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Lee MD
05-25-2012, 09:47 AM
My apologies for posting in the non-homeowner forum, but I'm desperate to get professional hardscape advice that seems to be missing from the homeowner forum. I have an "L-shaped" Techo Mini Creta sitting wall that seems to have settled on the corner. The company that installed the wall along with my patio 4 years ago is basically telling me to shim it or pay them to rebuild the wall. More details are in my original thread here http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=379592

Thanks in advance.

DVS Hardscaper
05-25-2012, 10:28 AM
My apologies for posting in the non-homeowner forum, but I'm desperate to get professional hardscape advice that seems to be missing from the homeowner forum. I have an "L-shaped" Techo Mini Creta sitting wall that seems to have settled on the corner. The company that installed the wall along with my patio 4 years ago is basically telling me to shim it or pay them to rebuild the wall. More details are in my original thread here http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=379592

Thanks in advance.

Hello Fellow Marylander!

Respectfully, I don't have time to answer your question, click links, and read other threads :) Can you merely post a picture or two in this thread ? Where did the wall settle? Is it near the dwelling's foundation overdig zone, or no where near the dwelling's foundation?

A few questions about your contractor selection process first. Many times home owners come on here wanting assistance and answers, after a bunch of posts back and forth we find that the home owner got theirself into this mess and is as much at fault as the sub-par contractor.

1) Where did you find this contractor?

2) How many contractors did you speak with before making the selection?

3) What was the driving factor in hiring this contractor? (and please be honest. I'm / we're taking the time to help you, so please answer truthfully)

4) At the time did you make sure the contractor is licensed in the State of MD to perform Home Improvement work, is he/she a MHIC contractor? For future projects here is a link to help you:
https://www.dllr.state.md.us/cgi-bin/ElectronicLicensing/OP_search/OP_search.cgi?calling_app=HIC::HIC_qselect



Now lets talk about the contract / contractor:

1) Does the contract that you signed state anything about warranty? Most hardscape guys warranty their work for 5 years. So if something like settlement happens - we have to correct it. If you have a 5 yr warranty, send them a certified letter stating they have 20 days to correct it, or you will hire a contractor to make their correction and you will seek reimbursement plus fees through litigation.

2) Shimming the wall is not acceptable. It HAS to be taken down. The middle or top of the wall doesn't settle, settlement occurs in the ground. Aggregate needs added and compacted. And wall needs re-built, from the ground up.

3) Does the contract say anything about not being liable for settlement within so many feet of the dwelling's foundation?






.

DVS Hardscaper
05-25-2012, 10:41 AM
Another thought - if the warranty is infact expired, then you should expect to pay to have the wall corrected.

We have a client with slight settlement of pavers. It'll take 20 minuets to correct. Warranty expired the first week of March 2011. No, we're NOT fixing it for free. Fair is fair. But I'm willing to fix it for the cost of fuel to drive to the house and for the cost of my laborers time. Basically $100.00 total for everything.

Lee MD
05-25-2012, 11:16 AM
Thanks for your response.

Here are the pics of the wall:

Outside View-no Shim
http://img72.imageshack.us/img72/1203/capoutsidenoshimzoom.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/72/capoutsidenoshimzoom.jpg/)
Outside View-with Shim
http://img829.imageshack.us/img829/2695/capoutsidewithshimzoom.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/829/capoutsidewithshimzoom.jpg/)

Top View-no shim
http://img3.imageshack.us/img3/6738/captopnoshim.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/3/captopnoshim.jpg/)
Top View-with shim
http://img696.imageshack.us/img696/6863/captopwithshim.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/696/captopwithshim.jpg/)

Inside View-no shim
http://img706.imageshack.us/img706/796/capinsidenoshim.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/706/capinsidenoshim.jpg/)
Inside View-with shim
http://img585.imageshack.us/img585/8901/capinsidewithshim.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/585/capinsidewithshim.jpg/)

Uploaded with ImageShack.us (http://imageshack.us)



A few questions about your contractor selection process first. Many times home owners come on here wanting assistance and answers, after a bunch of posts back and forth we find that the home owner got theirself into this mess and is as much at fault as the sub-par contractor.

1) Where did you find this contractor?

