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DVS Hardscaper
09-06-2010, 05:16 PM
I received this e-mail this afternoon.

Folks, this is what I have been preaching and preaching and preaching.

I really believe many think they can TRY to install a hardscape. And when a client questions or complains about something - they have excuses set in their mind that they have theirselves convinced to believe.


Hello,

I really like the workmanship shown on your website.

Are you ICPI certified? If not, that's okay. It appears you have a lot of experience and this is why I am asking for your professional assistance.

Will you please provide a written, objective report showing your analysis and opinion based on what you see on my existing patio? This is fairly simple and straighforward. The report needs to show slope and drainage measurement results; that is, how much it drops per foot, whether the stairs are symmetrical, methods used, if the border is missing the gravel and sand base, and your opinion of the workmanship.

I will make myself available for whatever appointment time and day works best for you.

The report is needed within 15 days, but can go longer if needed. I will pay $350 for the report; and if the case goes to trial, then will pay $50 per hour for your attendance and testimony as the expert witness and 45 cents per mile for your mileage.

Please let me know.

Thank you very much!

Senders name was removed
Senders Addres was removed
Hagerstown, MD 21742 (20 mins from Frederick)
xxx-xxx-xxx (cell)



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P.Services
09-06-2010, 05:20 PM
What are you going to do? I would have a hard time doing that to an enemy even.
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nepatsfan
09-06-2010, 05:21 PM
did she send any pictures? Let see them if she did. Keep us posted on how this goes. Are you going to do the report?

RussellB
09-06-2010, 05:28 PM
I would wonder why they e-mailed you with all of that info. Do they know you or did they just look at your website? If they chose you just based on your website, they are foolish. Nothing against your website but anybody can hire someone to build one that looks good but that doesn't mean the owner knows squat. I would be very leary and most likely turn down their offer for assistance.

DVS Hardscaper
09-06-2010, 05:45 PM
No pictures have been provided.

And if we proceed, I will not be posting any pictures or my findings until after the case goes to court and after the 30 days to appeal has passed. I have been through this in the past - successfully.

I have 106 photos on our website, with 13 more pictures being loaded this week, of jobs that we did. The entire purpose of loading the site with pictures is to show a prospective client our competency, professionalism, and most importantly knowledge. Believe me, our pictures speak for theirselves and truely perform as intended. A thorough, educated, consumer that does their homework, see's what we're about in our photos, they provide me with such feedback either when they initially call or when we meet face to face.

But this isn't about my marketing tactics.

Nor is this about ME.

This is about bonehead people that don't know what they're doing.

Look at the man's wording. No where in this initial communication has the man written or insinuated anything to sway my opinion(s). That tells me this man is a fair minded individual that simply wants a job he paid to have done - done correctly as he was expecting.

This is real life. I see this crap go in first hand in my market. And I see this take place on internet forums. Whoever did the work must really believe they done the man a good job, otherwise they'd fix it. I'm flattered the individual has contacted me, yet on the other hand this makes my blood boil. Incompetency is one thing. Yet, not setting forth the time and effort to re-do and/or make corrections is even worse.

Also, this is where the industry is headin. We'll see more and more of this. Remember my post from the other day comparing wages of a few recent years ago to wages paid today. Paying guys $10 - $14 / hour today, well, you get what you pay for, and you'll have unhappy clients. Mark my words - in the upcoming next 18-24 months - we'll be hearing more of these stories from other competent, knowledgeable lawnsite members.

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nepatsfan
09-06-2010, 05:51 PM
No pictures have been provided.

And if we proceed, I will not be posting any pictures or my findings until after the case goes to court and after the 30 days to appeal has passed. I have been through this in the past - successfully.

I have 106 photos on our website, with 13 more pictures being loaded this week, of jobs that we did. The entire purpose of loading the site with pictures is to show a prospective client our competency, professionalism, and most importantly knowledge. Believe me, our pictures speak for theirselves and truely perform as intended. A thorough, educated, consumer that does their homework, see's what we're about in our photos, they provide me with such feedback either when they initially call or when we meet face to face.

But this isn't about my marketing tactics.

Nor is this about ME.

This is about bonehead people that don't know what they're doing.

Look at the man's wording. No where in this initial communication has the man written or insinuated anything to sway my opinion(s). That tells me this man is a fair minded individual that simply wants a job he paid to have done - done correctly as he was expecting.

This is real life. I see this crap go in first hand in my market. And I see this take place on internet forums. Whoever did the work must really believe they done the man a good job, otherwise they'd fix it. I'm flattered the individual has contacted me, yet on the other hand this makes my blood boil. Incompetency is one thing. Yet, not setting forth the time and effort to re-do and/or make corrections is even worse.

Also, this is where the industry is headin. We'll see more and more of this. Remember my post from the other day comparing wages of a few recent years ago to wages paid today. Paying guys $12 - $14 / hour today, well, you get what you pay for, and you'll have unhappy clients.......

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amen brother....I would tell him you want 50 cents a mile too. Lowballers drive for 45 cents a mile.

DVS Hardscaper
09-06-2010, 06:06 PM
What are you going to do? I would have a hard time doing that to an enemy even.
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This is where one's passion and dedication for professionalism kicks in.

I do not know who installed the patio (yet). But, and I have always said this, and deep in the archives of this forum you'll find these remarks from me - I have no respect for incompentent or unethical contractors.

It's one thing to make a mistake, we all do that. It's another to not step up to the plate and take responsibility.



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shovelracer
09-06-2010, 06:55 PM
I would likely take them up on it if it was a total hack job. If the customer went lowballing than I likely would not. Nothing good usually come from calling someone out. I had a guy threaten me earlier this year because he was hacking up a good customers walkway and I called him out. In the end he lost the job, the customer got screwed, and I got to loose sleep. I got no work out of it, and now there is another A hole running around talking about me.

I have seriously been considering getting my home inspection license though. I enjoy picking shoddy work apart, and it could be a good retirement gig.

steve5966
09-09-2010, 12:25 PM
I would think long and hard about being in court for things like this. The e-mailer doesn't care if your ICPI certified, that itself is a problem. I guess that you are, but that alone doesn't make you an expert. Experience helps, but a lawyer will pick you apart. There are a lot of things about building that are standard, but many are unique to the installer. A quick example, DVS, I looked at a pic of yours where you used fabric between base and sand. Personally, I don't use it and don't see a good reason to. You use it and think your reasoning for it is solid. Both of us have opinions and neither is right or wrong.
There are things that most of us can check, like slope. I believe ICPI recommends 2%, but that is a recommendation, not set in stone. Symetrical steps? Isn't that a matter of preference? If the treads are different sizes, I think that is a legitement problem.

My first question would be, Would the homeowner have hired me over the contractor they did hire? You can't pay for a Chevy and expect the build quality of a Bently. Homeowners need to take responsability for their choices.

DVS Hardscaper
09-09-2010, 09:50 PM
I would think long and hard about being in court for things like this. The e-mailer doesn't care if your ICPI certified, that itself is a problem. I guess that you are, but that alone doesn't make you an expert. Experience helps, but a lawyer will pick you apart. There are a lot of things about building that are standard, but many are unique to the installer. A quick example, DVS, I looked at a pic of yours where you used fabric between base and sand. Personally, I don't use it and don't see a good reason to. You use it and think your reasoning for it is solid. Both of us have opinions and neither is right or wrong.
There are things that most of us can check, like slope. I believe ICPI recommends 2%, but that is a recommendation, not set in stone. Symetrical steps? Isn't that a matter of preference? If the treads are different sizes, I think that is a legitement problem.

My first question would be, Would the homeowner have hired me over the contractor they did hire? You can't pay for a Chevy and expect the build quality of a Bently. Homeowners need to take responsability for their choices.


I've been through this before, testifying as an expert witness against another contractor. Yep, gotta love an attorney that tries to trip up the blockhead contractor, only to have the contractor sit at the stand as calm as can be without the heart skipping a beat :)

As far as a "homeowner taking responsibility", I dunno that is such a reasonable and fair expectation. I have a client that is some doctor specializing in research of cells, with numerous books written and published. This guy is so smart about medicine, but he has no clue of the tricks that can be pulled over on him by a hardscape contractor. He knows he and his wife want a nice patio and he knows he has $17k to spend on it.

Business is about trust, jus like a personal romance. When you meet a woman, do you ask her to show the results of a current STD test before unzippin?

Some homeowners bring it all on theirselves.

And there are contractors that are snakes in the grass......................

steve5966
09-11-2010, 11:56 AM
DVS, why don't you throw out a list of things you found wrong with this job and the ICPI specs your going to use to back up your conclusions.

Were all curious and nobody knows what, where or when about this job.

DVS Hardscaper
09-12-2010, 12:36 PM
DVS, why don't you throw out a list of things you found wrong with this job and the ICPI specs your going to use to back up your conclusions.

Were all curious and nobody knows what, where or when about this job.


Steve,

A job done wrong that is litigated, can have issues that have nothing to do with ICPI.

If your contract states that you're going to use Ruby Red pavers and you run out and need 1/3 a pallet of pavers to complete it, and you have some left overs of Rhinstone Red pavers, and you use those left over Rhinstone Red pavers to complete the job - then you as the contractor have not fulfilled the contract.

1st of all the homeowner was NOT happy with the work AS IT WAS BEING CONSTRUCTED. He was not happy with the appearance, cosmetic items, and I have to agree - it looks terrible.

2ndly There are also structural flaws. This is where guidlines from a governing body such as ICPI come into play.

He refused to give the contractor the final payment.

The contractor threatened legal action.

The homeowner consulted with an attorney, and the attorney advised him to pay the contractor and that they would pursue legal action after paying. I do know from the previous case where I was an Expert Witness for the home owner - that this is the correct way to handle the situation. See, in most contractor's contracts it states that the client will pay attorney fees, court fees, etc. So, if a contractor sues a client, and the client agreed to pay all fees, even though the client may win the suit - he/she still has to pay the contractors legal expenses as they agreed to it.

Upon my inspection of the patio I found the patio to be missing one key ingredient. An ingredient that is used for structural purposes. An ingredient that is specified by ICPI. Which the contractor's contract states something like "patio will be constructed within ICPI specifications....."

Another flaw I found, is a flaw that I see all too often. A flaw that I am certain all other competent, quality contractors see all the time. Because this is the WWW and pending litigation, I will not be specific. We all know paver jobs entail an aggregate base of some sort. So with that said, I will say there are 2 issues involving the aggregate base.

I also found a county building code violation. An apsect of the patio is not built to code. ICPI has nothing to do with local, county, or state building codes.

Again, no elaborating - but there is an issue involving water, which ICPI has written specs for.



There is psychology to this:

-The home owner is clueless about construction. The man works in a unnamed large city, most likey with a good paying job that is connected to our tax dollars. My point is - he is a pure bred office worker.

-There are many people doing hardscapes.

-So he initially calls for estimates.

-Again, all he knows is he wants a patio. He has no clue of all that goes into building a patio correctly.

- He said he got 2-3 estimates.

- He said he went with the lowest.

- Ok, now at this point I can imagine what you folks are thinking. "that was his dumbness".

- Well not so fast. Was it?

- When I meet with a prospective client I have an album full of step by step pictures of the process. I go over each step and I discuss why it is critical to their prospective job. I sit down and I educate them. NOT ALL CONTRACTORS DO THIS. I KNOW this because HOME OWNERS tell me so. Many contractors will come out, go around back, get measurements, hand the client a paver catalog, and will say "pick a paver". And thats it.

- I asked the man "did anyone go over the step by step process and show you pictures like theses? He responded "no, no one did".

- How was this white collar worker to know any better? Just like when you go to a dentist - you're suspecting that the dentist knows what he/she is doing. When was the last time you asked your dentist to prove his competency before you allowed him to dig around in your mouth???

- See, I try to put myself in a home owners shoes. I try to think of myself as working in an office, staring at a computer all day, analyzing numbers on a screen. Therefore I set forth the time to educate. You have to think like the average home owner if you want to be successful and if you strive to be the best. Not only is my intent to educate what to look for, but also to drive home the point that "we will not be the lowest price quote and here's why, if you're receiving lower quotes do they entail what I just went over?"




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ztuttle7
06-01-2013, 09:20 AM
I am just curious as to what was the results to this situation.

jbailey52
06-01-2013, 10:25 AM
I agree. That money wouldn't be worth my time, let alone I wouldn't be interested in doing that. This is the time of year to make money from my real business.
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clydebusa
06-01-2013, 10:37 AM
And the winner of the ordeal LAWYERS!

Drakeslayer
06-02-2013, 01:18 AM
And this is why we have never joined ICPI. It provides nothing but trouble.

RSK Property Maintenance
06-02-2013, 01:44 AM
my dad may be going to court over something like this, but in the reality of it, he has built multiple millions of dollars in patios, walkways, retaining walls, raised patios, and brick driveways, and some are over 15 years old no issues, no complaints. eveything is holding up just fine, and all the sudden one lady is trying to say he didn't build a retaining wall correctly, and the wall doesn't end correctly....the truth is the homeowner didn't have the money to have the wall step down, so they agreed a large rock would be put at the ends. and now she is unhappy for some reason, and wants half her money back...

clydebusa
06-02-2013, 08:28 AM
RSK that is what a lot of things turn out to be. Sure there are some bad contractors, but the truth of the deal is the funds limits the job quality a lot of times. Reminds me of God in the garden with Adam. God tells Adam you look lonely I will make you a mate. God asks Adam what he wants, Adam says I want her to cook, clean, have babies etc,etc. God says wow that will cost you an arm and leg, Adam response what can I get for a rib?

DVS Hardscaper
06-02-2013, 09:55 AM
Well......the first contractor/client court case I was involved in - the other contractor came to the stand saying "we've installed xxxxxx thousand square feet of pavers in x number of states". First words out of his mouth.

And that was objected and sustained. Because as true as it may have been - it was irrelevant to the case at hand.

General Motors has built hundreds of thousands of trucks. But they still have some lemons from time to time.

Some contractors do in fact don't know what they're doing. A few months ago I had a thread (or was it a post?) about my buddy in Ohio who had a retaining wall built by a contractor of large size and flashy trucks, and the contractor's company did a horrible, incompetent job of building the wall.


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RSK Property Maintenance
06-02-2013, 11:57 AM
Well......the first contractor/client court case I was involved in - the other contractor came to the stand saying "we've installed xxxxxx thousand square feet of pavers in x number of states". First words out of his mouth.

And that was objected and sustained. Because as true as it may have been - it was irrelevant to the case at hand.

General Motors has built hundreds of thousands of trucks. But they still have some lemons from time to time.

Some contractors do in fact don't know what they're doing. A few months ago I had a thread (or was it a post?) about my buddy in Ohio who had a retaining wall built by a contractor of large size and flashy trucks, and the contractor's company did a horrible, incompetent job of building the wall.


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well in my dads case, he has personally never had a retaining wall, with or without stairs fail, or even start to lean, they always have correct drainage, and are built to industry standards. he even had merwin mason referring work to him, and did work at the owner of one of largest brick supplers house, and he's not the cheapest per sq. ft. he does what you do dvs, he brings a book of about 1000 pics, maybe more, of brick jobs he has done, and he informs the customer of what he will be doing. not just giving them a price and letting them pick solely off that.

zedosix
06-03-2013, 12:01 AM
All I wanna know is did you tell your Canadian friends all this while on vacation

DVS Hardscaper
06-03-2013, 09:30 AM
All I wanna know is did you tell your Canadian friends all this while on vacation

Duh! That's how I start all conversations
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