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Dale's drainage issue --- customer's house --- pictures  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
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My customer's house is built on a rocky lot where the bedrock is anywhere from 8 feet deep to right at the surface. It's on a hill. From a distance, it looks like the last house that would have a leaky basement, since there is plenty of slope. Because the foundation is poured right against the bedrock(in some spots) which is of varying height, little ponds are created. The concrete foundation is the dam. Other areas have silt to the footing which is underlain by bedrock a short distance away. The soil is a porous silt.

The drain tile for the roof gutters was completely clogged. The small amount of leakage was probably caused by all of this roof water which was trapped against the foundation. It will all be channeled away in a non perforated pipe. None of the roof water will be a problem. Everything else has to do with rain that falls near the house. Being on high ground, it is not possible for water from distant locations to be a problem.

The basement was recently finished. Obviously water should have been dealt with first. I met the people recently and it is their first year at the house. They moved in during the dry season.

Normally, I would simply excavate to the footing and put in drain tile. The problem here is that any water that percolates down, is likely to keep going past the tile. A record rainfall would be required to flood the soil to the height where a tile can go. Water that moves down can be directed under the slab by rock that slopes that way and then it can be held there. The basement was made from a natural dish in the rock. This was pretty common before blasting rock out of the way became a regular method.

MY PLAN --- which is open to revision.


The current plan is to excavate (almost finished) as deep as we can without undermining the areas that have a silt bottom. The wall will be power washed and once dry, it will be tar sprayed. Defects in the old wall will be filled before the tar goes on. Then drain rock will be laid out in a shallow U-shape to create a 4 inch deep swale that will be covered in a pond liner. The drain tile goes in this trench. The idea is to trap descending water in this long, skinny, underground pond, so that it can be picked up by the tile and run to the lower garden which is well below the slab. The tile will be covered in drain rock with landscape fabric on top. Most of the back fill will be rubble rock that was produced when they worked on the basement. No soil will contact the concrete wall again. There's enough rock to do the job.

This is probably overkill for a problem that may have been caused totally by the roof water dumping against the foundation, but now that the ground is opened up, it makes sense to do everything that might prevent future problems.

I'll take more photos as the job progresses.

The first photo shows about half of the rocky soil that I dug out over about 20 hours of hard slogging. It's been a marathon of endurance, strength and technique. I'm a digging machine.
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Dale Hodgins
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I was at this house to do a little stucco repair. I noticed that the flower bed against the house had been heaped up too high. There is wood behind the stucco. Soil should be kept 8 inches below the sill. I pointed this out, and it was immediately agreed that the former owners were idiots. Then the basement leak was mentioned.

This has been the driest winter of the 20 that I've spent in British Columbia. If it leaks this year, you just know that it leaks much worse some years. The basement was finished a month ago.

The entire drainage issue is likely to cost under $3000. A lot of money has been spent in remodeling recently. None of those things are as important as dealing with water that wants to run into the house.
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Photos --- Before and after on the stucco.

The top couple feet of soil is perfect stuff. All of the stuff that came up today was quite rocky.
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David Livingston
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Nice one Dale . It reminds me of my old house in the UK built 1815 that was damp . My soon to be ex builder recommended a silicon injected damp course. I dug out the drains put new Gravel in And damp went away! So did my builder

David
 
Dale Hodgins
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Here's the biggest of the dirt piles. I'm guessing 6 tons. I'm down 6 feet in some areas. Other spots on the lower side only need to go down 2 feet.

Right at the toughest corner, the builders disposed of scrap stucco, pipe and bottles. A rock wall was built across it. It took an hour to claw my way through it all.
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Dale Hodgins
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Irrigation pipes and electrical wiring had to be worked around.

One downspout runs through a concrete step. It's going to take some dexterity to run that into the new drain pipes.
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Sean Rauch
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Best to just call mike Holmes, he can make it right
 
Dale Hodgins
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It's important to use the right tools. I use the round mouth spade for breaking new ground.

The square spade is great for tight spots and for gathering loose materials.

This small, light mattock is great for loosening rocky ground.
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Matu Collins
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Yep, you're a digging machine, Dale.

