PDA

View Full Version : Best way to deal with this


MDLawn
04-25-2011, 01:48 PM
Ok I'm going to try to get enough details written down here. I will be putting in a patio for my bother this year. This issue I am dealing with is how to handle a minor grade change. The distance from the back of his garage to the fence gate of the pool is 17ft with an elvation change of 8-10 inches, the garage side being higher. His whole yard slopes downhill. The patio needs to be level with the pool gate to allow it to open which means removing alot of soil from the garage side of the area. The idea was to put in a small 6-8" wall along the one side (the other side is next to the house) to allow the patio to sit lower than the grade. Is this an ok way to approach this? Is there a better way. Like I said the main problem is dealing with the grade to allow the pool gate to open.

Thanks for any suggestions or confimations.

DVS Hardscaper
04-25-2011, 09:19 PM
hard to envision.

and at this time of the year, way too busy and too tired to sit here infront of the screen trying to interpret and envision.

We do not build walls for 8-10" of elevation. we build up with aggregate and backfill with soil and taper out into the yard.


,

MDLawn
04-26-2011, 09:24 AM
hard to envision.

and at this time of the year, way too busy and too tired to sit here infront of the screen trying to interpret and envision.

Not a problem I understand that.


We do not build walls for 8-10" of elevation. we build up with aggregate and backfill with soil and taper out into the yard.


,

Sorry I can't explain it better, I will get a picture up later. I completely understand building it up to level it out. The problem is being caused by a gate that will swing open on to the patio. The gate is at the low end of the elevation so raising that end up 8-10" is not possible as it would block the gate from opening. So the small "wall" would be built because the upper end of the patio (high elevation near house) would need to be lowered to the elevation of the gate side of the patio. Even with a slope on the patio of 1/8-1/4" per foot, it is still too high. It is a small 12x15 area and they want to used every inch of that space.

I completely understand everyone is in super busy mode right now.

DVS Hardscaper
04-26-2011, 09:36 AM
Reset the fence and gate
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
04-26-2011, 09:48 AM
Reset the fence and gate
Posted via Mobile Device

Thats probably not going to be on option. I'll get that picture up later this evening. Thanks for you help with ideas though.

zedosix
04-26-2011, 05:12 PM
Easy fix. Build a step 4 feet back of the gate or so and keep the existing grade right where it is. Work with it instead of trying to solve the grading issue. Here is a picture of a pool project we did 4 yrs ago, had the same issue so we built a step in behind the gate. In the first picture the gates are not yet installed. On the next picture you'll see another project with the gate installed .Pool gates need to open inwards so you won't need a lot of room behind , just a couple of feet would do. Hope this helps.

zedosix
04-26-2011, 05:18 PM
sorry but last picture doesn't really show the gates well.

STL Ponds and Waterfalls
04-26-2011, 06:17 PM
Andrew is that just a cover for the logs in the firepit? Also do you install your fencing or sub that out?

MDLawn
04-26-2011, 07:55 PM
Zedosix,

I'm ebarrassed by the attached pic because of how small and simple this patio will be compared to your stuff, ha! So with the picture the high side is the garage side (yellow siding) and the low side is the pool. I though about having the patio match the grade and create an opening with a step down to allow the door to open??? I really appreciate all your time and answers with this.

The second pic (with the landsaping) was the first idea but my brothers wife wants the patio larger. This had some lose river rock to help with the grade going down with some large flag stone as steping stones to allow the gate to open. But that was squashed!

Thanks guys

zedosix
04-26-2011, 08:53 PM
Andrew is that just a cover for the logs in the firepit? Also do you install your fencing or sub that out?

Ya, I guess it is, I only supplied the valencia, he bought the rest of the set up. Yes we sub out the fencing.

Its Andy. :)

zedosix
04-26-2011, 09:02 PM
Md, I like the challenge you have in front of you, this is perfect to hone your hardscape skills. Try to build the area in front of the gate at the same grade of the pool and do a step up towards the patio. I would also do a wall along the remainder of the fence on the patio side. This way you could extend the patio away from the house and do a small flowerbed in front of the hydro meter. Replacing the steps would be a nice option as well. Anytime there is elevation involved the options are endless. I would love to draw it out for you but my eyes are sore from staring at the computer from drawing so much these past weeks. Good luck.

MDLawn
04-26-2011, 09:11 PM
Md, I like the challenge you have in front of you, this is perfect to hone your hardscape skills. Try to build the area in front of the gate at the same grade of the pool and do a step up towards the patio. I would also do a wall along the remainder of the fence on the patio side. This way you could extend the patio away from the house and do a small flowerbed in front of the hydro meter. Replacing the steps would be a nice option as well. Anytime there is elevation involved the options are endless. I would love to draw it out for you but my eyes are sore from staring at the computer from drawing so much these past weeks. Good luck.

Zedo,

Thanks for the ideas. Just for clarification on the gate area. First it swings towards the patio area. Lets say the gate opens up in a 4'x4' area, are you saying create an 4'x4' lower level with a step down on three sides with wall block? Sorry for the claification needs but it is really appreciated.

zedosix
04-26-2011, 09:16 PM
Zedo,

Thanks for the ideas. Just for clarification on the gate area. First it swings towards the patio area. Lets say the gate opens up in a 4'x4' area, are you saying create an 4'x4' lower level with a step down on three sides with wall block? Sorry for the claification needs but it is really appreciated.

