Contractors (vent)

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by WanderingOak, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    I'm trying to get the hillside behind my house graded to avoid drainage problems. I don't know how to drive a bobcat or a front end loader, so I thought it would be best for me to hire an excavation contractor. I called just about everybody in the phone book, only to be told that most contractors have a four month work backlog, unless I am doing new construction. If I wait two months, the ground might be frozen which means that I'll have to wait until spring, etc.

    I was finally able to get through to a local contractor, who said that he could get to me in a few weeks. He came by, looked at the work that needed to be done, and gave me a reasonable price quote. When I asked for the quote in writing, he said that he would fax one to me. That was the last I heard from him until yesterday when he left me a voice mail. He told me that he had just gotten out of court and that he wasn't going to work for homeowners anymore. It sounded like he had something personal against me, saying that "if you have any problems with me not being able to work on your job, you can thank your frinds and neighbors". I don't know the guy, so I'm not sure why he went to court, but I guess it's a good thing that he refused to work for me because of how unreliable he turned out. Anyhow, I'm now back to square one with bad drainiage and no way to fix it unless I started diging into the hillside myself with a pick and shovel. I guess I'll start calling everybody in the phone book again, and hope that somebody has some openings in his schedule.
     
  2. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    You are looking in the wrong place.

    Go to the feed store and ask around. That way you get recommendations from real people instead of whoever puts an ad in the yellow pages.
     

  3. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Why wouldnt you be able to do excvation work during the winter? Snow and frozen ground are not a big issue. You will have to wait to spring to do some final re-seeding if needed but dozers work year round in most places.
    As for 4 months, Not that abnormal. These folks have big dollars tied up in machines and need to keep them busy so they book work many months in advance. A number of the local excavation guys around us will not do anything but new builds to many people complaining about ruts in laws. Hmm, you want a 10 ton dozer to do work and complain it put a rut in the yard. Often the only time non new-build work is taken is when other work slows off.
     
  4. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    It's true. Whenever you need a little help around the place, it's like pulling teeth to find somebody that wants the job. I often get the impression that a small job is not "worth their while." Kind of makes you question all the hysterics about unemployment rates, doesn't it?
     
  5. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I understand your frustration.

    However....

    Your contractor got sued for some silly little thing, and got tied up in court, & it cost him a bundle of money. (I'm assuming you got ahold of a worthwhile guy...)

    He no longer wants to deal with individual people, as we have turned into a sue-happy lot, & have unreasonable expectations. His insurance prices have skyrocketed.

    He can contract with the big house builders & developers, and have steady work, a reliable income where the check doesn't bounce, and work with someone with reasonable expectations.

    It costs a _bundle_ these days to run those machines, and to fuel them, and to transport them. DOT is breathing down everyone's neck. Insurance costs are just out of this world......

    No one can afford to show up at your door for under $1000 and be legetimate any more. That's terrible, but that is how it is. Insurance, fuel, steel prices, DOT regulations, EPA regulations, govt fees, and on & on.....

    It's just crazy to try to compete with all of that any more.

    And then try to collect your bill. Oy!

    And then the guy got sued by someone?

    Yea, (assuming he is a good guy) I can see why he is hanging up his shingle on individual deals. It just is _not_ worth it any more in this society.

    Unfortunate you got caught up in it.

    --->Paul
     
  6. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    I understand the dilema your facing, but dont understand the thought behind
    grading. A french drain would be more efficient and reliable and nine times out of ten less expensive. Depending on soil type and distance you should have less then ten hours total excavation time in it and be able to do the drain work yourself. Ensuring that not only are you removing surface water but also the water in the substrate. Which is more dangerous then surface water because of the hydraulic pressure. It would be my advice to ask a local farmer with the equipment to come help you, often as not he will refuse payment though it would be inproper not to offer it. Often times a neighbor helping a neighbor works a lot like a barter system, With you returning the favor at some point in the future. Neighbors wont be tied up in a profit game for the next four months.
    Further more I would rather give a neighbor $1000.00 then some greedy contractor that cant make you a priority. Either way take my advice dont just grade to try and solve your problem, dig a proper drainage system to aleviate the water from ever getting down to your home.