Today I heard about a study that said that sitting down all day is exceptionally bad for your heart health. I guess you will be ok.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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My only advice, since you are going to all that trouble, is to extend your pond liner so that it goes up the wall a bit, lays through your trench, and then lays flat a ways on the other side of the trench to ensure that what water does come near the house does not enter the earth towards your foundation under your liner. It has indeed been an exceptionally dry year in that part of the world, and so I really hope it was just that leaky pipe. Oh yeah... slope your heavy rock material and drain cloth away from the wall, so that no matter what happens to that site in the future, it drains away from the house.

I hope for your sake and the owners, that the basement was not purposefully remodeled for the sale, with full knowledge of a serious water problem. I once bought a truck with a leak. (wow that sounds like a bad joke already) When it rained hard water pooled on the floor. When I bought the truck it was in a barn. They said they were keeping it out of the weather, all polished and nice for the sale. What a lemon! That was the beginning of a long nightmare adventure with that truck. I wanted to drive it right through their house!

...Anyway, my hope is that this is not the case, BUT it could be that there is a spring in a crack in the bedrock itself, right under the house, directly against the concrete. When I went to the Bullock Bros farm on Orcas Island, one of the brothers showed me the massive rock in his bare earth crawlspace basement that was leaking. He, the true permaculturalist that he was, was utilizing the cool dampness to effect for root storage and I think wine, and was contemplating putting in a mini concrete ridge to catch the water and build a pond for drinking water!

Enough said. You have a lot done already and I wish you the very best of luck that the problem is solved by your massive travails. Oh yeah... I personally use a lining bar a lot if I'm trying to loosen a lot of rock. It is a heavy tool, but it is a lot friendlier on the body to use a long heavy levering tool, then slamming into rocks with a pick, grub hoe, or mattock.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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You could tar the pond liner to the wall. Also if you have extended it flat on the ground on the side opposite the wall you could, dare I say, DIG another small trench (Just a thin little wee one) for it to go down in, thus ensuring future drier ground beyond the trench. That way, if water is creeping in from outside the area it has a lot more work do do before it can saturate that ground and undermine your system.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Matu Collins wrote:Yep, you're a digging machine, Dale.

Today I heard about a study that said that sitting down all day is exceptionally bad for your heart health. I guess you will be ok.


This work is causing some strange physical anomalies that I will investigate further. My gut and the area on my side where some guys store "love handles", has become about as hard as my knee cap. Strange little ripples are appearing.

Another strange thing --- I may have accidentally invented a perpetual motion machine. If I lay on the floor and drop a quarter on one of my pecks, the quarter bounces higher than the height that it was dropped from.


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Thank you Roberto. I'm very tired today for some unknown reason, but I'll explain all choices as the job progresses.

 
Michael Cox
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:
I hope for your sake and the owners, that the basement was not purposefully remodeled for the sale, with full knowledge of a serious water problem. I once bought a truck with a leak. (wow that sounds like a bad joke already) When it rained hard water pooled on the floor. When I bought the truck it was in a barn. They said they were keeping it out of the weather, all polished and nice for the sale. What a lemon! That was the beginning of a long nightmare adventure with that truck. I wanted to drive it right through their house!


I have one of those right now, although to be charitable it only developed the leak after I had been driving it for a year. I now regularly bail water out of the foot well.

Looks like I'm going to have to get rid of it now, and the wife throws a strop every time she has to go in it! (Justifiable strop - it is her side that is wetest!)
 
Roberto pokachinni
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It could be that you overdid it with the digging, bud. You may have herniated some muscle tissue on your side, which is not uncommon with hard working laborers. I'd get that looked at by a doc, and get some physio or massage if possible.
 
Edith Stacey
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Dale:

Your Thai friends could probably supply the massage therapy.
At the very least you'll feel better when they stop!
Maybe you don't want it remedied, just like the novelty.

Was it really dry while I was away?--you wouldn't think that looking at my property here on Pender--very wet and definitely colder than last winter (I've only been back in Canada just on 18 months), but my citrus tho' showing some frost damage are still alive. I have two helpers today to progress the hugel project, as the nerve damage I'm still getting over as a result of last years chemo means I'm much less able to do stuff myself than I would like, but hopefully it will improve. In the interim I find it better to hire helpers than lament the lack of progress. Still thinking/working on longer range plans, but essentially unless I can get the neighbours agreement to cut a few of their large trees in addition to my own, I'm going to be pretty limited on what I can do because of lack of sunlight. GRRRR........