Yes exactly. You'll need to determine the appropriate distance required. On another note though, up here anyway, the codes demand that the gates swing inwards towards the pool not outwards.

MDLawn
04-26-2011, 09:20 PM
Yes exactly. You'll need to determine the appropriate distance required. On another note though, up here anyway, the codes demand that the gates swing inwards towards the pool not outwards.

Hmm,

My brother had it built by a contractor so I'm not sure I will ask him. Also I will be doing new steps out of wall block, just could not render it well enough in the design program. Like the idea of a planter around the meter, thanks! Thanks for the help, you are an experienced contractor and its great to have help. I'll make sure to post pics from start to finish to get the real "truth" from you guys!

MDLawn
05-06-2011, 01:24 PM
What is typically used behind steps for waterproofing the foundation? The stairs will be up against the brick in the picture on the first page. There is no basement there. Also would you leave a gap between the left side of the steps and the siding or remove the siding and build to that foundation? Any preferences?

Really looking forward to doing this project and this type of work. Thanks for all the help and I will make sure to take as many pics from start to finish.

zedosix
05-06-2011, 05:18 PM
What is typically used behind steps for waterproofing the foundation? The stairs will be up against the brick in the picture on the first page. There is no basement there. Also would you leave a gap between the left side of the steps and the siding or remove the siding and build to that foundation? Any preferences?

Really looking forward to doing this project and this type of work. Thanks for all the help and I will make sure to take as many pics from start to finish.

Any type of waterproof shield like blue skin or the like will work. Some of them stick quite well, others tend to need a type of caulking beaded on the cement to help it stick. (sorry can't think of the name at the moment)

zedosix
05-06-2011, 05:20 PM
No gap on the left side, bring the steps right across and butt into the wall. Have someone finish the siding around it for you.

MDLawn
02-14-2012, 12:53 PM
So hopefully this project will get completed this year as there were some financial issues that put it on hold for my brother last year. As long as its a go I will definitely be posting before, during, and after pics and looking forward to either a bashing, critiquing, or by mere chance some helpful pointers. That gate will be the biggest pita to work around but it is what it is. He should have done the patio first!! Maybe we can have a redo of the fence......

OneLineAtATime
02-18-2012, 09:07 PM
Raise the area, use 6x6 post as retainer (or stone), then patio has to be cut in were the gate is. Thinking one step down. You don't have much options

MDLawn
07-21-2012, 10:32 PM
Well hopefully in the next coming weeks this project will be getting done. Just need the go ahead from my brother and get the pile of money in place to buy materials and rent equipment. Looks like we've decided the best course of action is to get rid of the black fence and build the patio up to the deck with the deck being a step up still using a 12 inch "wall" by the deck and around the side. Anything to think about when building next to a garage slab as under the garage is not the basement or their screen porch. It's Just a pad and stone. Anything to think about? Really looking forward to this. And hopefully not screwing up too badly.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-13-2012, 11:43 AM
Materials ordered, should be delivered this week. Hopefully things go smoothly 50% of the time. Fence is coming out to make it a little easier to deal with. Gotta admit that I'm a little nervous on this one. Why? Not sure. Don't want to screw up I guess. I know it wont be perfect but I'm excited to see what's involved and plan on posting all the costs associated with the project to give others and idea of what it costs to do. Also I already posted this in a different thread but my supplier, where I took their contractor training, said that the geo-textile is not needed and according to new research is causing more problems. Thoughts.....

MDLawn
08-17-2012, 09:49 PM
Got the materials on site, picking up the rentals tomorrow. Hoping to get the area dug out base in and hopefully starting stairs and small wall. Thanks to anyone who helped give ideas or advice. I'll try and take as many pics as I can but often forget when busy!!

zedosix
08-18-2012, 11:49 AM
I'm not a fan of dumping anything on a guys lawn, granular especially!

GreenI.A.
08-18-2012, 03:46 PM
I'm not a fan of dumping anything on a guys lawn, granular especially!

I made that mistake on one of my first installs. After is was dumped, my first thought was "s*** this is going to be a pita to get out of the lawn when I'm done. Thankfully when the homeowner saw it when he got home he actually asked me to spread more stone in the area when I was done so he could park his boat trailer. That's the last time I have done it where it wasn't 100% necessary

MDLawn
08-18-2012, 10:02 PM
Yea it's my brothers and we are redoing that area anyways. His driveway was just sealed and the street was a no no. However, I COMPLETELY AGREE otherwise.

Day 1- got a decent amount dug out in about the 5 hours I was able to work there. Still need to knock down a few spots about 6". I wish I would have made better equipment choices. That mini skid can take of the first 6" but the next 3-4" is turning out to be a real pita. Plus access and area for movement is very tight. But a mini x wouldve done better but I needed the ability to move the material. Hoping to get it dug out and start laying base tomorrow. This is quite the project for me I have to admit. Overwhelmed, maybe a touch right now. Will feel more confident if I can start laying base tomorrow.
Posted via Mobile Device

GreenI.A.
08-18-2012, 11:41 PM
Good luck with it. I did a few projects for family in the beginning. I just kept in mind that this is a project I will be seeing a couple times a year for years to come at family get to gethers. I made sure to do it right because I knew any imperfection no matter how small would haunt me everytime I would be there in the future. It's good to hook family up when I can, but family will usually be the first to call about any imperfections

THEGOLDPRO
08-19-2012, 12:11 AM
Subbing to see the progress pics on this.

