Guide for Contractors [Updated 2024]

Cost to Build a Retaining Wall

Are you a contractor looking to build a retaining wall? Look no further! This post provides you with all the information you need, including detailed cost breakdowns, step-by-step installation instructions, and handy material purchasing tips. Don't miss out on this comprehensive guide to help you successfully complete your retaining wall project.

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Cost Breakdown

Item DescriptionQuantityUnit of MeasureUnit PriceTotal Price
Concrete Blocks100Blocks$2.00$200.00
Mortar Mix10Bags$6.00$60.00
Labor Cost20Hours$60.00$1200.00
Delivery Charges1Flat Rate$50.00$50.00

Estimate Assumptions

This cost estimate for building a retaining wall is based on several key assumptions and average market prices. The quantity of concrete blocks and rebar is estimated for a wall with a length of 10 feet and a height of 4 feet. The quantity of mortar mix is calculated to bond the blocks together. Labor cost is based on an estimated 20 hours of work at $60.00 per hour, a rate that varies by region and contractor expertise. Delivery charges are included as a common cost. It's crucial to understand that these preceding estimates serve as illustrations; actual costs can fluctuate depending on local market rates, quality of materials used, and other variables. Potential costs such as excavation or land surveying are not included in this estimate.

Project Timeline

The estimated timeline for completing the retaining wall project is approximately 2-3 days. This includes preparing the site, setting the base, laying the blocks, installing the rebar, applying the mortar, and allowing time for the mortar to cure. It is important to note that this timeline can be impacted by factors such as weather conditions, complexity of the project, and potential project challenges that could arise. As such, it is advisable to discuss the project timeline in detail with your contractor to ensure it aligns with your expectations.

Building a Retaining Wall: Comprehensive Guide for Residential Contractors

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on building a retaining wall, a resource designed specifically for residential contractors. In this blog post, we will delve into the benefits of a well-constructed retaining wall, discuss various types of retaining walls, and provide detailed construction procedures. We'll also share professional tips and tricks to ensure your retaining wall projects end successfully.

Need for a Retaining Wall

Retaining walls serve crucial roles in a residential setting. Let’s delve into why they are a critical element in many properties:

  • Soil Erosion Control: Retaining walls provide excellent protection against soil erosion, especially on sloping properties. They keep soil in place, preventing it from washing away during periods of heavy rain.
  • Functional Use of Sloping Land: Hillsides can be difficult to utilize, but retaining walls can help create flat spaces for gardens, lawns, or patios.
  • Structural Support: These walls provide essential support to prevent landslides, thereby protecting the structural integrity of a house or a building.
  • Aesthetics and Property Value: A well-designed and constructed retaining wall improves the aesthetic appeal of the property and can boost its value.

Given these benefits, constructing a retaining wall is a strategic decision that serves both functional and aesthetic purposes.

Different Types of Retaining Walls

Various options exist when it comes to the style and materials of a retaining wall. Understanding these differences enables you to provide sound advice to clients. Here are the main types of retaining walls:

  • Gravity Walls: These rely on their weight to hold back soil. They are typically made of stone, concrete, or other heavy materials.
  • Cantilevered Walls: Also known as reinforced walls, they use steel bars in concrete or masonry for strength. They're effective for dealing with high-pressure soils.
  • Segmental Retaining Walls (SRWs): These are modular and use retaining wall blocks or bricks to hold back soil. They’re versatile and come in a variety of textures and colors.
  • Sheet Pile Walls: Commonly used in tight spaces or for soft soils, they involve driving thin sheets of steel, vinyl, or wood into the ground.

All these wall types have their specific applications and considerations. As a contractor, selecting the most appropriate type for the building site's conditions is crucial for a durable and effective retaining wall.

Step-by-Step Retaining Wall Construction

Regardless of style or material, the steps in constructing a retaining wall follow a general outline:

Site Preparation

Mark the area, then clear it of debris, roots, or sod. Dig a trench for the first course of your wall - this is foundational and needs to be level.

Building the Base

Add the base material, typically gravel, and compact it evenly to create a firm foundation layer. Make sure it’s level before you start laying bricks or stones.

Laying the First Course

As you install each block, apply adhesive, then align it with the one before. Ensure this initial course is level and straight, as it will set the pattern for the rest of the wall.

Building the Wall

Continue adding on layers, checking for alignment with each. Use a level. Install the drainage pipe and backfill with gravel as you go.

Finishing the Wall

Cap the wall with topper stones to give it a complete look. Fill remaining space behind the wall with soil.

Professional Tips for a Successful Retaining Wall Project

Here are some pro tips to ensure a successful and durable retaining wall construction:

  • Choosing Materials: The choice of material significantly affects the look, cost, and longevity of the wall. Understanding the pros and cons of different materials is vital.
  • Prioritizing Drainage: Proper drainage is key to the sustainability of retaining walls. Ensure you incorporate a gravel backfill and weep holes or a drainage pipe into your design.
  • Building Techniques: Use an interlocking design for added strength. Each layer should be setback from the one below, creating a slight backward lean.
  • Client Satisfaction: Ensure clear communication with your clients, keeping them updated throughout the project. This promotes trust and satisfaction.

By adhering to these professional guidelines, you can construct a durable retaining wall that both functions excellently and meets or exceeds your client's expectations.


In conclusion, constructing a retaining wall is a valuable service that residential contractors can offer. It not only serves functional roles, including erosion control and land utilization, but also enhances the aesthetic appeal of a property. Remember to choose the appropriate materials and construction techniques based on the uniqueness of each project, and to always prioritize client needs and satisfaction. Your skills and attention to detail will result in a sturdy and beautiful retaining wall that you and your client can proudly put your names to.

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