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JimLewis
10-13-2012, 01:25 AM
We recently completed a landscape/hardscape/irrigation/lighting job on a sloped hillside back yard. Part of the project involved a paver patio. But there was about a 2' difference in elevation from the upper part of the paver patio to the lower part.

No problem. We've done plenty of those. We build an SRW at the lower part to raise up the grade to the proper level. Then build the paver patio over the edge of the SRW.

The challenge in this case was that a wall made of formed concrete SRW blocks would not have gone well with the natural / NW / rock feel of the rest of the landscape. So I decided we needed to build a veneer of rock to hide the SRW. Now, it looks as if the rock wall is what is holding up the patio. You can't even see any evidence of the SRW at all! I thought it was a pretty neat idea and turned out really well. So I thought I'd share it with you all. Maybe it's an idea that will come in handy one day for someone.

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ReddensLawnCare
10-13-2012, 07:26 AM
This may be a dumb question, but those pieces look rather wide for your veneer. How did you hold them in place? What kind of faster?
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shovelracer
10-13-2012, 08:25 AM
Love the use of a bubbler, but you know better than to leave the 7/9/3 step combo.

Glenn Lawn Care
10-13-2012, 12:44 PM
Looks really good!

JimLewis
10-13-2012, 01:19 PM
Love the use of a bubbler, but you know better than to leave the 7/9/3 step combo.

The what???


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JimLewis
10-13-2012, 01:22 PM
This may be a dumb question, but those pieces look rather wide for your veneer. How did you hold them in place? What kind of faster?
Posted via Mobile Device

The rock wall you see there is a basalt dry-stack rock wall. It's a common variety of wall built here in the NW. You can see some photos here (http://www.lewislandscape.com/photo_gallery_start_rockwalls.html). There is nothing holding them together other than the way they are stacked closely together and the weight of the rocks. But surprisingly, if they are built properly, they hold up really well. This is the single most popular kind of retaining wall used in the NW. Very common around here. But the rock wall that you see was just built right in front of the SRW block wall that you cannot see.

Groomer
10-13-2012, 02:46 PM
Man, I really like the dry-stack, when done right it just looks so cool and full of craftmanship, nice. Pulls the whole project together.

jbailey52
10-13-2012, 08:33 PM
Looks nice... Can't wait to see the comments the 'numbers' guys will have however.

RussellB
10-13-2012, 08:40 PM
Love the use of a bubbler, but you know better than to leave the 7/9/3 step combo.
That's funny. It's the first thing I noticed. Patio looks great but the steps would have to be changed. Maybe it's a future project.

promower
10-14-2012, 11:44 AM
Very nice work, natural looking I like it alot. Whoever built the deck stairs needs a math class though.
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JimLewis
10-14-2012, 02:34 PM
Yah, the deck was already there. That was the only thing in the back yard (other than weeds) when we started. I didn't have anything to do with the deck.

Agape
10-14-2012, 03:40 PM
That's awesome Jim!
What pavers are those?:waving:

I love the stairs, I don't really prefer a long final drop to the ground much over 2 inches.

JimLewis
10-14-2012, 07:54 PM
Thanks. Those are the Laffit Patio Slab pavers by Belgard (sold at Willamette Graystone).

zedosix
10-15-2012, 08:02 PM
Other than the 7/9/3 its a nice job. Could you not just pull them out and place a flat armourstone rock there. It would really set the job off. Wouldn't take much to do that.

Agape
10-15-2012, 10:30 PM
he could also paint the house, stain the deck,move the property to Hawaii, host a Tropicana swimsuit contest.......all of which would make the entire job look better......:laugh:

shovelracer
10-16-2012, 10:14 PM
We can all sit here and pick the little things apart or comment on things that they had nothing to do with, but in the end only a few things matter.

1. Is the customer happy?
2. Did they get paid the contract amount?
3. When they walk away is there any additional liability.

Leaving the stairs is an issue of safety and building code. Even if they physically did not touch the stairs, a condition exists that Jim's company is directly responsible for. They constructed the patio and set the grade elevation. In doing so they constructed a landing that is part of the stair system. The chosen elevation likely had something to do with surrounding area and deck footings, etc. In doing so they caused the lowest stair rise to be well out of code, even though it appears that the other 2 already constructed risers are off as well. The solution is easy and would have cost less than $100. There is a concern and even if no one cares right now, when grandma trips it will come up and someone will be to blame.

These guys generally appear to do nice work. It is important though for everyone to look at the big picture when they do a job.

JimLewis
10-16-2012, 10:34 PM
Shovelracer,

I asked a question clear back in post #5 that you have chosen to totally ignore. You're really quick to criticize. But when I ask what you mean by your 7/9/3 thing, you won't even explain to me what that is. All I've gotten so far is two criticisms from you but absolutely no offer to help explain what it is that is upsetting you so much and how it should be fixed. Unless you're going to take a little time to explain the criticism and what you mean by your 7/9/3 step combo then how the heck do I know what to fix?

zedosix
10-16-2012, 10:37 PM
Shovelracer,

I asked a question clear back in post #5 that you have chosen to totally ignore. You're really quick to criticize. But when I ask what you mean by your 7/9/3 thing, you won't even explain to me what that is. All I've gotten so far is two criticisms from you but absolutely no offer to help explain what it is that is upsetting you so much and how it should be fixed. Unless you're going to take a little time to explain the criticism and what you mean by your 7/9/3 step combo then how the heck do I know what to fix?

He's referring to how many inches each step is, first one is at 7" next one 9" then 3".

JimLewis
10-17-2012, 12:21 AM
Ok. So you're saying go back and fix the steps on the deck so that the steps are evenly spaced. Gotcha. Can do.

Lite4
10-17-2012, 08:35 AM
Looks great Jim. A great piece of steel wall art would look very good in that big blank wall space space between the wood posts to or some sort of espaliered tree to fill up that big empty void and create some interest on that wall.

Agape
10-17-2012, 11:36 AM
I like the story the empty space tells without having to say anything.
Obviously a representation of mans desire to be at peace with ones inner turmoil.



