From Exciting Garden Project to a Looming Disaster

CluckNDoodle

Hatchaholic
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Jan 12, 2019
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Good golly what a nightmare. :hugs

I know it is to late now but it is always a good practice to get and check contractors references. A question I always ask when checking is "How did you find this contractor?". You would possibly be surprised to know a lot of the "little guys" just give out relatives or good friends as references and never did any actual work for them.

Do you have a written contract with him?

I really hope things come together in the end.
I asked in a local group on Facebook for suggestions. He came recommended by a few people, with pictures of his work. Looking back the jobs definitely weren't as detailed as what I'm requesting, straight retention walls, fire pits, that sort of thing. I started discussing this with him months ago and saved up. So I was really just excited to have my garden back and I definitely should have been more cautious. He had a crew back then, clearly something changed and he didn't feel it was necessary to say anything when he took the job but did say someone quit after I gave him the money...

I do have a signed estimate from him but it's not really a contract. I can fire him anytime I please. It's my fault for giving him as much as I did. Now I just have to wait and hope I get something for my investment.
 

CluckNDoodle

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Jan 12, 2019
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I’d insist that materials be kept on my property. They are mine. I paid for them upfront. If something goes south with the contractor I want what I paid for.
That's what I requested a couple days ago. I explained that I wanted all of the materials here. It very well may be true that his truck broke down immediately after I requested this...it's just that there have been so many convenient issues...:hmm

He said he wasn't going to make it today because his truck is still being worked on so I asked him if he expected to be here Friday and he hasn't answered. :barnie
 

Jerry H

Chirping
Apr 10, 2019
22
61
51
North Florida
I'm sorry your going through this sad to say it happens a lot. I hope you don't mind me asking some questions and making some recommendations. Let me say now I'm sorry this post is going to be so long and I'm not a block mason and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night lol but I do have some construction experience.
The first thing I would say as others have please don't give him anymore money until he finishes the job if he gives you a sad story about needing more money remember if he has truly paid for all the materials all the rest is money for labor and you want to make sure you hold enough of that to make sure it's worth his time to finish the job completely to get it.
I see he poured footers how deep are they and why are they so wide. Did he put any rebar in the footers? Did he mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow or did a cement truck come in? Because it's going to be filled with dirt which will try to push out on the walls it really should have rebar in the footer and then have vertical rebar tied into the corners and every so often in the lateral sections and once the blocks are up but before the cap is put on should be filled with concrete then the cap be put on. There used to be and may very well still be an epoxy made that people used to fasten anchor bolts into a slab that didn't have any when building wooden walls it was also a method that met southern building code so you know it held well. What I would suggest is that before he lays anymore block get some rebar and epoxy and drill into the footer 4-5" and use the epoxy to glue the rebar in. As for the sections that are already up you hopefully could get a long extension for the bit and drill there as well. Basically what that whole procedure does is tie the two rows of blocks together and with securing it into the footer ties that into the blocks as well. With the dirt inside pushing out it would force it to move both rows of blocks and the footer instead of being able to just push the top row out. I would do the corners in both directions and every 4-6' on the laterals. If you wanted you could leave the rebar an inch or two above the level of the two blocks and drill a hole on the underside of the cap block which would also tie that in and stop it from being able to be forced out of course your dirt may not go that high.
In post #7 the second picture you posted on the left side it looks as if the wall has a bow out then back in please tell me that it's the angle the picture was taken or that I'm seeing things and that the wall is straight.
I see your in Georgia but it's a big state lol I'm about 15-20 miles south of Bainbridge how far is it from Bainbridge to your house? The reason I ask is that I have three pickup trucks and three different trailers so if his truck isn't running and it's not to far from me I could bring a truck and trailer if needed up and he could load materials on it and I could drive it to your house where he could unload it and that way we would know that you at least have all the materials and won't be out them. Now having just said that let me also say no I'm not trying to make money and don't want any I'm just thinking maybe I can take a little stress off you. I have to go several places in GA in the very near future and maybe I'll be passing through your area.
I certainly wish you the best in this situation and know how hard it is to get competent people to do a job like somebody else said a lot of the time they don't even show up to give an estimate. I've got some construction experience
 

