Yup, a hired concrete patio project! Don’t worry there will be a lot of accompanying diy projects to go along with it! Sometimes you just got to know when something is completely over your head. Being DIYers though, it isn’t easy picking out good contractors because we don’t do it enough! Boy, did I learn from this one! We didn’t realize how important that first contractor meeting was for the ‘free quote’. Oh the questions I should have asked…
6 MONTHS AGO-
Our plan for the backyard:
A) A DECK: “Hey honey what do you think about adding a large deck here next to the fence? We have a small yard, this spot is a jungle, let’s do something with it…what do you think?” In some of my other pictures from our other diy projects you could see the “jungle” in the background. I tried not to picture it too much. One day maybe it would look nice!
B) A SECONDARY DECK for the WOODPILE: “And Hey, our woodpiles are ugly scattered all over the yard….. Why don’t we put a secondary deck dedicated just for wood!” We decided the woodpile should be close to our side door where the woodburning stove is located. It would also provide privacy so people walking the road can’t peer into our outdoor living spaces. “Maybe… one day!”
C) A HOT TUB: “Oh and hey…umm honey….so what do you think about a hot tub?” HAHA our plan continued to grow. For the past couple of years I have had some serious neck and back issues. The old injuries have healed but flare-ups come on every now and then. Normally everything is fine, however, in my wimpering state during a flare-up, Ed and I dream of having a hot tub where we can relax on the ‘maybe’ new deck.
Always a sigh followed with “ONE DAY” and never actually thinking it might just happen soon.
Wow ok …’One day’ is HERE! A FREE HOT TUB?
One of Ed’s buddies from work started talking about the new house he just bought with a hot tub that he didn’t want. Of course Ed’s ears perked up even through his noise cancelling headphones. ☺ Ed’s coworker said that whoever will pay to move it can have it!! Ed jumped and said he would take it. This put our little dream project in motion. First thing was first we didn’t have a deck to put it on…….and here is where the project begins.
The quote GRRRRRRRR:
A guy came out and suggested putting a concrete patio instead of a deck! Wow, what a fantastic idea! He said it would be less than half the price of a deck, it would last years longer and would not need all the maintenance. Hey, he even said they would stamp it to look like pavers or slate for not that much more! Wow….great ideas! YES YES and YES…..Oh and yes of course he could put a secondary concrete slab for our woodpile for such a low cost. YES all in 2 weeks! Oh Heavenly!
Yup….we got a quote! A GREAT quote! Apparently he swooned us with his numbers ☺ Dazzled us with his blue paint across the grass. 🙂 You can tell we are diyers because we seriously are the worst ones to spot out the crooks. We go for their lowball quotes fast! We don’t ask enough questions. What the heck is wrong with us? In doing everything ourselves, you would think we would be skilled in asking the correct questions that are needed. But somehow we still get blindsided or something. (AND STILL- meaning this has happened before). I was excited and wide eyed…I said ‘huh? Really you can put a concrete patio next to the fence like that on top of that slope?’ That was my question. So his answer was ‘SURE!!!’ Great question K. RUPP…..he wasn’t lying when he said SURE!!
Questions I should have asked the “QUOTE GUY”:
I should have asked, Why isn’t there a foreman with you to help you with this estimate and how much more will it cost to fix your stupid quote mistake?
I should have asked ‘Can we sign the contract AFTER the foreman sees the job and agrees with your estimate’…because how much more is this going to cost me if you are wrong?
What I should have asked was, …”Umm, mister eyeballer, Let’s just say that your measurement for the height of the needed retaining wall is off by half, how much MORE would it cost to double the height because of your screw up?
I should have asked…. , how much more would it cost…………..you see where this is going right?
and QUOTE 2,3 and 4:
From the moment we signed the original quote, the project was set in motion….as well as quote 2,3, and 4. He gave us a quote that we agreed upon and prices continued to rise throughout the work. Let’s be clear here. We did not add any new ideas to this project to change the original plans. These were the original ideas from our first meeting.
Apparently the original quote just didn’t include any of the required measurements that could actually bring this project into a reality.
Is this what they do?….preying on the poor people who have never built an enormous concrete slab on a slope/cliff. Oh I forgot, that’s just about everyone. Leaving ‘little’ details and measurements out is part of the game I guess, OR, it’s just a simple honest mistake from the quote guy that obviously shouldn’t be giving out quotes.
YUP You got it! Over the course of 2 months while the work was in motion, we had to sign 3 more contracts and $7,000 more to counter in all of the extra measurements and sizes that the “QUOTE GUY” didn’t see. UGH!!!!!!! Are you %&”@#$$ kidding me?
YOU MAY SAY…
‘Well K.Rupp, that was dumb, Why did you sign the contracts then? I just wouldn’t have paid them.’
