Do I Need Permission to Build a Retaining Wall?

Updated April 17, 2017

Construction of a retaining wall along your property line requires research and planning. Follow all state and city or municipal building codes and regulations to ensure that your project adheres to safe construction guidelines. If you're considering putting up a retaining wall, follow several steps that help make the project go smoothly and that won't cause disagreements with your neighbours.

Building Permits

Your local city or town's building department may require you to obtain a building permit for the construction of a retaining wall. Your municipal codes state the regulations regarding permits for walls that meet specific measurements, such as a wall over 4 feet in height. Look at the guidelines carefully as this height may specify a measurement from the footing to the top of the wall, not just the height of the wall above the surface of the ground. Research your city's building code requirements for fences and walls before drawing up plans for your retaining wall project.


Review your local municipal building codes for information of the type of retaining wall components permitted. For example, codes and regulations may differ between the use of stones or concrete masonry or brick when building a wall in your area. Permitted size of footings and spacing of rebar or reinforcement used for your wall may also be specified by your city building code office.


In cities around the country, you'll need to provide your local building department with detailed plans for your retaining wall to be granted a permit. Such documents may include the plot plan and display the height and location of your intended retaining wall. Prepare to show a detailed construction plan for the wall and approval by a certified engineer for structural integrity of calculations for the wall when requested by your building code department or inspectors.


When building a retaining wall between your property and that of a neighbour, you should get permission in writing for you to do so. Commonly neighbours in such situations will split the cost of retaining wall construction. Some cities such as Boulder City, Nevada, require a signed Authorization for Construction on Property Line that the neighbour must sign in the presence of a notary public. The owner of the property who wishes to build the wall must also sign his half of the authorisation in the presence of a notary. The document is submitted with building and construction plans to the city municipal offices.

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About the Author

Denise Stern is an experienced freelance writer and editor. She has written professionally for more than seven years. Stern regularly provides content for health-related and elder-care websites and has an associate and specialized business degree in health information management and technology.