Retaining walls are deceiving projects in how much goes into them. From a design perspective, there is so much more to them than what meets the eye. When constructed properly, they will stand the test of time and be an excellent solution to several problems a client may be having. Most importantly, they can help make the most out of usable space in a sloped property. Pricing a retaining wall can be difficult because of many variables that need to be considered and aspects of their construction. There is no square foot or square face of the wall pricing that can be applied to every retaining wall. Not two retaining walls are the same. This is why if you search online and find these simple pricing structures, they are likely coming from a third party lead generator and written by a marketing team or intern with no real-world pricing experience.
Retaining Wall Costs
Every company will have different pricing for retaining walls. That is because they have different operating costs. No two companies operate the same and they will have varying overhead expenses associated with their business from the labor involved to the office staff and expenses. Everything that comes out of pocket in a business is calculated into every project to ensure that these expenses are paid for throughout the year and at the end of the year. Failure to do so will cause the business to fail.
The market will also set pricing in the area. This may depend on the construction of that project and what is included based on the climate or it may just be the set pricing of companies in that area. Regardless, every region or serviceable working area will have different pricing because of the market. This could be affected also by the cost of labor or the costs of doing business in that area. Some regions are more expensive to do business because of material costs or because of the cost of employees. This is why reaching out to people around the country will provide with a vast range of prices and no simple answer to pricing.
The best way to understand your area’s pricing is to network with companies in your area or to reach out to a supplier in the area that you may trust has a better understanding of pricing. However, ultimately you want to price according to your own budget for your business and recovering the costs of doing business, material costs, labor costs, and profit associated with that budget.
Knowing the different aspects of a retaining wall project is the next step in being able to provide pricing for a retaining wall. Excavation and disposal of material will be similar to that of any other excavation and disposal like that of pricing a patio or pricing a driveway project. You just need to know how to calculate for that in a retaining wall. This is why it is important to understand the engineering of a retaining wall and how wide you need to excavate for it. This includes the backfill of that retaining wall and the drainage associated with that.
Additionally, you need to account for the height of that retaining wall and how the wall will be designed to withstand the surcharge that it will experience. This may mean relying on an outside engineer to be able to draw up plans for the retaining wall which is an additional cost. This may also be a required step in the process if the wall is over a certain height as specified in your working area. If the load is not a significant one like holding up a building or parking lot and the wall is not being built at a height over the specified amount in your working area, it is much easier to build and therefore much easier to quote.
If this is the case, you can rely on the manufacturer’s engineered drawings for the product that you are installing. This will help breakdown the costs associated with that continuing with any additional support like geogrid in the wall and the design of the batter or setback of that wall to ensure it will help to support the surcharge or load that is placed on the wall.
There are a lot of cases of retaining walls failing. There can be many causes of this, but two of the most common are poor compaction or poor drainage. These two variables are not visible as soon as the construction is completed. But the effects that they have on the wall will be visible in time. This is why retaining walls cost so much in their construction. The majority of the costs are not visible, but are so crucial to the longevity of the wall.
As a consumer looking for a reputable company to construct a retaining wall, the best way is to ask those around you that have had a retaining wall built for a long period of time and are satisfied with the product. You can then get a referral from that person and continue with that company because you have trust in their construction practices. Failing this, you can reach out to a local supplier for referrals. Most of them will be able to provide multiple companies that they deal with and trust. Retaining walls are not a project that you want to shop around for on pricing. Especially if it is retaining a large load. You do not want it to fail on you and cost you way more than what the initial price tag was. Ultimately going with the least expensive bid will cost you more in the long term. Unless that least expensive bid came from a referral.
If you are a business owner looking to learn more about pricing retaining walls, you can check out our knowing your numbers articles to help with recovering all of your costs associated with that project. Our Business Budget and Estimate Spreadsheet helps you with those costs and ensuring you are pricing appropriately in your business.