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What happened here?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Sarge2914, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. Sarge2914

    Sarge2914 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    In 2005 I had a patio paver installed on a 2 year old home. Within one year I had problems with pavers sinking. The contractor came out, took out the pavers, put sand in, and replaced the paver. This has gone on, and on and on, until now the patio is not usable. The patio is a 13 x 24, and from the top of the patio to the end at (13 feet) there is a difference of 9 inches of sloping. I am ready to tie a rope around my dogs so they don't roll off the patio. The contractor says he did the work right, but look at the pictures. My steps are also sinking and there is now a lip from one paver sinking and the other raising up. The patio is hideous, but the contractor swears he did nothing wrong. He said he is a ICPI certified installer. Can someone please help a woman homeowner who wants a patio for enjoyment and one in which I can enjoy and not worry about sinking? I have more photos for anyone who would be so kind to look at and give me some indication of what went wrong. I would appreciate any help or ideas anyone is willing to give me.




  2. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    It could have been setteling from the home construction? I am dealing with somethng similar 6 years down the road...although it did start about 2-3 years in.
  3. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    What you are seeing is settlement due to a lack of compaction in the foundation backfill. At least four feet of the fill material next to your foundation should have been removed and replaced with compacted stone. Unfortunately, that will be the only long term solution to your problem now. Adding more sand is definitely not the way to fix it.
  4. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,602

    What you have is SETTLEMENT.

    In most cases, I will talk to a prospective client with a NEW home about settlement. How it happens. Why it happens. And what to expect.

    I also advise an owner of a new home to wait AT LEAST 12 months before installing a patio.

    The settlement is more or less a natural aspect of new home construction. I'll explain why: See, a builder will excavate the home's basement. And when they do this, it's standard practice to dig the basement hole larger than the actual size of the basement. This creates what's known as an "overdig". There are reasons for creating an overdig, but thats neither here nor there.

    After the foundation has been poured or block set, and after the dwelling's floor joists have been installed to the foundation, the overdig can then be backfilled.

    When backfilling is performed - the soil is gently dumped into the overdig. The backfill CAN NOT be compacted because that will cause the foundation walls to "blow in".

    Most basement walls are 8-10-feet in height. So this means a new dwelling has 8 to 10-feet of loose, fluffly, backfill. Its a sure bet that this fluffy fill WILL SETTLE. GUARANTEED.

    Now, I have had home owners say "well we talked to one patio guy and he said he's gonna compact the outside edge of the foundation wall". Ok, he can compact all he wants till he's blue in the face.

    Two things:
    #1 there is 8-10-feet of fill - there is NO way one can compact 8-10-feet of fill unless they excavate ALL THE FILL and start over.
    #2 Settlement occurs from the bottom up. When you see settlement, it's not the top of the ground that's settled.

    So yes, your contractor did install the pavers correctly.

    HOWEVER : This is what I tell people: a pavement is only as good as what's under it.

    Your contractor should have discussed potential settlement issues with you. I had a guy call today about an estimate for a patio. he told me what town he lives in. In that town is 1 new development. So instantly I asked him "how old is your house". It turned out he lives in an older development, so all was well. But had he lived in the new development I would have said "I'd be more than happy to talk to you, but you really need to wait at least 12 months to allow for settlement".

    Some contractors have a clause on their contract stating they're not responsible for settlement within 4-5 feet from the foundation.

    Another thing: my home is 7 years old. being I know what I know, you can be assured I have been ontop of backfilling my foundation from the day the floor joists were set in place. 2 weeks ago, 7 YEARS LATER, the THIRD BACKFILLING after I moved in was done. AND OUR SOIL is good, structured soil. My point is settlement occurrs for much longer than 12-months. Much longer than 3 years.

    I preach this stuff to prospective clients every week. Many of them think I'm some loud mouth contractor talking a bunch of crap. I spend about 30 minutes going over every detail of the installation. I talk about what we do and why we do it. And I have photos to back up my statements that I'm showing as I'm talking about it.

    oh, and block steps. new construction. BAD IDEA. All that block is alotta weight bearing down on that loose fluffy soil.

    It's your responsibility to research.......

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  5. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,602

    Also Sarge,

    You mentioned the contractor mentioning his alledged ICPI certification.

    Yeah, more than likely he is telling the truth.

    But do a search on this forum on ICPI.

    You'll see many responses from COMPETENT, VETERAN contractors that are anti-ICPI BECAUSE OF SITUATIONS / CONTRACTORS like yours.........

  6. Sarge2914

    Sarge2914 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    To everyone who has been so kind to write in, let me explain. I moved into my new home 12/31/03. In 09/04, I had an ingrown pool installed. In 04/05, I had a heater installed on the pool, which meant running a gas line from the side of the house, across the back lawn, and connecting to the pool equipment. In May, 2005, I got estimates for the paver patio. Everyone was aware of and could see that there was a utility line cut across my lawn where my paver patio would go. In fact, the person who would do the patio would need to put more fill dirt into the utility line cut before the patio could be started. The winning contractor was talked to about the disturbed area and said he knew how to handle everything. One week later the crew showed up and within days the patio was done. The only thing different being done was the inspector from the state of Md. said that the sump pump discharge pipe had to be extended so that it discharged away from the house/patio/pool, and he said he wanted an extension put on it and for it to exit some 15-20 feet away on the other side of the house (after being buried under the pavers). As I stated. after the first winter, we saw changes, especially where the utility line was covered up. The contractor was notified, and he just played everything down and just kept filling in areas with more sand. Maybe I am crazy, but in a distance of 13 feet to have a slant that at the end is 9 inches lower than the top of the patio sounds really drastic, and it is. I have neighbors who had the same kind of patio and within months of mine, and theirs is perfect. I never asked for the kind of slant that I got, the contractor just did it. The entire patio retains water and has puddles everywhere and has moss growing from standing water. We waited 2 years before we had the patio installed -- shouldn't that have been enough time to wait? The bricks in the pictures were never touched or removed by anyone. This is what the bricks are doing to themselves. Do you think the patio could collapse into a sinkhole. Could a patio have been installed correctly or was this and is this a no win situation? Will I ever be able to have a paver patio installed correctly? If you were the contractor, how would you have started and completed this patio knowing it was a 2 year old home and the ground had a utility line cut already that needed more dirt to level it.