.............I wept a little when i gazed at it too long

shovelracer
10-17-2012, 10:07 PM
Ok. So you're saying go back and fix the steps on the deck so that the steps are evenly spaced. Gotcha. Can do.

Correct, sorry I figured since several other people pointed it out than it became known. I was not avoiding the topic, just figured it was understood being a construction forum and all.

jbailey52
10-18-2012, 09:18 PM
It's funny the people who criticize the most have no pictures of their work to be soon.

shovelracer
10-18-2012, 10:19 PM
It's funny the people who criticize the most have no pictures of their work to be soon.

You would not be talking about me would you. I have met my annual verification, feel free to search. As for the criticizing, the issue although small is size is a very big deal. This violates code and when the unemployed neighbor trips on those stairs and shatters a femur they will come after Jim, and when the judge determines the company was negligent for allowing the code violation to exist than they will be up the creek. You do not have to like it but this is the world we live in.

DVS Hardscaper
10-18-2012, 11:37 PM
You would not be talking about me would you. I have met my annual verification, feel free to search. As for the criticizing, the issue although small is size is a very big deal. This violates code and when the unemployed neighbor trips on those stairs and shatters a femur they will come after Jim, and when the judge determines the company was negligent for allowing the code violation to exist than they will be up the creek. You do not have to like it but this is the world we live in.

Correct, Shovel DID subit his annual verification picture for 2012.

And correct about the unemployed suing. I have a buddy who has been unemployed for about 2 yrs. Low and behold he was rear ended. And guess what??!! He Sued!! I am fairly sure had he not been unemployed and facing foreclosure he would not have sued.

meets1
10-19-2012, 08:40 PM
I like the work. Just rebuild those steps. Easy fix.

zedosix
10-19-2012, 08:45 PM
It is a very nice job Jim, how long have you been doing hardscapes?
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jbailey52
10-21-2012, 03:34 PM
No one in particular I meant. We all have what we think is correct about the legalities of those steps and who would be responsible (I don't really know who would be either way) but really wish there were concrete ways to find out issues like this. I may have to much faith on the judicial system (never thought I would say that) but I would hope a judge would see all the evidence and see he did not construct it. But I do understand he built up to it, thus using it at its current heights. But what about if on top of those steps was a deck that had to small, or no railings? Where is the line for what/when you are liable?

mrusk
10-21-2012, 04:22 PM
Im not feeling this job. I often feel Jims work is only B range work. He has the fundamentals down, but he always has some weird design mess up. You guys are all focusing on the deck steps, but what about the big drop off, from the patio to the lawn?!?! Yea, it was creative use of boulders, but was it really worth the effort? Its not good design. The boulder wall should of been built 3-4' away from the edge of the patio. Then there should of been a planting bed between patio and boulder wall. The way its currently built is flat out dangerous.

I'm not bashing Jims work. He has the fundamentals down, I just feel he needs some design help.

JimLewis
10-21-2012, 06:28 PM
what about the big drop off, from the patio to the lawn?!?!

The patio to the lawn? What lawn? There is no lawn. This back yard was nothing but a bunch of weeds on a 20° slope. The only thing usable was the deck before. Now we installed some nice pathways, a nice water feature and a small patio where the couple who lives here plan to put a small bistro table and have coffee in the morning. It's just the private little retreat they wanted. They worked with one of the better designers in our area to come up with something that was exactly what they wanted. Who are you to tell them that this landscape isn't right for them?

Had we pushed out the rock wall 3-4' more as you suggest, the wall would have easily been 5' tall, needing engineering and an even more severe drop off. They didn't want that. And they didn't want a planting bed next to their patio. They specifically wanted a nice patio that overlooked the forest / green space that their back yard opens up to.

Before they had no way of getting down to use any of their back yard. Now they have exactly what they wanted. When we left the job the clients couldn't have been happier. Who are you to tell them it should have been done your way?

I know landscapers that are like you in my area. They push THEIR ideas on every customer and what THEY think would be best for their yard. Sometimes people go for that. But a lot of people get turned off by that. It's pompous and arrogant to think that you know better what someone should do or have than they would. And a lot of people see it that way. We pick up a lot of jobs from snobby landscapers who turned off the customer by not really listening to their wants and creating a design that really wasn't at all what the customer wanted.

Our focus has always been to give our clients what THEY want, with a little of our own input or our designer's input. We try to steer them away from something that would be too outlandish and the designer we work with inserts her own creative flair into every project. But we work very closely with the customer through the design process, involving them in rough drafts, revisions, etc. until we come up with a plan that is exactly what they wanted. The end result may not always be exactly how I would have done it. But it always ends up being something the customer really wanted and loves. That's why we maintain an A+ rating at the BBB and A ratings in 12 different categories on Angie's list. And we consistently win more awards in more categories on Angie's list than any other landscape firm in the area, precisely because our focus is on customer service and getting the customer what they want.

You may have a different recipe. And I admire the fact that you are so much better than we are. I should start paying more attention to your amazing work. I could probably learn a lot. But so far, it's working pretty well for us. We grew by over $500,000 in sales the last two years, during a recession...will do over $2.5Mil this year in custom residential landscaping all the while constantly getting A reviews from our clients. I'd like to think all this didn't happen because we do B-grade work. But what do I know? :rolleyes: I should probably watch you and learn....

mrusk
10-21-2012, 07:59 PM
Jim thanks for all the nice compliments :)

I think the main point of my post is that the drop off directly off the patio is not safe, especially if its a steep slope like you made it clear. If you had to build the wall like that I would of sold them a seat wall or a railing of some kind. I do not think anyone can look at those pics and tell me its a safe patio with that drop off!!! Sometimes you need to tell the client they have a bad idea!

Notice I did not bash your craftsmanship at all.

JimLewis
10-21-2012, 08:09 PM
No, you said our work was B-range work.