    Beths Other Half
    Neal
     
  7. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

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    I'm in the DC area as well, and getting ANY kind of contractor is very very tough. (The rate of getting sued around here is high, but that is only one problem...) Most contractors are working hard, long hours and have been for years. Small contractors do need extra time doing the paperwork because they are doing everything themselves. Try to be patient and have reasonable expectations. It is only going to get worse, as it did after Hurricane Andrew, when the construction industry around here was competing for laborers with Florida hurricane remodeling/repairs - HVAC, electric, plumbing, and ESPECIALLY siding and roofing are going to be hard to get around here for awhile...

    However, that said, you should call one of the basement waterproofing companies. They get a guy out there with a trench digger and some drainage pipe and some gravel, and can maybe accomplish what needs to be done in one day. My friends did this and were ecstatic with the results.
    Don't know your situation, though. But at leastr these guys would know who to recommend if you really have to move an entire hill.

    Best wished to you!
    Deb
     
  8. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    My house is on the side of a mountain, with no real level ground save my driveway. When the house was originally built, the site was graded properly, with the ground sloping away from the back of my house for five feet, before continuing with the uphill grade. The problem is that the previous owner of the house rented the place out for about eight years when he moved out of town. The renter was a framing contractor who did a lot of 'improvements' to the house. One such 'improvement' was an additional bedroom on the back of the house, built without a permit. It was built right over the previous grading, with no new excavation done. Since I bought the house, I had the foundation under the bedroom redone, because there was untreated wood in contact with the ground (no termites, but plenty of rot). The contractor that I hired to do that work said that he would re-grade the hillside, but he never did. When I compained, he did a song and dance about how he was going out of business, etc. Now he's not even answering his phone, so I have to deal with somebody else to get the slope done right.
     
  9. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Geeze and i thought it was only here in montana that we could not even get hold of a contractor or excavator! i feel somewhat better knowing it is a countrywide problem! living away from the normal travel routes makes it even harder not to mention that they have to haul the thing up 20 miles of winding, rough, dirt mountain road! good luck to you with your project. around here we wait till more than one person needs work done then all do it at the same time with the same contractor to save travel money and make the job big enough for the guy to want to go to all the trouble to get here!
     
  10. Kevin and Laura

    Kevin and Laura Well-Known Member

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    The feed store/farm supply store idea is a good one. If you have a local radio "Trading Post" program you might try there. If not, try an ad in local paper. Around here there are many large farm operations with a Buldozer or Backhoe and hired hands or sharecroppers. When the weather gets to where the farmhands can't get out and do the work they look for work like yours off the farm. I have had good success with that. Just be clear about you want done before the machine starts and monitor them along the way. Be nice and remember these good-ole-boys don't do this professionally but will generally do good work for good people. The problem here is if you need liscensure, insurance and all that governmental crap then you will need to hire a professional.


    Kevin
     
  11. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Rent a front end loader (they deliver), about $200.00 per day here; call a temporary employment agency if you have one near you, they have experienced operators. 2 + 2 = done. Or run the loader yourself.

    Loaders have automatic transmissions, there is a foot throttle and brake, the handle behind the seat is down for 4 wheel drive, up for two. There is a control knob to your right side; push it forward, the arms goes down, pull it back, the arms raise. Push it right, the bucket uncurles; pull it left the bucket returns. They are diesel and will run for all day at about $20.00 for fuel. If it breaks call the rental agency to provide another one.

    The loader do feel uncomfortable to new operators because your setting so high up, it feels like it going to turn over; but rest asured that youhave to be at 45 degrees before starting to worry. Keep the bucket low when your moveing a load of earth. Stop motion before changing the directional shift.
     