CluckNDoodle

Hatchaholic
Premium member
Jan 12, 2019
2,885
9,412
492
Georgia
I'm sorry your going through this sad to say it happens a lot. I hope you don't mind me asking some questions and making some recommendations. Let me say now I'm sorry this post is going to be so long and I'm not a block mason and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night lol but I do have some construction experience.
The first thing I would say as others have please don't give him anymore money until he finishes the job if he gives you a sad story about needing more money remember if he has truly paid for all the materials all the rest is money for labor and you want to make sure you hold enough of that to make sure it's worth his time to finish the job completely to get it.
I see he poured footers how deep are they and why are they so wide. Did he put any rebar in the footers? Did he mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow or did a cement truck come in? Because it's going to be filled with dirt which will try to push out on the walls it really should have rebar in the footer and then have vertical rebar tied into the corners and every so often in the lateral sections and once the blocks are up but before the cap is put on should be filled with concrete then the cap be put on. There used to be and may very well still be an epoxy made that people used to fasten anchor bolts into a slab that didn't have any when building wooden walls it was also a method that met southern building code so you know it held well. What I would suggest is that before he lays anymore block get some rebar and epoxy and drill into the footer 4-5" and use the epoxy to glue the rebar in. As for the sections that are already up you hopefully could get a long extension for the bit and drill there as well. Basically what that whole procedure does is tie the two rows of blocks together and with securing it into the footer ties that into the blocks as well. With the dirt inside pushing out it would force it to move both rows of blocks and the footer instead of being able to just push the top row out. I would do the corners in both directions and every 4-6' on the laterals. If you wanted you could leave the rebar an inch or two above the level of the two blocks and drill a hole on the underside of the cap block which would also tie that in and stop it from being able to be forced out of course your dirt may not go that high.
In post #7 the second picture you posted on the left side it looks as if the wall has a bow out then back in please tell me that it's the angle the picture was taken or that I'm seeing things and that the wall is straight.
I see your in Georgia but it's a big state lol I'm about 15-20 miles south of Bainbridge how far is it from Bainbridge to your house? The reason I ask is that I have three pickup trucks and three different trailers so if his truck isn't running and it's not to far from me I could bring a truck and trailer if needed up and he could load materials on it and I could drive it to your house where he could unload it and that way we would know that you at least have all the materials and won't be out them. Now having just said that let me also say no I'm not trying to make money and don't want any I'm just thinking maybe I can take a little stress off you. I have to go several places in GA in the very near future and maybe I'll be passing through your area.
I certainly wish you the best in this situation and know how hard it is to get competent people to do a job like somebody else said a lot of the time they don't even show up to give an estimate. I've got some construction experience
First of all, oh my goodness you are so very kind to offer that!!
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I'm pretty far from you, just outside of Savannah, I do have access to a trailer and truck as well and I have pretty much decided I'm giving him the weekend but if he doesn't get my materials here over the weekend I'm going to tell him we're using plan "B" and like it or not we're getting the materials to my house.

My husband worked as a brick mason up north when he was a kid and their rules are far more stringent simply because they have to prepare for the extreme cold that we don't contend with here. I'm very aware of everything this guy DID NOT do properly and that's part of why I'm not only worried about him getting the job done, but I'm also worried about what the end product will consist of. There's no pea gravel, no rebar, and he's not going to be filling the cells with concrete before capping. The only reason he even tamped the ground is because I asked him too
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my husband also asked him about the rebar, pea gravel, and filling the cells and his answer was "I hadn't planned on it", I don't have a clue why the footers are as wide as they are...maybe to make up for not doing any of the other prep? Oh, and there is a slight bow to the wall, you're not imagining that.

I won't be giving him any more money, not until the job is completed...and at this point I'm trying to decide if I should even let him finish.
 

CluckNDoodle

Hatchaholic
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Jan 12, 2019
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On a side note, I have always planned on putting stucco on the exterior to make it look more appealing once it's done, if it's ever done...and that should help to cover up the mistakes I hope.
 
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