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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking for opinions on my contractor situation to see if I am being realistic about my expectations.

I contracted a small masonry contracting company owned by a friend of mine to replace the front steps/landing and build a concrete patio on the back of my house. One week prior to the start of this job, the siding on the house was replaced. The mason suggested that the concrete job should be done last - apparently he was wrong.

The job is now "complete" but there are issues. I did not expect perfection but I think that the original cost to me should be less because of these defects. The issue list is as follows:

1. The riser measurements on the steps varies by 1 to 2 inches.
2. The landing area butts up against the new siding. I was told that it would flow below the siding.
3. The siding was cutout to permit the form to pass under the siding. Other siding parts around the site damaged. I plan to present the masonry contractor with the estimate from the siding contractor to repair these problems and have him deduct this cost from the final bill.
4. The landing is not square to the house, i.e. it widens toward the house. Apparently the form spread when the concrete was poured.
5. The height of the patio is about 1.5 inches more than planned. This causes it to mismatch with the back sidewalk, otherwise the patio came out great.

Many of the problems arose after an incident during the patio pour when the concrete truck operator dumped the material faster than the mason could handle it and the ended up with too much material within the patio form. Now they had to hustle to get the excess material out of the form (ruining that part of my lawn). It also caused the guys working in the front of the house to rush building the form for the steps and they made mistakes (IMO).

The crew did a good job in avoiding complete disaster, but the result is not what we agreed on originally.

I plan to ask the contractor to consider these defects and present a new version of the bill. I haven't paid him anything yet, but I want to get this resolved since the contractor is a friend.

My question is can I expect to pay less than what I was originally quoted?
 

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The step risers do not conform to the building code. I would pay him until the job conforms to the building code.
 

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Tileguy
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Many of the problems arose after an incident during the patio pour when the concrete truck operator dumped the material faster than the mason could handle it...
I guess I have a problem with that particular issue. Assuming the mix was coming from a truck using a gravity shoot...if one were to immediately stop the rotation of the drum little more mix would flow down the shoot before it stopped.

If the operator were to have immediately raised the shoot all material comes to an immediate stop.

I wasn't there of course but I'm thinking someone wasn't paying attention.:)

Personally I think you are in line for a little compensation for the repairs and an overall discount for the "Not as agreed" performance. I understand wanting to maintain a friendship but c'mon man.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
@Ron:
The only way to get the risers to code would be to demolish the entire structure and re-pour it. At this point I don't want him doing any more work on the house. So I am wondering how much of a deduction from the original quote is appropriate.

@Bud:
Your take on what happened is accurate. The guys spreading the material were not paying attention when they realized that they had too much in the form. Of course they blamed the truck operator. Based on how this guy has responded to my questions previously, I expect him to downplay these issues. I don't want to end up in court over this so I am wondering how much of a discount is reasonable.
 

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I contracted a small masonry contracting company owned by a friend of mine
From what I’m seeing all of these issues stem from a lack of experience.

How much money have you already saved from hiring your friend compared to the other bids you received?
 

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Civil Engineer
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The riser issue is potentially serious because of the code issue. I don't know where you live, but I am guessing you did not pull a permit because every code I am familiar with requires that the risers be within a certain tolerance. For example, IRC 2006 allows not more than 3/8 inch variance between riser height.

I don't know how you put a price on an out of code construction. If your agreement called for the steps to be built in accordance with code, I suggest the steps have zero value, in fact they have negative value because of the demolition cost. If you had no plans and no written agreement, then you negotiate I suppose.

As for the sloppy work, or work built not in accordance with your expectations, you need to see how far the as built work deviates from the plans. Again, if you have no plans, it becomes difficult to assess value.
 

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@Ron:
The only way to get the risers to code would be to demolish the entire structure and re-pour it. At this point I don't want him doing any more work on the house. So I am wondering how much of a deduction from the original quote is appropriate.
I wouldn't pay him at all. I'd have another company replace the illegal, incompetent work.
 

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Concrete & Masonry
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The riser issue is potentially serious because of the code issue. I don't know where you live, but I am guessing you did not pull a permit because every code I am familiar with requires that the risers be within a certain tolerance. For example, IRC 2006 allows not more than 3/8 inch variance between riser height.

I don't know how you put a price on an out of code construction. If your agreement called for the steps to be built in accordance with code, I suggest the steps have zero value, in fact they have negative value because of the demolition cost. If you had no plans and no written agreement, then you negotiate I suppose.

As for the sloppy work, or work built not in accordance with your expectations, you need to see how far the as built work deviates from the plans. Again, if you have no plans, it becomes difficult to assess value.

If we had to pull permits for all residential concrete flatwork, I'd be quick to find a new occupation.

This certainly sounds like sloppy work to me as well. The problem with concrete is that it's extremely expensive and labor intensive to correct issues like this, relative to the original price of course. There's no easy way to deal with these things typically. I can't think of any good excuse why these issues would just "sneak-up & surprise" a legitimate concrete contractor. A professional doesn't run into these issues on a regular basis, but usually just once in their early years if they're wise of course.

