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Making a retaining wall and driveway in elevated front garden

Discussion in 'Building' started by danlightbulb, 5 Jan 2020.

  1. danlightbulb

    danlightbulb

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    Hi all,

    I am considering a house purchase that does not have any offroad parking but instead has an elevated front garden, which is a maximum of about 800mm higher than the road and currently retained by a wall on the front boundary.

    The neighbour on the left side has dug away this area to make a driveway, and I'm considering whether I am able to do the same DIY, as I wouldn't be able to afford to pay probably £5-£10k to get a contractor in to do the job (assuming that is in the right ballpark).

    800mm does not sound like much, but would be looking at probably 20 cubic meters of ground to dig out and get rid of when taking account of the area I would wish to convert.

    My concerns are primarily about the services that will run under this area, and the retaining wall that will be needed near the house.

    This is the area in question. Its triangular in shape, with a width of around 8.5m and a maximum distance from the road of around 6m on the right side, reducing to 2m on the left side.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the house on streetview, and you can see what next door have also done:
    https://www.google.com/maps/@52.553...4!1sGh_K-vyksrpuHcBmrE6Lcg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656


    I would really appreciate any comments or advice on this. How feasible is DIYing this?

    Services
    The services are most likely to all run up the left side of the garden as they all enter the house on this side. But they could be anywhere. I don't know how deep i might expect these to be? They have to be a certain distance under the footpath, but what happens when they get into the raised area of the front garden, are they likely to gradually slope up, stay deep and enter the house deep, or step up quickly and be buried shallow?

    Retaining wall
    I don't know what type of foundation the house has or how deep they are. I am aware that I can dig down to the top of the footing without issue. The new retaining wall would need to be around 1m out from the existing protrusion of the bay windows of the house as shown by my red area in the photo above.

    Making it look good
    Digging out the area is one thing, anyone can do that with a spade and enough hard work. But I would want to make it look decent, and I'd need some steps or ramp somewhere to get up to the level of the house. Not sure how to plan this out.

    Any help appreciated. I haven't bought the house yet, but this is potentially a major consideration with the house and I don't have much experience of this.

    Thanks
     
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  3. mikeey84

    mikeey84

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    I would say the main issue you face is making sure your new retaining wall is up to spec. AFAIK anything from 0.8-1m and higher really needs to be designed by an SE, as they are very dangerous.

    Additionally, if you haven't got a dropped curb already, worth seeking permission for that first, as if they won't grant it, a drive is a waste of time (getting a dropped curb put in is not a DIY job in most places, and could be £1k+)
     
  4. danlightbulb

    danlightbulb

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    The dropped kerb would most likely be a grand, but the neighbours all have them so I can't see it being an issue. Whilst not correct I know, the kerbs are quite shallow in this road so could simply drive over them for a while. I haven't decided whether to offer on the house yet, so obviously I'm limited in what investigations I can do.

    Would you say this is not DIY-able, given the complications and the borderline height? Would my estimate of at least £5k be right if getting in a contractor?
     
  5. mikeey84

    mikeey84

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    I can't really help on the costing I'm afraid. There is nothing to say you can't dig a trench, build the retaining wall, as designed by the SE, then dig the rest out yourself, or hire a man with a digger on a daily rate. That's probably no more than a couple of hundred a day.

    In terms of utilities, get the maps from as many places as possible (water, sewer, gas, elec etc), work out a best guess as to where they are, and dig a test out with a spade. Additionally a lot can be worked out from where they enter the house.
     
  6. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    .
     
    Last edited: 8 Jan 2020
  7. danlightbulb

    danlightbulb

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    No reason to not approve it in a residential street in Dudley borough.

    I could however do with more infomation on the excavation and retaining wall element. This is the expensive/hard work bit.
     
  8. scbk

    scbk

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    I notice the house 2 doors up doesn't have a dropped kerb, just the old plank of wood :p
     
  9. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    The one corner of the property seems a bit near to the excavation and the other side is within influencing distance of the neighbours foundations.

    This means that an engineered solution would be required and the PW Act apply. Also needs planning permission.
     
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  11. danlightbulb

    danlightbulb

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    Ah yes so if youre refering to the right side neighbour, his driveway is already flush with the road without needing much excavation if any. It looks like the right side boundary may only be around 300mm higher than road, could be less. The right side neighbour has already built a boundary wall between the houses, so the levels must be similar once excavated? The far deeper side is to the left, where the full 800mm would be needed, because the road slopes downhill to the left.

    Like I said, cant really afford to get someone in to do this. Is it a showstopper?
     
  12. noseall

    noseall

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    The services trenches will likely follow the contours of the ground. Water often follows the drains trenches where applicable.
    Do not opt for a ramp, they are lethal unless done to a decent spec'. Go for steps.
     
  13. cwhaley

    cwhaley

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    You won't need permission to put a dropped kerb in if you are adjacent to a non-classified road. I have just checked Dudley council website and this confirms this. I had mine put in by the driveway contractor -- we just had to prove they had Public Liability Insurance.
     
  14. jonbey

    jonbey

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    I moved into a similar situation, cannot really remember the costs. I hired a man with a digger to dig it out (about £100-150 a day?), and a grab lorry took away 20 tonnes a time - I have 40 tonnes taken away - maybe £400 per 20 tonnes. The digger guy arranged with the grab guy. You might be able to remove one wall and keep the other?
     
  15. cdbe

    cdbe

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    A reasonable slope could make some difference to your chances of interfereing with any services, although you would be wise to check sufficient coverage is retained over any drains etc. This would also reduce the amount of excavation and possibly the work required at the house end. Also worth thinking about where the parking spaces would be, (one on the left parallel to the house and one on the right perpendicular to the house?) to minimise the amount of "dead" parking space you will be excavating and retaining.
     
  16. danlightbulb

    danlightbulb

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    Its a squeeze tbh. I have a long car, about 5m long. Its gonna be tough to fit that at right angles to the house even on the right hand side. It would be tough to get 2 cars on there.
     
  17. cdbe

    cdbe

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    Oh. I thought it didn't matter in Birmingham:

    Screenshot_20200106-115102.png
     
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