Concrete Border Question

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Hi, We recently had a concrete border installed. They use one of those border machines. We had this done about three weeks ago. The other day we were working out in the yard and I dropped the wooden handle of the shovel onto the border from a distance of two feet above. It left a big 2cm deep, 1 inch wide0 or so dent in the border. We ignored it and figured it was a air pocket or some other anomaly. About an hour or so I was walking by and my foot brushed by a corner of the border and it fell apart. I got down and started rubbing it with my hand and the whole thing started to crumble apart in my hand. I went around to several other parts of the border in the back yard and I took a regular stick and using a regular stick, with surprisingly little force I made a 2 inch deep mark simply by rubbing it. The whole border is this loose where simply by brushing it with your foot it will start to crumble apart. This is 3 weeks after it was poured. I went into the front yard and it was hard as a rock. I spend several minutes hitting it in various places with a screwdriver, and I didn't so much as leave a scratch. I picked up a pebble size piece of the concrete from the front yard that was excess and it was firm as a rock, I couldn't break it apart. I went into the backyard, and picked up a similarly sized piece of extra cement and it crumbled into dust in my hand. All the borders in the backyard are that weak.
So I called the guy who came back. He said, "Well, it looks like the mix for the backyard possibly was not as good as the one for the front yard." He then changed his view around, and rather then accept responsibility he said it was our fault for disturbing it before the required 4 week curing process was over. He only replaced the corner which had fallen apart. Now, I am no expert and that is why I am referring to this forum. In my mind however 3 weeks should be enough time for a concrete border to cure, and even if it did require a full 4 weeks, shouldn't by 3 weeks into it (under the hot 112 degree Phoenix sun), it be hard enough not to crumble so easily? Our argument was, well, if the front is solid as a rock, and they were both poured on the same day, shouldn't the back be equally as strong? The guy is not a licensed contractor (we checked after these problems happened) so we can't take him to the board of contractors. He is an LLC. He refused to replace the backyard borders besides the one corner citing it wasn't his fault, it was all our fault. In my mind though, it is not our fault if he mixed it wrong.
So I wondered if anyone who knew this field of expertise could give their opinion on the matter, and possibly refer me to some concrete standards or something. What retaliation is there for something like this? Is it really our fault even though we didn't do anything to it? How strong should a cement border be?
     Thanks a ton for your time,      - snipped-for-privacy@aol.com
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The guy is not a licensed contractor (we checked after these problems happened) so we can't take him to the board of contractors. He is an LLC. So I wondered if anyone who knew this field of expertise could give their opinion on the matter, and possibly refer me to some concrete standards or something. What retaliation is there for something like this?
Without a license, here you would have no recourse.
I have no idea what recourse you have in your state, that would be a function of your state laws and the wording of your contract.
If you don't have a contract, I doubt you have any recourse.
Best of luck, and let us know how it comes out!
--
Lyle B. Harwood, President
Phoenix Homes, Inc.
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wrote:

He has recourse, with or without a contract, he can take the guy to small claims court. And he almost certainly has at least a verbal contract as there was a meeting of the minds and an agreement reached. Of course a verbal contract is harder to prove, however this one is pretty obvious. Hopefully he paid the guy with a check.
Even without an agreement, under the law, if you buy something, it has to be basicly fit for the use intended. For example, if you sell someone a new pot, and they take it home and find that it doesn't hold water, even without a guarantee, they are entitled to a new pot or refund.
The real problem, of course is collecting any judgement.
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- Chet Hayes -

