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  • Can I do this safely and economically by myself?
  • What skills do I need to build using natural stone?
  • What's better about doing it yourself? Why wouldn't I hire a contractor?
  • What do I need to know before I start?
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can build your own steps using flagstone, some simple tools and your planning and labour.

While this is not a beginner project, with preparation you can have the satisfaction of doing a great safe job that a contractor would charge thousands of dollars for. Be prepared to invest some time in thinking before you start digging. Here are some of the issues to consider:

  • what kind of soil do you have: clay, sand, soil or whatever the builder left behind? Compacted clay soil can support stone laid directly on top. Sandy soil offers very little frost heave and no support for stone.
  • measurements: the length and height, width of the area
  • transition areas, top, bottom sides: how will you deal with these areas?
  • what is the amount of rainfall and frost heaving in your area?
  • how will you dispose of the soil? I needed a 40 yard dump bin.
  • what kind of traffic: just foot traffic, lawnmowers?, wheelbarrows? skiers?
  • what kind of style: formal characterized by a symmetric design, more straight lines or informal, rustic?
  • many areas have bylaws regarding steps and they have them for safety reasons. Investigate whether you need handrails and other best practices.
  • Utilities: gas, phone, cable. Call before you dig and get them marked.

See related material here

Here is a "before" picture of the slope I had to deal with

October 2007

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I would also like to add that you need to consult your local planning laws.

For our local council they only allow a certain amount of cutting and filling before you need to apply.

There is also limits on the size of retaining walls.

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