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Blame the builder?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by jcschlic, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. jcschlic

    jcschlic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Hello All,

    I'm a homeowner and I've been on these boards a few other times with some different questions and everyone has always been a big help. Here goes...

    My sod was installed (new construction) in November 2008 just before the major frosts started. It turned out to be perfect timing. The following spring (and the majority of summer) we had almost a perfect amount of moisture - I still had to water a lot myself which I didn't mind - it was a new lawn that I knew would require a lot of work. Got through the year just fine until this year...

    ...certain spots (maybe 5-6 small "zones") will literally die within 2 days of having no water while the rest of my lawn will be in good shape. I wanted to find out what was causing this (my thought was that there was rocks/construction trash/concrete underneath the sod because when my wife and I were getting ready to till/seed our back yard we had to remove a small truck load of rock/trash/concrete) so I bought a hand aerating tool and sure enough in those areas there is a lot of rock and concrete because you can feel the rock/hit concrete in those areas.

    So, I have been manically trying to keep these areas alive with watering. My wife is sick of hearing me complain about it because frankly I am sick of watering these areas all the time. It's really becoming an issue from my point of view.

    Now, I have thought about getting an irrigation system (because I have almost 16000 sf total of lawn, the sod is probably just over 5000 sf) but that is obviously an expense that doesn't truly *fix* my spot problem (but all in all it would probably be an all-around good investment while saving those spots from their over-sensitivity).

    But, I have also thought that if I don't want/can't get an irrigation system that going back to the builder and blaming them is an option. Is this an option for me? Or is it going to go nowhere? Is a builder likely to tell me I'm screwed and that this is a problem of mine and not his? If I choose to go back to the builder what is the best approach to this?
  2. Fireguy97

    Fireguy97 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    You and your wife tilled and seeded the back yard, who installed your sod, you or your builder (contractor)?

    How big are these 5-6 small "zones"?

    Did you see what prep work was done in the front yard? If you had to do all that work in the back yard, and the correct prep work wasn't done in the front yard, then you will always have a problem.

    An Irrigation system will not *fix* the problem, it will only band-aid it. Find out what is under those areas and fix the problem. If you have concrete or rock under the sod, dig it up and get it fixed. After a year and a half you should have established roots. It sound like it's drying out because the roots can't find moisture in the (no) soil. If you can feel rock or concrete under the sod with the 4" tines of an aerator then you definitely have a problem that needs to be fixed.

    A properly designed and installed irrigation system will water your lawn, flowers, and shrubs evenly, and place water where and when it should be. You won't have to always drag hoses and over water your lawn like everyone does with a hose sprinkler.

    You are already blaming the builder. That isn't helping. Getting the problem fixed, or who will be fixing the problem should be the only options. The part about being screwed, It depends on the builder- and your relationship with him, and his relationship with the landscaper.

  3. jcschlic

    jcschlic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17


    The sod was installed by the builder's contractor who I have spoke with this morning. The areas mentioned are mainly anywhere from 3-5 feet in diameter. I was not able to view any prep work by the contractor during installation. The sod contractor said he can "take a look and do any necessary fixes for $35 an hour" - this seems highly unfair for me. Plus if I do this I will have to let the mentioned areas die out completely to show him where the problems are. I'm going to call the builder back and see what they say about all this.
  4. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,536

    you want somebody to repair your lawn after 2 years?
  5. jcschlic

    jcschlic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    How was I supposed to know there were rocks and concrete underneath the sod?

    Yes of course it's past the "12 months warranty" that typically comes with things like this, but as I said earlier the first year I was watering like crazy because I had to - it was brand new sod. There was no way for me to know.

    It's shady work if you ask me.

    Here in Iowa you have the legal right to sue a contractor up to five years after the work was (incorrectly) done. I'm not saying I want to sue anyone, I just don't want to have to worry about something that should have been done right to begin with.
  6. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,536

    i hear your frustration. But there may be more to the story. Was it low bidder that won the job? I had to repair a clients property that was exactly like you describe. It was a rocky area and the builder was cheap with the amount ot grade time and topsoil used. Well a few years later i was digging rocks and re topping half the lawn at a mansion.

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