Anyway, I wasn't trying to post these photos as an example of our nicest work. I don't post photos at all on Lawnsite anymore. Haven't for quite a long time. Because there's always some idiot half way across the country who would have done it differently, thinks they know how to do it better, wants to nit pick, or just gets off on putting other people's work down. There are hundreds of us who never post photos just for this reason. I was emailing with a guy I met on Lawnsite just earlier this week and he shared some photos of a beautiful patio and stone seat walls. It was stunning, IMO. I said, "Why didn't you post this on Lawnsite?" He said, "You know why. Same reason you never post anything anymore."

If I wanted to post photos showing some of our nicest work, I would have probably chosen any number of other jobs we've done this year or last year. I have over three dozen jobs I haven't even had time to sort through the photos and post them anywhere yet. My only point in posting these photos was to show how you can build a rock veneer over an SRW. But nobody here seemed to give one sh1t about that. Every time someone posts a photo, you guys assume that they are either looking for compliments or critique. I was looking for neither. I was just trying to show a cool method for hiding an ugly SRW. You all turned it into a pissing match over other stuff.....like always.

mrusk
10-21-2012, 08:21 PM
Pissing matches as you call it makes everyone of us better designers and builders.

JimLewis
10-21-2012, 08:31 PM
If you had to build the wall like that I would of sold them a seat wall or a railing of some kind. I do not think anyone can look at those pics and tell me its a safe patio with that drop off

Why didn't we think of that? Oh, that's right. We did! We discussed seat wall, they didn't want that. They didn't want a rail. They wanted a floating patio that felt like it opened right up into the back green space area. They had the deck builder build their deck in the same way. Open in the back. No rail. Just a drop off (pictured below). Now we installed some shrubs that will create a little hedge on the lower edge of that deck to create a small barrier. But again, the clients didn't want anything intruding into their view on either the deck or the patio. I'm not going to be so insistent as to say, "Look. If you won't let me design the patio in this manner than I refuse to take the job." All said and done, we made over $30K with the work we did on the back and side yards here. I wasn't about to insist they do it my way and possibly lose the job. We made suggestions, they didn't want to do it that way, so we did it their way and moved on.

I guess if some idiot walks off the patio we'll have to deal with it. Chances are the idiot would just fall on the bushes and bark mulch and say, "ouch, that hurt.". But if it goes further than that, I guess that's why I have a $1Mil. insurance policy. It's a risk, I suppose. But so is turning down work because you insist on doing things your way.

PaperCutter
10-22-2012, 10:42 AM
I think the main point of my post is that the drop off directly off the patio is not safe, especially if its a steep slope like you made it clear. If you had to build the wall like that I would of sold them a seat wall or a railing of some kind. I do not think anyone can look at those pics and tell me its a safe patio with that drop off!!! Sometimes you need to tell the client they have a bad idea!


How does a seat wall make it any safer or absolve you of liability? At 18-22" high they're not taking the place of a guardrail and it's a false sense of security. Never understood that. There's a reason you can't use a bench instead of a railing when designing a deck.

Besides, half the seat walls I've seen are fug and mess up the flow of the space.

DVS Hardscaper
10-22-2012, 12:21 PM
............ We all have what we think is correct about the legalities of those steps and who would be responsible (I don't really know who would be either way) but really wish there were concrete ways to find out issues like this. I may have to much faith on the judicial system (never thought I would say that) but I would hope a judge would see all the evidence and see he did not construct it. But I do understand he built up to it, thus using it at its current heights. But what about if on top of those steps was a deck that had to small, or no railings? Where is the line for what/when you are liable?

Most counties and cities have specific codes in writing pertaining to the specifications for step construction. Sometimes you can find this online for the jurisdiction it pertains to.

I am notorious for calling permits and inspections offices and asking questions. In fact the director of permits and inspections in Fairfax Co VA knows me well! And so does the supervisor of inspectors. LOL

Many landscape / Hardscape contractors do not realize that codes do exist to their line of work. When I was in court as an expert against another contractor much focus was on the fact that the steps did not meet county code. With copies of the code presented to the judge.

And paper cutter is correct. A seat wall IS NOT a safety barrier. And should never ever be used as one. Those of us with children know this :)
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PaperCutter
10-22-2012, 01:49 PM
Every county code I've seen says that you cannot have more than 3/8" variance in riser height from one step to the next. It does matter in terms of usability, especially if you're dealing with older homeowners (which let's be honest, most of us are a chunk of the time).

Jim, did you extend the aggregate footer for the SRW to include the stone facing or are they acting pretty independent?

JimLewis
10-22-2012, 01:53 PM
Jim, did you extend the aggregate footer for the SRW to include the stone facing or are they acting pretty independent?

They each have their own footing. They were installed at different elevations. So it wouldn't have really been possibly to use the same footing. Well, I guess maybe if we installed a really deep footing for the SRW.....but there was no reason to do that.

PaperCutter
10-22-2012, 03:00 PM
Makes sense. I'd be inclined to think the SRW and the stone might move differentially even on the same footer.

JimLewis
10-22-2012, 03:41 PM
We build a lot of both kinds of walls. Although the rock walls are much more popular here than SRWs are.

The rock walls are a little less stable than the SRWs are, just by nature. So they can start to bulge a little over the years. Not usually, but sometimes it happens. Where the SRWs here are totally solid, as long as they're constructed properly. So the idea here is that I know the SRW is solid. And for the most part the rock wall is pretty solid too. But if they ever start to fail (bulge out) it's a pretty easy fix. We fix several walls each year. Usually they aren't ones we installed. But it's no big deal. Part of the deal around here.

In this case, there isn't any heavy clay soil behind the rock wall, so I don't expect it will fail. That's what typically makes them fail is the heavy clay soil holding so much water behind the wall. Even with a well built drainage chimney sometimes it still doesn't prevent a failure. But there's no heavy clay soil behind that wall, really. Mostly nice compact aggregate gravel that we installed. There is heavy clay under the footing. So if we get a wet enough winter, sometimes that can cause problems. But again, that's part of the deal. Something we are prepared form if it ever happens.

jbailey52
10-22-2012, 08:52 PM
When I spoke with the inspector in my town, he told me the riser minimum and max, said they needed to be the same to each other, except the step going into the dwelling, it just needed so be within the min-max range. Sound correct to you guys?

jbailey52
10-22-2012, 08:53 PM
DVS the contractor was in court??? Wouldn't the insurance company lawyer be there? Or maybe they were but he also had to be there?