MDLawn
08-19-2012, 07:49 PM
Day 2, definitely my last hardscape job I'll ever do. I feel like the blind leading the blind. My major hurdle is the pool deck. The railing must be 48" from ground level. My brother said changing the railing was not on option. So everything is based off that height which is going to result in a low patio. I feel like everytime I think I made progress it looks like there is SOOO much more. When this is done I cannot wait to leave it behind me. Hardscape pro's, it's all yours, I want nothing to do with it.

promower
08-19-2012, 09:52 PM
Lol, hardscaping isnt for everyone but once you can your technique down and look 10 steps ahead while doing the project it gets easier and faster. Digging out with a dingo totally sucks I know I have done it when a skid wasnt an option and its slow going to say the least. Hope it turns out for you, its rewarding to finish a nice paver job and know that everything was done perfect and there will be years of use and enjoyment from it.

Snyder's Lawn Inc
08-19-2012, 10:35 PM
watching post more

alldayrj
08-19-2012, 10:53 PM
whats the deal with the dirt ramp up against the brick of the house

MDLawn
08-20-2012, 06:58 AM
whats the deal with the dirt ramp up against the brick of the house

The area there is a poured pad and it extends out to far to have the patio against te brick. So we've decided to just put landscape stone there and the patio about 8-10 inches from it. Again the pain is having to have the patio meet the 48" railing. Throwing everything off.
Posted via Mobile Device

Snyder's Lawn Inc
08-20-2012, 08:00 AM
So you building the patio same height from house to pool deck and only have steps to enter in the lawn
hope see more photos

MDLawn
08-20-2012, 08:11 AM
So you building the patio same height from house to pool deck and only have steps to enter in the lawn
hope see more photos

No, if you look closely you can see a wall cap near the deck. Thats the height of the patio so that the pool railings are 48" from it for pool code. Should have just had him redo the railing.

alldayrj
08-20-2012, 12:06 PM
break out the jackhammer bro, getrdun

MDLawn
08-20-2012, 04:04 PM
break out the jackhammer bro, getrdun

We've decided just to build a garden wall around it filled with stones. Boring, yes, but solves that issue.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-20-2012, 05:10 PM
So I took off my little kid high tops and put on my man boots and got to work. Feeling better although there is still plenty left to do. At least the base is starting to go in. Rented compactor bit the dust so that halted things. Fun times. Any tips on getting the base to compct level? You dont have to share you most kept trade secrets, just looking for help. I have the string lines down so I could compact.

Snyder's Lawn Inc
08-20-2012, 08:15 PM
how many inches of base are you doing
I use a laser now use to use a string checking The depth of base

MDLawn
08-20-2012, 08:30 PM
6" give or take. I know the laser is best. Don't really have $600-$1000+ to spend on that. It does make it easy though!!
Posted via Mobile Device

alldayrj
08-20-2012, 08:32 PM
strings and the biggest screeder board you can afford/get work for me

zedosix
08-20-2012, 08:40 PM
Thats going to be some small step at the door when you're done with it. I can't believe Allan block is still being used for steps!

MDLawn
08-20-2012, 08:49 PM
Do you think I should move it out? Rather adjust now if possible. The one dealer I've worked with carries that product plus the entire product is Atlas Block so the colors will match, block and paver. Just sheer curiosity what is it about Allan Block?
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-20-2012, 08:50 PM
strings and the biggest screeder board you can afford/get work for me

I started using a big board today. Helped a bit.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-20-2012, 09:07 PM
Thats going to be some small step at the door when you're done with it. I can't believe Allan block is still being used for steps!

Wow looking at the pictures you are totally right. That would've been awful. REDO.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-21-2012, 09:48 PM
Day 4, more base put in and getting close to level (yes pitched too). Base, compact, base, compact, base, compact....... It looks like in some spots I excavated too much and ending up with 8"+ of base, which besides wasting money, isn't such a bad thing. Lots of "Doh!!" moments, but honestly I expected it. Going to fix the stairs as the top step would be smaller than the door opening, thanks Zedo for opening my eyes to this. Will be back to this project on Fri, Sat, Sun and hopefully getting the walkway base in and leveling (pitching) it all out and maybe sand and pavers soon??

Oh yea and this crazy hawk came flying out of one of my bothers apple trees. This thing was HUGE!!

MDLawn
08-24-2012, 06:08 PM
Made more progress today by getting the walkway base in and leveling the base the best I can to within the 3/8" spec I've read before sand. Made the first tread in the stair much longer so there will be an acutal stair at the top. Thanks again to Zedosix for pointing that out. Instead of the early pity party I was throwing myself I'm feeling some relief that progress is being made. Tomorrow is paver and steps day!! Got the wet table saw rented, sand in the dump trailer, and pavers ready to lay. This will be the true test to see how well I think I did. It's my first ever true hardscape so unfortunately I'm not expecting any miracles and more whoops!!! Here are some pics of the base. I know they are riveting!!!

