Patio steps - what would you do?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Ramairfreak98ss, Jun 19, 2008.

  1. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    We installed a patio in April of this year, it has two steps and then the top landing which is 3' deep and 7' wide using all Rinox pavers and rio 90 wall block if your familiar with the stuff.

    In the end now, each step is one block tall with a top cap/the step itself. Its a total of roughly 7" tall for each step. Once your on the landing on top of it all though, the step from the landing to the "top" of the doorsill is between 8.5 and 9".

    Now the patio and steps passed its inspection for the permit and the steps meet code. I think what happened, I originally measured to the bottom of the aluminum sill plate 7 to 7.5" difference. When i had my guys go back to level out the landing, "had a small tapered hump in the middle", that lowered it .25 to .50" as well. Add in the sill distance and thats another inch to inch and a half.

    The customer is complaining about some people that were at a recent event/party/etc that two tripped going into the back door and he feels its a major issue now.

    He had originally planned to remove the sliding glass door and was going to have french doors installed. This may or may not reduce the sill distance though.

    The steps were designed and had Integral step lights built into them. Short of tearing out the entire steps, glue, lighting etc and starting from scratch what other options would there be?

    The dillema is that the block used is only 90mm or 135mm IE: Rio 90 or Rio 135 model Rinox stone.

    Its all 3.5~ inches thick, we would have to increase the height of the entire steps and landing without increasing each step itself more than half an inch.

    I've thought about cutting some natural stone down from large peices and cementing them over top of each "top cap" on each step, but it would still be a "natural" uneven surface, not perfectly flat as they are now.

    Ive also thought about making a whole step extra and shortening the landing from 36" down to 24", but the customer already shot that down, but it would allow a 2" difference to walk inside.

    We originally were going to have the landing flush with the bottom of the sill plate. We then realized that the steps would not contact, but would be very close to a part that comes out of the back of his house about 14", its part of his living room that protrudes out from the back of the house but is not on the home builders plans that we used for our architectural layout prints :/

    The home owner decided he didnt like that so we eliminated a step and he understood he would then have to step up into the back of his house. What to do? Out of an entire fence and patio job that has went well, i now have a long time customer that now has questioned our judgment, called another landscape contractor, only of which who has recommended that he have an entire NEW layer of pavers put down on this entire patio, tear out the steps and fully rebuild them, for mucho $$$ im sure. Thats not nearly the best solution but most profitable for another company im sure.
  2. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,665

    I've seen that one a few times before in the past with myself or my guys, I would do my best to add an additional step, forget about adding to the caps or anything like that, it would look tacky. Or what I most likely would do is tear the two steps out and start over with 3 steps in mind. Wanna bet it wouldn't happen again and your customer would be signing praise to all her friends about how you rectified the problem even though you lost money on it. Thats the best way, unless putting in a new door could lower the initial step. 9" is way too much of a step out the door.
  3. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    Yeah, since adjusting 1" isnt much of an option, i could only see a 3rd step.. well see.
  4. PerfiCut L&L

    PerfiCut L&L LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 458

    I dont have a complete visual, but could you put in a row of cap stones? They're usually 3" +or- to make a step?
  5. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    Thats whats there now, 3.5" Rinox rio 90 wallblock used for the building materials to match the raised wall of the patio etc. and then 3.5" flat cut 10" deep caps. Ill find some pictures
  6. BOEpavers

    BOEpavers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 92

    Remember that adding anything to the top step/landing will correct the problem at the door, but cause a new problem with the rise from the next step to the top being increased by the height of what you added, going from 7" to 10"? The only solution I see involves tear out and redo, just how much is the question and that depends on the solution you and the homeowner agree on.
  7. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    Yeah, if we added another top cap, every step would be way too tall. I called the homeowner friday and left him a lengthy email disclosing what we can offer him for the patio steps. He finally called back late today and left a message that he won't be easily available this comming week but to call and leave a message when i get his message, but nothing about my email :/

    This customer usually is right back on the phone with me a minute after we call or he wants to talk about something.... not sure why its taking this long even after offering a full replacement to adjust an inch... aside from the fact he still owes us thousands. He im sure has the money, its not even a question in my mind, something recently has changed with the whole situation though because he went from overly chatty to cut and dry and not happy at all....
  8. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    Well i think we're beyond steps.. The customer liked the patio it seemed all the way until the end, when he wasn't happy with the extra inch in the top step into the house. I was assuming his non-payment of the final amount and issue with the steps was the only issue. Although not the easiest fix, it still is fixable and we can raise the whole landing to reduce the landing step down to only a few inches instead of almost 9".