PaperCutter
10-22-2012, 09:33 PM
That's a pretty tough inspector. This is from the Fairfax County (VA) deck detail package that I use on most of my decks.

As for the step into the dwelling, that's pretty common to have a 4" step around here even if the other steps are greater.

DVS Hardscaper
10-23-2012, 11:06 AM
When I spoke with the inspector in my town, he told me the riser minimum and max, said they needed to be the same to each other, except the step going into the dwelling, it just needed so be within the min-max range. Sound correct to you guys?

The county I reside states in writing that they allow for so
Many eights of an inch variance between riser heights. As there are instances where depending on the material it may be impossible to have every riser exact
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DVS Hardscaper
10-23-2012, 11:08 AM
DVS the contractor was in court??? Wouldn't the insurance company lawyer be there? Or maybe they were but he also had to be there?

No. This was a case of poor workmanship, the owner rightfully refused to pay the contractor. It wasn't a personal injury suit, hence no insurance company involvement.
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DVS Hardscaper
10-23-2012, 11:10 AM
That's a pretty tough inspector. This is from the Fairfax County (VA) deck detail package that I use on most of my decks.

As for the step into the dwelling, that's pretty common to have a 4" step around here even if the other steps are greater.

Some inspection offices say the step INTO the dwelling does not count as a step. Which is why thy can be a different measurent then all the steps below it.

.

.
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jbailey52
10-23-2012, 06:19 PM
DVS I think in your past life you were a gray haired,cigar smoking pain in the ass building inspector

JimLewis
10-23-2012, 07:02 PM
DVS I think in your past life you were a gray haired,cigar smoking pain in the ass building inspector

Except for the "cigar smoking" part. Because that would imply he was cool. Cigars are wicked cool. Let's get that straight.

jbailey52
10-23-2012, 07:14 PM
Except for the "cigar smoking" part. Because that would imply he was cool. Cigars are wicked cool. Let's get that straight.

I agree. I smoke a lot of cigars, but one thing I won't do is let me customers see me smoking one.... Feel like that gives off the "eh, I'll let my guys figure out how to do that"

JimLewis
10-23-2012, 07:33 PM
I agree. I smoke a lot of cigars, but one thing I won't do is let me customers see me smoking one.... Feel like that gives off the "eh, I'll let my guys figure out how to do that"

No. Of course not. I have a few customers who are also cigar aficionados who I will enjoy one with, if they invite me. But otherwise, I'd never let them see me smoke one or even go to their home after I smoked one. Because even the smell can turn some people off. And I can relate to that. Smoking on the job - and especially at someone else's property - is just unprofessional anyway.

pfcjs
10-23-2012, 07:42 PM
Well to summarize:
1. Cigars are "cool", enjoying a nice alec bradley blondie here in a few!
2. The project is awesome, and your initial intent of showing people a neat way to hide the foundation wall was a great idea.
Kudos and thanks for posting, even though there was a bunch of BS cluttering up your post!

shovelracer
10-23-2012, 09:43 PM
Pissing matches as you call it makes everyone of us better designers and builders.

This is the truth. Otherwise we would all be going around with our heads up our rears thinking we were the greatest without even the slightest clue we were doing something improperly or in a way that could be improved on.

I have to say that I do respect Jim even if it seems we are being irrational over some stairs. He made a post many years back over the winter. Something about the state of the economy, etc. In a time when everyone was selling out and dropping prices I read that post and did the exact opposite. My company has been much better because of that post. It soley changed the way I conduct business and put my company into the next level. I look forward to a new state of the industry this year.

As for the dropoffs, not safe yes, violation of code likely not. Most areas support the 30" drop no railing code. So the deck and patio appear to be OK. Even the no railing stairs are OK with 3 risers. Additionally the deck step into a door is should be within the range allowed, but does not usually need to be consistent often because there must be a landing outside the door which separates the stairs from the door. The patio however is a functional part of the stairs system in the landing area which normally would be the width of the stairs and 3' out. The height anywhere else does not matter as long as it meets slope and runoff requirements.

DVS Hardscaper
10-23-2012, 10:19 PM
DVS I think in your past life you were a gray haired,cigar smoking pain in the ass building inspector

Haha! I would certainly make an excellent building inspector, no doubt about it!


.

DVS Hardscaper
10-23-2012, 10:30 PM
Pissing matches as you call it makes everyone of us better designers and builders.

I agree. Though not with "pissing matches", it only turns into a "pissing match" if someone's mind is clouded with negativity.

I do respect Jim and I know he has an impressive business going.

But no matter what this is the internet! Anyone that's a veteran forum jockey knows darn well what to expect when they hit they "post message" button. And to expect anything else is wishful thinking :) I could write a 300 page book about forum behavior.

JimLewis
10-23-2012, 11:56 PM
I do respect Jim and I know he has an impressive business going.

You don't have to lie DVS. It doesn't become you.

JimLewis
10-24-2012, 12:40 AM
Pissing matches as you call it makes everyone of us better designers and builders.

This is the truth. Otherwise we would all be going around with our heads up our rears thinking we were the greatest without even the slightest clue we were doing something improperly or in a way that could be improved on.

So, I agree to a certain extent that constructive criticism is helpful. But there's a huge difference between someone being constructive and someone just piping off or even being a jerk. Too often, it's one of the latter. Too often people responding to postings of other contractors work are only negative. Often with a lot of rude mixed in as well. And no matter how much better you are then someone else at something - the person you are being critical of is not going to be persuaded of anything when the criticism comes off as being rude, condescending or from someone who is appearing to be a know-it-all. Those comments are never persuasive, no matter how correct they might be.

It's constantly amazing to me that most of the people posting in these forums are owners and as such also the top salesman for their company. And yet they apparently know very little about the art of persuasion. It's like nobody has ever bothered to read books like "How to Win Friends & Influence People". Otherwise they'd understand the difference between what is persuasive a what is rude and condescending.