MDLawn
08-24-2012, 06:26 PM
Ok just thought of a question for those with the knowledge. Start pavers with walkway or corner by stairs?
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-24-2012, 06:37 PM
I'm assuming the back wall of garage.
Posted via Mobile Device

GreenI.A.
08-24-2012, 11:42 PM
Ok just thought of a question for those with the knowledge. Start pavers with walkway or corner by stairs?
Posted via Mobile Device

I'm assuming the back wall of garage.
Posted via Mobile Device

I always prefer to start along any existing straight surface, such as the garage in your case. This way you are sure the straight lines are parallel, if your lines end up being off a little at the other end or along the walk it wont be as noticeable. With the opposite, if you start at the walkway and your measurements are off by the slightest bit it will be magnified, your lines will not be parallel with the garage.

Birchwood
08-24-2012, 11:49 PM
Looks good. I would start with the back wall of garage and work to the walk that way you are square to the house, if you started with the walk and worked to the patio you might not be square to the house. Try to have as many full pavers by the house.

Also watching your rentals, I would have done all the excavating first, and then rented the compactor. You could also get 90% of the pavers down before needing to make any cuts. Just a thought.

Birchwood
08-24-2012, 11:50 PM
sorry green industry, you obviously type faster than me!

GreenI.A.
08-25-2012, 12:03 AM
Also watching your rentals, I would have done all the excavating first, and then rented the compactor. You could also get 90% of the pavers down before needing to make any cuts. Just a thought.

I was thinking that as well with the rentals. Your are probably going to take a couple of days laying the pavers since it is your first time. If I was you, I would have laid the field and soldier course first then just grabbed the saw when I was done to do all the cuts at once. That is unless you have a good rental house that gives a good weekend deal. We have a few up here who only rent to companies and not home owners, they almost give the equipment away for weekends.

MDLawn
08-25-2012, 07:02 AM
Thanks for the ideas. At the end of this I will be going over all the pitfalls and mistakes I can think of. Luckily and unluckily that small compactor wasn't working so they gave me another, it didn't work, finally got the bigger one which then they only charged me the small compactor weekend rate along with the Dingo with a 10% discount for all the trouble. But again first hardscape = not knowing for sure when I'd need what. I also thought I'd be farther along so I had all the equipment ready, classic rookie mistake. Well hopefully it goes well today!
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-25-2012, 07:09 AM
Yes I've used a couple of weekend rentals as they are discounted. Everything is paid for by my brother and I'm using this as more of an experience than money maker, but am still being paid for it.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-25-2012, 07:14 AM
Sorry one more thing. If I get say half the field laid, do I compact 2/3 of that or just wait until its all down? Swear I read to compact at the end of a day?
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-25-2012, 03:49 PM
Was only able to get a half day in but got some ok production. Screeded the sand and once the pattern was in my head it was easy to put down. Getting the pavers to the area to lay was the biggest pain. Also either this product is junk, old, or something else but the amount of effloresence is unbelieveable. Luckily my brother could care less, more of a function than image person, so he says "keep going". But really?? LONG day ahead tomorrow.

alldayrj
08-25-2012, 04:34 PM
Is it supposed to be a pattern? Whats the manufacturer? Seems to be some long lines in that pattern
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-25-2012, 04:38 PM
Yes that is the pattern and I thought similar. Manufacturer is Atlas Hardscapes, maker of Allan Block. I'll post the pattern later. If I do another hardscape I'll look into a different manufacturer I think. Maybe Unilock, they're big around here.
Posted via Mobile Device

Birchwood
08-25-2012, 11:33 PM
Don't compact until all is down and edging is in and you have swept sand.

As for Allan Block, you will see a huge difference in quality when you look at Unilock. Allan block tried to push their material around 8 years ago, they had a seatwall block that was only 6 inches thick and was hollow, how long before that wall would fall over.

MDLawn
08-26-2012, 07:55 PM
Got the patio in!! Thanks to help from my brother and his wife. Ran out of pavers during the walkway so that put a halt to things. Thanks to the guy placing my order not listening to me to add 10% to the square footage. Still need to get those walkway pavers in and get the steps up. This does feel like the never ending job. Compacted the patio because I had the compactor rented and wasnt about to not use it and pay for it. There are a few mistakes I need to correct and my bond lines are not the greatest. Again this is my FIRST hardscape and in hindsight I picked quite the project to start with. A nice square 10x10 would've been nice.

GreenI.A.
08-26-2012, 09:38 PM
On the patio I was't a big fan of the pattern, the lines are too long. But now that I see the walk way I definitely am not a fan of the design. The lines go all the way across the walkway. If you were set on that pattern I would have done a different one on the walk way and blended them together

MDLawn
08-26-2012, 09:41 PM
Again, first hardscape. Only thing I was "set" on was completeing it. I agree, I don't like any of the product. It is what it is, but noted.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
08-27-2012, 02:04 PM
Here is the pattern

MDLawn
08-27-2012, 02:16 PM
Also I know it's not completed yet but all comments/suggestions are welcome. If a negative one, which are fine, I just ask that you supply the better solution or way as have already been done a few times. Also remember this is the first one I have ever done without any prior experience working for a landscaper who does this type of work. First time with compactors, wet diamond saw, and pavers for that matter, etc.... Most of you guys here do execptional work and I know this is not going to be remotely close to the product you offer your clients.