- Nehmo - Somewhat aside form the topic of this thread, and I won't bore you with the details.
The small-dispute court TV shows have generated the false public perception that small civil courts actually dispense justice. I can't speak for everywhere, but in Kansas City, Kansas, don't expect Judge Roy Brown to hear your case. Actually, for the $31 it costs to file an under-$500 case*, expect _maybe_ five minutes in front of someone who just wants to dispense with you and go to the next case.
(The police, by the way, at least KCK Officer Watters-Patton, won't answer your subpoena to testify either.)
However, I did made some useful observations. After watching a morning-worth of cases - many of the cases were ex-wives suing for unpaid child support. Then the process was to take the judgment to Drivers Licensing to get the guy's license suspended. - it appeared, at least in that court, the plaintiff had to have _all_ the paperwork to prove his or her case. Oral-only agreements weren't recognized.
* Over here, OP's proper venue would be Limited Action Court, and he or she would be unlikely to prevail without an attorney.
--
*********************
* Nehmo Sergheyev *
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He has recourse, with or without a contract, he can take the guy to small claims court. And he almost certainly has at least a verbal contract as there was a meeting of the minds and an agreement reached.
You're right, of course.
I've used written contracts for so long that I didn't even consider a verbal contract.
However, if his state requires a license for this work, his "contractor" has no capacity to contract.
--
Lyle B. Harwood, President
Phoenix Homes, Inc.
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Concrete borders should be hard enough to take a hit like that within 24 hours. The classic mix problem is crumbly concrete, so the contractor did poor work.
Now, what recourse do you have? Whatever recourse is in your contract, plus the local court system.
Jeff
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You have a Contract, either way. If it is written, it is even better. If not written, you still have an oral contract. You paid money in exchange for his agreement to perform work. Inherently, that is a Contract In almost all states, there is an implied warranty of fitness for use. You don't have that in your back yard.
Have an attorney write the LLC a demand letter. If you don't get a proper response, take it to small claims court. No Judge would want crumbling concrete in his or her back yard. Also, notify your local Better Business Bureau .
Good Luck.
--James--
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Small claims court or a threatening letter from a lawyer usually does the trick.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Anteater) wrote in message
No question something is very wrong. It does take a long time for concrete to reach it's maximum strength. However, this is a declining exponential type of curve, so by 3 weeks, it should be closing in on the last part of the curing, and certainly not falling apart. Was the concrete kept moistened while it cured in the 112 deg heat? Sounds to me, with such a small pourt, it could have dried out before it cured, leaving you with half dust.
I'd wait the 4 weeks and then show the guy that more is still falling apart. If he refuses to fix it, get a quote from another contractor, which clearly indicates what the problem is, and a price to fix it. If he refuses to fix it, you can try small claims court. Getting a judgement will probably be easy, many of these guys never even show up. However, collecting it, is quite another matter.
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Anteater wrote:

What does your common sense tell you? Listen to it.
-- dadiOH _____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.0... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico ____________________________
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Hi, So if we take it to small claims court, and win, what process can we go through to ensure collection? Someone posted in an earlier post that it was hard to collect. What all is involved in small claims court? Could we show a video of the border falling a part?
Thanks, - snipped-for-privacy@aol.com
-----------------------------------------

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- Anteater -

- Nehmo - Even though I used to live in Arizona, I don't have any idea of what the small-claims situation is in Maricopa County, assuming that's where you are.
In any case, this is not a NG with experts on that subject. I'd refer you to another NG, but the usenet legal groups are full of wrong advice. Maybe this isn't a question that can be answered via the NGs.
As I already said, over here in Kansas City, Kansas, your type of claim would be properly placed in Limited Action Court (not small claims), and attorneys usually represent plaintiffs there.
But if you *do* go to court and get a judgment for your cause, you can take that and use it to collect in some fashion. For example, if you know where his bank account is, you can garnish it. There's a fee for attempting that too, BTW.
- Anteater - Could we show a video of the border falling a part?
- Nehmo - That certainly would be evidence the concrete wasn't up to standard, but _who_ is responsible for that? . Legal junk isn't black and white. It's even possible, if you go to court, *you* would end up with a fine or a judgment against you.
--
*********************
* Nehmo Sergheyev *
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Anteater wrote:

They are right. There is no way to assure collection - blood from a turnip and all that. However, going to court is a PITA for all concerned and a sensible potential plaintiff would do all he could to avoid it. After all, if he is in court he can't be working. It would be much better for all to work out a solution to your problem...straight and honest talk to the tradesman explaining that you are dissatisfied, why you are so and telling him you would much prefer to arrive at an amicable solution than go to court would be my approach. In person, not on the phone. Merely knowing that you are serious may effect a resolution.
If you do have to go to court and you win, look into what is called an "examination of judgment debtor". If available, it is a great device. It lets you haul the guy into court again and he is sworn...you can then take him off in a corner or out in the hall and ask him what you will - where he banks, where his savings are, what assets he owns, etc. You can do this multiple times. IOW, you can make life so miserable for him that he will be happy to pay up. It goes without saying that you can also grab his assets...easiest if he is a wage earner as you can garnishee wages. You can do the same with bank accounts but they can be moved/depleted/etc. _________________________

