One of the first major projects for homeowners moving into a new home is the rear yard landscaping. Very often this landscaping will require the use of retaining walls, extending walls, heightening a wall for privacy or providing the necessary barrier requirements for a pool.
Whatever your project, start with a plan! Follow this simple checklist to get you started in the right direction.
- Create a site plan and an outline for your project.
- Do a visual inspection of the property and where you want to build. If you plan on building up an existing wall or retaining wall, do a visual inspection of the wall. Some of the things to look for are:
- Severe cracking, displaced rocks/blocks of rubble, brick or block wall
- Bulging sections of wall
- No noticeable drainage – clogged drainage pipes and/or weep holes
- Deterioration due to advanced age
- Determine the type of wall you are building. Commonly there are two types of walls:
- Typical masonry block wall – This is the most common type of wall consisting of masonry block supported by a foundation with columns or pilasters. Size of block, material, and vertical and horizontal reinforcement can vary between projects.
- Retaining wall – This type of wall is designed and constructed to resist the lateral pressure of soil when there is a change in ground elevation.
- When adding to an existing wall, inspect and note existing footers, remove the top cap and inspect the vertical reinforcement and grout.
- Determine if your wall will require a building permit or just require a wall clearance. The 2006 International Residential Code requires a building permit for all walls over 6 feet high. For retaining walls, a building permit is required for all walls over 4 feet high measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall. If the retaining wall is supporting an additional load (surcharge), a building permit will be required for any height and may require structural engineering. All new walls require a wall clearance through the Planning and Zoning Division.
- Apply for a wall clearance and, if applicable, for a building permit. Please keep in mind that safety is the key factor. If your project does not require a building permit, it still should be constructed to building codes.If you have an existing wall you wish to get inspected, the Planning and Building Department will go out to verify existing conditions. Property owners should call 520-822-8866, to request this inspection.
For any other questions please call the Planning and Building Department at 520-822-8866.