Edith
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Hi Edith,
I was in Vancouver all year and it was the driest year that I've experienced in the lower mainland, and one of the driest in historical records. Winter always brings some rain on your island, so it's bound to be wet by now, but I'll bet it was really really dry this past summer.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I haven't hurt myself. I was referring to the muscles in my torso which belong on a Greek god. I'm getting in awesome shape. I've been tired, but pacing myself.

We decided against the pond liner and are just doing regular tile.

The owner had the renovation done.

Hi Edith. It's been very dry and I'm on a well drained hill. The Sooke resevoir hasn't risen since September. It might be a bad year for forest fires.

My Thai friends run a torture chamber. I won't be doing that.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm taking a break after a 15 minute sprint. This sidewalk is unwanted. We need to produce 2 French drains that will hold 7 yards of agregate between them. I've broken it into chunks that are ready for transport.

On soft ground, concrete will sometimes bounce a bit and be tough to break. I use the long bar to lever slabs up about 4 inches and then toss rocks into the crack. With an air space beneath, every swing causes breakage.
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Dale Hodgins
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I use an 8 pound sledge for most breaking. A small hammer moving very fast works better than a big one moving slower.

Old pipe was used as rebar. I strike right on the rebar, to break the seal.

Once I have chunks a foot square, one good smack breaks it into 2-5 pieces.

The thinner, easier to break slabs are all cracked but won't be turned up until the drain pits are ready. I use the sharp, front edge of the hammer. This produces the desired cracking. My lightest mattock will be used to yoink the broken slabs from the ground.

There was talk of using a jackhammer. This was much faster and much more satisfying.
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Dale Hodgins
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There were several voids under the foundation. There were spots where the concrete rests on rock and then 4 feet where the silt beneath the concrete, had settled or washed away. Everywhere, soil was heaped against the concrete. This disguised the extent of the damage and deficiency.

In the first photo of a corner, the downspouts which for years, emptied against the house,have washed out all of the cement and replaced it with top soil. The whole corner is suspended in air. It rests on rock about 5 feet to either side of the corner. I will dig this out and rebuild next week.

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Dale Hodgins
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These areas with new concrete, fill empty spots between point loads. They were cleaned with a power washer and a very rich and stiff mix of concrete was compacted into the space.
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Miles Flansburg
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Dale, I had you pictured as an old guy, like me, but I see that you must be in your 20's !
I used to be able to do all of those tricks with hand tools all day too. I turned 50 a few years ago and the mind is willing but the body is...falling apart!
 
allen lumley
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Miles : You just reminded me about the old joke about a computer programed to translate English into Russian, to see if the translation was accurate they then
translated it back to English -> Hydraulic Ram became Water Goat ! The Spirit is willing, but the fresh is weak! be came the whiskey is good but the meat is rotten!

Been there done that, Yes he is just as crabby as me, and I probably have 40 years on him, think how bad he'll be by then ! Big AL !
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm 49 but in pretty good shape. Never had a real serious injury.

I was the world's youngest cranky old guy at 10. When I'm 80, I hope I'm still agile enough to jump into a hole like these, and strong enough to show the kids how it's done, while muttering about sissies.

This photo is for clinical purposes only.
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Jennifer Wadsworth
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Is that a "Cranky Old Guy" changing station behind you?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Is that a "Cranky Old Guy" changing station behind you?


These baby change stations are seldom used in the men's change room. The make a nice dry spot to sort out my pockets and keep things clean. That photo is from before the drain job. I'm eating all I can pack in as usual. I'm usually about 190 lb. but will likely be 200 lb. by the end of this one. I often pack on lean meat when a tough job comes up. This will allow me to coast for a few weeks of easy work once this is done. I've been working 7 days a week, but only averaging 5 1/2 hours. That much time at the gym is more than enough. I'll bet if a person was to dig vigorously for 30 minutes a day, that's all the exercise needed to remain reasonably fit.
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Now, back to the trenches. A fellow with a truck answered my add for free soil yesterday, so I took the opportunity to dig the bad corner, right down to the bedrock. The rock slopes steeply away from the house in the direction of a future French drain. The customer wasn't sure if he wanted to go down, and he predicted 4 feet of soil. I almost did the "I was right dance" when the rock proved to come much closer to the surface and the natural swale in the power washed bedrock runs directly to where I had lobbied for a rock pit. The soil is quite good. I filled pails while the truck guy dumped them into the truck.