2) How many contractors did you speak with before making the selection?

3) What was the driving factor in hiring this contractor? (and please be honest. I'm / we're taking the time to help you, so please answer truthfully)

4) At the time did you make sure the contractor is licensed in the State of MD to perform Home Improvement work, is he/she a MHIC contractor? For future projects here is a link to help you:
https://www.dllr.state.md.us/cgi-bin/ElectronicLicensing/OP_search/OP_search.cgi?calling_app=HIC::HIC_qselect


1) I found the contractor using a non-ad site called Checkbook.org. The contractor has been in business for awhile.

2) I spoke with about 4 different contractors.

3) I used a combination of price, paver selection and references when I selected the contractor. They were in the middle of the price ranges I was quoted.

4) The contractor is definitely licensed.



Now lets talk about the contract / contractor:

1) Does the contract that you signed state anything about warranty? Most hardscape guys warranty their work for 5 years. So if something like settlement happens - we have to correct it. If you have a 5 yr warranty, send them a certified letter stating they have 20 days to correct it, or you will hire a contractor to make their correction and you will seek reimbursement plus fees through litigation.

2) Shimming the wall is not acceptable. It HAS to be taken down. The middle or top of the wall doesn't settle, settlement occurs in the ground. Aggregate needs added and compacted. And wall needs re-built, from the ground up.

3) Does the contract say anything about not being liable for settlement within so many feet of the dwelling's foundation?


1) No, there was no warranty specified. When I discussed the contract, they said that they stand by their work and will take care of any issues. I actually had a friend who is looking for a hardscaper to call my contractor to ask about their warranty. The person he spoke with said that they don't have a warranty because they will take care of any installation issues for as long as the company is in business.

2) That's what I thought as well. Shims are not the solution.

3) Nothing in the contract mentions limited liability except for plantings.

DVS Hardscaper
05-25-2012, 11:45 AM
Nothing in writing about the warranty. Pretty Sneaky, huh?!

Techo's block is as near perfect as can get. Techo's block does not need shims. Techo-bloc prides theirselves on this fact.

The wall needs re-built. Most likely from the ground up. Now, there is glue in that wall. The glue bond is stronger than the block. So this means it is highly probable that additional caps and some block may need to be purchased.

We veteran competent contractors go to strides to educate prospective clients about what to look for when hiring contractors and when building hardscapes. I never imagined a contractor would not have anything stated in their contract regarding warranty. Again - sneaky sneaky sneaky.

I can't tell you how many times homeowners say "they been in business for a long time". Blah blah blah. That means nothing. Because they most likely spent at least 1/2 that time mowing lawns.

This contractor from your area doesnt by chance have the word "diversified" in their name do they?

Lee MD
05-25-2012, 12:05 PM
Nothing in writing about the warranty. Pretty Sneaky, huh?!

Techo's block is as near perfect as can get. Techo's block does not need shims. Techo-bloc prides theirselves on this fact.

The wall needs re-built. Most likely from the ground up. Now, there is glue in that wall. The glue bond is stronger than the block. So this means it is highly probable that additional caps and some block may need to be purchased.


This is what I was afraid of. What are the chances the new blocks will blend with the old ones?


We veteran competent contractors go to strides to educate prospective clients about what to look for when hiring contractors and when building hardscapes. I never imagined a contractor would not have anything stated in their contract regarding warranty. Again - sneaky sneaky sneaky.


I wish I could find the emails that went back and forth about the work because I know I was concerned about not seeing a warranty in writing.


I can't tell you how many times homeowners say "they been in business for a long time". Blah blah blah. That means nothing. Because they most likely spent at least 1/2 that time mowing lawns.


I did take a look at the contractor's portfolio and discussed their work before meeting with them.


This contractor from your area doesnt by chance have the word "diversified" in their name do they?

No, but "landscape" and "design" are.

DVS Hardscaper
05-25-2012, 03:22 PM
Chances are slim that the block colors will match.

I believe in good Karma and bad Karma.

That guy will get what he deserves sooner or later.
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Lee MD
05-25-2012, 03:46 PM
Should I hire a different contractor to fix the wall?

SVA_Concrete
05-25-2012, 05:22 PM
Another thought in terms of correcting the settlement.

