Need Advice

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by PSUhardscaper, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. PSUhardscaper

    PSUhardscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 80

    This house was built last July. I suggested we build a deck off the back that steps down to a patio (see design). I gave my settlement issue speech - he really does not want a deck. Here are two emails between him and his builder, which he sent to me in hopes that I would say "oh great that's all i needed to hear, let's just build a patio and scrap the deck". Let's hear what ya got.

    Hi _____,

    I was just wondering how much our backyard should settle over the next few years, from your experience? We want to start a patio, and the person we are getting an estimate from was concerned about how much it will settle over time. I figured you may know the answer to this.

    Thanks so much!


    Usually if there are no signs of settling, after a year, you should be ok, on top of that they should be compacting the sub base which will help everything to. I would say you should be fine though.



  2. OSdb

    OSdb LawnSite Member
    Messages: 80

    Install plants along the foundation and start the patio at the edge of the steps, you should be past the overdig by then.
  3. TwoTinySprouts

    TwoTinySprouts LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    Um, well, do NOT pour cement. It will totally settle more! Even if they thump the ground! I'd say at least 4-5 inches of gravel if you are going to do it.... I'd be very concerned about settling and the cement buckling. Just my own little opinion....
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  4. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    DVS would walk away. I would do the patio. You educated him, now it's his problem.
  5. TwoTinySprouts

    TwoTinySprouts LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    Maybe flagstone? They do a little better with settling, and way easier to fix...?
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  6. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    The concept drawing you show looks perfect. The patio is FAR from the over-dig zone, so settlement will be a minor issue, if even at all.

    It's the over-dig that settles. That's 8-10' of loose backfill. And its not usually compacted.

    As far as the builder mentioning you "compacting the sub-base", wow - that sounds technical to a customer. It misleads the customer.

    When settlement occurs - it's not the top of the ground that settles. The ground settles from the BOTTOM UP. So you can compact and compact and compact and compact that base all day long. when the ground 5-8 feet below settles - all your compaction efforts just went down the drain.

    I can tell you from 1st hand experience - building block steps on new construction is a HUGE risk on your part. I have a thread on this site sharing a recent experience.

    Building the patio out in the yard, away from the over-dig, as your rendering depicts - that I would do.

    But building a patio up against the foundation, and building block steps in the over-dig zone - that I would walk away from. Aft 23 years in biz, having been through a recession and having both your gross sales and personal net income cut by over 50%, then rebounding and having reached certain milestones - one is able to be selective.

  7. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    also - the grill zone in your rendering looks too close to the dwelling for comfort. I'd configure that grill zone so the heat from the grill wont be melting the siding.
  8. Newguy25

    Newguy25 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 120

    Off topic but what landscape design software did you use?
  9. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    I mean you could simply excavate down to the virgin grade. If you are the guy than that would be just part of the job. Now if you are part of the "bid" considerations (not really since clearly there are no plans or spec sheets) than this extra effort will place you out of the range of every other Joe that will simply dump 2" of stone dust and $2 a foot pavers.

    We started a job this week. 30 yr old step system. They poured a pad during construction over 2' of overdig. 30 yrs later the walls of the stairs were still fastened to the foundation, but the pad had separated and sank 2" in the back. The result was that water that got in was now pitched to the foundation wall and had 2' of clay to soak into and stay wet forever. Basement wall always wet there. Even if it did not get wet when the block does let go the entire system will drop 2". So because the original installers decided not to dig 2' to the foundation footing and instead go over overdig, we now have to dig 7' and add thousands to the repair. Build over the overdig not for me. Dig it out and move forward. 100% of the cost now will be 25% of the repair cost later.
  10. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    I did an estimate for a young man about 3 yrs ago. (I have a thread talking about this incident)

    I pull up and it's a brand new house. He wanted a semi-elaborate patio. It involved alotta steps. I told him he really needed to wait an give the property time to settle. He became very agitated with me and could not wait for me to leave.

    See, his neighbor just had a similar patio built. So because another contractor didn't blink an eye at doing it - Mr. Andrew Hardscape was full of himself.

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