Nate completed a concrete patio and driveway remodel.
My Experience Remodeling My Patio And Driveway
people found Nate's experience helpful.
When we moved into our home it had a badly cracked and poorly sloped (towards the house, not the street) driveway and a wooden deck that had not been properly maintained; we knew they would have to be replaced, eventually. After a few years we decided to replace the deck with a concrete patio and replace the driveway at the same time; the two would be connected via a walkway around one side of the house and completed as part of the same project. Altogether it would involve tearing out 700ft^2 of concrete and replacing it with approximately twice that much square footage. We ultimately had to remove and replace (a second time) nearly all of the newly poured concrete because run-off was flooding our garage and even in the areas properly graded the pour was so bad that the surface cracked within days of hardening.
Point to Consider #1 – Ask To See Your Contractor’s Previous Work
Do not assume that a contractor who demonstrates competence in one area has the same skill in other areas. We were so impressed with a basement remodel in a friend’s home that we took the contractor at his word that our simple patio pour would be a very straightforward task for his team. Always ask to see previous work and insist on speaking to previous customers of the contractor.
Point to Consider #2 – Hire A Contractor Who Is Vocal About Suggestions
Find a contractor who is vocal about suggestions for the work to be performed. Whoever is hired should have done many similar projects and they should know enough to help you avoid potential pitfalls (see mistake #3), and offer insight into better ways to accomplish your goals. You should have a number of conversations that sound like the following: “I understand your idea, but I think that layout could potentially cause problems. I suggest you try…..” One of the largest decisions we had to make was how large an area to pave. Think carefully about what you plan to do with your patio/driveway and how it will affect the rest of your yard. Is it just a driveway or is it meant as a kids’ play area? Do you want to play basketball there, if so, where will the hoop go? Make sure you know where things like snow accumulation might become a problem, and ask your contractor to make sure your plan will work.
Point to Consider #3 – Plan For Drainage
Drainage should always run away from the house; make sure this is clear and discuss with the contractor the direction of slope and the plan for displacement of run-off. There are many ways to do this; make sure one is identified; if proper grading is not possible for some reason a drain will have to be installed. Additionally, creating this slope, even a very slight one over many feet, could require removal of significant amounts of earth. Make sure there is a plan for where this excess is to be taken and keep in mind that, depending on the location of your property line, removal of enough dirt may affect the way erosion occurs to or from your neighbors’ property and can fundamentally alter the amount of space underneath fences or around retaining walls.
Point to Consider #4 – Schedule Your Project To Optimize Concrete Curing
Concrete hardens by a curing process and the slower it cures the better. Slow curing reduces the likelihood of cracking and improves the life expectancy of the concrete. If at all possible avoid undertaking a large project in the heat of summer; do it in the spring or fall, and make sure the pours are scheduled early in the morning. Also, relief cuts need to be made before the curing process gets too far along, usually within a day.
Point to Consider #5 – Spell Out Remediation For Property Damage
Make certain your work contract spells out clearly the remediation in place for damage to your property in the unfortunate event that it occurs. We had several thousand dollars in damage done to our property and finally had to threaten a lawsuit in order to recover any of it. Further, if significant damage is done on multiple occasions, fire the contractor. It’s better to start over than move forward with someone who has broken your trust.
Point to Consider #6 – Don’t Pay Until The Work Is Done Right
I advise against paying a dime until the work is completed to your satisfaction (this can be done in completed sections). It reduces your leverage for recovery in the event of damage to your property (see #5). Initially I thought paying a portion up front sounded like reasonable good faith. It isn’t. Find a contractor who doesn’t require you to pay anything up front.
If someone had read me the above list before undertaking the original project it would have saved months of rework, thousands of dollars, and a horrendous amount of stress. Make sure you do a lot of research up front. Don’t make assumptions and expect good work and conscientious behavior from people you hire to work on your home. Errors on these types of projects are very difficult to fix: concrete is meant to be permanent. You’ll be living with it a long time or dealing with the enormous headache of making changes. Have it done right in the first place.