Crack in large flagstone patio. Should I refuse it?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by ChadTheNomad, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. ChadTheNomad

    ChadTheNomad LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 29

    Greetings everyone,

    I posted a while back about a project I was looking to do. I ended up finding a local company to do the work, and overall they've done a nice job (from what I can tell, but that doesn't say much).

    I have a few concerns, and I'd appreciate it if I could get some independent opinions.

    They put in about 12 tons of boulders for a retaining wall. Looks great. They're using very large (I'd say 5x5 or larger) flagstone pieces for the patio and using polymetric sand in between the "joints."

    So, my questions are:

    1) The patio sits at least 6" or more above the grass line. This wasn't what I was expecting at all, but he says it was necessary. I disagree with the idea of that from a customer service standpoint, but I can live with it. Is there any issue with having the patio level that far above the grass line? I'll try to get a picture if it helps, but I thought the patio line should be roughly level, or maybe a few inches above, the grass line.

    2) The most disconcerting for me. There's a long crack in one of the largest pieces of flagstone. It snakes around the stone and is probably 6' long. I can't tell how deep the crack runs. Should I refuse this piece? Is it normal to have such cracks? I hate the idea of paying for a new patio, and though we're using stone that's who knows how old, I'd like to have relatively flawless pieces.

    Opinions greatly appreciated. As a consumer, I've thus far been pretty frustrated by the experience.
  2. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    I don't think this is the best way to resolve any conflict you're having with your guy; you're looking for opinions on work we haven't seen on a site we haven't seen. It's entirely possible that the patio level needed to come 6" out of grade in order to maintain proper pitch, and as long as he is retaining the base material properly it's no big deal. 6" is a standard riser height, so you basically have a step down to grade. Unless the contract specifically calls for "grade to flush conditions" there was no expectation that it be completed thusly.

    As for the cracking, it sounds like you're using huge pieces of flag. That'll happen with big pieces- you're talking about thin pieces of rock with low tensile strength. If it bugs you, talk to your contractor and see what your recourse is. Again, that all comes down to what's in your contract.

    You sound like you're at a frustrated point- are you just not getting any satisfaction on your questions?
  3. ChadTheNomad

    ChadTheNomad LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 29

    Thanks Dave. I appreciate your candor.

    His argument was that there wasn't enough material to cover the wall and get it lower. I did hear him speaking to his team about the 6" riser height, so that gives me comfort. And no, there was nothing in the contract about "grade to flush."

    So, as a consumer of these services, I simply had expectations that were mismatched what is apparently appropriate and within normal conditions. I just wanted confirmation that it was my expectations that were misaligned and that I wasn't being misled. I followed these forums for quite a while, and a lot of threads seem to suggest that there's a lot of shoddy craftsman out there, so I got a little paranoid.

    I talked to him about the crack in the flagstone. He said the same thing you did: It happens. All the other pieces are in perfect condition, so I have no issue. He left it up to me to decide whether to leave it as is, or he offered to split the large piece at the crack so that you would have two distinct pieces. Sounds like a reasonable solution.

    Yes, I was a little frustrated. There's a lot of work going on right now, and I just started seeing little things that concerned me. I wanted an outside source to just confirm that my expectations were simply incorrect.

    If I were to do this again, I'd push harder for a more detailed plan that showed these things in detail. Not knowing what to expect was a little disconcerting.

  4. richallseasons

    richallseasons LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 479

    I think the most important thing that you can do right now is to communicate with your contractor, and seriously ask all the questions that you need to so that you and he are on the same page , alot of times contractors assume that as a home owner you know things that we take for granted so we might not say them... but a good open line of communication is key.
  5. ChadTheNomad

    ChadTheNomad LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 29

    Yes, I think you captured the issue quite well. I talked to him several times throughout the day, and he took care of everything. The job came out beautifully. The patio is still higher than I would have expected, but he put a nice set of steps on the front with flower beds all in the front.

    As a business owner in the service industry (IT), I know how hard it is to convey what it is you're trying to do to a client. Being on the consumer side of the transaction this time, I think my frustration was just with not knowing the process, not knowing what to expect and not being able to "see" the final results. Perhaps a more detailed plan with CAD drawings would help customers like me, but I know there's overhead associated with that.

    I have a new appreciation for landscape and the knowledge, artistic expression and hard work required to realize the goals. Kudos to you all.
  6. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,665

    Love to see a few pictures of your new patio!
  7. PatriotLandscape

    PatriotLandscape LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MA
    Messages: 1,209

    where are the pics?
  8. ChadTheNomad

    ChadTheNomad LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 29

    Attached is an overall picture. I also had a tiered vegetable garden built and a courtyard area on the side of the house. The patio was the main thing though.

    We're very pleased with the results, though getting there was a nervous experience. I think the large boulders are beautiful, and a relatively unique option for this area.

    The only thing I'm not sure about is the dry creek. I think it looks good for the most part, but I'm not convinced it was really necessary. We're under an extremely heavy rain right now, and I don't see any activity in it at all.

    Please let me know what you guys think.

  9. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Messages: 3,498

    Looks nice. Personally, I like to use a lot more plant material along with the hardscape. Do you have a closer picture so that we may see the actual patio? The fitment of the boulders is good.

    The dry creek bed isn't meant to look like an actual creek when raining unless the area really just happens to carry a lot of water. From what I see they are sending the water around the patio and into the yar. Yes, it coul have been just a swale but you may have also had the mulch washing down the hill too. The stone is fuctional and decorative. If it were me, I would have made the curve much more dramatic......say a foot more in each direction to create more movement visually. I would have then put more plants around the creek bed to soften its look.
  10. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,536

    Over planting is a NO NO. There are plenty of plants in there. They will grow in.

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