The whole area was washed really well. Most chunks that appeared to be intact, fell away with a bit of power washing.

A really stiff mix is being jammed into every crevice. I grab big globs and jam them into cracks and then use rocks as a pusher. The handle of the pick is used to ram these rocks deeply into the holes and the rocks push the wet mix along. I'm on lunch while things set up a bit. More will be added.
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Dale Hodgins
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Later that day. --- I dug out the muck at left on the first photo and power washed everything. About 6 wheelbarrow loads of concrete were pushed and compacted into areas only visible to mice and Morlocks. Quite a bit filled voids that lie above the lower edge of the old wall.

Deep crevices in the bedrock were power washed and filled with concrete. The new concrete slopes outwards to create a buttress which also channels water to the bedrock swale.

Even rather narrow spots like in the second photo, hogged lots of material in hidden crevices.

This area will be finnished tomorrow.
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Dale Hodgins
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Some very smooth cupboard materials were being given away a few doors down the street, so they became my form boards. The buttresses are complete. A small excavator will dig out the sidewalks and rock pits.
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All of this work area where you see bedrock, was covered in soil that mucks up very easily. Very black stuff with almost no rock or sand. The owners were away when I cleared the area, and they were shocked to see that I had gone so far without consultation. We had originally planned a 2 foot trench against the house. When I saw the extent of the problem and that I would need a muck free work surface, I proceeded in the only way that this could be accomplished.

This has been the most expensive little corner of the project, with about $500 in labor and materials going into the worst 18 feet of the foundation. It's a nice house in an area where houses sell for $700,000 to $1,000,000,000. The whole thing has cost $3000 so far. A drainage company is being used to lay the pipe, coat the walls with a tar like material, dig the drain pits and backfill the walls. Price --- $3500 --- I'm of the opinion that the rubble rock and broken sidewalk should be backfilled by hand. It would cost about $200. The current plan is to use the machine. Extreme care will be required to avoid making a sloppy mess of fill materials that rest on soil that easily liquefies.

I could dig all of the pits by hand and give away the dirt through my customer base for about $800.
This would cause very little damage to the landscape. We had a hard rain last night. Work begins with the machine on Saturday. When they are done, I'll work with the owner to restore the landscape.
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Dale Hodgins
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Flowing water is not good for concrete. These tile are newer than the clay ones. The bottoms are completely gone.

I got lots of really nice tile that I'm hauling to the farm to use in the cool end of several RMH wood burners. There are 51 regular tiles, 3 octagonal ones, 4 corners, 2 damaged corners and one T-shape.

A few of the pipes were badly clogged. It took 90 minutes to knock out the dirt and power wash the tile. An hour will go into transport. Not a bad price for so much material.
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Rufus Laggren
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Sounds like he got a great deal from you. In his place I'd have insisted you do the rest of it by hand. <g>

Wishing him luck w/the drainage. Water's really sneaky and persistent.


Rufus
 
Dale Hodgins
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Rufus Laggren wrote:Sounds like he got a great deal from you. In his place I'd have insisted you do the rest of it by hand. <g>

Wishing him luck w/the drainage. Water's really sneaky and persistent.


Rufus

This was my first go at it. I charged by the hour, since you never know what's hiding below ground. He had 3 drainage guys come by for a look. One seems to know what he's doing. One wanted to charge $189 for a one hour consult, since he figured that I was going to do it all even after I explained that we wanted someone with laser levels to lay the pipe. The third seemed unsure of everything and he constantly asked me what I thought would work best after I explained that this was my first one.

Judging from the quality of the field, these fellows are going to see some competition. I'll leave the nice easy, flat sites for the machine guys. I'd much rather do the awkward ones where foundation repair is needed. So much of what people pay for in drainage has to do with unknowns. From this experience, I can see that I could do the dig manually around most houses for under $2000 and come up with better than $35 hr. for my trouble. An average drainage job comes in at about $12,000. Once all services are found and other unknowns have been revealed, price shopping for other services is simplified.

If I do manage to find these jobs, I'll rent a small machine or hire a guy for the easy parts where a machine can get in.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Dale,

Sorry for being so late to the table on this one, very busy at the moment and can only manage "drive by" comments to some post threads. I have done a quick review, most looks in good order, few minor questions not worth asking now. As you have noted, not a lot of contractors out there doing quality work in this area, to menial and to fraught with "unknowns" (at least to them.)