Considering this is a seat wall, you may be able to jack the wall with grout.

you could check with a foundation repair company like JES. -- http://www.jeswork.com/

DVS Hardscaper
05-25-2012, 07:46 PM
Should I hire a different contractor to fix the wall?

If you're happy with both the work and your experience with this guy - then pay him to fix the work that he promised to stand behind.

If you're not happy with the work and bothered that he has let you down ......then why give him anOther dollar????


.
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DVS Hardscaper
05-25-2012, 09:48 PM
Also, they don't even have the cap joints staggered with the block joints. Anytime joints are not staggered - it's a sign of inexperience.

What would really be interesting would be a picture of the wall in it's entirety.
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SSmith
05-26-2012, 07:49 AM
Also, they don't even have the cap joints staggered with the block joints. Anytime joints are not staggered - it's a sign of inexperience.

What would really be interesting would be a picture of the wall in it's entirety.
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Hacks. Simple as that.

Lee MD
06-04-2012, 08:57 AM
Also, they don't even have the cap joints staggered with the block joints. Anytime joints are not staggered - it's a sign of inexperience.

What would really be interesting would be a picture of the wall in it's entirety.
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I'll take pictures of the whole wall and post this evening.

I've decided to definitely not go back to the original contractor. I've talked to a couple of different contractors and found one who seems to know a lot about Techo. I was referred to him through a Techo distributor in Gaithersburg.

So it turns out that the base of the wall was CR6 with sand mixed in and has started to wash out hence the wall settling in the corner. Apparently, this base composition is no longer the standard from what the contractor said. The whole wall is going to come down and a new base put in. Btw, the contractor has a warranty in writing is for 2 years for the labor.

DVS Hardscaper
06-04-2012, 09:35 AM
I'll take pictures of the whole wall and post this evening.

I've decided to definitely not go back to the original contractor. I've talked to a couple of different contractors and found one who seems to know a lot about Techo. I was referred to him through a Techo distributor in Gaithersburg.

So it turns out that the base of the wall was CR6 with sand mixed in and has started to wash out hence the wall settling in the corner. Apparently, this base composition is no longer the standard from what the contractor said. The whole wall is going to come down and a new base put in. Btw, the contractor has a warranty in writing is for 2 years for the labor.

Being familiar with a manufacturer means very little, a block is a block :). We all played with Legos as kids, not much different :)

Not to sound nit picky, but you wrote that the contractor said that the base composition is no longer done like that.

See, that concerns me if the word you wrote were the contractors words.

As the base you described NEVER WAS a standard.

I believe you have a water issue, causing the base to erode. Sure it may have sand in it, big deal, pavers bed on sand. If you don't find the water issue you possibly could have the same problem 27 months from now.

Yes, CR6 and or CR8 IS acceptable material for the base. We use CR8 99% of the time.

Sand? Some contractors may screed maybe 1/4" to 1/2" of sand to aid in setting and leveling the block faster. We do it frequently. We usually use no more than a quarter inch.

What Techo distributor is I'm Gaithersburg? They must just started carrying Techo within the last 12 to 18 months.

Also, check out this prospective contractor. Pull them up on the link I provided in this thread. Dealer leads are often based on who just bought the most materials that week :) the wording you used about the contractors comment about the base concerns me. But then again, you have a small job - it'll be hard to find a really competent contractor thats interested in looking at it :)
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Lee MD
06-04-2012, 09:49 AM
I believe you have a water issue, causing the base to erode. Sure it may have sand in it, big deal, pavers bed on sand. If you don't find the water issue you possibly could have the same problem 27 months from now.


Yup, I definitely have lack of drainage along the corner of the wall. There aren't any pvc conduits for drainage.


What Techo distributor is I'm Gaithersburg? They must just started carrying Techo within the last 12 to 18 months.


Grey Goose Farm is who I got the referrals from.


Also, check out this prospective contractor. Pull them up on the link I provided in this thread. Dealer leads are often based on who just bought the most materials that week :) the wording you used about the contractors comment about the base concerns me. But then again, you have a small job - it'll be hard to find a really competent contractor thats interested in looking at it :)


Thanks, I overlooked that link before. Seems that the contractor I was going to go with isn't listed.