So this week I stop by a maintenance client of ours. They have a paver driveway that has been rutted, sunken and settled for more than 10 years. The worst was the utility trench from the house construction that was literally 12" below were it started. Previous homeowner had us price the driveway, no go. New owners keep us on maintenance and again ask for a price. This time I recommend they just black top it since they have budget concerns. Mrusk has seen the drive and we spent some time talking about it as well. Not sure if he priced it when he was working the neighbor a mutual client of ours.
The lady came out and I noticed they had a few pavers pulled up so I asked about it. She tells me that it's getting redone. We talk a little and she tells me that the guy is super cheap and can do it real fast. She tells me who it is and I just shake my head and remind her to get a written warranty and take photos. She says not to worry he came highly recommended. Now I know this guy he underbid my driveway paver by 50% last year on a customers job. Left all the contaminated gravel on site, bucket leveled the clay subgrade in the pouring rain and immediately applied 2" gravel and 2" topcoat and cut the wiring to a street lamp which they repaired with duct tape. The driveway failed within 2 months rutting and cracking. They had to pay us to haul the spoils and and electrician to fix the wiring that magically stopped working 2 weeks after the paving. In the end they spent a little more and still have a 1 year old driveway that is cracked and has 4" ruts.
So they started the new paver drive for this other client. Add that the ground here is completely saturated from rain. They are using the cheapest paver available, fine whatever. They scrapped the old pavers, did nothing to the old contaminated stone dust, yes stone dust base, and simply added more stone dust, bucket leveled and started laying stone at the top of the hill. 4 guys laying, 2 hauling. The process, lay stone hit with orange mallet, lay stone hit with orange mallet. So I'm willing to bet failure within 6 months if not 6 weeks as the propane and UPS guys love to pull up the driveway every time. The client is so thrilled with her new, what I presume by now is a finished driveway and walkways. They couldn't afford 30K for a proper replacement of the drive, but 15k for a new paver drive and walkways totaling 2500sqft. Well that kind of deal is almost too hard to pass up.
So why am I writing this? The point is that the industry is totally messed up and more and more people are unknowingly willing to hire bad contractors based purely on price. The guys that are out there are willing to cut corners or knowingly do things incorrectly, or even worse are not aware and are taking up a decent share of the market with their friendly sales pitch of super low rates. Are quality jobs still out there, well sure they are. It's just that between media marketing and false impressions the market has changed. This is why more and more guys are moving back to other areas of the industry were at least even if your overhead is the same you can pay labor less because of lower skill required. I love hardscaping, but like some of the others around here have no desire to jump at every call that leaves a message,"We are calling to see if your company is interesting in placing a bid for our hardscape project, and we'd also like the lawn cut as well as edging and blowing." For those that did not pick up on it a good maintenance service would not do any less. We are full service, and our workload is 6-8 weeks for most items. "Bid" your non permit, underpriced, poorly thought out hardscape and be able to start next week, no thanks.