Fencing Solutions Support Access, Aesthetic, and Safety Issues
Fencing installation expertise in a residential community of single-family homes helps to protect people, structures, recreational opportunities, and property values.
Located in an area sculpted by glaciers, a new residential Wisconsin community of single-family homes situated above the shores of Lake Geneva faced significant safety, access, and aesthetic issues. The area’s topography includes some of the world’s most impressive glacial features, including hills with average slopes exceeding 4.5 percent, and adjacent ridges, terraces, and spillways. However, this natural beauty comes at a cost – gravity and the elements are constantly working to move any glacial till or drift above the property downward, and, if left uncontrolled, into the new development. Structural barriers like retaining walls can be designed to prevent uncontrolled earth movement from hills, ridges, and terraces. Yet retaining walls can cause additional safety challenges. On steep slopes, deadfall from trees and displaced rocks or boulders can gain momentum, bounce over retaining structures, and continue downward. Also, for many youngsters – and for others young-of-heart – it can be difficult to resist the urge to walk on top of a retaining wall. The potential for a misstep while walking a wall can result in significant liability exposure for project owners; an actual misstep can cause injury or death. The grade-change from the top of the hill to the development’s road system was severe, making it challenging to safely get materials up to work areas and requiring construction crews to put safety above speed while installing those materials. Community amenities included a pool in the common area, raising still more access, safety, and aesthetic issues. Resolutions to these diverse project challenges needed to be both cost-effective and attractive.
To prevent uncontrolled earth movement, the project general contractor built a temporary access roadway on the hill and used the roadway to move materials, equipment, and workers to install a multi-tiered segmental retaining wall (SRW) system. To limit access to the retaining walls and minimize safety issues, Munson, Inc. installed attractive, durable, low-maintenance, ornamental steel fencing. Fence installation for retaining wall systems can be problematic and is best addressed during the wall design phase. Improper installation can result in wall failure at fence post locations. For this project, the Munson Fence Crew set sonotubes for the post installation behind the wall sections prior to wall backfilling. They secured the sonotubes with wire and screws. They also covered them, using heavy visqueen and duct tape to keep stone backfill from entering the sonotubes and filling them up. The process of setting post installation behind the retaining wall helps minimize overturning forces to the back of the wall by using the lateral resistance from the soil between the wall and the post. Separating fence posts from the wall also keeps future wall movement from affecting the fence. Once the sonotubes were in place, the retaining wall crew could finish its work, and when the wall backfilling was completed, the Munson Fence Crew secured the fence posts and hung the fencing panels. Midway through the project, it was decided the addition of gates to the fencing installation would provide easier and safer access to the areas between the wall tiers and facilitate future wall and landscape maintenance. Rather than ordering special gates and delaying the project, the Fence Crew modified existing standard fence panels to readily accommodate this change order. The fence installation for the pool area used a taller, heavier-built version of the same steel fencing used for the retaining wall system. All fence posts were core-drilled into the new concrete pool deck and secured with non-shrink grout. Our Fence Crew modified the entrance gate for the pool fence by adding a store-room lock requiring a key to enter, and installing a hydraulic door closer to make sure the gate stayed closed and locked when the pool was closed. By attaching
expanded metal mesh to the gate and fence panels, reach-around opening of the pool gate lock was prevented.
The pool fencing helps define the community pool area, aesthetically echoes the retaining wall fencing installation, controls pool access, and prevents young residents and guests from crawling or climbing to gain access to the pool. Close coordination between the retaining wall and fence crews allowed their installation and fabrication expertise to keep the project on schedule. The general contractor, community residents and their guests were pleased with not only the look and functionality of the retaining wall and pool fence installations, but also with how the fencing helps to protect people, structures, recreational opportunities, and property values.
By Larry Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org