A few things I have learned along the way:

- Should have started with a more simple project.

- Takes much more time than you think (especially for first time).

- Totally wasted some money in rentals, as stated above, due in part to thinking I'd be moving quicker.

- Don't put base stone on any soft surface. Luckily we have soil from removal to spread around and seed.

- Leveling the base is so important and mine is off just a bit and you can see it, luckily still pitched away from the house though.

- Laying pavers by yourself takes A LOT of time. Having someone be able to at least stage them for you is a time saver!

- Cutting pavers takes a lot of time

- All the small things you can't envision happening without doing many many installs.

Hopefully my brother gets to enjoy his patio for a long time and thanks to him for willing to sacrifice himself for my rookie mistakes.

promower
08-27-2012, 03:03 PM
Looking pretty good for a 1st time job especially for a decent sized one. Looks like there could be a few waves in the patio but could also just be camera playing tricks. Something I do but is not favored by all hardscapers is doing the border quick and easy. What I do to minimize all measuring and piecing in is: Lay out the paver field, lay your border on top of the pavers grab a sharpie and trace a line on top of the pavers along border. Remove border get your cut off saw and make a cut along that line, remove cut pieces and put border back in. Huge time saver on any curved areas and a tighter fit I think.
I remeber doing a job for my mom and dads houses many years ago when I started and I spent a small fortune on rentals, had no idea the time each part took and ended up keeping rentals 2-3 days total waste live and learn though.

MDLawn
08-27-2012, 05:04 PM
Thanks Promower. There is a little dip in the middle that was a surprise for me as that was the spot I leveled and leveled. Ugh. I agree with your idea for the border but I had a wet table saw.
Posted via Mobile Device

zedosix
08-27-2012, 08:09 PM
Something I do but is not favored by all hardscapers is doing the border quick and easy. What I do to minimize all measuring and piecing in is: Lay out the paver field, lay your border on top of the pavers grab a sharpie and trace a line on top of the pavers along border. Remove border get your cut off saw and make a cut along that line, remove cut pieces and put border back in. Huge time saver on any curved areas and a tighter fit I think.
.

Imo you are still wasting time by setting up your soldier on the outside edge. I agree cutting in place is a huge time saver but you could of decreased that time by half at least if you would use "snap edge" as the layout tool instead of the brick.

THEGOLDPRO
08-27-2012, 09:13 PM
looks good for a first time job man.

MDLawn
08-27-2012, 09:27 PM
Thanks GOLDPRO. Hardscaping is indeed that...hard. But if another job comes my way I'll feel a little better prepared in understanding what should and shouldn't be done. Not sure if you do any hardscaping but for me if a few jobs come up I feel a wise investment would be the smaller tools such as a paver saw & plate compactor. For the money I spent on renting those two items I could have found a good used gas paver saw. I can rent the big stuff like a skid steer or mini ex as those have a tremendous up front cost.

For those seasoned in hardscapes I'm just curious how long this type of job would've taken you (eventhough im not done) and how many guys. Just for perspective.
Posted via Mobile Device

DVS Hardscaper
08-27-2012, 09:50 PM
Also I know it's not completed yet but all comments/suggestions are welcome. If a negative one, which are fine, I just ask that you supply the better solution or way as have already been done a few times. Also remember this is the first one I have ever done without any prior experience working for a landscaper who does this type of work. First time with compactors, wet diamond saw, and pavers for that matter, etc.... Most of you guys here do execptional work and I know this is not going to be remotely close to the product you offer your clients.

A few things I have learned along the way:

- Should have started with a more simple project.

- Takes much more time than you think (especially for first time). Even us veteran contractors will get at least 1 to 2 jobs a year that take longer then we ever thought

- Totally wasted some money in rentals, as stated above, due in part to thinking I'd be moving quicker. When renting - sometimes renting for weekly periods are cheaper then daily periods.

- Don't put base stone on any soft surface. Luckily we have soil from removal to spread around and seed.
Sometimes you can't avoid dumping aggregate on the lawn. But you need to account for this when you price the job. If the job will take 15 tons - factor in an additional 3 tons to compensate for the aggregate you lose in the lawn. And factor in a couple yards of top soil for repairing the area when you're done.
- Leveling the base is so important and mine is off just a bit and you can see it, luckily still pitched away from the house though. This will account for 50% of the labor time. We use a string line and line level for leveing the aggregate base. With the line you have a visual and can see what's going on. Whereas, if you use a laser level - you don't have the visual that tells the whole story.

- Laying pavers by yourself takes A LOT of time. Having someone be able to at least stage them for you is a time saver! I think many of you may think the term HARDscaping refers to my chest - but no, the work is called "HARDscaping" for a reason

- Cutting pavers takes a lot of time Yes it does. And making perfect, clean, crisp cuts takes even longer. As mentioned in an earlier thread 0 we do almost all of our cutting with a table saw, we do not use a cut off saw. We sell craftsmanship. Not a production tract home.

