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Old 10-27-2010, 09:24 AM   #1
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Concrete! Can it be a DIY project without any Experience


Had a contractor come out last night to give me a bid on concrete work. Front side walk, (13 5 x 5 blocks) front walk to house and 10 x 25 back patio. 10K? I know things are expensive but 10 GRAND! Was blindsided by that one. I don't even know if that was a good or bad price???? So my son in law tells me he knows how to do cement work. (don't think he has a WHOLE LOT of experience) and I know that I have NONE!

Is this a project that could be (with research) done by a couple inexperienced but handy guys? Don't want it to look like S*(*, but can't afford 10k either.

Maybe I could get the sidewalk (public) ($3200) done and try the rest ourselves?

I don't even know what kind of concrete to use? (maybe I shouldn't do this? LOL)

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Old 10-27-2010, 12:51 PM   #2
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Concrete! Can it be a DIY project without any Experience


I'm not sure what part of the country you are in, but in my location I can buy 4" concrete paving for about $4/SF. As usual, get yourself three competitive bids if you are thinking of hiring out the work.

As far as DIY concrete, you may not be able to do the sidewalk. Most municipalities require contractors to post a bond to do work in the public right of way.

You could do the patio yourself, but I would try something much smaller first before you decide to tackle a big project. It's fairly easy to put down the base, form, and place the concrete. Finishing takes years of practice.

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Old 10-27-2010, 01:10 PM   #3
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Concrete! Can it be a DIY project without any Experience


Do not do the public sidewalk yourself because of the liability - you may be building on public property. Find out who does the city work and they may have something going at the time and it will meet the city specifications, especially if they can tag it on another job and use the same concrete mix. Usually the sidewalk contractor do the work cheap for the city, so you may get some of the benefits and not have to deal with separate loads or hand mixing of the concrete. Being late in the concrete season in many areas, the contractor may either be wrapped up or "under the gun" because of the weather for placing and curing.

Watch the contractor and see what he does and the timing of the dumping/placing and the troweling and the final finish. Then use what you learned when you and your son-in-law tackle the part that you can do at your own pace, even if it means hauling all the materials and mixing everything yourself.

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Old 10-27-2010, 02:43 PM   #4
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Do the preparation (and forming) yourself and then hire a finisher for the day to be there for the place and finish.
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Old 10-27-2010, 03:22 PM   #5
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yes, it can be done without experience. The quality of the finished product is likely to reflect the level of experience the installer has. While it isn't rocket science (but remember, even they crashed a rocket into Mars) but there is an art to it that takes some practice to learn.

If you can find somebody that has considerable experience and is willing to allow you to work under him, it would be a lot better than a guy with zero experience and one with "not a whole lot" of experience.

Concrete changes from; dang, what am I supposed to do with this mush; to

DAMN!! it's getting hard and I haven't finished it yet.


The variables of slump (consistency), retarders, accelerators, air, type of aggregate and such are best decided by somebody that is familiar with the product and the use and situation of the project.

as well, a regular concrete guy is going to know the proper tools AND has them.
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Old 10-27-2010, 03:31 PM   #6
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yes, it can be done without experience. The quality of the finished product is likely to reflect the level of experience the installer has. While it isn't rocket science (but remember, even they crashed a rocket into Mars) but there is an art to it that takes some practice to learn.

If you can find somebody that has considerable experience and is willing to allow you to work under him, it would be a lot better than a guy with zero experience and one with "not a whole lot" of experience.

Concrete changes from; dang, what am I supposed to do with this mush; to

DAMN!! it's getting hard and I haven't finished it yet.


The variables of slump (consistency), retarders, accelerators, air, type of aggregate and such are best decided by somebody that is familiar with the product and the use and situation of the project.

as well, a regular concrete guy is going to know the proper tools AND has them.
I understand it would not be close to a professional job, but 10k is more than I want to spend. LOL And yes retarders, concrete, cement, sand, etc etc etc, I would end up with "WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS NEW ROCK HARD CONCRETE IN THE PAN" hahaha
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Old 10-27-2010, 04:24 PM   #7
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I would end up with "WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS NEW ROCK HARD CONCRETE IN THE PAN" hahaha
Oh, so you have watched me pour concrete before.
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Old 10-27-2010, 04:42 PM   #8
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Concrete! Can it be a DIY project without any Experience


Wow...so your contractor wants to charge you $10 a square foot for the front sidewalk.

I'm not quite sure that I understand if this is on your own property or if it is the city's property. Surely they should be responsible if it is under their jurisdiction, should they not?

As for you own concrete work, it really isn't that difficult. But if you have zero experience, I definitely wouldn't be tackling a 250 square foot patio for my first attempt.

For the kind of money ($10 K) your contractor is talking about, you could buy (or rent) yourself a cement mixer, get a load of navvy jack delivered, along with bags of portland cement and do it yourself.

I don't know how big your walkway up to the house will be, but it sounds like you only need about 4 cubic yards of concrete for that and your patio. You could certainly buy the materials for that and all the tools you would need and have the better part of $9,000 left over.

I agree with jlhaslip, get someone with experience on the day of your first pour. It will be money very well spent. Either that, or find a job that is being done somewhere and watch for an hour or two.

Good luck!
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Old 10-27-2010, 07:17 PM   #9
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I'm not quite sure that I understand if this is on your own property or if it is the city's property. Surely they should be responsible if it is under their jurisdiction, should they not?



In my town, the home owner is responsible for the sidewalk across his property. If it is deemed needing to be replaced, the home owner is liable for the costs. I presume the OP is in a similar situation.
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Old 10-27-2010, 07:32 PM   #10
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In my town, the home owner is responsible for the sidewalk across his property. If it is deemed needing to be replaced, the home owner is liable for the costs. I presume the OP is in a similar situation.
Interesting...I note you say "across his property". Does that mean that you own the land right up to the street? In which case the sidewalk would be on his property. Or are you responsible for sidewalks in front of your property in the case where you do not actually own the land.

Here we are responsible for things like snow removal from the sidewalks in front of our property. We do not (usually) own that land.

The upsetting thing about that, is that the snowplows come along and dump four feet of snow on the sidewalk, then the poor beleaguered homeowner has to get out there and move it. You get fined if you don't!
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Old 10-27-2010, 07:50 PM   #11
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cocobolo;524086]Interesting...I note you say "across his property". Does that mean that you own the land right up to the street? In which case the sidewalk would be on his property. Or are you responsible for sidewalks in front of your property in the case where you do not actually own the land.
the land ownership goes to the road. The sidewalks are about 5 feet from the road clearly on the home owners property. The city has a right of way to be able to place the walks there. The initial installation was by the city but repair, or replacement if needed (and boy, do those trees tear up a sidewalk as they grow from a 6" dia. to a 2" dia. tree that was planted close to the walk) is the home owners responsibility.

Quote:
Here we are responsible for things like snow removal from the sidewalks in front of our property. We do not (usually) own that land.
we are responsible for clearing those same walks as well. Heck, in a neighboring town, they get tickets if not cleared within 24 hours of the snowfall...or the plow truck throwing the snow from the road onto the walk.

Quote:
The upsetting thing about that, is that the snowplows come along and dump four feet of snow on the sidewalk, then the poor beleaguered homeowner has to get out there and move it. You get fined if you don't!
yes, exactly that situation.

Not bad for a younger guy but some of the older folks just have such a hard time with it.
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Old 10-27-2010, 08:24 PM   #12
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Thanks very much for that.

At least the initial cost is borne by the city then...which of course passes it along to the taxpayer anyway.

I do know that here on a new development, the developer has to pay the city a large lump sum to cover the initial cost of the sidewalk, the sewer lines and possibly even the cost of paving the road. But the ownership of said sidewalk resides with the local government.

Many of the large trees over in Vancouver have now grown so big that their actual trunk - never mind the root system - protrudes into the roadway. I have a strong suspicion that the original roadway in these cases was only one lane in each direction. When they were expanded to two lanes each way...ooops!

I have noticed that in Nanaimo (our closest town across the water) the city has planted their trees on the homeowners side of the sidewalk away from the road. Plus they have had the common sense to plant trees which are not likely to grow 100 feet tall and 3 feet wide. They have also left a large circle around the base of each tree done out in decorative brick, set loosely. It seems to work.
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Old 10-27-2010, 08:39 PM   #13
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Get another estimate. Maybe there is more to it than meets the eye. IMO, if you can't afford a job done right, then maybe you should put it off for awhile. The new concrete may be worse than what you have now and you are out that money plus tearing it out and doing it again. Just sayin'.

I am a contractor and have done very small concrete pieces. My father did concrete for many years but that was 20 years ago. I still hired out all my concrete work. It's almost perfect. A few of my buddies took it on themselves at their own homes and it shows (terribly).

Especially outside work that people walk on very often, it pays big time to have a nice job. Any concrete guy will tell you that is usually their best work, but the hardest work.
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:43 AM   #14
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Wow...so your contractor wants to charge you $10 a square foot for the front sidewalk.

I'm not quite sure that I understand if this is on your own property or if it is the city's property. Surely they should be responsible if it is under their jurisdiction, should they not?
The public sidewalk IS owned by us, BUT the city does not fix or repair it. And if someone were to trip and fall on the uneven concrete, I get sued not the city. BUT I can not stop anyone from walking on the sidewalk either. It is the same with the plumbing, anything from the curb into the house is my responsibility, theirs after the curb.

Personally I think it is all a city scam!

We did have a second estimate the next day, to remove and replace, (which is what the first guy wanted to do) was 8k - 9k. But he was much more interested in resurfaceing.

Last edited by Evil Scotsman; 11-02-2010 at 07:49 AM. Reason: additional information
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:24 PM   #15
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The public sidewalk IS owned by us, BUT the city does not fix or repair it. And if someone were to trip and fall on the uneven concrete, I get sued not the city. BUT I can not stop anyone from walking on the sidewalk either. It is the same with the plumbing, anything from the curb into the house is my responsibility, theirs after the curb.

Personally I think it is all a city scam!

We did have a second estimate the next day, to remove and replace, (which is what the first guy wanted to do) was 8k - 9k. But he was much more interested in resurfaceing.
So it appears that there is a sidewalk there already which needs to be removed then.

I can see where that will add to the cost somewhat, especially if you are going to hire it out. But, surely, is that not something you can do yourself? At least the breaking up part?

Rent a hydraulic jack hammer and go at it. It's a dirty, dusty job, but providing you are in reasonable shape it's not impossible.

I do understand where MJW is coming from, but whether or not any concrete job looks good depends largely on the knowledge of the worker(s).

It's hardly rocket science, but it is hard physical labour. I wouldn't give up too easily if I were you.

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