  12. painterswife

    painterswife Sock puppet reinstated Supporter

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    I am the office manager for an excavation company. I have also lost money to companies who were not reputable.

    Good and honest excavation companies are booked months in advance.
    I have been turning away work for the last two months as we try to get work completed before the winter.

    Work can be done in the winter but it usually costs more because of the
    extra time it can take and the wear and tear on equipment.

    The best thing to do is to find a good contractor, usually via word of mouth from a local builder. Then be willing to wait until they can fit you into the scheduale. We do that with small jobs. If they are willing to wait until the equipment is in the area and they have some free time or need to fill a hole in the scheduale, it costs less. If you need the job done now and they need to move equipment off another job, it costs more! We scheduale around big jobs not small jobs. More cost effective.
     
  13. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Ive been trying to get electrical contractor for 2 months now.STILL waiting for someone to actually do an estimate.They apparently arent hurting for work around here.Or arent interested in redoing residential wiring,whatever,I cant find one.I guess the construction market is pretty good around here if they dont bother to ever show up.Doesnt inspire any confidence,thats for sure.
    BooBoo
     
  14. breezynosacek

    breezynosacek Well-Known Member

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    Call your local VoTech that offers heavy equipment training. One of the graduated students can run it for you if you need, but I don't see why you should need to do that.

    Those little bobcats are easy to operate. I can operate one! I used to operate the big ones and they told me to empty trash barrels into the huge construction site dumpsters without ever having driven one before! Had to drive through two rows of BMW's ect. With the bucket up above them. Had to make two trips and the boss laughing himself silly at my nervousness.

    "It ain't that difficult and its not rocket science. Take your time until you get the hand of it and it will work out."

    So I did, I took my time. I didn't damage anything, I did the job and I will never be afraid of those big machines again. Hey, I even drove a 28 ft truck for a year. Nope, not hard at all. If I can do it, anybody can.
     
  15. Ed in S. AL

    Ed in S. AL Well-Known Member

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    If you do find one. Get in writing what you want done before they start. I have been trying to get my land cleared. The guy showed up. Put a new guy to clearing it, and he has done a crappy job. They were supposed to clear all the trees I had marked, and all the under brush. Then run a root rack through it all, and then level it off. The trees they cut down were supposed to be topped out, and the limbs mulched, grind the stumps, and just leave me the big logs for firewood.He told me they would also be mulching all the under brush.

    They show up, cut all the under brush off at 5 inches above the ground, and then proceeded to piling it on two of my neighbors land. Said they were doing this to get it cleared so they could run the root rack behind the tractor. Then instead of cutting out the big trees, he dug them completely out of the ground. Now I have a pile of big oak logs, with limbs and stumps on them still. Holes 4 foot deep dug all over the yard, and not a damn thing mulched. He did have to cut out for big oaks I had up front, and they are still laying on the ground, with a 2 foot high stump next to them. He loaded up the equipment yesterday, and took it to another job he has through FEMA for hurricane clean up.

    Today the worthless POS calls me, and says he will be out to grind the stumps, then collect his money. I toild him he would get paid when the job was complete. And not a penny before then. He then offered to lower the amount we had settled on, and I told him no. I want the job finished. He says to just mail him the check, he doesn't want to fight about it. Like heck I'm paying for an incomplete job.

    Now I have a yard full of 5 inch sticks all over the place, a big pile of oaks trees with stumps still attached, and all the limbs still on them. A yard full of holes, and a dozen piles of under brush, and him wanting his money. Now I have to hire some one else to come in and finish the job up right. I doubt he will see a penny. Sue me for the money. He had nothing in writing like I asked for to start with, so the heck with the sorry bum!
     
