How non-conforming building products impact retaining walls

Austral Masonry Pioneer Concrete Sleeper Walls - complying to Australian Standards to create a durable, long-lasting retaining wall.

When you build a retaining wall, you need to build it to last. Sub-standard building materials will fail the test of time and may run afoul of regulators.

For several years, building regulators, planning authorities and local councils in Australia have been grappling with the problem of sub-standard materials used in retaining walls.

While Standards Australia, an independent regulatory authority, has drawn up strict guidelines (AS 4678-2002) for the design and construction of earth-retaining walls, many homeowners and builders continue to flout the rules on drainage, materials, heights, soil quality and so on.

Of particular concern is the ongoing use of non-conforming building products, such as poor quality timber, in retaining walls being built on both residential and commercial sites around the country.

For example, the current building code states that retaining walls must have a design life of 60 years, which clearly rules out the use of timber and many other types of cheap building material.

Austral Masonry Heron Retaining Wall - AS4678 complaint, durable and permanent solution.

Several states, including Victoria, South Australia and Queensland, have launched investigations into this widespread, and potentially dangerous, practice.

In 2017, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) cracked down on non-conforming products following a series of product failures that it felt posed a safety risk in people’s homes and workplaces.

Experts say that many homeowners who are undertaking landscaping or perhaps installing a swimming pool are often tempted to use affordable but non-conforming materials in the construction of their retaining walls.

The QBCC’s advice is simply to avoid non-conforming products altogether and choose one of the tested and approved building products from accredited suppliers with installation from credible installers.

A number of reliable, easy-to-use and flexible construction systems, such as Pioneer and Ridgi, are available. These systems have been engineered to comply with both retaining-wall and concrete-structure standards.

The top-selling Ridgi reinforced retaining-wall system has been specially designed for retaining walls, garden edging and beds up to a height of 9o0 millimetres. 

Ridgi retaining walls consist of concrete sleepers and a long-lasting galvanised steel post system which will not succumb to termites, rot or warping and will stand the test of time. The Ridgi system also comes in a variety of colours and finishes to enable homeowners to create the look they want. Sleepers can be painted to achieve a perfect match with the rest of the property.

The Pioneer range is both termite- and rot-proof and is designed for stylish longevity, with minimal maintenance. All products are engineer-designed and meet or exceed Australian Standards for Earth-Retaining Structures, all backed up by a 35-year guarantee.

Austral Masonry products are proudly Australian-designed and locally manufactured for our conditions and the fruit of more than 30 years of research, product development and experience at its purpose-built factory.

All Austral Masonry construction materials for retaining walls have been designed to last 60 years, in compliance with Standards Australia’s requirements, but also carry a manufacturer’s warranty.
More recently, the company has developed a range of specially designed moulds to create a slimmer and lighter concrete sleeper for DIY retaining walls and garden beds. The sleepers come in a range of finishes and designs unique to Austral Masonry.

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