Retaining walls

Retaining walls need building approval, unless they meet all the following criteria:

  • less than 1.0 metre high
  • further than 1.5 metres to a building or another retaining wall
  • only support the soil behind the wall, nothing above
  • not part of a pool fencing
  • combined wall and fence height are less than 2.0 metres
  • not built over a service (sewer or stormwater)
  • meets structural requirements
  • not in an easement or covenant area
  • meets earlier development conditions
  • not in a waterfront or oceanfront setback area.

If you are unsure of these requirements a licenced contractor, designer, engineer or private building certifier may be able to help.

A side boundary setback should be a minimum of 600 millimetres to avoid maintenance or ownership issues with your neighbour.

Stormwater must be captured and piped to the kerb or stormwater system and cannot be concentrated onto your neighbour's property as a result of the work.

If your retaining wall affects your neighbour, you should speak to them before starting work. This helps avoid disputes or legal action.

To make a complaint about a retaining wall, please refer to report a problem.

More information

A building professional like a designer, engineer architect or building certifier may be able to help you.

For setback enquiries, contact us on 07 5582 8708 or email:

For general building enquiries, contact the Building Certification Group on 07 5667 5978 or email: