View Full Version : the wall I'm building is off by a few inches.....what to do?

09-03-2002, 09:40 PM
I'm building a wall with a Bolduc stone. While the wall looks great to the eye, it is not 90 degrees from the house like it's sopposed to be. It's out by about 8 inches over 50 feet. I'm wondering if I should fix it (2 days work), tell the customer about it and see what he thinks, or say nothing, as he is real happy with it right now.
any opinions on this would be appreciated.

Green Pastures
09-03-2002, 10:27 PM
If he is real happy, maybe you should just be quiet. But, my momma always told me honesty is the best policy. Not that not saying is dishonest, but if you get called on it later it COULD ruin your reputation.


09-03-2002, 10:55 PM
As long as the wall looks good, is level... and the customer is happy with it, then why fix it? Chalk it up to a learning exp. and get it perfect next time. ;)

09-03-2002, 11:03 PM
The wall is COMPLETELY level. It even looks good, but it bothers me that its not straight out from the house. The only reason I even know, is cuz I'm building a walk that runs from the wall up to the front door. While setting up for the walk i realized that it was out a bit. I can fudge the walk alittle to make it line up ok tho. But it still bothers me.

09-03-2002, 11:15 PM
I feel your pain.

I get real upset about any detail in my work that goes unoticed untill its finished.

Honestly, I agree with most and say swallow your pride and let it slide. If they are happy, then why worry.

If you are like me, and really, really hate it, I guess you could move it.......well, should say rebuild it!

This is what it's all about in this business.....the company is only as good as its work......and in many cases, only as good as owner thinks the work is.

I've seen some darn near perfect projects that others could only dream of being able to do be torn down because of 'one' little thing.

From a business standpoint, let it go.........from a personal standpoint......only you have the answer.


LawnPro in NC
09-03-2002, 11:47 PM
Tell the homeowner and let them decide. at least it's off you. He/She may say let it go.
That's just like me to point out a small defect in my project that no one would ever see but I see everytime I look at it.

Let your conseicne, You know what I mean, be you guide.

09-04-2002, 12:37 AM
You know, I must admit, if this was less than 2 days worth of work ripping out then redoing 50 feet of wall, I would just redo it. But that is a lot of labor. Thats the thing that haging me up.

Randy Scott
09-04-2002, 12:43 AM
LawnPro has the same idea I do. Tell the customer about it, let them know it's not perfect and will make it right if need be. I would bet they say leave it alone. By doing this you are proving your professionalism and concern for a quality job. I know that's a buttload of re-work, but it would be less conspicous to fix it now then to pull out and come back in a month or whatever and have to re-do it. What other landscaping may be in the way by then? Might cost more down the road then now. We all know that stuff will always haunt you and cost you later.
I really believe the customer will let it fly though if he is pleased so far. Good luck. Lessons learned!

09-04-2002, 11:08 PM
If the customer likes it. I would bring it to his attention that its not perfect and offer him some kind of discount to leave it as is. It is ovious this is bothering you and your not going to be happy with this on your mind. I'm sure that if he's happy now he will be thrilled to save $200.00 or what you think its worth.


09-05-2002, 07:25 PM
I say do not bring it to the customer's attention. A customer's satisfaction is a matter of perception really...and of expectations being met.

If he is happy...don't burn up resources looking for perfection. You may lay it out 8 inches off the other way this time...Then what...a second rebuild?

My .02

09-05-2002, 08:02 PM
Well it seems as tho the way to go is to let it slide. The customer thinks this wall looks outstanding. I can't think of any reason to ruin his high with such a small imperfection.

I appreciate all the responses...thanks

09-07-2002, 12:29 AM
After enough time in the landscape business any one of us could spot some flaw in the workmanship of any job we visited. When I go visit my old jobs the first thing I see is the flaws. Yeah 8" is a fairly big mistake, but I bet you won't make that mistake again. I would leave it and move on, BUT if the customer ever called back to complain I would not try to hide from it. I might fib and say something like this-"You know, now that you point out the fact that the wall's off by 8" I can see it plainly. I'll be over tomorrow (Don't fib on date) and we'll straighten it right out for you. Is there anything else we can do for you while we're here?"
Exceptions would be higher visibility mistakes.

09-08-2002, 08:32 AM
You absolutley have to tell them, Most people where I live are so happy to have some one show up and actually do the job that it wouldn't matter to them, but I don't take advantage of that fact, The only one I want to critize my work is my self. If they want it fixed right then do it. Two days lost time will repay it self in good will and recommendations if they are decent people.

My 2 Cents

09-10-2002, 01:22 AM
dforbes is on to something......here's a twist. Get the job almost completed then tell the customer it will be an additional 2-2.5 days because you have to rebuild the wall that is off by a few inches. If he says....."It looks great to me" tell him you appreciate that and you would be happy to knock 150 off the job for saving you the rebuild. "you can take your wife out for a nice dinner"

just a thought

09-13-2002, 09:09 PM
The wall is finished. The people are very happy. They love thier new wall. Here is a pic

09-13-2002, 09:11 PM

09-13-2002, 10:11 PM
The wall is finished? I notice in the pics that the coping is not cut and the end one is overhanging the wall??? Did you use any kind of edging along the pavers?

09-13-2002, 10:17 PM
Ya you caught me. The pic was taken just before the last copin stone was cut and fitted.

As for edging, the customer requested that I not use one, so we compacted the hell out of the edges.

09-13-2002, 10:32 PM
The first thing you need to do is correct the bond lines on your steps, or you are asking for failure. Make sure you stagger you bond lines there other wise you will lose the steps

09-13-2002, 10:38 PM
I originally had them laid out that way but the customer didn't like it, and made me change it. Don't you hate customers?

Although I charged him 200 bucks to change it.

P.S. I talked to the manufacterer about it and they said it would be fine. Nice catch tho...

09-13-2002, 10:42 PM
I'm glad you agreed with your customer, I wouldn't because it's your insurance and you that will pay for any problems that may happen. You might be able to go back and get them to sign a waiver on the steps if problems happen.

09-13-2002, 10:51 PM
As I said above, before agreeing to change them, I called the manufacterer, (Bulduc), and asked them about this. They told me that the way these blocks interconnect, that it would be fine. I also used some adhesive to add aliitle bonding power there just in case.

09-13-2002, 10:52 PM
Paul is just busting my balls cause I did it to him the other day. LOL!!

09-13-2002, 10:56 PM
No, retaining walls I build in my sleep. In places most contractors won't work and Engineers call me on how they can build them.

09-13-2002, 10:57 PM
You can't let the customer dictate to you installation techniques and materials ( read- no edging ) Unless of course you have in writing that all work is not guaranteed ... even then I would not do it because it's "our name" on the job and ultimately on the line.

09-13-2002, 11:09 PM
I am very confident that this walkway will not move any more without the edging than with it. We made sure there is very hard packed material 10 inches out from the edge.

09-14-2002, 12:33 AM
With the customer calling the shots on this project, I hope you explained that they were voiding your warranty for the workmanship. If not, better escrow some of their money for future repairs. Since edging is not visible when properly installed I can't imagine why they objected.

09-14-2002, 12:41 AM
He objected because he had a walk that was not properly installed on his old house and the frost heaved the edging all out of wack. No matter how I explained to him that this is not normal it was a no go. He was happier with no warrenty on the walk then having the edging.

09-14-2002, 04:33 PM
If the customer is happy with the job (and is calling the shots obviously) then I wouldn't bother to pull the job up.

No matter how much we want to make things square, parrallel or perpendicular, etc. to the house, drive or what have you - often times you can't truly do that since nothing is straight. You have to choose the line that best suits the eye and run with it using square as a guide. Often if you make your installation perfect you'll show the imperfection on the house or adjoining pavement, or what have you, and it will make your installation look off. It's what the eye sees no necessarily what the level, the plumb bob or transit tell you. Though this is only my opinion. Most houses we work on are 80 plus years old and there are a million and one sins that we're trying to correct, cover up, replace or blend in with our new work.

09-14-2002, 05:22 PM
First let me start by saying thank you all for your opinions and advise, which I asked you to give. I used them to help me discide how to handle this.

Having said that, it is becoming apparent to me that many of you lack the comunication skills necessary to successfully deal with a very fussy and knowledgable individual who has a clear idea of what he wants and is willing to spend the time, and money for my time, to express this idea to a contractor. I feel that being able to provide the things that my customers want rather than what I want them to want is very important. I do not feel as though this means that the customer is calling the shots by any means, (although every customer really DOES call the shots when you step back and think for a minute), but rather a two way comunication process which allows me and the customer to fully comprehend the ramifications of each choice we discuss.

If any of you would like some links pointing you in the right direction of finding some elementary classes in comunicating I would be happy to do so.:)

Thanks again for all your input.


09-14-2002, 06:33 PM
Tom, Tom, Tom ...

Your right .... I suck at communicating. What I really wanted to say was that your FOS.

09-14-2002, 06:47 PM
I must too............One day I'll have to learn how to talk to all the educated professionals that I have meetings with every day.

09-14-2002, 11:39 PM
If some of the language that I have seen you use here is what you use to communicate with your clients, shame on you. If this is the way you try to network, you might want to check out your own people skills also. Furthermore, this is a forum for professionals so we tend to shoot straight and not sugar-coat the message. You have absolutely no idea how any of these people talk to clients and since some have been doing it for almost as long as you have been alive and making a very good living at it, maybe you shouldn't be so quick to judge. I'm not sure why you have such a chip on your shoulder but I do know that most of the people here try to give helpful answers to the problems presented even if the question has been asked many times before.
Something that my mother taught me long ago: Trying to tear down someone in order to elevate one's own standing doesn't work.

09-15-2002, 01:34 AM
As I stated in the begining, I took any and all comments about this and treated them with weight. The only type of comments that I don't like, are ones that do not deal with the issue at hand, and are thrown with with no knowledge or facts to support them. Im referring mostly to remarks about a customer being in control. How can anyone here know what passes in conversation with a customer? I tried to make clear several times during this thread that I explained each draw back that was requested from my customer. He then had all the facts and warnings necessary to make his descision.

I guess it just pushed one of my buttons. As you pointed out, the members of this forum do try to give useful info, and I made clear in my ranting, that I understood and respected this.

09-15-2002, 08:21 PM
I do not feel as though this means that the customer is calling the shots by any means, (although every customer really DOES call the shots when you step back and think for a minute), but rather a two way comunication process which allows me and the customer to fully comprehend the ramifications of each choice we discuss.

This is a perfect example of what I am running into on a job that I am working on.. I have a customer that has become a friend, has an engineering background, and is retired with nothing to do all day but hang out with me while I work. This custoemer wanted a paver apron within 10 ft of a 40' Maple tree. Customer now wants to add a paver walk off the apron to terminate to the driveway. Walk will get within 5 ft of the maple and some pretty ugly roots.

Customer is calling the shots.. "I want Pavers in an apron and walk".. I had to work with the customer to understand that I can not assure them that the pavers are not going to start poping up in a year or so...

Moral... there are items outside our control.. illustrated perfectly by LawnLad.. the art comes in the working with the customer to understand that we do our best but there are items that can be out of our control. Know your customer, build the expectations in the begining.

Good Luck!!