Disaster - But I'll fix it

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by WorkinIt, Jul 14, 2007.

  1. WorkinIt

    WorkinIt LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Hi All-

    I posted on here a month or so ago asking for help about selecting color and pattern for my patio. Got a few responses, and I appreciate that. The patio turned out very well - have a couple of pictures I'll post first to show how it turned out (did a little more work since to get it completely done). I'm not 100% sure the color is appropriate with the brick, but it looks better in person than it does in the pictures (and even better yet once the sand was in).

    The problem is that the wife and I work, and this patio took a long time to complete ourselves (don't have the equipment, etc.) But I did take my time, research it completely, etc., and really did it correctly. Wife's patience was running out (mine, too) so we called a landscaper (recommended to us by someone who used him to build a drywell) to finish up and lay some pavers outside of the patio to clean up a little. We did leave that area a mess after we finished our part of the job.

    Well, the landscaper shows up, we explain very carefully what we want, and he tells us "I'm a paver pro". The whole job is a short wall (one place maybe 3 feet high), grade and install about 250 square feet of pavers, and crusher run for a small parking area (if we get a trailer or beater truck). The first day I show up after work, and they've started just randomly setting the wall. Cheated in the lines where I specified the wall would be, I think to save material. This screws up the fence line, and looks awful. I explain this to the landscaper, who seems ready to please. I even help decide a new layout that will preserve most of what he's done. But at this point I'm suspicious, and see that he's just setting wall block on graded soil. I mention this, and he swears there's gravel underneath.

    To finally cut this story short, he finished, and the job looks like it was done by kindergarteners. There's a huge dip, about 2.5" in the middle of the patio, which he explains is 'drainage' (how can it drain if it's in the middle of the job)? He talks about how hard it was, with 'angles going everywhere'. The pattern in some places is just randomly cut pieces of paver, some installed with the cut sides UP! The wall, which should have been set perpedicular to the driveway, was set with the base course perpendicular, so the bows in badly. If you tried to park on it, your tire would probably go off the edge. So I explain all this, and he's getting mad. And at this point, I know he's just not capable of doing the work. So I tell him what I think the job is worth, and we agree the he should tear it all out and just quit.

    I'm not sure if he thinks he did a good job or not. He was running water on the thing with my hose to see where the water sat, so he must have known. And there's no way you could miss that 2.5" dip in the middle. But he insisted that he'd never had this happen in his 30 years of landscaping, etc. He should have looked over at the job my wife and I did and notice that the level of craftsmanship was night and day, and we at least knew a little bit about how this kind of work is done (and should be done).

    Sorry for the long story, but wanted to share. After the job was pulled out, I saw there was no compactible gravel underneath the wall block at all - just sitting on newly graded dirt. At least there is some rough fill in there, which really helps us. That's the hardest part for us to do - the heavy moving. I agreed to pay him $1800 for what he did, which I regret, because it's too much (he left the wall block, the pavers were mine to begin with (to match what we already did), too my drain pipe, and wasted 1.5 bags of my expensive Techniseal HP polymeric sand).

    Funniest thing was the he wanted me to have a gentleman's agreement with him that I wouldn't talk about him. He also said then he wouldn't talk about me, either. Just wondering what on earth he thought he would say about me.

    Well, best of all, I made sure to take some pictures of that disaster. Just examples, you'd have to see the whole thing together to appreciate it. First some pix of the patio my wife and I built, before we finished the step into the yard and sanding the joints.


  2. WorkinIt

    WorkinIt LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Enjoy, and notice the dip, the rediculous layout of the wall, and the wonky pavers. I think he spent about 30 seconds total doing the layout work.





  3. WorkinIt

    WorkinIt LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Oh, I'm not excited about doing this work myself again. It'll take me a few months, I'm sure, working on weekends. But it's better than dealing with someone like this again.
  4. PatriotLandscape

    PatriotLandscape LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MA
    Messages: 1,209

    out of curiousity what did you pay?

    random patterns are very hard and should not be laid by someone who doesn't understand the geometry behind the pavers. there should be no cuts anywhere inthe field of pavers only the edges.
  5. WorkinIt

    WorkinIt LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Agreement was for $5600 including materials, which included about a pallet and a half of wall block, and setting about 240 square feet of pavers.

    Worked all day on starting to get it fixed. Dug through the paver prep area to set some stakes, and found that in at least some areas, there is less than one inch (really, around a half inch) of crusher run under the sand. Pretty amazing. Make me kind of pissed I gave him the $1800. Because I'll have to pull it all up, reexcavate, and place crusher run and sand again. Ugh.
  6. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,665

    Happens all the time, yet because you had some inclination about how to do the work he concedes and gives in that he had no clue after all. We see that crap all the time. Mostly they get away with it until someone like you starts asking questions.
  7. ChampionLS

    ChampionLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,066

    The random pattern should also have random interlock. There are many straight lines, which will allow shifting over time.

    You mention a parking area? Is that on the crushed stone? If so, that wall block is not really suitable to withstand vehicular loading. It looks like solid garden wall block. You don't like the curve, however there are no corner blocks available, and a curve is stronger. Also, it does not offer the retaining depth (at least 12"), Batter (angle of setback), Drainage aggregate (either behind or inside the blocks, since they are solid), and finally Geogrid reinforcement. At best, the stone should be slightly higher than the wall to allow water to run off the face and not pool up behind. With the weight of a vehicle, settling will occur and force the blocks out over time.
  8. WorkinIt

    WorkinIt LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    The 'parking area' is more than likely going to be for a utility trailer, so not a lot of weight at all, but it's true that I'd like to me able to at least try to put a vehicle on there if necessary. No grid available for these blocks, I suppose, but I would imagine there's no problem putting drainstone behind the wall for good depth. The curve I mentioned that isn't desirable is a function of making the first course perpendicular to the driveway instead of the top of the wall. With the 1" setback per block, as the wall gets higher, the top of the wall curves away from perpendicular more. He didn't seem to understand that.

    The random pattern thing is interesting. The wife and I struggled with that on the patio. I was bringing pavers to her and she would set them. At first, she wasn't watching the straight lines at all. We corrected some, but seems unavoidable to have at least some left. I think another problem is that the person setting them, down close to them, has a harder time seeing straight lines than I did when I was bringing her pavers. Does the two patio shots at the top have excessive straight lines? We're beginners at this. I think we also didn't leave enough joint width in some places. But it seemed like all the joints took sand, so I'd guess that's what's needed. When I try to take up a paver, it seems like it wants to pull several of the surrounding pavers up with it, too.
  9. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,665

    Your patio is fine, looks like you did a great job on it and I would not start lifting brick to lessen the straight lines. The patio is surrounded by a sturdy wall so why bother. There should be little if no separating of the joints. Personally I would take the wall apart and use a different block. The guy who sold you that block needs a swift kick in the butt.
  10. ChampionLS

    ChampionLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,066

    I agree, you did a great job for a beginner at one of the hardest laying patterns. Usually, when we do a random pattern, there's a formula for calculating the pieces. Sometimes its (example) 10% 6x3's 40% 6x4.5's 25% 6x6's 25% 6x9's This would be for a four size random. Naturally, it's easier to grab the smaller pavers, so at times your leaving out the larger ones, throwing off the pattern. When we do this, my staff only brings the right amount of EACH paver, and will not bring any more over to the layers, until they are all put down. They usually bring 4,8, or 12 pavers at a time on a wagon for simplicity.

    Here are a few examples I found:




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