This is probably the #1 biggest problem in most of the forums. But more-so in certain forums like this one where people would share more photos if it weren't for all the negative or condescending comments.

The #2 problem is that often people from different parts of the country see something in a photo that looks really odd and unprofessional based on their experience, but it is something that is totally normal elsewhere. A perfect example for this forum is the use of pavers for steps. On the East coast and other parts of the country, apparently it's really common place to use coping for steps (or maybe wall caps). Well, here in the NW, it's not. Even the top landscape firms in the area use pavers over steps. It's commonplace. None of the 5 paver manufacturers in this area even SELL a coping stone. It's just not used here. In this area, it's 100% professional to do steps with pavers on the top. Almost every single home in the Street of Dreams home show in 2011 and 2012 had steps like that. And those are typically $2Mil. homes with the nicest landscapes money can buy. But the guys here would just rip someone a new a-hole for doing it that way.

I've had the same experience with basalt dry-stack rock walls when we've posted photos. People criticize us because they don't like the look. Well, guess what, buddy? That's the most popular kind of wall - by far - in the NW. Maybe it doesn't look good to you, but here people love that. People specifically request that.

I could go on and on with examples. This is what I mean by pissing matches. Everything thinks the way THEY do it where THEY live is the best, most professional way to do it. Forgetting to take into account that we don't have the same suppliers, same soil types, same local influences, same natural materials, etc.

The #3 problem is contractors here often look at a job and question how it was done and why those materials were chosen. Perfect example is a flagstone patio. A lot of guys would install a paver patio with a mortar base, cut each piece of flagstone to fit together with very tight joints, and fill the joints with mortar. We could do that too. But that kind of flagstone patio can be anywhere from $40 - $60 per sq. ft. here. Most of our clientele doesn't have that kind of budget. So most landscape companies in the area here do it similar to how we do it; compact gravel base, fit it together as closely as you can naturally (no cutting) and gator dust in the joints. Sure it doesn't look as amazing as the aforementioned patio. But this variety of flagstone patio is WAY more common in these parts than the other kind. Namely because it can be done for $15-$20 per sq. ft., and that's more within the budget of the typical homeowner here. But if I posted a job of a patio like that I'd get skewered. Nevermind the fact that the homeowner chose that option for budget reasons. Nevermind the fact that it's common to do it that way here. I'd get skewered for even posting one photo of that because it's not as nice as the way other guys here would do it.

Same thing goes for things like seat walls. We'd love to do one in stone. Doing one right now actually. But 98% of the time, that's not within our client's budgets. So we use free standing wall blocks with matching caps most of the time. But when I post a photo of a nice seat wall using those, we get skewered and told the wall looks "amateurish". Well, guess what, Genius? It was either that kind of seat wall or nothing - given their budget. But nobody cares about that. They want to pound their chest and show that they way THEY do seat walls is so much better.

The #4 problem is that contractors all have their own idea of what SHOULD HAVE been used as a material for a job. I'll post a photo of a patio we installed using Venetian pavers by Pavestone and some Jacka$$ will chime in with, "That looks like crap. I would have used Bluestone." Well, good for you! But the client really wanted that paver. And Bluestone costs 3x as much as those pavers here. So that would have been over their budget too. But I guess you know best......

It's that kind of stuff that I mean when I say pissing match. It gets so old for most people that they don't post photos here at all anymore, myself included.

Constructive criticism is helpful if it's truly constructive and provided in a friendly way. It also helps if you say something nice first, rather than ONLY offering a rude comment. Then you are more P-E-R-S-U-A-S-I-V-E. But half the people here don't get that concept at all. So the help they are trying to offer gets totally ignored and they've totally wasted their time without even realizing it.

jbailey52
10-24-2012, 08:53 PM
Sorry Jim, I didn't see that post. Can you re-type it? Ha!


But seriously I agree with everything you said.

MJK
10-24-2012, 09:10 PM
So, I agree to a certain extent that constructive criticism is helpful. But there's a huge difference between someone being constructive and someone just piping off or even being a jerk. Too often, it's one of the latter. Too often people responding to postings of other contractors work are only negative. Often with a lot of rude mixed in as well. And no matter how much better you are then someone else at something - the person you are being critical of is not going to be persuaded of anything when the criticism comes off as being rude, condescending or from someone who is appearing to be a know-it-all. Those comments are never persuasive, no matter how correct they might be.

It's constantly amazing to me that most of the people posting in these forums are owners and as such also the top salesman for their company. And yet they apparently know very little about the art of persuasion. It's like nobody has ever bothered to read books like "How to Win Friends & Influence People". Otherwise they'd understand the difference between what is persuasive a what is rude and condescending.

This is probably the #1 biggest problem in most of the forums. But more-so in certain forums like this one where people would share more photos if it weren't for all the negative or condescending comments.

The #2 problem is that often people from different parts of the country see something in a photo that looks really odd and unprofessional based on their experience, but it is something that is totally normal elsewhere. A perfect example for this forum is the use of pavers for steps. On the East coast and other parts of the country, apparently it's really common place to use coping for steps (or maybe wall caps). Well, here in the NW, it's not. Even the top landscape firms in the area use pavers over steps. It's commonplace. None of the 5 paver manufacturers in this area even SELL a coping stone. It's just not used here. In this area, it's 100% professional to do steps with pavers on the top. Almost every single home in the Street of Dreams home show in 2011 and 2012 had steps like that. And those are typically $2Mil. homes with the nicest landscapes money can buy. But the guys here would just rip someone a new a-hole for doing it that way.

I've had the same experience with basalt dry-stack rock walls when we've posted photos. People criticize us because they don't like the look. Well, guess what, buddy? That's the most popular kind of wall - by far - in the NW. Maybe it doesn't look good to you, but here people love that. People specifically request that.

I could go on and on with examples. This is what I mean by pissing matches. Everything thinks the way THEY do it where THEY live is the best, most professional way to do it. Forgetting to take into account that we don't have the same suppliers, same soil types, same local influences, same natural materials, etc.

