Adding or Replacing Residential Retaining Walls


  • There are height limits for retaining walls, depending on where they are constructed (refer to the Zoning Guidance below)
  • Certain construction materials/finishes are prohibited under the Irvine Zoning Ordinance (refer to the Zoning Guidance below)
  • Structural plans and calculations are required for retaining walls holding back a slope or surcharge from an existing or proposed structure
  • Your Homeowners Association may have its own approval process. Review your HOA policies and procedures before proceeding with your design plans
  • If your property is a condominium, you will need to submit a copy of the approved design plans from your HOA
  • After you have completed and gathered all of the required documents, you will need to submit your permit application and plans electronically through the IrvineReady! Online Plan Submission Portal

Building Guidance

Refer to Informational Bulletin 185 for further details.

Zoning Guidance

  • If a retaining wall is combined with a fence or wall, the total combined height may reach a maximum of 10 feet above grade along the streetside and 12 feet along the rear property lines
  • The maximum height of a fence or wall shall be 2½ feet above grade within the sight triangle of any street intersection. Refer to City of Irvine Engineering Standard Plan 403 (page 103 of the PDF)
  • Barbed wire, wire, electronically charged fences, plain exposed concrete block, plastic materials, chain link and grape stakes are prohibited

What Documents Will Be Required?

  1. Application Package. Download and fill out the PDF forms to submit online. The Application Package includes:

  • Building Permit Application
  • Residential Take-Off Sheet
  • Electronic/Digital Signature Disclosure
  1. Site Plan.

Site Plan Tips

  • Provide a dimensioned site plan showing and labeling:
    • Property lines
    • Existing dwelling, walls, structures (e.g. patio covers, pools)
    • Proposed retaining wall(s), including height
  1. Construction Plans.

Construction Plan Tips

  • Include drawings, notes, and tables for construction of the proposed retaining walls stamped and signed by a California licensed Civil or Structural Engineer.
  • Calculations for retaining wall(s) stamped and signed by a California licensed Civil or Structural Engineer.
  • Identify the construction materials that will be used in the retaining wall

Submittal Instructions

READY TO BEGIN? Your application must be submitted online using the IrvineReady! Online Permit Submittal Portal. We recommend keeping this webpage open in a different tab so you can refer to the information below.

IrvineReady! works best on Google Chrome, rather than Safari or Microsoft Edge.

When you click the button below to go to IrvineReady, you will first be prompted to create an account, or to log into an existing account.

Video Link: How to Create an Account in IrvineReady!

After creating an account and logging in, click the green plus button to the lower right-hand side of the window to start a new submittal.

In the “Project Type” drop-down menu, select “For Permitting--Other” as the permit type.

Video Link: Preparing Documents for Upload into IrvineReady!


Next Steps

  • After submitting your plans, City staff will review the information for completeness within approximately two business days. If additional information is needed, you will be notified.
  • You will be emailed a link to pay required fees. Visit the Fee Schedule page for additional information and current fee rates
  • After payment is received, your project will be assigned for review.

In general you should anticipate five (5) business days for the initial plan check; if corrections are required, you will be notified.