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Excavating reviews in Dover

  • C
    The estimate: The owner of the company came out for the estimate. I explained I was building a workshop and needed the ground leveled, slab poured and entry ramp created. I explained I needed a level, perfectly smooth surface inside the workshop, as i would be doing woodwork, and the tools need to be level. The owner was polite, gave recommendations as to how drainage could work, how thick to make the slab, what PSI concrete to use and how long it would take. He estimated his next available time slot for performing the work, which was less than a week out. The price quoted, $3500, was to include all materials and labor and was about $1000 lower than the highest estimate I had received and $1000 higher than lowest estimate, which placed him safely in the "average" category for price. Later on the owner slipped in that I would be responsible for paying for a load of gravel ($400). Apparently "all materials" to this guy doesn't include gravel. Still, this made his estimate lower than a $5400 one I had gotten earlier in the week. When giving the quote, the owner drew a sketch of the slab, including notations about the required footings and entry ramp. He stated he could get the concrete "slick" enough to show a reflection. An additional factor I used, which is purely subjective but is imperative in my mind, was communication. This man described what he planned to do in more detail than the other contractors, which made me feel he had done this sort of pour before. He also kept his regional accent to a minimum, a seemingly small detail, but something which prevented me from even understanding nearly anything a previous contractor said. You certainly can't communicate if the person doesn't speak clearly enough to resemble English, and this person spoke well. Not wanting to be cheap and risk shoddy work, I gave the go-ahead for work to proceed with his company. Work was scheduled for 5 days later. As an aside, a big reason for agreeing to the work with this company was an ad stating "Guaranteed work, in writing!", later this would prove not to be the case at all. The phone call: The following evening my wife received a call on her phone, even though I gave the man my phone # (he apparently called the number I called from instead of the # I told him to use, a minor thing, but an attention to detail red flag). He left a message stating he had time to begin work the next day if I wished. I called back 2 hours later, getting his voicemail, and indicated that would be great. The following day I heard nothing and he never showed up. By 2pm I called him, wondering what was going on and he indicated he thought it may rain so he was delaying until the next day. He gave no explanation as to why he never called to relay this information. The big dig: Two guys came with a bobcat to level the area. Numerous times I had to remind them of the dimensions of the slab, a minor detail but irritating nonetheless. They approached me for approval and the clearing was 2' too narrow for the slab and left no room for drainage. They went back and corrected the issue, providing a gentle slope to the slab instead of the cliff originally made. They left quite a bit of large, chunky dirt at the top of the slope which would have taken me days to break down and move. I assumed they had a plan for the extra dirt, as they gave no reason for leaving it there. They later charged me to move it. After leveling the area using a laser surveying level, they placed the concrete forms. I was told the footers I ordered, which were to be four 8" deep trenches where the walls would rest, would be added the following day before the pour, which was scheduled for 6am the next morning. The main slab, pour: The following day 5 men, including the owner, arrived right on time. The concrete truck showed up shortly thereafter, before two of the promised trenches were dug. The owner came to me for approval to proceed, at which time I had to remind him of the other two footings. He stated he would have his men trench the other footings right away, at which time his man lazily swept away a bit of gravel from the edges, nothing near an 8" trench. To make matters worse, the footings already dug were V-shaped instead of proper squared footing trenches, again due to the laziness of the workers. This issue was never resolved and, now, will never be. I now fear I may get cracking where the walls rest and, possibly much worse, code inspection failure due to lack of proper depth footings. When the pour began, the workers hopped into action and the pour went off with not much water added, something I was pleased to see. I recall reading about some contractors who use too much water in order to make their jobs easier, at the expense of concrete cracks. This company gets kudos for not being one of them. The main slab, finishing: Once the concrete was h****** top, I was called over to inspect. It appeared very smooth, though hardly the reflective surface I was promised. Only about 1 square foot out of 1400 showed any sign of reflectivity. I was told any more polishing would "scratch the surface", which I took to mean, "we screwed it up, so this is what you get". I hardly expected a shiny floor until being promised one, so I shrugged it off. So far, I was overall pleased with the work, as the smooth concrete slab was a dirt hill the day before. I did a lot of reading about pouring slabs of concrete and how "slow curing" (covering with plastic or spraying with a sprinkler) is highly recommended (required?) as soon as the slab is smooth. However, I was unable to ask about this, as the owner quickly got in his truck and left, leaving the slab to dry. An hour later he returned, and after talking on the phone for 15 more minutes, stated I should turn on the sprinklers I had set up on my own. At this point, on a 95F day, the top of the concrete had already been bone dry for at least 30 minutes. I'm doubtful the water even helped anything at that point. The main slab, the realization: Once the sprinklers were moved into place and water was beginning to saturate the surface, I began to see many, MANY surface dips, most less than 1/4" deep over a 1sqft area, but one major section, 1/2" deep which caused a massive 5 foot puddle. When I asked how this happened and what could be done about it, I was told nothing could be done besides a "skim coat", which would chip away. This is about when this job went from good to unacceptable. I now have a concrete slab which will never be flat and has a massive section which cannot be used for the woodworking I need it for. When questioned as to why the huge sunken area was missed, I was given a BS answer as to how it is acceptable for indoor slabs, and isn't important since it won't get rained on. So, he would have put more effort into flattening the slab if it was an outdoor one? This, after I specifically stated during the estimate how important a flat slab was. Ramping it up: When the main slab was as finished as it will ever be, the ramp was framed. The ramp was originally to be 3', but the owner and his help insisted 3' would cause the ramp to be too steep and a 6' ramp would be much more usable. I agreed to pay another $200 to add three more feet to the ramp. Two hours later, the concrete truck arrived (after some drastic miscommunication between the contractor and the concrete delivery people) and the pour happened without issue. The finishing work on the entry ramp was top notch, and the final product resembled a town sidewalk, just tilted a bit. It is honestly the best entry ramp I've seen. These guys apparently are only trained to make sidewalks and not large slabs, as the difference between he two finished products was night and day. Still, this does not make up for the severe lack of flatness of the main slab. "The contract says I can be sloppy": Once both sections of concrete were hardening, the time began for the final inspection before they left the job site. I noted how there were large masses, some 3' in diameter, of concrete all around the slab which needed removing. These, now hardened, piles of concrete goo were the result of not blocking the bottoms of the concrete forms, so the concrete simply drained out of the forms when it was poured. To which I was given a reply "The contracts says I can leave them there". Now, nowhere in the contract does it state this. The guy installed the forms in a lazy and substandard manner, and now he's trying to hide behind a non-existent contract clause? Later on I read the contractor was supposed to have filled the outside of the forms with gravel to prevent exactly this from happening. After arguing the fact for a minute, he finally ordered his men to clean up "what they could", which luckily ended up being quite a bit of it. Smoothing things over costs extra: After the concrete work was as finished as it will, unfortunately, likely ever be, I asked about smoothing out the slopes he had made when he excavated the slab site as well as the area he dumped the extra dirt. He got right to work on it, which I was pleased to see. Come to find out, he was charging me for this "additional work" (he happily underlined the "additional work" clause in the contract when adding $100 to the bill for this). Now, I don't expect people to work for free, but I do expect finished projects to actually look finished. Having a big bumpy mount of dirt right next to my driveway isn't exactly finished work, nor is a bunch of clumps of dirt on an otherwise smooth slope around the new slab. Recommendation: Concrete isn't fixable, which means you need someone who does EXACTLY what they promise. I will have non-flat concrete forever. Though friendly and punctual, the finished product is the most important part. I will update this if anything changes.
    - Edward W.
  • A
    - Tammy P.
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Excavators in Dover

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