A retaining wall is a concrete structure that holds soil at two distinct heights and resists lateral pressure strains simultaneously. Although the retaining wall’s design might seem simple, there is much more to do behind the scenes. Building a retaining wall without professional attention and skills can result in utility damage, catastrophic injuries, and even death. Therefore, it is better to hire an engineer for retaining wall. This article enlists different factors to determine whether an engineer is required for a retaining wall project. 

  • Height of the wall

If a wall, when measured from the bottom of the first block to the top of the final block, is taller than 4 feet, then almost all governments might ask for a building permit and design approval from a professional engineer. 

  • Is a slope required at the top of the retaining wall?

If the top of the retaining wall has a slope, then there will be a need for a licensed engineer. The professional engineers will lot at the retaining wall surcharge and determine if a design is essential or not. 

  • Is a path leading to the wall?

See if the retaining wall one will build is close to a pedestrian or vehicle route. if the steep slope or perceived elevation of the retaining wall exceeds 2.5 feet and the pathway is in reach within 3 feet of the slope’s top then building codes might demand a railing. Moreover, fencing or handrail might be required if the retaining wall is taller than 6 feet. When unsure whether to opt for fencing or handrail, it is better to consult a professional engineer for retaining wall.

  • Will the retaining wall have a terrace?

Now that it is difficult to build a terraced wall, it is necessary to follow a set of guidelines. First, it is essential to place the terraced retaining wall back at twice the height of the front wall. For example, for a 3 feet front wall, the back wall is to be placed back 6 feet. Engineers specialized in building retaining walls are well aware of all these guidelines. So, it is better to consult them for advice and a design.

  • Will there be parking for heavy vehicles at the top?

It is a must to consult a licensed engineer before a heavy automobile can be parked on or near the top of a retaining wall. Since car parking, concrete, and snow loads can pressurize the retaining walls, it is advisable to seek the assistance of an expert engineer. 


Someone rightly said that it is always better to do something right for the first time than to fix the same thing later. Retaining walls are not only attractive but also serves a practical purpose. When constructing a retaining wall, remember that the foundation and other structural components might require additional protection from surface runoff, flooding, or other natural damage. If necessary, seek the assistance of an engineer for retaining wall.