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Patio Pro Install - Call-back opinions needed
Old 07-19-2008, 02:24 PM   #1
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Patio Pro Install - Call-back opinions needed

OK, DW wanted a patio put in, we went with a local place, been in business many years, friends used them, were happy. They said they were 'not the lowest $, not the highest$', so I just went w/o other quotes.

Once scheduled, the patio is installed in two days, so far so good. I'm watching the install, and something bugged me. They get done, DW & I think it looks great, but... something is bugging me. My eye has been catching the edge, and it seems out of line. I figure it's an optical illusion, other stuff is drawing my eye in a funny way, I try to ignore it. The head guy I've been dealing with stops by that afternoon, and I say everything is great, 'cause I still figure it's 'just me'. Later that day, as I keep looking, the out-of-line edge is bugging me. I start looking, and it *is* off. Over 2" in 15' - and it stands out because you see that line against the other 'grout' lines in the pavers. One end has some 1.5" filler pieces, the other end is cut into the blocks. Just not right. Pie shaped.

I call my neighbor over for a second opinion, just to be sure I'm not being overly fussy. He agrees - they should fix it. Of course DW can't see any of this. So I call on Friday, leave a message, so I'm waiting for them to call back.

In the mean time, I'm trying to figure out why the heck this edge is so off. I'm measuring, and I could kind of see this too, but the whole patio is not parallel with the house foundation. It is off by 2" in 10'. Now, this is not so noticeable, because the edge against the house is broken up by some planter areas and a window well, but I can see it. But now I know why the edge is off - they measure from the foundation to set that outer edge cut-line, and this time they got it 'right'. So the patio is 'crooked', the cut edge is 'right', making the cut edge look 'wrong'.

It gets worse - and this is where I would love to get some feedback....

Now that I know it's so out-of-line with the house, I'm looking, and the deck that I installed appears crooked because the lines in the patio don't line up with the lines in my decking. OK, not something that jumps out at you, but I know it's there, I can see it, and it's bugging me. I double check my decking, and it is square/parallel. DW's father is a retired carpenter - he will notice it in a second.

I know that outside work is not done with 'precision', but 2" in 10' just does not seem good for pros (and not budget 'pros'). And the fact that they cut the edge line parallel with the house proves they can do it with accuracy. Sooooo......

Do I ask them to re-set the entire patio, and get the thing parallel with the house, and fix the edge? That seems like a lot to ask, but I'm thinking that I paid for a pro install, and 2" in 10', along with a non-parallel cut is just not pro level work. Am I out-of-line too?

1/3 down is paid, two thirds due in 30 days, so I can at least get their attention. Maybe the guy will offer all this w/o a problem, but I doubt it, and I'm just looking for other opinions so I'm prepared when I speak with him.

I'll see if I can post my drawing later, if that helps.

-ERD50
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:39 PM   #2
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I would ask to have the patio re-set. Since you have a good amount of $ to hold back, they may go for it. In any case take photos. It is good to have it documented. They may offer a compromise of sorts, either $ back some corrective work. or both.

No you are not out of line. Pro's should be able to work to better than a 1/8" in 10'.
Is there a "satisfaction" clause, any weird escapes in the contract?
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:44 PM   #3
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Here is the drawing (which I did, so they didn't even need to do a plan).

The 'out-of-line' is along the long edge - that 21' line would be off by over 3" from 'top' to 'bottom'. Also, around that A/C pad, which *is* crooked (but may be moved in the future, and I'm going to build a privacy fence around it as I discussed with him and marked on the plans), they ended up trying to make the paver edges even with the crooked pad (?) - so now i've got crooked little filler pieces there. I will tell them to make the patio straight there - let the pad be crooked to it, I can hide that edge one way or another ( the fence may even hide it, depending on the viewing angle), but I don't want the permanent patio crooked.



-ERD50
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:58 PM   #4
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Neat drawing. As i noted earlier, ask for full correction, see what they come back with. I would not discuss any camouflage or hiding options.

Just pull the "Japanese negotiating" technique - re-state your position as often as necessary. Pointing out that tha kind of error sure looks unprofessional.

In the end it may come to a compromise, but don't start with one.
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:10 PM   #5
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I know this would bug me everytime I looked at the patio. I don't think it's too much to ask to have this error corrected since you hired them to have this job done right the first time. As far as compromise, I would start our by asking for the patio to be re-set, the edge fixed, and a discount off the agreed upon price since you have been inconvenienced and can't use the patio during this, the peak patio season. If necessary, your compromise could be, "well OK, fix what you did wrong and I will stay with the contracted price".
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:26 PM   #6
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After reviewing the contract to see if there are any details on what constitutes proper completion of the job, I'd definitely ask them to re-do the work. Be prepared with measurements of the diagonals (the problem should show up clearly in those numbers) as well as the differences in distance from the house.