- All the small things you can't envision happening without doing many many installs. Such as daily cleaning of the driveway and street. I', pricing a large patio for a repeat customer - just sweeping the poly sand in is going to take 2 guys about 1/2 a day. Of non-stop brooming.

Hopefully my brother gets to enjoy his patio for a long time and thanks to him for willing to sacrifice himself for my rookie mistakes.




responses in red

MDLawn
08-27-2012, 10:14 PM
Thanks DVS. Your answers are much appreciated. Hardscaping is definitely hard work and takes more craftsmanship than a lot of other landscaping tasks. Base is so important and I know it was preached into my head but now I can fully understand why.
Posted via Mobile Device

GreenI.A.
08-28-2012, 03:58 PM
Day 2, definitely my last hardscape job I'll ever do. I feel like the blind leading the blind................When this is done I cannot wait to leave it behind me. Hardscape pro's, it's all yours, I want nothing to do with it.

...........But if another job comes my way I'll feel a little better prepared in understanding what should and shouldn't be done........... Posted via Mobile Device

Funny how your attitude has changed now that you can invision the finished project. I think the majority of us went through this in the beginning, the first time you tackle something like this you have all the hickups and don't think the end will ever be in sight. Once you get towards the end you start to see that you can have a future in it.

MDLawn
08-28-2012, 06:24 PM
Yea I was in panic mode at that point. Not knowing when that next step would move forward. Ya know the 3 year old coming out in me :) But thankfully helpful and knowledgeable people here can help. They cannot do the work for you but can surely offer suggestions whether it is before, during, or after the project.

Hoping for completion this weekend, at least of the hardscape. Still lots of clean up and other finishing touches after.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
09-01-2012, 09:36 PM
So today was a cut and fill day. Final rental of the wet saw to get everything cut. The stairs are up but I still need to get sand under the pavers. I have them in the area because I needed to get everything cut today so thats why it looks like that on the top. Finished the walkway and just need to sweep in poly sand on the entire patio/walkway surface. Cutting takes much longer than you would think. The holes I needed to fill the walkway in were easy because it was basically just splitting the rectangle paver in half. But corners, curves, and angles just take time. Just some updated pics of the progress. For those wanting to dabble in hardscape my suggestion....do a simple 10x10 patio first. This was crazy for a first job. Lots of things to get done and for one person this was A LOT of work. Also this was my first experience with the tools to get the job done such as the compactor, wet saw, pavers, and other misc things. Lots of on the job learning. Wow the mistakes.....

Have a great labor day everyone.......if you get the holiday off.

big daddy b
09-01-2012, 09:46 PM
Looks alright.
I do not like that pattern, there are some long lines as stated before, and it just looks bad in my opinion.
Could you have done a random pattern with that brick, or would it have not worked out?

You can see in the first picture the lines aren't really straight.
What kind of edging is that?

In the stoop picture, is there no over hang on the caps?
One of my biggest pet peaves, not over hanging caps on walls and steps/stoops.

MDLawn
09-01-2012, 10:53 PM
Big daddy b, I wasn't about to attempt my own random pattern on my first job but yes I hate that pattern now too. Just lends itself to not look good without A LOT of work. I will say this my brother laid the majority of the patio and walkway that is showing in the pics looking from the walkway up to the patio so blame him ;) I think the edging is called Sure Foot. It's what they gave me. I was under the impression to not overlap on the steps or very little according to code but I agree it would look better with some overhang. They are not glued down yet so maybe I can give a little bit?

Again I know my aesthetic mistakes I made and am thankful to my brother as he doesn't care. I also have a better idea of the base prep, which again was the first time ever. Base is by far the most critical step. I''ve never laid a paver until this project remember.

Thanks everyone for the criticisms, tips, suggestions, and the limited compliments (keep them all coming). They all help make for a better second project should it come.
Posted via Mobile Device

big daddy b
09-02-2012, 08:57 PM
If they aren't glued down yet, myself I would over hang them a little bit. I usually do 1", but you could go only a 1/2". It just looks better in my opinion, as far as I know there aren't any code restrictions to due with that.

DVS Hardscaper
09-02-2012, 09:10 PM
Not the best photography. Poor angles. But from what little I can see it doesn't look too terribly bad.

I lucked out with our first paver patio. One of my employees had a background in excavating. So grading, installing the aggregate and leveling the aggregate, was a non issue for our first time. At the same time i had another employee that is super smart and a perfectionist. Always striving for achievement. So with his smarts and determination our first patio was a success.

Hardscape installation now only accounts for about 38% of my gross sales. Like you said "others can have it at". I got better fish frying.

