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Thread: Retaining Wall Failing (South Africa - Ocket Enslinn & Phillipus Pretorius Inc.)

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
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    Mar 2011
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    South Africa & Namibia
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    Retaining Wall Failing (South Africa - Ocket Enslinn & Phillipus Pretorius Inc.)

    New here - not sure if I'm in the right area or not but need assistance please.
    Have retaining wall on residential property. "2 blocks high" at one end, 9 ft high at the other - curves around corner of house double deep in one area (on a slope). I do not believe drainage was done properly. There are no "weep holes" and there is not an area below that allows water to exit from behind the wall. There is a culvert below the ground that it might be tied into. Retaining wall is separating in two areas with gaps of 5 to 6 inches between upper and lower block. Cap blocks are disintegrating as well.
    Due to drainage and wall failure, corner of house is "dropping" and creating cracks in walls and ceiling inside the home as well as the cinder block in two different areas outside.
    There is no record of a permit from the city (required) and the company will not reply to my emails to even a general inquiry about the wall or even the manufacturer of the block. Former home owner had it built, and rebuilt at least one time. Wall is 12+ years old.
    Wondering if contractor would be responsible being a permit wasn't pulled for the damage that is being done to the house as well as rebuilding the wall properly. I live in South Africa.
    Appreciate any help provided or a direction I can go. $20,000+ (in US terms) for a new wall, my insurance won't even look at it unless we dig the wall out and expose the corner of the house that is sinking.
    Please help! Thank you in advance

  2. #2
    Lead Engineer RWOLFEJR's Avatar
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    Sounds like you already know the answer to your dilemma. The wall needs to be torn down. The foundation needs to be exposed to see what you have, and be able to determine the appropriate repairs. If there’s a water problem then some sort of drainage allowance will need to be put in, followed by either a grade to the ground, or rebuilding the wall. Far as who is to pay for all this goes you might want to consider an attorney to help you on that. If nothing else it will let the previous contractor and the insurance company know that you mean business. I’d guess that without legal help your insurance might kick something in the kitty but they’ll dodge as much of the cost as they feel they possibly can.

    Someone else on this board might be able to offer you some better advice on both, the legal aspect of this and the structural repairs… But I doubt anybody can give you specific direction for repairs unless they’re handy to your location so they can see the situation first hand.

    From thousands of miles away I see three possible directions for you to take. 1) You sell the house and run away as fast as you can with whatever you can get. 2) You fix the problem and possibly pay for all of the cost. 3) You investigate more thoroughly (as you are) and find out how much of the cost to repair you will be responsible for and then decide if cost is worth it or do you use option 1.

    Oh… and there’s always the option of doing nothing and let things collapse. Could be that the insurance company would prefer to make repairs at higher cost after more destruction instead of preventing those extra costs by correcting the problems before they become catastrophic.

    So you spend a little more money and get some legal advice and from there you’ll be better able to make a decision as to what your next step might need to be.

    Good Luck,
    Bob

  3. #3
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    South Africa & Namibia
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    2
    Thanks Bob,

    I must say that option 1 sounds very tempting!! (LOL!) Only thing is...I do not own the house, and the client, is my inlaws!!
    I AM SCREWED EITHER WAY!

  4. #4
    Technical Fellow
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    1,043
    Hi Phillip,

    Not a good story, but what about contacting the local City Building Inspector since it was built without a Permit. They may be able to do something with the Contractor. may be threaten to revoke his license if he doesn't fix the problem.

    Bob, is correct though, that wall has to come down and be done properly. It is only going to get worse. If it is 9' high at one end AND actively supporting the house, then it should be a structured retaining wall and not just in a single vertical plane as it sounds at the moment. That is a LOT of Hydrostatic pressure and a cantilevered wall with a well designed drainage system (more than just weep-holes) is the minimum I would consider. It is not a DIY project.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...e_Function.jpg

    I don't like the chances of the Insurance company making repairs when the house corner falls off. You have alerted them to the problem so they will fall back to that as a known issue you let get worse.

    Dave

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