Well, I am back at it with the foundation layout and cutting of the
footings. Wif and I restrung the foundation lines and make our cut lines
for the backhoe guy again... He wanted the line 3" OUTSIDE of where the cut
was to be.... So he showed up this morning and got started. Lo and behold -
he didn't make his cut 3" inside the chalkline, he SPLIT the chalkline and
dug 30" deep instead of 20". Goddamn it! I needed a trench 1 foot wide,
now the trenches vary between 18" and a bit over 24". So now I'll end up A)
buying appx 1 acre more fill sand than I was planning; or B) renting a
compactor and tamping the soil to get my depth right, building my forms, and
backfilling the sides and compacting that; or C) Both.
I perhaps should have gotten some other backhoe service, but this was the
only guy to return repeated calls. Sometimes I just *ucking ***HATE***
contractors. Nothing personal, to those of you who are, I was just hoping
to at least have the footings dug out before someone pissed me off....
I can empathize with you. Sometimes I just want to scream when you
cannot leave someone to do his job without supervision. You try to get
someone you know and trust or who has a good recommendation from someone
whose recommendation you trust. Sometimes shit happens.
The first rule in contracting is to check references....
Learn by this experience. Checkout your other subs before they show up on
the job (really before you contract with them).
Better luck as the building progresses.
Dealing with contractors can be a major hassle. Just wait until you
try to get a concrete guy to do the flatwork. Around here, anyway,
they're so damn busy that apparently they can get away with crappy
pre-sales conduct (not showing up, not returning calls, etc).
Put gravel in the bottoms of the footings. At least you'll have good
drainage around them then plus you won't have to compact it. Also, have you
thought about installing drain pipe around the building?
Damn John! You've got my sympathies. I've been there and I know just how
PO'd it makes you. But... I've got to ask - why aren't you just backfilling
with the materials that came out of the footers? Unless you have some very
bad materials that you're digging the footers in, there is really no reason
you can't backfill with what came out. It's not always a must to compact
the backfill either. Make sure there are no big rocks going in against the
block or the pour (which ever is the case), and have the operator shake it
in if he's using a bucket. A bulldozer operator will backfill in pushes and
he will bring the fill up gradually that way. If you're using this same
fellow to do the backfills, then make sure he does not run along the wall
with his machine as he backfills or tries to compact the fill. Whether it's
a hoe or a bulldozer, this puts pressure on the wall and should be avoided.
Fills and grades are always done from the wall, away. From the sounds of
your experience, I would not trust that this fellow knows that kind of
thing. In case you don't already know - allow ~20% for compaction
(settling) of fills that are not tamped in. So - if you want your grade to
finish 1 foot below your siding, have the operator grade it maybe 8-10
inches below your siding.
You are correct in having to tamp your fills that will bring your subgrade
up to the elevation it's supposed to be at. I would not pay this guy the
originally agreed to price though. He clearly is somewhat incompetent and
has not delivered the workmanship that it was reasonable to expect. Any
decent hoe operator should be able to dig footer trenches within an inch in
his sleep, unless the ground is full of large stone. Really good operators
can do it within 1/4". At the very least, I would hold back the cost of the
rental for the tamper and a reasonable amount to cover your time in having
to repair his damages to your trenches. It's safe to assume a laborer rates
out at $16.00 - $20.00 per hour for this type of work in upstate NY, don't
know about your area.
From my experience with contractors, as a homeowner, city assistant engineer, and
Before work is to begin for the day, or week, make sure you review the specifics of
the block of work with the
contractor. A professional will appreciate your concern with the project and the
reinforcement that the both of you are
on the same page. I think we ALL do this when the SWMBO is involved, right ? We
always double check, why is this not
different. Once you both understand what is going on, get out of their way, if they
make a mistake, point it out and
reinforce the idea that this was discussed and agreed upon before work began. Having
the wife or another party around
when the specifics we agreed upon helps. This quitely reinforces to the contractor
that you mean business and that it
will not be just your word against theirs. You do not have to be confrontational
(sp?) just reasonable.
If a respected contractor or contractors do not call you back, it means they are too
busy. Period. I went through this
about 7 years ago when I wanted to replace about 900 sf of sidewalk. I could not get
anyone to call me back or come out
and give me a price. I put the project on hold for about 5 years. Two years ago I
contacted 5 contractors, I ended up
with 5 bids (One did not bid the job, but I got one to come to the door, hearing that
I was requesting bids). If a
contractor is too busy, then ask them to recommend someone that might not be as busy.
If once again, they are a good
business person, and know they are too busy to bid your work, then they will be more
than glad to help you out.
References. Nuf said. Review their work at other locations. A couple of hours of
investigation could well keep you out
Maybe rescheduling the work for another time will get you the contractor you want
and at a reasonable price. If it is
indoor work, and the contractors are busier outside during the summer, then schedule
the indoor work during the cold
months (if you live in a area that has cold weather). They are probably slower at
that time of the year and appreciate
the opportunity to keep busy (and have money rolling in). The lesson here is to not
be in too big of a hurry to get the
work done. Haste makes waste ! You do not HAVE to have the kithcen remodeled this
month, just wait a month or two. Last
summer I wanted to build a driveway and pond at our country lot. The two contractors
I really wanted were busy. I
scheduled time to review the plans and walk the site last fall when both were not
busy. I got prices from both of them
this spring and chosse one of them. The work has not begun yet, but will in about 2
weeks. At the time I really wanted
to get this work done last year. I stress that I did not HAVE to have this work done,
I WANTED it done.
It sounds as if you are trying to dig to a string line. There are
good operators who can do this, but it is too easy to deflect the
If you have not completed the excavation, it would be much better
to set your string lines on the batter boards to establish the
building, plumb down to stretch a tight dry line just clearing
the dirt surface. Buy a bag of lime, use a paper cup or similar
to shake a bright white line along the string. Remove strings
during the excavation. Reset strings on batters to set and
control anchor bolts, steel placement, etc.
Some excavators prefer the line in the center of their bucket.
With the line established, the time can be spent controlling
depth. You do know that it is your responsibility to shoot grade
if you are functioning as the GC. This is typically done by
shooting the depth of excavation about every 10 feet. True, a
good operator will get within inches with very little babysitting,
especially if the building pad has been well leveled.
Keep the whole world singing. . . .
If the excavation has you crazy, you are doomed when it comes to actual
Good luck and start (or quit) Drinking. One way or the other youi'll be in a
program. Bring a whittling knife.
Preach it Brother!
I am getting around to putting the Hardi plank on my new shop now that its a
bit cooler outside and not raining. Framing drove me crazy with all the up
the ladder/down the ladder/tote and cut, tote and cut. Only one of me and I
didn't have any help either... It was fun. <sigh> I recommend it to anyone!
On Fri, 30 Jul 2004 01:32:08 -0400, "Mark Hopkins"
......and in reply I say!:
remove ns from my header address to reply via email
So buy a cherry picker and stop bitching! <G>
Seriously. Having somebody just standing around, handing stuff up or
maybe cutting if trusted, can be worth far more than one person should
be, when you are doing roofing stuff.
It's not the milk and honey we hate. It's having it
rammed down our throats.
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