.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
09-02-2012, 09:54 PM
DVS, sorry cell phone pics and I'll be honest I took the patio ones from the best looking angles. The bond lines in areas are real bad and a little wavy in areas. But my brother actually laid a lot of those while I was cutting so I wasn't watching him. That's not a fish tale either, he was helping me and has no clue about the lines. So instead if stopping evey so often and looking he was having trouble enough following the pattern!!! I won't lie this patio is nothing I'd be showing pictures of to prospective clients although most wouldn't know any better. My biggest problem with this project was and still is time, i just dont have enough and need thus project done asap. Not the best thing to keep quality under control, hence using my brother to get stuff done. Also having zero experience doesn't work out well for a semi complicated first project. Working with specific grades (not just laying a patio behind a house on flat land), walkway & a patio construction, and stairs. Not enough brain know how for that many things quite yet. Worked, yes. Worked well, eh it's just ok.

Just out of curiosity if hardscapes are down are you just doing more landscaping??
Posted via Mobile Device

DVS Hardscaper
09-03-2012, 01:35 AM
DVS.....

Just out of curiosity if hardscapes are down are you just doing more landscaping??
Posted via Mobile Device


No, we only done one landscape install job this year. We have ventured into more of an excavating related field. We are 60 miles north of DC and our work is now outside the Dc area and we do a lot in Northern VA. Where before all our work was concentrated within 20 minute of our shop. The recession has been a blessing, went from having to borrow money from dad to pay the company insurance bills, there were a few nights we had to eat peanut butter and jelly for dinne- to a a change for the best.

You can do anything you set your mind to. It takes passion and determination. My kid is in his first year racing Motocross, not the fastest rider, about middle of the pack, and he's getting faster and faster. Our moto is "No Excuses". I dont care if he come in Last, as long as he TRIES hard and enjoys it. I'm even going to have stickers made that say "no excuses" and they will be placed on his front fender, as a constant reminder that his destination is in his hands. Same mentality goes for business. If you have the determination And know how to succeed - you will succeed, no matter what it is.

You can make money with hardscapes. But once the market becomes saturated with competition - its more work than its worth, let the others beat each other up on prices. Countless hrs meeting with dead end clients, doing dean end designs, etc etc.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
09-03-2012, 08:22 AM
But once the market becomes saturated with competition - its more work than its worth, let the others beat each other up on prices. Countless hrs meeting with dead end clients, doing dean end designs, etc etc.
Posted via Mobile Device

I feel this is the "landscape" industry as a whole. The 80's & 90's were the landscaping days where contractors made a lot of money, or at least made what they should. The maintenance side is probably the worst. But like you said the market is saturated and is probably ending the "easy money" days of landscaping. You said it can be done with determination, but as you also said is it worth all that time and effort you WILL need to put in. You want to be able to say yes but that thought in the back of your head won't leave.

I think in order to get better clientele you need to be doing things the average person/client and Joe Mow cannot. Such as your getting into excavating. I'm sure there are issues too but the average person isn't hopping into a large excavator or bulldozer and makin things happen. Or find customers who have been burned before who will pay money or the well informed who are willing to pay for getting it right.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
09-16-2012, 09:34 PM
Got the poly sand in and am "done" with the patio. Just need to fill in around the patio and walk, then take care of the removed soil that we filled a depression with. I'm definitely more confident if another project comes my way. Also I know all the mistakes I made here so I can improve upon it. Such as picking a good block and pattern to eliminate LONG bond lines. Working on learing to cut curves, walkway and stair treads, doh! Making sure that the base is VERY level (still trying to figure out how). And all those small things that make the project turn out better. Thanks for all the help, encouragement, product bashing, and general nonsense.

jbailey52
09-16-2012, 09:56 PM
Good for you man. We have all had our "first job", your just having yours now. You obviously know your mistakes, and that curve on the walkway, ouch.... Maybe now is a good time to practice and redo that part!

MDLawn
09-16-2012, 10:15 PM
and that curve on the walkway, ouch....

Ha! my thoughts exactly!! I was rushing too much at the end too. Time crunches are NEVER good.

big daddy b
09-17-2012, 08:09 PM
What's up with the top step at the door? Why did you leave a trip hazard at the entrance of the home? Was that poor planning, or done on purpose?

MDLawn
09-17-2012, 09:06 PM
Definitely planning issues. I'm not trying to make excuses but with a first hardscape that included

Walkway
Large Patio that needed to be built to a specified height to make sure the pool railings were at 48"
Stairs

There was a lot that I didn't account for, mainly I think because I just didn't know well enough. But this entire project has opened my eyes to the incredible amount of detail needed in the prep work.
Posted via Mobile Device

alldayrj
09-17-2012, 09:15 PM
wow just saw the stair treads on the curve, is that all poly sand!?!

definitely an ambitious first project and not trying to knock you but damn...

MDLawn
09-17-2012, 09:21 PM
wow just saw the stair treads on the curve, is that all poly sand!?!

definitely an ambitious first project and not trying to knock you but damn...

First step (bottom one) the curve has three pieces of cut cap to fill in that step. I'll see if I can find a dry picture. The second step(middle) has poly sand in that joint.
Posted via Mobile Device

zedosix
09-17-2012, 09:27 PM
Just don't use allan block again, this isn't about saving money its about building a hardscape project that will last years. Unfortuneatly this one may not.

MDLawn
09-17-2012, 09:31 PM
alldayrj, look back to post #74 and you can see the bottom step with the pieces in it.

MDLawn
09-17-2012, 09:35 PM
Just don't use allan block again, this isn't about saving money its about building a hardscape project that will last years. Unfortuneatly this one may not.