  16. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

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    I'm with Mitch and Breezy. If you can't find a contractor, surely you can find a machine to rent. And they aren't that difficult once you get used to it. It might take you an hour or so to get it down, then you might actually have some fun. I rented a bobcat once many years ago. I was fairly young and had never been on anything bigger than a riding mower. But I got the job done and had fun doing it. Maybe a friend or neighbor knows how if you are completely intimidated. But at least give it a shot. The rental yard guy will show you the ropes.
     
  17. renee o'neill

    renee o'neill Well-Known Member

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    Well i guess I am on both sides of the fence here.We own a mason/landscape company and I can say that most home owners are great people but....we have lost tons of money on the real pain in the butt ones.Just last year we lost over 10 thousand $'s because by the time we go through the courts to collect our money we still lose out.Our contracts now are over 3 pages long and include just about any thing you can think of.We have had people try to refuse payment for things like "oh I wanted a bigger wall but cant afford it now so I was mislead on footage" well when the contract says a wall 5 ft high by 25ft long and thats what it is sorry pay up.Or the best so far has been "my patio you built is to big !" well same thing look at the contract. I can agree with the above posts we cant go to a house for a job under 1,000 it just is not worth the time.The insurance we carry is over 7,000. ayear on just liability not includeing truck,health and the little extras. Forget finding help around here too NO ONE will be hard work any more.The last ad we ran got about 5 calls all the guys wanted either cash{we cant afford that} or wanted over 20 an hour Yah right. But I am now looking for a company to remove a 200+yr old spruce that got hit by lighting and is almost standing dead hanging over our house,even tho the contractors are are friends we are told maybe in 3 months or spring so I know how you feel.
     
  18. CarlaWVgal

    CarlaWVgal Well-Known Member

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    We just had our yard regraded, and a lot of other work thanks to our neighbor. DH is fine with backhoes, but just doesn't have the talent for smoothing out the yard :rolleyes: Our neighbor owns a bobcat and completely regraded our front yard and took 3 feet off the back yard so it would slope away from the house. We are next to a steep hill and the original grading was never done right. During the last few rains the yard has had no wet spots and the water gently rolls away from the house to the edge of the yard. Our neighbor did take a while to get the work done, eves and weekends only and sometimes we offered a case of coors light to motivate him to show up, lol, but he did an excellent job.

    I would ask around for a reference, from someone close by who owns their own equipment. Check the "buyers Guide" or local paper. Or find out which neighbors or friends work construction and ask if they will do the work on your rented equipment.

    Carla
     
  19. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    personally, i would go with renting the bobcat, they are deadly easy to run , in fact, talk to the rental yard guys and have them give you a primer before you take it ,
    the feed store idea, my husband said originally is a good one too ...
    if youre in any kind of small town rural area im sure joe bob someone has a bobcat or whatever you need, and will do it for you ,
    advantage on this is it will probob,ly only cost you about 100-150.00 and perhaps a case of beer , when the job is done,
    disadvantage is , if you dont know EXACTLY how to get it graded , youll be in trouble ...,and kind of trying in the dark
    the idea of a french drain may save some of that headache , french drain , you excavate a ditch , and fill it with gravel , it will wick the water away form the house
    Barring any ostacles, a 4 inch diameter, 20' french drain can be created in a day.

    1. From the beginning point of the drain dig a trench about 10 inches deep and about 6 inches wide.
    (If your yard slopes upward you'll need to dig deeper as you move away from the starting point to maintain a downward slope.)
    2. Next, pour in about 2 inches of rock. Lay the pipe over the rock.
    3. Keep the perforations, or hole turned downward.
    4. Pour in another 2 inches of rock to cover the pipe.
    5. Back fill with soil (about 2 inches).
    6. Plant grass.


    from this web page
    http://www.repair-home.com/how_to/create_a_french_drain.htm


    just a thought
     
  20. CarlaWVgal

    CarlaWVgal Well-Known Member

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    One word of caution about a french drain, or any digging! Make sure you know where your septic lines are!!!! Or any satellite/phone, etc might be burried! Thought about this yesterday and wanted to post it before I forgot again!

    Carla