I wonder what the guys thought as they were laying the pavers? It's not like a concrete pour, where you wouldn't notice the forms were wrong--they had to do a lot of extra grouting to make the pavers fit into the shape. That should have been a clue.

Hopefully, because you have so much held back, they'll want to do this right. In addition, most tradespeople now are looking for additional work, it would be an awfuly inconvenient time for you to make a complaint to the BBB or to Angies List.

Good luck.
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:32 PM   #7
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Thanks for the quick feedback. This is what I am thinking also - they just should have done it right the first time, so make it right. But, since DW just doesn't see the problem (does not have a critical eye for things like this), she thinks I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill. But she also agrees that if it bothers *me*, I should seek out some resolution.

Purron, I like the idea that since they will be taking my time, that paying full price is already a compromise - good thinking.

ls99, I was thinking along those lines, just keep pointing out the problems, and repeating until he comes back with the solution that I'm happy with. I'm trying to google to find any sort of reference for tolerance on construction like this - I'd just like to have something concrete (no pun intended) to go by. Oh, and this is all dry-laid (or whatever they call it), just pavers compacted into gravel/sand base - so re-setting is a big job, but not like tearing out mortared in stuff - that would get 'interesting'!

And the 'hiding the line' reference that I made would be hiding *my* crooked set A/C pad to their (what should be) straight patio edge. That A/C pad is my problem, and I'll work to hide the gap between it and their finished patio edge - I can't expect them to work miracles. Maybe they thought they were doing me a 'favor', by making that patio edge line up to the A/C pad edge, but that just made a temporary problem permanent. Weird. I've got lots of options there, nothing that would really be a compromise (I suppose I could actually try to move the pad, but I don't think it's going to even be noticed, once the patio is straight).

-ERD50
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:45 PM   #8
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Me thinks the AC pad is irrelevant to the patio job. Don't even go there with the contractor. They are "masters" at getting a hook to"explain" why things are crappy. Remember -they deal with this sort of stuff constantly. Average homeowner is at a disadvantage, they do it once or twice in a lifetime.
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:52 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
After reviewing the contract to see if there are any details on what constitutes proper completion of the job, I'd definitely ask them to re-do the work. Be prepared with measurements of the diagonals (the problem should show up clearly in those numbers) as well as the differences in distance from the house.
The contract is rather vague (surprise!). The workmanship 1 year warranty is 'with regard to proper installation procedures and techniques'. I've already taken pictures, with rulers in place, etc.

Quote:
I wonder what the guys thought as they were laying the pavers? It's not like a concrete pour, where you wouldn't notice the forms were wrong--they had to do a lot of extra grouting to make the pavers fit into the shape. That should have been a clue.
This is what really has me shaking my head. Other than these issues, these guys seemed on top of everything, it wasn't like I hired Larry, Daryl and Daryl. I would have made the cut line parallel with the nearest 'grout line' (or whatever you call it with sand?). To be clearer, it isn't out like a parallelogram, the pattern is a good rectangle, but just at an angle from the foundation. But then, once they cut the edge it turned it into a trapezoid. If they had cut it to maintain a rectangle, I probably would not have noticed, but that made it stick out, and I kept looking, and the more I looked the more I noticed what was wrong. Tables, chairs and plants on the patio, and I'd get over it. But now that I know it wrong - it's wrong!

Quote:
Hopefully, because you have so much held back, they'll want to do this right. In addition, most tradespeople now are looking for additional work,
Well, I'm glad I didn't hire some fly-by-night guys for this! I'm pretty confident they will do the right thing. I'm just trying to get my ducks in line - I always have to think through negotiations, I'm not a quick thinker in situations like these.

I was a bit surprised though, that when I went to put money down, they said it might be as much as four weeks for them to clear out a slot. And it was three weeks. Slow economy or not? Though this is a pretty small job.

Well thanks to all for the feedback (is this a great forum, or what!) - this really gave me the extra confidence I needed to ask for the re-set with conviction. I'll let you know how it turns out, but I'm hopeful all will be well.

-ERD50
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Old 07-19-2008, 04:06 PM   #10
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Me thinks the AC pad is irrelevant to the patio job. Don't even go there with the contractor. They are "masters" at getting a hook to"explain" why things are crappy. Remember -they deal with this sort of stuff constantly. Average homeowner is at a disadvantage, they do it once or twice in a lifetime.
I'm probably not explaining the A/C pad thing fully. It *is* a completely separate issue from the patio itself being crooked. I won't let them mix the two!

It only affects the 4.5' edge of the pad - not the whole patio.