This sounds a lot easier to say. Come talk to me when all work has been stopped for days and there is a bulldozer in YOUR yard that has already torn up your flower beds sitting in the middle of a jungle gym that now can’t be used. They will stop YOUR job, and find other contracts until they get more money from you. They know finding another contractor is a hassle….and who’s to say a new contractor won’t look at it and say ‘WOW…yeah, they really low-balled you with that quote, I would need $10,000 more to complete their job they didn’t finish.’ ‘See?…it’s quite a conundrum I tell you’, as I smile and flip you off for the question. Sorry… Haha.
THE BEAUTIFUL PATIO:
I have to say the concrete guys did an amazing job! We were very happy with the actual work. The contractor has a great concrete foreman working for them. He knew everything that needed to be done for proper drainage as well as the tricky retaining wall that was the highlight of the problem. They built the retaining wall using blocks they picked that matched our front walkway.
The concrete was put down and they spent their time stamping the slate so it was perfect. They cut in between the lines of the slate so that with expanding and contracting, any cracks will be hidden. I picked pictures of stamped concrete on pinterest, and showed the foreman the colors so they knew exactly what I wanted.
The workers were very careful pouring the concrete and stamping around the electrical hookup (for the hot-tub) that was pulled up before the concrete was poured. They sealed the concrete patio which brought out the finished colors of the slate.
These workers along with the concrete foreman I would hire again in a heartbeat! The funny thing was that we got the foreman and the workers personal information so that If they ever decide to do side jobs or go into business by themselves, instead of using their goofball contractor company, we would have them back.
The poor woodpile:
After the main patio was finished it was time for them to start on our secondary concrete pad for our woodpile. Once again, this secondary concrete pad was all part of the original quote and part of the deal. The contractors called a 4th time asking for more money (after the increased $7,000). For them to do the woodpile they would need $2000 more for a retention wall that somehow got ‘accidentally left out’ of the 3rd signed contract. “ED, GIVE ME THAT GD phone!!!!” At this point I went off on the guy over the phone. He was nervous when calling (AS HE SHOULD BE). BUT AT SOME POINT…..when will a decent contractor eat the cost? COME ON!!! ‘Why the heck did you even give us a quote at this point? We took things well in the last 3 increases. We behaved. We didn’t scream at you. Oh no, push me no more….you hit my threshold with this! I hate you! You…. contractor you!’ Ok, I sounded all big and tough over the phone, but I totally folded. I knew it wasn’t worth going to court over. With their sneaky contract tricks playing on my concrete ignorance, I knew we didn’t have a case anyway. I got off the phone…..”Ed, the woodpile is out!”
This is the area our woodpile would have been ☹ Again….ONE DAY!
NEXT TIME we get a QUOTE for any job:
- First and foremost, I will be asking local friends on facebook what outdoor contractors they recommend! Why I didn’t do this I have no idea!
- Perhaps looking at a smaller contractor company would be better. This was a big company where the QUOTE GUY was actually just a salesman. Maybe find a company where the QUOTE GUY will actually be quite involved with the work.
- We will do our homework better next time. We were prepared for decking prices but had no idea about concrete. We should have stopped, reconvened, and done more research.
- I don’t freakin care! I will ask those QUESTIONS next time! You know, in the above- the questions I should have asked! I don’t care if I have to smile and giggle the whole time while I ask them. (You know you can say anything when you do that btw) They are going to answer me the next time I say:
- “What happens when your measurements are off!” You are supposedly the project expert!
- “Actually quote guy, how bout we cut out the middle man and just send your foreman to set the quote!”
- “Will you be involved in any of the work, or are you just a salesman?”
- “Hey Man, I don’t want a free quote if it’s going to cost me more down the line because of a quote screw-up. How about I pay for a quote to include the foreman, at least I would know the true cost of the job.” ” I don’t want to be dazzled….STOP, stop the BS!”
- And if that foreman is too expensive to send out along with the quote guy, I will pay more for him to be there! I want a TRUE QUOTE! Let’s end the stress and frustrations along the way.
- Next time I will get a few quotes as if interviewing them for the job. With more options, it is easier to see through the blowhards. We had amazing interior contractors before. They do exist!
- I understand that prices may rise a little because that does happen in projects. There always is a little renegotiation and we understood that. But with a better quote it should be a lot less than what we experienced. I think we took the $7000 increase way too well to be honest. The contractors were banking on the fact that we weren’t going to walk away being in the middle of the process. The time it takes to find someone else and then get onto a calendar is enough to give in to their requests. ‘NOT ANYMORE I tell you!! I am asking these questions next time on DAY 1 with Mr. Quote and hopefully we won’t have to consider walking away with an unfinished project in our backyard. ENOUGH….!’
‘Dang it, you will NOT play on our concrete IGNORANCE ANYMORE ….you understand?’ Yes strong and tough…..but in reality:
Karupped Lessons learned – PREPARE THE QUESTIONS AND ASK THEM!!! Don’t worry about offending your “stellar” QUOTE GUY that comes out. They will get over it. You need to know!
Backyard project to be continued….
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