Unfortunately for my brother it was about saving money. I showed him other brands of pavers such as Unilock and Oaks but the very cheap price tag per sq ft was what was most important to them. And with my brother you cannot convice otherwise, sorry it's the way they are.

Are you saying this may not last due to the Allan Block/Atlas Hardscapes product? Or construction wise? Or both? Just curious.

MDLawn
09-17-2012, 09:49 PM
Honestly I don't mind the negative feedback, it's really just going to make me want to think harder for the next time. If it was all "OOOOO's and AAAHH's" I'm just not going to learn anything and I didn't think I was going to be a master at this in any way.

Large Mistakes....

1.) Poor planning. This project changed from level it with this, no now level it with the pool deck, no now it needs to be here. Getting the stairs in and finished first, that would have set the level for the patio. Now I have a little trip hazard. "Measure 100X cut once". This mistake, poor planning, is by far the one that caused anything else to fail.

2.) Equipment rentals. Pieces and when to rent.

3.) Estimated time for completetion. At the end I rushed a little as it took me longer than estimated.


What I've gained......

Knowledge on tools that I didnt know before such as plate compactors, wet paver saws, and other simple things like screeding the sand bed, sweeping poly sand, edge restraints. When you've never used or done any of these things it's unfortunately a learn as you go process.

Knowledge on proper base construction and how time consuming and critical it is to have a project look great and last.

Knowledge in the amount of time it takes a project such as this and that many of my mistakes created time management issues.


If another project does come up I'd rather make sure it is a walkway or just a smaller patio before I dive into another one such as this again. It sure was an adventure and I'm sure I'll be shunned by some in this community but I'm glad I got to do it so I can be better prepared next time. Thanks again for any comments, suggestions, or whatever is and was offered.

zedosix
09-17-2012, 10:05 PM
Unfortunately for my brother it was about saving money. I showed him other brands of pavers such as Unilock and Oaks but the very cheap price tag per sq ft was what was most important to them. And with my brother you cannot convice otherwise, sorry it's the way they are.

Are you saying this may not last due to the Allan Block/Atlas Hardscapes product? Or construction wise? Or both? Just curious.

Allan block is a hollow block and just doesn't stand up to abuse like the solid core blocks. The cap system allows very little contact with the block.
I would keep an eye on that clay brick and the buildup of efflorescence which will ultimately decay the brick. When putting brick to brick contact think of using a layer of blue skin or platton to keep air flow between the two.

MDLawn
09-18-2012, 06:34 AM
Good point on the caps. I had a tough time finding spots to glue them consistently. Noted on the brick. I don't think I'll use Allan block as I found a couple of close suppliers with other products. So if anything it'll save me drive time if I need to go back to the place.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
09-18-2012, 10:26 AM
Allan block is a hollow block and just doesn't stand up to abuse like the solid core blocks. The cap system allows very little contact with the block.
I would keep an eye on that clay brick and the buildup of efflorescence which will ultimately decay the brick. When putting brick to brick contact think of using a layer of blue skin or platton to keep air flow between the two.

Zedosix, do you have a recommendation on manufacturers that you have found to provide a better lasting hardscape product? Just curious.

zedosix
09-18-2012, 01:21 PM
Zedosix, do you have a recommendation on manufacturers that you have found to provide a better lasting hardscape product? Just curious.

To date I find the techo mini creta or escala, they are pricey but worth it.
If you need a cheaper block that will last decades look to pisa or terrabloc from permacon. Another attractive block is from unilock called "roman-pisa" very similar to terrabloc. Another important factor is the tread depth size, techo has a nice 14" antique step cap and if curved go with the escala 15" cap. 12" is way to small for a tread depth.

Alot of us on here have been doing hardscapes for years, some of us decades and we are always learning. Don't be too hard on yourself just look, listen, learn and apply.

DVS Hardscaper
09-18-2012, 01:48 PM
As a clarification, many large retaining walls are made with block that is "hollow".

cornerstone block is a hollow core block, and it's one of the best names in the industry.

.
Posted via Mobile Device

MDLawn
09-18-2012, 02:33 PM
Don't be too hard on yourself just look, listen, learn and apply.

Thats the plan. I'm definitely hard on myself about it, but only so I remember these issues so they can be changed with the next project. Just gotta get more jobs under the belt. If I get more jobs I'll be investing in the small equipment like a compactor, saw and laser level. Just easier to have around than drive around to get. I'll rent the excavating equipment.

Again thanks...

zedosix
09-18-2012, 03:27 PM
As a clarification, many large retaining walls are made with block that is "hollow".

cornerstone block is a hollow core block, and it's one of the best names in the industry.

.
Posted via Mobile Device

I was referring to Allan block junior, the others I don't have experience with and won't comment on.

MDLawn
09-18-2012, 05:54 PM
It was their Jumbo Junior as the Junior is no longer made. If that makes a difference...
Posted via Mobile Device

DVS Hardscaper
09-18-2012, 06:05 PM
I was referring to Allan block junior, the others I don't have experience with and won't comment on.

i was aware of that.

i was clarifying so that someone lurking in the shadows about to do their first wall would not confuse the statement as a blanket statement :)




.