I can't speak for your contractor, but "IF" it were my job, I'd have already torn it out & re-poured the patio to the correct elevations. If nothing else, out of embarassment.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
@kwikfishron:
This guy has been in business for about 18 years. I have seen several of his other jobs and they were perfect. Everyone ion my group of frinds uses him and this result was most unexpected. I feel this happened because he had several jobs going on at the same time.]

@Daniel:
In my town, a permit is not necessary for repairing existing structures, so no, we do not have one. Of course this information comes from the contractor so I am checking with the town to see if this is the case.
 

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"I feel this happened because he had several jobs going on at the same time."
You either know what you're doing or you don't. As Jomama said, he would have torn it out and rebuilt it.
Why hasn't your "friend" done the same? To have this testament of stupidity out there for everyone to see, seems like a counter intuitive way to drum up business.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
@Ron:
I agree completely. When this all happened (last Wednesday!) I was furious, but I wanted to stay calm and see what he would do. Well, he hasn't contacted me since then. He has come by when I was at work to do "some" fixup and "some" cleanup. He may be embarrassed.
 

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@Ron:
I agree completely. When this all happened (last Wednesday!) I was furious, but I wanted to stay calm and see what he would do. Well, he hasn't contacted me since then. He has come by when I was at work to do "some" fixup and "some" cleanup. He may be embarrassed.
Then you contact him. It's an injury potential to anyone who uses the stairs. If the mailman falls on a code violation structure, guess who gets sued?
Accepting this for a price reduction is absurd.
 
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Concrete & Masonry
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Any chance you could snap a picture or tow just for us to see what we're talking about here?


I agree with Ron, I wouldn't accept a reduction in price from the contractor. That is most certainly the easy way out for the contractor, and it won't change the fact that you've got a patio with shoddy work in place in your backyard for what's supposed to be a lifetime. I can almost guarantee you'll see a price concession now as a major mistake down the road.

That being said, I doubt it's going to be real easy to get the contractor to rip out the work and start over. It just seems way too involved for most contractors for a number of reasons, although doing so typically returns the greatest dividends in the future. The odds are, you will not recommend this guy to friends in the future, and now the friends who recommended him to you will be aprehensive to do so as well. Obviously, this is how he got the job, and likely the vast majority of his work in the first place.

You may need to find some common ground here with the contractor to make things right, as ridiclous as that may sound. But again, I wouldn't accept the current patio (at least from what you're saying) for a reduced price.


"The sting of poor quality lasts far longer than the discomfort of high price".............
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The first picture shows how the patio (on the right) is appox. 1.5 higher than the walk on the opposite side of the entry step. Anyone walking from the sidewalk to the patio will have a surprise landing on the patio.

The second picture shows how the top surface of the landing butts up against the siding work. It was supposed to be below that.

The third picture shows the front steps.
 

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Concrete & Masonry
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A few issues here:

frontstepsR.jpg

In this pic, all of the dimensions/heights should be equal to within about 1/4".





landing-sidingR.jpg

In this pic, the siding really should have been removed at the red line. There's rarely a good excuse to poor siding into the concrete, other than ignorance or laziness. In your situation, it sounds like it would have been real easy for the concrete sub to lay this out when the siding was being done. OR, if he hadn't apparently been so busy, he should have just poured the stoop/patio before the siding was done. That is typically the best approach, and it allows the proper flashing to be installed to the backwall. Plus, it's a mess to try to remove that siding in the future.




patioheightR.jpg

In this pic, it's more important IMO to have the heights match at the red lines again. If the older existing sidewalk doesn't match that correct height, it should have been addressed when he did his initial site evaluation. The last square could have been replaced to make the height correct.

The green line represents where there should be expansion material placed. Maybe it's there, I just can't see it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
>>In this pic, all of the dimensions/heights should be equal to within about 1/4".

I believe the dimensions are now 5, 7.5, and 9.

>>he should have just poured the stoop/patio before the siding was done.

That's is what I thought but the contractor told me the opposite.

>>The green line represents where there should be expansion material placed. Maybe it's there, I just can't see it.

No, its not there. I attached 2 more pictures of the patio that were shot soon after the job was "completed". It shows a close-up of where the new concrete meets the foundation and I am presuming that this expansion material should be used there as well (I am located in Rochester, NY - FYI). The other picture shows the entire patio and also shows where the excess concrete was dumped outside the form. They later broke it all up with a jack hammer, but I am still digging cement out of whats left of the lawn.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
A big thanks to everyone who contributed here. I learned a few things and feel better about how I will go forward in dealing with this contractor. Hopefully it won't be too messy. I will reply back once it is all resolved.
 

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You are correct, there should be some kind of expansion joint material between the house and the patio as well. Frost-protected structures such as a house foundation always need to be separated from a slab on grade with no frost protection.

It doesn't appear there's any control joints in the pictures either. Maybe I just can't see those either?

Best of luck in however you decide to move forward.
 
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