The #3 problem is contractors here often look at a job and question how it was done and why those materials were chosen. Perfect example is a flagstone patio. A lot of guys would install a paver patio with a mortar base, cut each piece of flagstone to fit together with very tight joints, and fill the joints with mortar. We could do that too. But that kind of flagstone patio can be anywhere from $40 - $60 per sq. ft. here. Most of our clientele doesn't have that kind of budget. So most landscape companies in the area here do it similar to how we do it; compact gravel base, fit it together as closely as you can naturally (no cutting) and gator dust in the joints. Sure it doesn't look as amazing as the aforementioned patio. But this variety of flagstone patio is WAY more common in these parts than the other kind. Namely because it can be done for $15-$20 per sq. ft., and that's more within the budget of the typical homeowner here. But if I posted a job of a patio like that I'd get skewered. Nevermind the fact that the homeowner chose that option for budget reasons. Nevermind the fact that it's common to do it that way here. I'd get skewered for even posting one photo of that because it's not as nice as the way other guys here would do it.

Same thing goes for things like seat walls. We'd love to do one in stone. Doing one right now actually. But 98% of the time, that's not within our client's budgets. So we use free standing wall blocks with matching caps most of the time. But when I post a photo of a nice seat wall using those, we get skewered and told the wall looks "amateurish". Well, guess what, Genius? It was either that kind of seat wall or nothing - given their budget. But nobody cares about that. They want to pound their chest and show that they way THEY do seat walls is so much better.

The #4 problem is that contractors all have their own idea of what SHOULD HAVE been used as a material for a job. I'll post a photo of a patio we installed using Venetian pavers by Pavestone and some Jacka$$ will chime in with, "That looks like crap. I would have used Bluestone." Well, good for you! But the client really wanted that paver. And Bluestone costs 3x as much as those pavers here. So that would have been over their budget too. But I guess you know best......

It's that kind of stuff that I mean when I say pissing match. It gets so old for most people that they don't post photos here at all anymore, myself included.

Constructive criticism is helpful if it's truly constructive and provided in a friendly way. It also helps if you say something nice first, rather than ONLY offering a rude comment. Then you are more P-E-R-S-U-A-S-I-V-E. But half the people here don't get that concept at all. So the help they are trying to offer gets totally ignored and they've totally wasted their time without even realizing it.

Best post ever/thread.

By the way Jim, you helped me understand pricing my first large planting job way back in 2006, got the job and made great money on it. :drinkup:

Groomer
10-25-2012, 10:00 AM
have the stairs been fixed? I'm lost.lol

zedosix
10-25-2012, 10:22 AM
The stars will get fixed after he writes his novel
Posted via Mobile Device

Agape
10-25-2012, 11:50 AM
I know that if i was repairing a roof (example only)and found a rotten board I would be liable to fix it or let the HO get someone else to fix it. but how is the stairs connected to Jim's project?
did he raise the level of the ground? (not just bring the ground level, but raise the actual ground level there).
And if he fixed the stairs and noticed a loose board on the deck would he then have to fix that? and while he was bent down to fix the board he noticed the deck was somehow not to code or had carpenter ants..., or perhaps he didn't know at all?....I think you can see where this is going.

Just for my own edification, I'm just curious at what point you can step back and not be liable for other previous projects.:waving:

shovelracer
10-25-2012, 09:40 PM
but how is the stairs connected to Jim's project?

The patio is essentially the landing which for at least a 3'x3' area is a part of the staircase system for code purposes. Even if the existing stairs are or were not to code, correct, safe, whatever. The new patio, regardless of the height of the old landing, becomes part of the stair system. Therefor by doing so the patio installer opens themselves up to liability from stair system. The best thing to do for everyone ( this should be read as the best thing to protect Jim's multi-million dollar company from a personal injury lawsuit. ) would have been to rebuild the stairs.

With the stagnant economy and election year I have seen a larger than normal amount of renovation hardscape jobs this year taken on by new guys, plumbers, handyman, etc because the client can't help the great deal of a mailbox flyer. The type of jobs that most large companies aren't even interested in looking at. 60sqft walkways, etc. The thing I see over and over again is large risers. The subgrade of the original builder walkway settled leaving a 12-14" rise from lowest tread to the walkway. So the new walkway goes in, and guess what the rise did not change. So you've spent $1000 on that new walkway, but you need to remind grandma to jump with both feet. Is this to say that they are not liable for this because it was like that originally. No, once they remove the old walkway they absolve the builder of his liability and take it on themselves by working on part of the stair system.

It's constantly amazing to me that most of the people posting in these forums are owners and as such also the top salesman for their company. And yet they apparently know very little about the art of persuasion. It's like nobody has ever bothered to read books like "How to Win Friends & Influence People". Otherwise they'd understand the difference between what is persuasive a what is rude and condescending.

You have to remember why we are all owners. I'm pretty certain that most owners started their companies because they figured they could do it better, faster, more efficient, and more profitable than the other guys. If we all did not think we were better than the rest we wouldn't be good business men. I can't picture going to a client, "Well yes we can do it, but if you want the job done better you should use this guy." I understand what you are saying, but I think that all owners must have a certain level of cockyness to them or else they stand to become stagnant and let in the dust of the progressively forward moving industry.The trick is to be just cocky enough to want to be better, but not so cocky that you are feel you have no room to improve. Likewise I think most guys in the industry are more hands on and are better fitted to actually laying stone than sitting at the clients table trying to sell. Personally I'll talk to you all day, but I would much rather be doing the work than talking to you about it. The other side is the salesman type. We have a few of those. These are the guys that run multiple crews and get all sorts of work, but might not even know how to start their own machines.

DVS Hardscaper
10-25-2012, 11:57 PM
I recently submitted a thread titled "Ego Scaper from another prospective". Shovel is dead on correct. No cockyness. No ego. No self confidence. Equals no success.

