the 1m options in the links as his recommendations seem ultra conservative...depending on the type of fence and height you want, I guess.

    Here are a few links that all agree it should be at least 3 feet back:
    https://australianpaving.com/knowled...etaining-wall/
    https://diyretainingwall.com/install...etaining-wall/
    https://allanblock.com/literature/PD...iningWalls.pdf

    One link is Australian, two make note it can be closer but requires professional advice (engineer).
    Reference that with the info from the certifiers you spoke to.

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    What did the certifiers you spoke to advise and how does that align with the 3 feet recommendations in the links I posted in your other thread ?

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