As an "Historic Restorationist" (when I wear that hat) I am confined to "like for like" materials (where is shows) and the good modernity for the "conservation" portion. Drainage is a big part of that work very often, as folks overtime just poured concrete everywhere and it often causes more harm than good. Real professional in the "drainage side of things" can glance at a job, soil types, architecture (inside and out) and give a pretty accurate linear meter (foot) price. Current going rate for a pro on 90% of the job is $150 to $200 dollars per linear foot or $1600 to $2100 per linear meter. If a client calls me and can't handle that amount, then I know it will not be worth my time and often the banter about ever issue that is found below grade...not worth the headache so move on. Pros seldom work T&M and only by a set matrix price. It tells a client you have been doing this long enough and/or know enough (or knows who does) to give a solid contract price (with mitigating conditions in certain contracts for unknowns) that will get you work and attention of folks as a quality "drainage expert." You can make a good go of this, and really help folks avoid the all too many "rip-off" contractors that are out there.

Highlight points:

Drain to open light or well constructed "distribution cisterns."

Back fill with gravel whenever possible and not local soils. If plantings are going to be an issue they must be 1 meter from house and separated from gravel by "road bead drain cloth."

"Shrouding" is a key component of this work taking water away from the foundation as far as possible.

Gutters, for the most part, are worthless, difficult to maintain (impossible?) and should be remove in most instances where they just aren't doing as much as the architecture really needs. They trap moisture at the eaves, and fascia causing wood rot on most homes. Eave extensions would do more good for the architecture where applicable and possible. Under ground gutters (your drain tiling) is the best practice when don well.

That about covers it. Don't think I frogot much. Let me know how it goes, or if you ever have questions.

Regards,

j
 
Dale Hodgins
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My portion is largely done now. I'll just be helping to restore the landscape.

On the time and materials thing. I have hired many excavators, back hoes, bobcats, cranes etc. I have never in 30 years, contracted anything. I only pay the hourly rate. Then I prepare everything so as to minimize the machine cost. I've had concrete, stucco, and carpentry done. Always by the hour. I have contracted a couple of roof replacements.

Almost all of the jobs that I do, involve me giving a flat price to make the building, tree or junk pile go away, but almost without exception, I maintain complete control by hiring at an hourly rate, whether it's unskilled labor, a tradesman or a machine.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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I guess in a more direct and succinct answer I would say "professionals" work by a set contract, and "machines, or "the unknowing" work time and materials...
 
Dale Hodgins
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:I guess in a more direct and succinct answer I would say "professionals" work by a set contract, and "machines, or "the unknowing" work time and materials...


I think my suspicious nature and my need to have absolute control of my jobs and my property, has had a lot to do with how I've always paid for things. Running through the list in my mind --- I've only paid lawyers, surveyors, accountants, plumbers, floor refinishers, concrete guys, carpenters, electricians, scaffold crews, dump trucks and all other machines by the hour. I've never hired any sort of project manager and I doubt that I ever will.

I have paid a set fee for, real estate services, dental work, tire repair and a few other automotive services, furnace check up, carpet cleaning, hair cuts and probably a few other minor things.
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I made a flat price deal with a gutter guy once. We agreed to $200 to fix a few minor things. He skipped half of it and then convinced my ex wife to pay him $350 while I was away. He stopped answering his phone. I watched for his truck for months, but never saw him again. I would have taken every tool and taken care of all glass in the truck.

There can be problems with by the hour stuff as well. I've avoided most problems in that area by almost always being present when money is being spent and working hard to move things along, to reduce my costs. The number one thing that an employee will steal is time. I always know when people start and stop, and I know what they are doing almost all of the time. I have always paid everyone for everything that they've done. I've been lied to 1000 times when guys have tried to collect pay for the two hours that they spent with their probation officer or the hour that it took them to find their boots and hat. One machine guy ran his excavator out of diesel. He tried to collect 2 hours pay for the time it took him to run for fuel and bleed the line to get it going again. That didn't happen.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Dale,

Many of your perspectives are common to those that often than other wise charge by, pay by and contract "time & materials." I don't fault you for it, or criticize. I write here not to just the OP of threads, yet mainly for the readers. Most professionals of any given field, in the body of much of there work, use a matrix other than just time. Even Lawyers and accounts do, unless the task before them is a nebulous one, such as "trial litigation," or for the accountant when the do audit work, much of the rest is a set few. I am not suspicious by nature, but a very keen observer. As for "absolute control," I don't exercise such on most projects, as I am also a professional "team builder" and "leadership development" consultant. Many that have to have "absolute control," (You may not be) also tend to be micro managers and only function as autocratic supervisors, which has its place at times, but for the most part is not productive (or comfortable to be around.)

