What should a civil engineer or developer know?
The quality of a retaining wall will be equal to the strength of the weakest link in the retaining wall chain. That chain includes your upfront planning and design, the inherent design integrity of the retaining wall system chosen, the accuracy of the site specific geotechnical information, the thoroughness of the site-specific wall system engineering, the quality of the plant produced system components, and to a very large extent, the quality of the on-site wall construction.
Retaining walls are frequently structural in nature and often critical to the proper development of a site. A first step in the proper planning for a retaining wall is to collect information about the soils at the location. Soil borings and follow-up shear testing of the soils are important and perhaps critical. In addition, the expense incurred to gather this information will generally pay dividends in the long run. Without the proper soils information, wall construction will be delayed until the information is collected, or worst-case assumptions may be made.
Your choice of a proven system provider with in-house engineering expertise and a solid track record will go a long way in guiding you through the process from conception to completion.