The Wildman Project

Backyard Transformation Part 6

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When it came time to do the brick work in our backyard, I knew I had to hire someone. We liked the idea of brick rather than a concrete slab. A concrete slab would have been expensive because of our backyards location. We would have needed a concrete pump to pump the concrete to our backyard and I didn’t want to deal with that. So the next best choice was brick.

I started searching Craig’s List for someone to do the brick work, or someone that was getting rid of their old brick patio, which I could pick up and have someone install. I found a guy (we will call him John) that had a bunch of brick left over from a project. I called John up to come over and take some measurements to see if he had enough brick to do our patio and walkway. Measurements were taken and he didn’t think he would have enough. He was afraid he would be short and wouldn’t be able to find the bricks to complete the job, which is understandable.

Trying to get some work, John went into salesman mode and was pitching me ideas left and right. One idea I took, like a big fish chomping down on a juicy worn that happened to be attached to a hook.  He would give me a sweet deal on another style of brick plus the installation. Then he started to point out that the guy who installed my sprinkler system did it all wrong. He was going on and on about it, “Any professional knows this is not the proper way to install a sprinkler system for this size of lawn”. He said that the “rotary” style sprinkler would work best for my lawn because of its size. Rotary sprinklers are the ones that spray one large stream of water, rather than a fanned spray like the traditional sprinkler. So he said he would fix my sprinklers and installed them the “right way” as well as install the sod. I took the bait and the work begun.

Things started out great. Material showed up, workers showed up, and I was pretty happy with my decision. First they corrected the sprinklers. They switched out the sprinkler heads and had to move some because they were in the way of the brick walkway.

Once the sprinklers were fixed, the work began on the brick patio. The base was spread out and compacted. It is important to have a good level base that way your bricks don’t settle giving you an uneven patio or walkway.

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I was pleased with the progress of the work, and then it all started to change. The workers would skip a day or two without notice. I tried to call John and find out what was going on, and I would get his voice mail. Then they would come back and work a day, and then be gone for a three days. I was starting to get frustrated. A week long job was turning into a 2 week, then 3 week, than a month long job. I later found out from one of the workers, that they were working on other jobs. I was even madder. I am a paying customer, shouldn’t my job be finished before another one starts, or hire more workers to work on the other projects? Communication with John was scarce; he only answered my calls when he wanted money. The brick patio and walkway was finally completed, but they still had to install the sod. I should have cut my ties with John once the brick work was completed.

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When it came time to install that sod, I was hoping it would go smoothly. The guys had done some prep work the week before, grading the area, removing rocks and adding some manure to get the area ready for sod. The sod was going to be delivered Monday morning 8am. I had conformation from the sod supplier and was told the guys would be there to accept the sod and start installation. Monday came and I got a call from the driver that he delivered and that no one was here to sign the paper work. I was like, great here we go again. Luckily I was in the area and stopped by to sign the paperwork. The driver left, and I immediately called John, no answer, and I left a wonderful voicemail. Great, now I have 4 pallets of sod roasting in the sun. By 9am still nothing. I was starting to think of plan B. Plan B was, to call my boss tell him I needed to take the rest of the day off because I have 4 pallets of sod sitting in my front yard that needed to be installed. Oh and the kicker, carrying every piece of sod up those stinking stairs, I was not looking forward to that. Luckily I had one of the workers phone numbers and gave him a call. I called him and they said they were on their way. They finally showed up at 9:30. The reason why they were late was because John hadn’t paid them. Great, now I have to deal with this, all I wanted was my sod to be installed. After a 20 minute phone between John and his workers, everything was squared away.

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The sod was installed in a day, and boy was I happy, I didn’t have to deal with John again. Here are a couple things I learned:

  • I will never hire someone again off Craig’s List again without doing some research. Even if you think you are getting a sweet deal, it won’t be worth it in the end. I would hire someone off Angie’s list, because they have reviews of the companies.
  • Be careful with your money. If the person you hire asks for all the money up front, that should be a red flag. They could take your money and run.
  • Make a contract. It might seem like a lot of work, but I think it is worth it. I wish I would have made one. The contact should have everything spelled out, material costs, labor costs, time frame, etc.  Make sure both parties sign it. That way is something happens; you have it in writing as back up.

Oh, by the way, I ended up switching all the sprinklers back to the traditional sprinklers (which is what I had in the first place). The sprinklers John installed left a lot of dry areas and my grass was dying.

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