As for your list of professions you have experienced, I would concur, yet point out that you kinda helped make my point for each of them. As the real "professional" in those fields seldom work time and material (materials for these types of pay structures often have other fees attached to them like bogus handling charges and other "add on" fees.) The professional charges a set matrix with material costs as a separate entity with not additional fees added accept in the rare cases where germane. Surveyors charge by the acre, or hectare. Plumbers yes often by the hour but with a clear and solid "foundation and ceiling" fee structure (i.e. min and max.) I haven't met any real or experienced floor finisher or flooring expert yet on any of my projects in 35 years that did not charge by the square foot or meter, so that one is new to me. I won't hire concrete companies that don't charge by a set contract with a very clear "per cubic meter" or "yard fee." Now carpenters, that is a good one. I won't hire a carpenter if they think they can, or should charge T&M, as this field is fraught with armatures claiming to be experts, and/or professionals. It's a rare job, that one of the carpentry professions can not be broken down into a very clear matrix, with the same for electricians, and scaffold crews, which charge (or should) by the "bunk." Dump trucks are equipment and yes that is often (not always) by a hourly fee.

Your experience with the gutter guy is about pare for the "fly by nights" that make it hard on the rest. Yet I remove gutters and find that the industry at large (other that historic or traditional systems) is a very bad concept in general for most architecture. I think I would have confronted him, or taken some other action, as theft is theft not matter who it is committed against, but that is just my nature. We are very different, it that I never pay hourly and refuse to deal with anyone (with few exceptions) that want it. I don't need to watch clocks or "speed things along," as the task is what it is and doing good work is the only thing that concerns us. If we have error'd on the bid, that is our "lesson learned," plus we like the calm affect it has on clients, as we never have to worry that they (or anyone else) thinks we are moving to slow, or not doing quality work. We never have to worry about folks "stealing time," or when the come and go. Then again we don't have any employees of any kind, only contractual project members, artisan-craftspeople, and other germane contractors to a project.

Regards,

j
 
Dale Hodgins
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Jay said --- Many that have to have "absolute control," (You may not be) also tend to be micro managers and only function as autocratic supervisors, which has its place at times, but for the most part is not productive (or comfortable to be around.)
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Guilty. That's me. --- I will defer to the owners of machinery or to the opinions of tradespeople when it's in my interest. --- Most of the work that I've done where help was used, has been largely hard labor that requires few skills that can't be learned quickly. Productivity determines whether or not I earn a living. I micro manage to ensure that everything is done my way, which is always the fast, efficient way. If a guy isn't mentally or physically able to do it my way, we part ways. I have had many workers show me better ways to do things. I'm always open to that. I'm never open to the idea of a guy doing things his way so he can hide in a corner and rest, while others work hard. It's been my experience that tasks can be taught relatively quickly, but if someone is naturally lazy, they are of no use to me.

I'm usually able to determine whether it's going to work out within 4 hours. When I look at the best workers who I've had, compared to the average, my money has been better spent on the better who were paid much more per hour.

Although I micro manage, I don't bitch at the guys constantly. I just weed out the bad apples and then offer various incentives to make things happen. Whenever I've had a crew of more than 5, I turn the best one into an apprentice micro manager. Most of these guys have never had any power in their lives. They become little tyrants. My best slave driver has been Martin, a powerfully built native man who is quite broad for someone 5' 7". He uses a combination of friendly wagers, badgering and mocking to get fellow workers to either haul ass or quit. He barks orders louder than I do. Most, vainly try to keep up with this guy who will carry 3 concrete blocks at once and rip hot tar roofing like it's wrapping paper. I've asked him many times to not divulge that he gets paid twice as much as these guys and that I also feed and sometimes house him. I once had to deal with several of them who dreamed up the idea that things should somehow be equal. I told them that if I could find 2 more Martins, I would get rid of the lot of them. This causes friction and I've asked him to keep quiet. Keeping quiet is not in his nature, so I've given up on that one. Sometimes we play good cop, bad cop. If someone moderately productive needs to pick up the pace, just the threat of being sent over to help Martin will sometimes be all that is needed.
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WELL, THAT WENT OFF TOPIC --- This job has been hard work. I've always led by example in that department.