I'm a contractor. I'm not a landscaper. I'm not a hardscaper. I'm a contractor. Who happens to be good at sales. I'm good with people. My customers like me. My employees usually like me. My vendors - they all probably wanna run and hide when they see me pull up!

I'm not interested in reading books. Most of us learn how to play with others in pre-school. Life isn't difficult. Be nice to people. Do what you promise. Smile. Eat well. Exercise. Be active with your kids. And thats all it takes.

There is also a difference between an owner operator that is active in the field vs an owner who focuses on selling jobs and spends most of his/her day in his/her truck driving around.

As an active owner operator I know first hand that galvanized spikes are the way to go to anchor restraint to the ground. I know this because I am there to see the outcome when a client whom we did a job for 10 years ago calls us back to add on to the work we previously did. I am there if a job we did 5 years ago needs warranty work. I see first hand things that many other owners have never seen. My experience and knowledge is something that many owners will never ever come close to no matter how many books they read. Which in turn I win customers over because they can hear in my voice and see on my face that we're the real deal.

I never ventured into business because I thought I could do something better. I have always been self employed from the age of 13, and this year I've enjoyed it more than ever :) So far it looks like my 9 yr old kid is following in my steps. Last week he asked me why I keep receipts for nearly everything I buy. Which lead to an indepth conversation about profit, business expenses, and income taxes. He knows everything about the work we do and knows how to run all the machinery. I come from a family of leadership. I'm not writing to brag about my kid and my family - My point I'm trying to make is many folks become what they know.




.



,

amscapes03
10-26-2012, 01:17 AM
So far it looks like my 9 yr old kid is following in my steps.

,

OK........drop the bomb on us now. How long before he becomes a lawnsite member? DVS & DVS Jr. :)

Groomer
10-26-2012, 12:57 PM
The stars will get fixed after he writes his novel
Posted via Mobile Device

Thats good! Title? careful. lol

zedosix
10-26-2012, 02:54 PM
Thats good! Title? careful. lol

Its just too damn serious thats all. I personally don't care what anyone thinks, especially on site. Too me, none of this matters in my day to day routine. I just think about getting home at night, jumping in my car and going for a drive. I think about spending time at the cottage every weekend, I think about my family. Lawnsite is just ....lawnsite.

JimLewis
10-26-2012, 07:11 PM
I understand what you are saying, but I think that all owners must have a certain level of cockyness to them or else they stand to become stagnant and let in the dust of the progressively forward moving industry.The trick is to be just cocky enough .....

Ok. So you're basically making my point for me. This forum is filled up with a lot of cocky, arrogant jerks who think they know better than everyone else how someone else's job should have been done.

The problem still stands. When people are that cocky and arrogant they are not very persuasive. There's a huge difference between being helpful and offering constructive criticism and just being a jerk. As I said before, most of the time it's the latter. And you all think you are helping the industry by making cocky arrogant comments, but the reality is your words often go unheeded by the person you are criticizing while at the very same time you're totally discouraging dozens (if not hundreds) of others from ever posting photos etc. in the forum because the last thing they want is to get skewered as well. So you're actually limiting discourse and limiting progress.

I bet you for ever 1 person who posts photos in this forum there are at least 10 others who will not, because of this exact problem. The solution would be simple. Just be polite and nice and offer constructive criticism for contractors and maybe [God forbid] throw in a compliment or two once in a while rather than just offering negative critique. But I know that's too much to ask for to this "cocky" crowd.... :rolleyes:

shovelracer
10-26-2012, 09:00 PM
All forums are filled with these types because it is the internet and women are men and children are adults and despite what you are told not everything you read is true. This forum is pretty tame compared to some of the others out there. New guys are not shunned unless they deserve it, and no one is called nube for failing to search.

And yes your point is correct to an extent we are all somewhat righteous being owners and whatnot. Are you saying that you've never bid a job and after not getting it drove by and thought how you would have done it better? I get your point of proper delivery, but we've all been around here for a while and this is no secret that forums are a mix of all types.

I do not really think anyone was intentionally being rude with any of the posts. There were many compliments, myself included complimenting the water feature. Some, mine included might have been cold and to the point, but it is an issue of the reader being closed to comments as you pointed out. That is an issue with the reader themselves not being able to pick through the comments to make something constructive out of it. Now if the poster puts something up expecting all "good jobs" and "well done sir" than they will often be disappointed cause well this is the internet and even the old lady next door is going to have an opinion and you will never make everyone happy.

I do ask you this though. Will you ever construct another patio without addressing how the stairs will be part of it, or build a raised patio without thinking about your liability in a fall scenario. I certainly would hope not. If so than your own cockyness is getting in the way of making you a better operator.

JimLewis
10-26-2012, 09:43 PM
This forum is pretty tame compared to some of the others out there.

I disagree. The other hardscape forum that several members here also belong to is much nicer, much more about constructive criticism and seems to not tolerate rude behavior. Unfortunately for them, that also means they don't have nearly as many members. Half the people here would have been thrown out of that one.

And yes your point is correct to an extent we are all somewhat righteous being owners and whatnot. Are you saying that you've never bid a job and after not getting it drove by and thought how you would have done it better?

Of course not. But there have been plenty of times that a competitor of mine was showing me a job they did or a photo of a wall they did or something. And I didn't say to them, "Forget the wall. Look at that eye soar over in the corner. Did you do that too? WTF? Well, even if you didn't you should have fixed it. That's messed up! You should no better than to leave a landscape like that." No. He wasn't asking me about that thing off in the distance. He was showing me a wall. So I said it looked nice. That's it.


I do not really think anyone was intentionally being rude with any of the posts.

Well, I wasn't necessarily saying that in this particular post people were being rude. In this case, I think it got WAY off track. Here I was trying to highlight an idea that I thought was kind of unique and might help someone else. And instead of talking about that, we've spent most of the time talking about some damn stairs I never touched. Everyone seemed to miss the entire point of my thread. Which just tells me when I bother to post something that I think might be helpful to others I should probably not even bother. Because it's just going to turn into something else. THAT'S the kind of stuff that turns people off in this forum.

