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Currently preparing an area in our garden to lay a paved patio area and pergola (the latter being provided by a professional).

My wife and I need to build a supporting wall around the sides and at the top side (see the photos below). Essentially, the supporting wall needs to be parallel with the brick wall (Which is actually our garage)

enter image description here

enter image description here

What my wife and I cannot figure out - and we're not entirely certain that this is a 'common issue' - is how to get a straight line with a wall that is 'higher up' than our supporting wall.

Being that we cant simply butt up our builders square, because the wall underneath the brick wall isn't straight by any means (and we doubt we can get it straight/want to!) - how do we plan to build a parallel, straight wall?

Other photos for reference:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1n0uZGcJKewga6NwDj0t0hq0YT7brKBjd https://drive.google.com/open?id=1a4cKgta-jaHFm3Nj2UcmzEQPjZK8fy-A

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I'd set a couple of 2x4 stakes in the patio area as an offset line, parallel to the brick but out of the way of the new wall. This will allow you to set your final lines appropriately.

Establish your first parallel line with a level

  1. Drive a stake in at an arbitrary location with the width perpendicular to the garage foundation down at the level of the wall.
  2. Take a round number measurement to the center of the stake top from the brick. Set another stake roughly at that location.
  3. Now take a more precise measurement to a mark at the approximate center of the stake using a level. Stand the level on the stake with one edge at the center and set the bubble plumb. Now measure between the level (when plumb) and the brick.
  4. Transfer that dimension to the other stake using the level. Keep the level plumb and move it until you have the correct dimension, then mark the stake. You now have marks creating a line parallel to the brick.


 |________________________________________________| <-- garage foundation

 **************************************************
 *                                                *
 *                                                * <-- patio area outline
 *     _                                  _       *
 *    |.| <--- stakes with nails ------> |.|      *
 *    |_|      equidistant from brick    |_|      *
 *                                                *

Create a perpendicular line using the 3:4:5 technique

  1. Set a small nail in each stake and pull a dryline between them.
  2. Measure between the nails and find a slighly smaller dimension that's a round multiple of 3. For example, if you measure 123 inches, mark 120. This is the second corner of your 3:4:5 triangle. The first was the nail from which you measured.
  3. Pull a tape measure from point 1 (the nail) extending roughly perpendicular to the dryline. Find a dimension that's 4/3 of the earlier measurement. (Multiply that number by 4 and divide by 3. For 120 you'd get 180.)
  4. Strike an arc on the ground or some scrap lumber at that distance, a foot or so both ways from your estimate of perpendicular.
  5. Have an assistant hold the "dumb" end of your tape measure on the mark you made on the dryline earlier without moving the dryline. Find where a number that's 5/3 of your original dimension intersects with the arc from the previous step. That point lies on your second reference line, which will be perpendicular to the first line.
  6. Set a stake and a nail at that point and pull a line back to the original nail.


 **************************************************
 *                                                *
 *     point 1 (nail)           point 2 (mark)    *
 *     _                          |       _       *
 *    |.|  ---- multiple of 3 ----*----  |.|      *
 *    |_|                                |_|      *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *     | <-- measure a multiple of 4              *
 *     |     from point 1                         *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *     |                                          *
 *    \_/ <-- strike an arc                       *
 *                                                *

From there you can take measurements to parallel for your actual wall positions. The drylines can stay in place during wall construction for reference.

  • Thank you, this was Very helpful! – Shaun Mar 14 at 6:20
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Make a 3-4-5 triangle out of non-stretchy string and attach the '3' side to the garage wall (with eyebolts if you want to be fancy) so the '4' runs down the side of the garden and the '5' is the diagonal.

Use a garden cane held vertically (with two spirit levels at right-angles) or a plumbline to drop the corner of the string to ground level.

Reverse the string for the opposite corner.

Use a hosepipe with clear ends (water level) if you need to extend horizontal levels.

  • Thank you for taking the time to give us advice, really appreciate it – Shaun Mar 14 at 6:21

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