    Thanks to all who have answered my question.
  7. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,602

    Anne - with all due respect, i addressed the time frame in my initial response for settlement. I believe it's at the end of the post, please review my post for where I have addressed this.

    It's my experience (not theory, but experience) that settlement can INFACT occur for MANY years.

    The UTILITY LINE - Can speak for others, but we NEVER backfill settled areas with SOIL. We ONLY backfill with a compactable aggregate, this we everyone has peace of mind that it was done correctly. However, Again, you're only backfilling the surface. As stated in my initial response - the surface is NOT what settles. Settlement occurs from the bottom - up.

    Sink hole - no. Fact of the matter is - the contractor did a poor job. And as consumers it's our responsibility to do our homework. Ask for references. ok, and now when I say this - I always get the same responses - "they did all the neighbor's patios". Ok, big wow. Patio references should always be of jobs of 3 yrs of age. A new patio always is beautiful and the people are always happy. It takes about 3 yrs to see the effects of a patio done wrong.

    The pictures appear to be settlement. If you would like a different answer, then we're gonna need more exhibits of pictures.

    If it's not settlement - then it's water issues.

    Food for thought. We had a patio we did in 2002. Had to go back 4 times to fix settlement. Finally on the 4th visit, i discovered that they client was not cleaning the gutters on their home. they live on a wooded lot. So the gutters were over flowing and water was gushing down onto the patio, this causeing the patio to sink.

    The improper grade of the pavers - from what I see, thats how it was done at the time you cut the final check. Looks like a deliberate and intentional grade. Which looks terrible in my opinion. But from what I see, it appears it's been that way since day one. Not standard practice to pitch a pavement that steep. Again, we consumers need to be mindful of this stuff at the time of handing out that final check!

    dont mind my typos, it's late!

    Feel free to brouse our website to get a feel for the competency of my advice / opinions offered - www.outdoorfinishes.com

  8. StoneFaced

    StoneFaced LawnSite Member
    Messages: 201

    That's a lot of good sound advise from DVS. The only thing that I would expand on a little, is the possible underlying drainage issue. The pics that you have are not telling the whole story. Remember, water will always take the path of least resistance. The movement of those brick, especially the raised ones is telling me that you are experiencing some hydrostatic pressure against that wall, caused by the collection of water in that area and then freezing.

    You have a drain at the bottom of those stairs...is it working properly? Do you have any standing water in that area after a heavy rain? Is your basement damp near that corner where the two walls meet? Is the sidewalk pitched or sloped in that direction? I'm not really getting a good sense of how and where all the work was being done for the pool...but that may be something to look at. Also, if the footer drain pipe was disturbed (broken, crushed, etc.) that would be a cause for the problem, it should be tied into that drain...which is where the water from up top seams to be finding it's course. What I don't understand is why that much slope was put on it in the first place, it may or may not have anything to do w/ what is going on. My guess is that he didn't want to over excavate and have to haul out or move a lot of soil.
  9. Sarge2914

    Sarge2914 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Okay everybody, here are all the pictures I have. We had a pool put in with a cement walkway around the pool. The following year we had the patio put in totally leaving it up to the contractor as to the design, etc. We wanted a paver patio with steps that would leave from a kitchen walkout (steps), onto the paver patio, and then onto the pool deck. We did not ask for any pitch, slant, etc. We felt that if the guy was ICPI accredited, that he knew what he was doing. Like I said, the only thing the state inspector wanted was for the sump pump drain to come out next to the steps and be buried under the paver patio and exit away from the house. It was to connect onto a drain at the top of the basement steps which then goes about 15 feet off to the side and drains out away from the patio. It is open and drains water when the sump pump goes off in heavy rains. We wanted a patio that we could enjoy and one in which our chairs were not rocking. It looks like we got a deal for our money because we now have a table and chairs that rock without having rockers on the bottom. Even the dogs water bowl is rediculous. It is 2 inches at one end and 6 inches at the other end. Everything is slanted. Over the entire patio stones are sticking up, sunken down, turned sideways. Even the steps are failing. Here are the rest of the pictures. I would like to ask this: would you have erected a paver patio like this if I gave you the go ahead to build me a paver patio that would not hold water puddles and would last? To me it doesn't even look like he dug out at all, just put the pavers right on top of the dirt and left. Your honest opinion please.





    Mitty87 likes this.
  10. StoneFaced

    StoneFaced LawnSite Member
    Messages: 201

    Well, the last picture says a lot. Looks to be about 1" of fall per foot. If it were me, he would have been thrown off the job far before laying the first brick. I'm actually surprised he got paid and that it is at this point...I'm just being honest. I would have liked to have seen the rest of what you say is bad, but at this point I've seen enough, because it should all be removed and installed correctly. Do a proper excavation w/ a proper base and find the leak if there is one. You will know more when it gets removed. Dig it all up, check plumbing connections, and make sure water isn't rolling back up the pipe. As it sits, it's a guessing game as to why you are getting movement...it could be settling and could be from water collecting. BTW, those certification courses can be taken over the course of a weekend...then your a pro! :rolleyes:

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