There was some jerkoff saying we do B-grade work. That was obviously condescending and rude. But whatever....

I do ask you this though. Will you ever construct another patio without addressing how the stairs will be part of it, or build a raised patio without thinking about your liability in a fall scenario. I certainly would hope not. If so than your own cockyness is getting in the way of making you a better operator.

I'll consider that in the future yes. But I and a lot of others still won't be posting much because every time anyone does it always turns into a pissing match or gets WAY off track. It just discourages people. I wish you guys saw the PMs and emails I get about this. It's a problem that keeps a lot of people participating in this forums - and yes, it is this forum more than the others. It's too bad. I saw some really nice photos of another contractor I met in the commercial lawn forum the other day and it was really beautiful work. But he'll never post those photos here. Everyone knows what comes of it when they or others do. It's just sad. It limits the forum. Even with this post, I think 75% of the people who read it totally missed the entire point of my post because it got so far off track with comments that were unrelated to the wall I was trying to share.

shovelracer
10-27-2012, 08:10 AM
Just remember all this happened because you being an established company and as a veteran member are held to a higher standard. Would be no different if I or DVS or Zedo or many of the others put up their work. Likewise there are plenty of amateurish jobs on here that are left alone because they are obviously not on the same level.

In my area there are a few larger companies about your size and they get a similar approach to work. Many of them have such name recognition or sheer size that they can consistently produce B-grade work and no one thinks anything of it. Not horrible work, but cheap materials when promised premium, not quite right practices, and overall something is just off. These are also the guys that at trade shows and classes are flashing their feathers all around and are looking down at anyone that is not them. These types are pure DBags and I'll put any single one of my projects up against theirs any day. I suggest you hold yourself to a higher standard as well. I'll be working on another thread about how these types exist.

For the record though I do like your job all safety issues aside, it is creative and I'm sure a drastic improvement. I would like to see how it actually went together and the stone is tied to the wall, but it seems this thread should be buried in the archives after all this.

DVS Hardscaper
10-27-2012, 09:52 AM
Just remember all this happened because you being an established company and as a veteran member are held to a higher standard. Would be no different if I or DVS or Zedo or many of the others put up their work. Likewise there are plenty of amateurish jobs on here that are left alone because they are obviously not on the same level.

In my area there are a few larger companies about your size and they get a similar approach to work. Many of them have such name recognition or sheer size that they can consistently produce B-grade work and no one thinks anything of it. Not horrible work, but cheap materials when promised premium, not quite right practices, and overall something is just off. These are also the guys that at trade shows and classes are flashing their feathers all around and are looking down at anyone that is not them. These types are pure DBags and I'll put any single one of my projects up against theirs any day. I suggest you hold yourself to a higher standard as well. I'll be working on another thread about how these types exist.

For the record though I do like your job all safety issues aside, it is creative oand I'm sure a drastic improvement. I would like to see how it actually went together and the stone is tied to the wall, but it seems this thread should be buried in the archives after all this.

May be time for Charles to close this thread.

Shovel, while I respect Jim, all this is characteristic of Jim.

Last winter/spring Jim had a topic about lips on wall block. I chimed in with my observations from the field (not from my dash board) and I even provided pictures that I had taken a few weeks prior.

Jim became furious and he, on a public forum, called me names and went off on a multi paragraph rant. And then he complains and complains and complains about a few of us forum members.

As business owners people come to us for answers. employees. and customers. its molded into our heads that we have all the answers. but at the end of the day Some folks just don't know they lack the ability to listen and learn and they anger easily. Blaming everyone and everything. But theirselves.

I'm reminded of a recent former employee, he would be late for work and somehow it was always my fault! As long as everyone agreed with him - he was the greatest worker i had and would give you the shirt off his back. But say anything he didn't wanna hear and shovels and rakes started flying. Literally.
Posted via Mobile Device

JimLewis
10-27-2012, 02:09 PM
Wow. Your memory must be a little off today DVS. That's not how it went down at all. There was no name calling. There was just Andrew being Andrew - thinking he knows better than everyone else..... than the engineers....... than the block manufacturers. You got put in your place and are still butt hurt about it. That's all.

Anyone who wants to review that thread can still do so;
http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=369056

zedosix
10-27-2012, 02:31 PM
I think it's time to change the channel
Posted via Mobile Device

Agape
10-27-2012, 11:47 PM
hey Jim, what is the other hard scape forum? I look on here to learn and get ideas and to share triumphs, but I see peoples work that they slaved over and have pride in. they know what they wanted to do, but maybe they're still learning.they want encouragement on how they did. but I hardly see that here. I would never post my stuff here, I already know what I would change if I did it again and things I simply wouldn't spend as much time on.
People here are really good at elevating themselves by lowering others under the guise of "constructive criticism". People get ticked off because they're not stupid and can see what you're doing and the only one you're deceiving is yourself.

maybe you've been in the field 20 years, but at some point you didn't know squat, and if every time you showed your work to someone, you would flip if they constantly pointed out 20 ways you failed or my personal favorite: "YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE: (insert something that costs a lot, that the customer didn't have the budget for)....Really?

Truth is....I can only take so much "awesome" before I wanna throw awesome off a bridge.....
Jim, your patio looks great and I hope I can take what I learned from it and do something similar.

Groomer
10-28-2012, 06:41 PM
at the end of the day its a really cool, well designed patio with nice flow, and the dry stack ties it all together.

AztlanLC
10-29-2012, 12:51 PM
Even tough like zedo said lawnsite is just that lawnsite, there are many credible and knowledgable people that still in this forum, it has nothing to do with the amount of post that they have but quality, I choose who to believe based on many, many things, I look at members work, websites, and follow some of them on hometalk, facebook, etc.
When I hear one contractor claiming many times this industry is going down the drain, and complaining about all the hacks in their area and then another talking how good they are doing, how much they are growing regardless of the economy at the same time proving it, who's work is featured in many sites (just do a search of Jim lewis landscaping you'll know what I'm talking about) well it's an obvious reason for me to believe the one who's perception is the one I'm trying to achieve.