Tomorrow I will take some photos of the finished job and patch up the landscape.
 
Brian Knight
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Dale, been following this project with interest. Great work! I absolutely agree that underground drainage should reduce the amount of water flowing through it as much as possible as it does get clogged over time. Well maintained gutters can go a long way to preventing problems.

I thought of your project this AM reading the latest JLC on a less-invasive excavation strategy. Hear is the link to the related study document and it talks about the method on page 19,20 which they call Air vaccum and hydro slot trenching; basically a pressure washer and big shop vac. The link unfortunately has no pics like the article did..

http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/building_america/excavationless_exterior_found.pdf

 
Rufus Laggren
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> lead by example...

That usually seems to work well.

But I agree w/J: Once you get a feel for a type of work and establish (to yourself) your capabilities (and those of others), flat rate or bid saves a HUGE amount of time and hassle/"misunderstanding". The key being to clearly define the deliverables (results) and any general or particular criteria for that matter to the customer (ie. particular types of materials, methods, etc). The criteria don't need to be absolutely detailed - "good workmanlike" and "standard industry practice" are commonly useful; though not particularly relevant to specific details they become meaningful when applied to the job as a whole. Then one must monitor results regularly and recognize good/bad work.

Attitude matters a whole lot more than immediate skill. I once fired a big strong guy because I couldn't figure out how to make him worth any pay. I realized I can't afford to hire a body w/out a mind actively expediting the work. The worker needs to actually be willing and _try_ to do _your_ job well or he becomes a liability, a serious risk. The trick is to make "your" plural.

Rufus
 
Dale Hodgins
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Brian Knight wrote:Dale, been following this project with interest. Great work! I absolutely agree that underground drainage should reduce the amount of water flowing through it as much as possible as it does get clogged over time. Well maintained gutters can go a long way to preventing problems.

I thought of your project this AM reading the latest JLC on a less-invasive excavation strategy. Hear is the link to the related study document and it talks about the method on page 19,20 which they call Air vaccum and hydro slot trenching; basically a pressure washer and big shop vac. The link unfortunately has no pics like the article did..

http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/building_america/excavationless_exterior_found.pdf



I'm getting lots of nice pictures in the link. Thanks Brian. I don't expect to become the foundation guy. I will learn a little more. I know from this experience that many in the industry are total hacks, including the one the owner chose. I'm going to make it known to existing customers that I now do this stuff.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Rufus Laggren wrote:> lead by example...

That usually seems to work well.

But I agree w/J: Once you get a feel for a type of work and establish (to yourself) your capabilities (and those of others), flat rate or bid saves a HUGE amount of time and hassle/"misunderstanding". The key being to clearly define the deliverables (results) and any general or particular criteria for that matter to the customer (ie. particular types of materials, methods, etc). The criteria don't need to be absolutely detailed - "good workmanlike" and "standard industry practice" are commonly useful; though not particularly relevant to specific details they become meaningful when applied to the job as a whole. Then one must monitor results regularly and recognize good/bad work.

Attitude matters a whole lot more than immediate skill. I once fired a big strong guy because I couldn't figure out how to make him worth any pay. I realized I can't afford to hire a body w/out a mind actively expediting the work. The worker needs to actually be willing and _try_ to do _your_ job well or he becomes a liability, a serious risk. The trick is to make "your" plural.

Rufus


For myself as a contractor, I have almost always given a flat quote based on what the market will bear and not much else. This almost always involves removing something unwanted. Buildings, trees, rocks, ...

Whenever someone wants something done to a building, I charge an hourly rate. I'm very clear with my customers as to why it must be this way. I've had difficult customers who want more than was agreed upon. That's it. Now, it doesn't matter what they want, I happily deliver, since there is no way that it could affect my earnings. I want to be in and out cleanly. These are side jobs for me. I don't want entanglements that drag on. I often work with the customers. They become my helpers and I their task master. Many have enjoyed being involved and saving money in the process. It's much easier to squeeze a sensible decision out of someone who has helped you for several days than from someone who only has paper to look at. One thing that all regular customers know that they must accept, is that one of the primary goals is to keep Dale happy. If I'm happy, it's because they have agreed to do everything right.
 
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