But, the pad is crooked (my problem to deal with, IMO). As they set edging around the pad, rather than keeping the edging of the patio straight, they filled one edge out with some 2" to 2.5" tapered blocks so that the gap between the patio edge and my (crooked) A/C pad was an even 1/2". To my thinking, they should have kept their edge square. Straight 2" filler blocks would have left a gap at the A/C pad that went from 1/2" to 1" for that 4.5', but I absolutely would prefer a tapered gap to having tapered blocks set in my nice new patio! I can hide that gap, and it might not even show once the fencing is in place, or if I just fill it with sand. But they made the problem 'permanent' by setting tapered blocks in the patio. Another 'what were they thinking?'.

And since I was home the whole time, they could have asked what I wanted.

Just kind of disappointing to hire pros, and get some really questionable stuff on what should have been pretty basic....

-ERD50
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Old 07-19-2008, 04:10 PM   #11
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Difference between pro's and amateurs -- amateurs enjoy what they are doing.
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Old 07-20-2008, 04:43 PM   #12
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keep us updated please! im curious to see the resolution
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:25 PM   #13
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Not the extent of yours, but when we had our central air replaced, the guy turned the outside unit just about an inch so it's not square with the driveway. Drives me crazy. And friends had a gorgeous fountain put in, right in front of a panel of latticework, and it's about 3 inches off center. I think they get into the mechanics and don't take the visuals into account.

Good luck--hope you get it resolved.
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:16 PM   #14
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Your contract drawing specifies a patio width of 14.25'- not a taper from 14.25'-14.0' 1/8" -1/4" out of parallel would be a reasonable tolerance, IMHO-this isn't.
I'd insist they fix it. Anything else will bug you until the day you sell the house. And you won't enjoy the patio if you are gritting your teeth every time you go out there...
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Old 07-20-2008, 08:32 PM   #15
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Your contract drawing specifies a patio width of 14.25'- not a taper from 14.25'-14.0' 1/8" -1/4" out of parallel would be a reasonable tolerance, IMHO-this isn't.
I'd insist they fix it. Anything else will bug you until the day you sell the house. And you won't enjoy the patio if you are gritting your teeth every time you go out there...
I'd love to have a 'number' for tolerances on outdoor construction like this, my googling didn't yield much. One ref I found said that just because you note something as 14.00' that does not indicate accuracy to two decimal places, the tolerance must be called out.

The fact that I can see it tells me it is not good enough, but I'd feel better with a hard # rather than 'proper installation procedures and techniques'.

We will see, this may be a moot point, if the guy comes out and just agrees that they should re-do it, no problem then. If after I repeat the issue a few times, he is still resistant, I'm just gonna say:

OK, why don't you go back to the office and think about this and your company's reputation. But, until we come up with an agreed upon resolution, extend the thirty-day net to that date.

Another little negotiation lever I have is, there were pavers left over, and the repair will eat into that. I figured I would use them for various things, planters, or edging or whatever, so I can say he's using *my* materials to fix this, I'm giving up something. Hope it doesn't come to that, that's getting a little 'whiney' - I'll be glad if he just fixes it.

And it will be a reminder to DW, this idea of 'just write a check' to get things done isn't always smooth sailing either.... But of course, she thinks it looks fine . Oh well, I guess she thought that about me, too !

-ERD50
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:33 AM   #16
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so, has this guy even called back yet?
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:52 AM   #17
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so, has this guy even called back yet?
even?

I left a message mid Friday afternoon. I know he goes out to the job sites to get things started, so I'll give him some time. It's only been about 4 'business hours'....

-ERD50
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:37 AM   #18
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He called back this AM. We agreed to meet here at 4PM. So the saga begins.....

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Old 07-21-2008, 12:00 PM   #19
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Don't you wish that you were the kind of person that didn't notice or didn't care about things like this? I know I do. Life would be a lot easier.
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Old 07-21-2008, 12:13 PM   #20
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Don't you wish that you were the kind of person that didn't notice or didn't care about things like this? I know I do. Life would be a lot easier.
Sometimes I think that. But I'm sure that must go hand in hand with not really appreciating something when it *is* good.

I actually think that explains a lot of what I observe in this world - here's one you can relate to:

People will spend $$$ to go to a big name concert, bad sight lines, lousy sound, etc - but the band is 'famous'. While down the street, in some little club, a fantastic blues, jazz, or folk musician is playing to a small group. Perfect sound ( all acoustic if you are lucky), you sit right up close, and they are more talented than the big name group. But people don't realize it. They can't see the quality, or the lack of it.

I can't drink cheap jug wine anymore either, but I sure do appreciate the better (not outrageous $) stuff.

It is truly a 'double-edged sword'.


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