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Builder's Guide to Drainage & Retaining Walls
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Builder's Guide to Drainage & Retaining Walls


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Builder's Guide to Drainage & Retaining Walls

By: Max Schwartz, Hamid Azizi

Creating an adequate drainage system is the critical first step in most construction projects. Retaining walls are integral to the design plan, when used to achieve level grade. These two topics are interrelated, and this book provides a complete introduction to doing both right.

Here you’ll find the data you need on average rainfall and runoff requirements so you can figure gutters, downspouts and roof drainage, and install appropriate waterproofing and dampproofing in basements and crawlspaces.

The book gives details for determining slope drainage, doing the grading, complying with street drainage requirements, and dealing with lots with septic systems. Many types of retaining wall are covered, including modular unit walls, bin and crib walls, and more. Also provides tables for estimating concrete quantities for both poured-in-place and masonry and concrete walls. Includes detailed recommendations for retaining walls in most of the situations you’re likely to encounter.

Includes a CD-ROM that brings you the entire book in an Adobe PDF file, for jobsite reference and quick word search. (This file has no print capability.) A second PDF file includes 100 sample details you can print and carry along on jobs.


INTRODUCTION: Drainage and Retaining Walls, ix

1. Rainfall and Runoff, 1
Drainage System Defined, 2
Hydrostatic Head, 3
Weather Records, 5
Weather Forecasts, 6
Overview of Drainage, 7
Layout and Design of Drainage System, 8
Drainage Procedure, 8
Good Drainage Practices, 9

2. Roof Drainage, 11
Rainfall Intensity - Downspout Capacity, 13
Downspout Sizing, 14
How to Size a Roof Gutter, 14
Building Gutters, 15

3. Basement Drainage, 23
Basement Leaks, 23
Basementless Spaces (Crawl Space), 24
Damp-Proofing and Waterproofing, 25
Foundation Drains, 25
Foundation Damp-Proofing, 25
Masonry Foundation Walls, 25
Concrete Foundation Walls, 25

4. lot Drainage, 33
Field Surveying, 33
Transits, 36
Levels, 38
Leveling Rod and Measuring Pole, 41
Steel Tapes, 42
Topographic Maps, 43
Characteristics of Contour Lines, 44
Grading Specifications, 45
Excavation - Guide, 47
Fills - Guide, 48
Septic Tanks and Seepage Fields, 49
House Sewer, 49
Septic Tank, 49
Subsurface Absorption Field (Leaching Field), 51
Fields in Flat Areas, 53
Fields in Sloping Ground, 53
Seepage Pits, 55
Absorption Beds, 56
Soil Classification System, 58
Problem Soils, 59
Estimated Soil Properties, 59
Angle of Repose, 60
Permeability, 60
Erosion Hazard, 61
Grading for Erosion Control, 61
Slippage Potential, 62
Storm Drainage, 62
Design Criteria for Drainage, 63

5. Street Drainage, 65
Minimum Street Grades, 65
Street Drainage, 67
Suggested Notes on Street Curb and Gutter Plans, 76
Public Roads, 76
Soil Erosion, 78
Erosion of Slopes, 78
Transverse Gullies, 78
Use of Vegetation, 78
Ditch Erosion, 79
Ditch Enclosure in Storm Sewer, 79
Paved Ditches, 79

6. Grading for Drainage, 81
Objective, 81
Protective Slopes around Buildings, 81
Usable Outdoor Areas, 81
Other Lot Areas, 82
Storm Water Disposal, 82
Rough Grading, 82
Finish Grading, 83
Drainage Structures, 83
General, 83
Paved Gutters, 84
Drain Inlets, 84
Drain Lines, 84
Splash Blocks, 84
Dry Wells, 84
Driveways and Parking Spaces, 84
Parking Space design, 85
Driveway Design, 85
Construction, 85
Concrete Pavements, 85
Bituminous Pavement, 86
Other Lot Improvements, 86
Tract Grading, 86
Protective Slopes around Buildings, 86
Basementless Spaces (Crawl Space), 86
Grading Requirements, 87
Construction Requirements and Limitations, 87
Building Construction on Compacted Filled Ground, 88
Measure of Settlement, 88
Berms, 88
Gutters, 88
Site Drainage, 88
Drainage Around Building, 89
Maintenance of Drainage, 89
Grading Violations, 89
Grading Specifications, 90
Excavation - Guide, 92
Fills - Guide, 93
Intervening Terraces, 93
Compaction, 94
Soil Classification System, 95
Problem Soils, 96
Estimated Soil Properties, 96
Angle of Repose, 97
Permeability, 97
Erosion Hazard, 98
Grading for Erosion Control, 98
Slippage Potential, 99

7. Slope Drainage, 101
Residential Property, 101
Public Roads, 102
Slope Failures, 103
Stability of Cut and Embankments, 105
Checklist for Investigation of Slope Failure, 105
Cast of Characters in a Land Failure Case, 106
Landslides, 106
Corrective Measures, 109
Drainage, 110
Planting and Irrigation of Slopes, 117
Special Requirements for Sprinkler Systems, 118
Slope Maintenance, 118

8. Retaining Walls, 121
Retaining Wall Basics, 121
Types of Retaining Walls, 123
Retaining Wall Design, 125
Retaining Wall Notes, 125
Retaining Wall Foundation Layout, 125
Estimating Concrete Retaining Walls, 127
Estimating Wall Forms, 129
Steel Framed Plywood Forms, 130

9. Concrete Masonry Retaining Walls, 139
Dimensions, 139
Architectural Feature Units, 140
Cap or Paving Units, 140
Slumped Units, 140
Split-Faced Units, 140
Veneer Units, 140
Special Shaped Units, 140
Screen Blocks, 141
Modular Dimensions, 143
8" and 4" Modular Layout, 143
Building Code Construction Requirements, 143
Cold Weather Construction, 144
Specifications for Concrete Masonry Construction, 144

10. Other Types of Retaining Walls, 151
Buttress Fills, 151
Steel Sheeting, 152
Crib Walls, or Cribbing, 154
Wood Bulkheads or Steel Posts and Wood Planking, 158

11. Glossary of Drainage and Retaining Wall Terms, 161

12. References for Drainage and Retaining Walls, 177

APPENDIX: Retaining Wall Details, A-1

Index, Index-1

About the Authors:

Max Schwartz
Since serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, principal author Max Schwartz has worked as a consulting civil and mechanical engineer. Licensed in several states, he's worked jobs from small residential developments to major industrial facilities, from the California suburbs to the Central American rainforest.

A recognized authority with extensive experience, Mr. Schwartz has lectured and taught civil engineering at UCLA Extension, and is the author of several standard references on engineering and concrete construction.

Hamid Azizi
A Registered Professional Engineer, Hamid Azizi has distinguished himself for more than 20 years in the analysis and design of low-rise residential and commercial structures. The Details found in this book are the result of just some of the many Southern California projects for which Mr. Azizi and his firm (Executive Engineering of Tarzana, California) have provided professional guidance.

Mr. Azizi is an active member and past president of the Consulting Structural Engineers Society (CSES), and a graduate of the University of Nevada at Reno (UNR).

294 Pages - 8-1/2x 11 in.


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