It varies from place to place. Generally, there is a maximum amount that you can sue for and lawyers aren't allowed. Talk to the Court Clerk, he/she will have info and can usually help. _______________________

You can pretty much present what is necessary to prove your case. You *do* have to prove it. Even better would be a video AND a couple of chunks of concrete...one of the good, one of the bad.
Finally, consider calling the TV court shows...People's Court, Judge Judy and the like. They need a constant influx of cases and yours is different from most that they air. And if you should get on, it would be a win/win situation.
-- dadiOH _____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.0... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico ____________________________
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Are there any mandated "concrete standards" or anything that we could refer back to as evidence? I.e. PSI it should be able to withstand, etc.? What if he argues that that is not bad enough to repair? Some website I looked at said that if you go to small claims court with a product or service defect you have to prove that it would injure somebody or cause harm besides being a nuiscance. I mean, the thing is falling apart if you brush up by it, not totally so that you can't see it, but enough that damage is done. Easily it would be gone in 3-4 years. I couldn't imagine what would happen when we used the weed whacker! What concrete mix is most commonly used for borders?
I considered sending him a copy of the video I plan to use as evidence of us destroying this 3 week old border by rubbing it with our hands, and send him a written report/essay laying out all our evidence, and showing we are serious about taking him to court. I had hoped maybe he would see this and pay up. I was also afraid it would just show him all of our evidence though and allow him to counter-prepare. What do you recommend? Should we even contact him at all before we take this to the courts, as when he came over here the other day he dissapeared when I went inside to grab something to show him, and even admitted at the beginning of our meeting that the mix must have been done wrong in the backyard, so he obviously recognizes it is his fault, but refuses to do anything, so contacting him might be a waste of time?
Thanks a TON for all your help, - snipped-for-privacy@aol.com
------------------------------------------------------

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Anteater wrote:

Sure there are standards...depends on the useage. For your application? No idea. But you would have to have your crumbly concrete tested to establish its characteristics. Testing = $$.
If its as bad as you say it is, even a layman like a judge would see so immediately. IMO
______________________

Anytime you buy anything you have an implied warranty of merchantability. That means that the thing needs to be suitable for its purpose. Potential injury or harm have no bearing on that. Nor does being a nuisance. Just being inadequate for the job - not being what you paid for - is sufficient. _______________________

I have no idea. _______________________

If things are as you say I can't imagine how any "preparation" he might do would matter. ________________________
What do you recommend?
I am not recommending anything, just relating information gleaned from having sued in small claims numerous times over a 30 year span in Hawaii. All my suits were for non-payment of services and I never lost - including against a state Attorney General and a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Many times (50% ?), just filing pried loose what was owed. _________________________

That's something you alone have to decide. I can only repeat my original admonition that avoiding court is better for all concerned.
If he agreed that it was his fault you have half the battle won; you need only to get him to agree to fix it. That's a selling job. As is virtually everything else. Either you sell him on the idea that he should fix it or he sells you on the idea he won't.
How to sell him? Better said how *not* to do so: threats won't do it ("telling the BBB", "all my friends"), begging and pleading will do nothing nor will yelling and screaming.
A super salesman named Elmer Wheeler used to say "sell the sizzle, not the steak". That means to sell the benefits of the product/idea rather than the product/idea itself. It's a marvelous concept for getting someone to do something that they don't really want to do but you have to find a hot button...something that makes it more beneficial to them to comply than not. Just as an example, suppose this guy has a son upon whom he dotes...what would be his reaction if you gently admonished him by asking if his son would be proud of his dad's work? If he squirmed a bit, one might continue in that vein by asking what his son's friends would say to him if they knew his dad didn't stand behind his work? Et cetera. More squirming? Maybe then tell him you'd really like to get the matter resolved and what would it take (on your part) to do so? As I said, this is just an example - your goal is to make it beneficial to and easy for him to fix the problem. If you can't then suing is a last recourse. Good luck either way.
-- dadiOH _____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.0... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico ____________________________
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Anteater wrote:

1. The web site claiming you have to show injury is wrong. 2. It's really simple: you did not get what you paid for. If you didn't get what you paid for, you are legally entitled to a refund or replacement. 3. Sue him in small claims court. Take a hunk of the "stuff" (I refuse to call it "concrete"). Maybe a couple of LARGE pictures showing the "stuff" in situ. Judges love simple exhibits. 4. Assuming he doesn't show or you get a judgement in your favor, here's the usual drill. A. At some point - usually 30 days after a ruling - you can get, for just a few bucks, a copy of "Final Judgement." B. Take this around to the agency that enforces small claims - in my jurisdiction it's the Constable's Department. C. Give them some money (all these fees, by the way, are automatically added to the judgement). D. They send a threatening letter, a really threatening letter. Time passes. E. Go back to the Constable. Give them more money. F. Constable then performs a "Levy and Execute" order. They go to the dude's business or home and SEIZE real property sufficient to pay the judgement when sold at auction. Usually the stuff they haul off is, in their opinion, worth about four times the money they're looking for. G. Ultimately, you get your money.

Forget the video; courts don't have TV sets. You've already contacted him. Forget about further contact. Just sue him. Be sure you sue him in the small claims court where you're a voter. The small claims court clerk is usually happy to help.
If none of the above works, kidnap his cat.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Anteater) wrote in message

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Issue 1 - Concrete standards - if the concrete came from a ready-mix plant, the contractor should have specified the mix - typically 2500, 3000, 3500, or 4000 psi. That rating assumes reasonably proper curing with no extra water added after the truck left the plant at 28 days after the pour. Concrete contractors don't seem to understand (or don't care) that concrete should be either immediately sealed or kept continuously wet for several days in hot weather. In 112 degree heat, the water could have certainly evaporated before the concrete had time to properly harden. If I were to take a guess, they started in the front year in the early morning when the temperatures were cool. When they got around to the back, they were taking so much time that they added water to the concrete still in the truck in order to slow down its hardening and make it more workable. Adding water while the concrete is still plastic decreases its strength. Then allowing the back to sit in 112 temperatures without covering it (a border would be much more exposed to the environment than a slab - would it not?) allowed the concrete to dry out before hardening (it needs to retain the water in the mix as long as possible for proper curing - preferably a week if not a month). The difference in strength between day 1 and day 2 is drastic. The difference in strength between day 21 (when you noticed it crumbling) and day 28 (when it is supposed to reach its rated strength) is minimal.
Issue 2 - law suits - most people are not mentioning that this depends on the state law. In Texas, contractors are almost liability proof as long as they are willing to go out of business and later start a new business under a different name. I have no idea about Arizona. I can also tell you that in Texas, a decent real-estate lawyer is about $180/hr. Telling your story might end up more expensive than the damage. Certainly try the small claims court if nothing else works. ...but don't be surprised if you aren't able to squeeze blood out of a turnip.
Jeff
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Anteater wrote:

SMALL CLAIMS COURT will cure the concrete problem... the guy put too much water in the concrete mix that is why it is not hard enough.. he probably had cheap labor that did not know what they were doing.... and used too much water to hurry the job along so they could get out of there and go to another site to make some more money...
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Well I reckon they were deliberately short on the Portland Cement, or "Dust" as its nickname is here in the U.K, it should have been quite resistant to "rubbing" after just a couple of days, of course to much water would have caused the "Dust" to have not been evenly distributed throughout the Mix, it sort of settles out , and it takes about 6 months to cure completely, also an occaisional wetting is advisable to ensure it does not dry too quickly in the Sun when its able to withstand a "wetting" , I believe the mix should be 1 part cement to 4 / 5 parts aggregate, thats the "stone and sand mix"..assuming that that is whats used in the U.S as well, to little "Dust" and it certainly will crumble and too much and it cracks which it also does if it drys to quickly before the chemical reaction can be completed,,,much like mixing a Christmas cake I suppose, it has to be just right !.....cant comment on what resource to law you have of course......
Alan
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