    He apparently now thinks that all of the railing is "not" level vertically, which only one section is off by a hair that is cemented into the pillars on the right side. When i mean a hair, the bubble in the 2' level is just touching the outside portion of off-center. I think it appears it is not level because of the angle which you come onto the patio sideways, it appears from above, that it is an odd angle mounted into the pillar. I know all of the railing was level to start, but because your achoring the side of the railing into stone wall pillars on both sides, 3 rails each railing, one of them didnt stay put in the cement when the cement was put in place inside the pillar holes.

    He also is now saying that the pavers moved or the space between them has increased in the last month. This is the 2nd time we've used Poly sand, which i think the stuff works great over any standard sand for the finish coat to lock everything. He also said the level of each paver doesnt match one another and that the whole patio is uneven now :/ I will have to go back and inspect it soon to figure out what he is talking about. We have drains built into the patio close to the house where one downspout comes down. Prior to completion, a huge rainstorm proved the drain worked to keep the runoff water off of the patio surface.

    When is enough enough? This guy is a long time client of ours, but at the same time, going back to tear our and re-do a whole step system at the back door AND tear up and re-lay the whole patio surface is assinine. He complained about a "crack" in a 6x9 paver on the landing. I had NO more pieces, so i bought a whole cube from our supplier at $350 for one block to fix this one. Now he has spotted another that has a hairline crack, the block is not even cracked, its on the surface of the initial 6x9 :confused:

    Trying to keep a long time client happy is one thing, trying to finally get paid the thousands a customer owes is another, and even after the offer of tearing the steps out and rebuilding to the initial plan to make the landing level with the sill plate of the back door.... and now the patio surface, fence and walkway? wtf? We have been done this patio since the first week of May, its nearly two months now since we were done everything except the railing.

    What makes matters worse, is the end of my quotation initially, we added in the railing at his request, having no idea how much work was involved. After driving out into PA to get the fence $300-$400 cheaper than my local company was quoting, it still took over 3 days of labor to install, drill, core drill and cement this railing in place. Only to have to not fully complete it because the inspector had to OK the steps and pass them with the 9" into the back door prior to installing the railing on the steps. We've rented the Hilti Home Depot 3" core wet drill for a week instead of a day @$125 daily or $495 weekly plus tax and insurance and crap :/ Now we still have to rent it for another day to finish the 3 holes/posts and railing in the steps. Not the customers fault but its caused our profit to help shrink on this install. The labor and block supplies it will cost to re-do the steps and patio surface would most likely cause us to loose money on the 22x20ft patio with pillars and a walkway :(
  9. amscapes03

    amscapes03 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 398

    First off, you only needed one block and your supplier wouldn't brake a cube for you. That sucks. As far as this customer your dealing with. Sounds like you have and understand his punch list pretty well. I'd suck it up and just do what needs to be done. Schedule 2 or 3 days in between your next two jobs and just demo/rebuild. Make him happy and collect your dough. That top step being off by an inch and a half just opened the door for a super critical inspection over everything you did. If it wasn't for the step deal he'd have been happy as a clam with everything you did, you'd have been paid, and probably have already spent the money on a new toy for the company. Be pleasant with this guy, make it right, and it'll all work out. Good luck!
  10. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,665

    I have mixed thoughts on this guy your dealing with, in a way I agree with what is said here but I can't help but think that this guy is just in it now to save a few grand and doesn't give a damn about his installer (you). Too bad, because situations like this are hard to figure out at times. I have to agree with the customer on the step repair, it isn't right to have a step that is over 8" at the threshold, it would and obviously did open the door to further inspection of the whole project. I say stop him in his tracks, repair the steps, and deal with the remainder of issues after you are paid a good portion of the balance owing. Good luck and remember this "measure twice and cut once".

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