Tear down deck, regrade and resod back yard, install patio, rebuild back part of fence and install front and back gates.
We hired this company in the Spring of 2011, and the work was supposed to be completed in mid-July. However, they did not show up to do the work until September 28!!! They kept promising to start on various dates and not showing up, with no communication unless it was initiated by me, and slow (i.e. days or weeks later) responses to my emails and calls. We wanted to give up on them, but we had paid them a substantial deposit.
They did a decent job on the patio, although I did have to remind the owner of what we’d talked about regarding the steps, as he was going to do something completely different from what we’d discussed. The sidewalk leading to the front gate isn’t really wide enough, and, oddly, does not match the width of the gate, which meant we had to stick a brick at one end, to close a gap where our puppy could escape. Also, the company slopped water used to mix cement on it, so the beautiful pattern of charcoal and brown is spoiled by dribbles and large splotches of grey that I’ve been unable to remove.
The sod and mulch looked beautiful after the company laid it. We were very careful not to walk on the sod for a long time afterward, even after the owner said it would be all right to do so. However, months later, after the snow melted this spring, we found there are numerous places where the lawn is very soft and our feet sink in when we walk on it. The lawn has many dips and bumps in it and is very soft and squishy in places. The owner told us that there was a one year warranty on the sod, but he has failed to honour this, even though we informed him of the problems 2 months ago.
In addition, we have found that the grade does not slope properly away from our foundation, which is important for keeping the foundation and basement dry.
For some unknown reason, the company decided to build an unusually short fence (5 feet). This reduces the sense of privacy in both our yard and home. The owner did not consult us about building a fence that is non-standard in height, but I felt that I could do nothing about it, as nothing was specified about the height on the contract. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me at the time of signing the contract that this would be necessary.
Worst of all, the owner of the company convinced me to have a double gate installed, so that large items or machinery could be brought in through the back in future, if necessary. This was entirely his idea. We did not request this, but he made it sound like a good idea, so we agreed, assuming that he actually knew how to build one. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case. All winter, the back gate did not work at all. Then, the brick holding the cane bolt, which is supposed to keep one side of the gate in place, became dislodged and the two sides of the latch stopped meeting up about mid-winter. The two sides of the gate no longer cleared each other completely, so they would knock into each other whenever we tried to open and close the gate, making this difficult and requiring us to use a lot of force. The gate was several inches lower than the fence on one side, and the two sides were not level with each other on top. I did point out these latter issues to the owner when the gate was built, but he said it was like that because our yard slopes. This is true, and yet all our neighbours, who also have sloping yards, manage to have gates that match up with the fence. Also, my husband was able to manage this the last time we rebuilt the back fence, and it was his first time ever building a fence or gate. But my biggest frustration was when the gate became no longer functional, and we had to resort to using a bungee cord in place of the latch.
I contacted the owner on April 22. I had no response from him, so I turned the matter over to the Better Business Bureau. After the Bureau contacted the owner twice, he stopped by and spoke with us about the problems. At that time, we told him that we wanted a single gate, instead, as clearly a double-gate was not going to work in our situation. He said he would put in an extra-wide single gate. We said we did not want that, as it would be too heavy. We feared that it would be difficult to manage and it would start to sag because of the weight. We said we wanted a single gate that was of normal width. At that time, we also discussed the concerns with the sod, and he said he also noticed that there were some spots where the sod was not doing well, and he would replace those spots and deal with the soft, squishy areas.
We did not hear from the company again for several weeks, until after the BBB had sent a 3rd notice. We then heard from the owner on the very last day the BBB had given him to respond, and he promised to fix the gate and the sod problems the following week.
He did finally show up as promised (2 months after I had first informed him of my concerns) and when he explained to me what he planned to do about the gate—cut it down so that the two sides would clear each other and put cement in the ground (in the rain) to help hold the bolt in place—I reminded him that we wanted a single gate. The owner refused to listen to me and kept arguing for his solution, and I had no idea what to do about that, so I decided to wait and see how his solution turned out, since I was unable to get him to listen.
Unfortunately, the owner and his worker did the work that the owner described (not what I wanted), and the work is very shoddy. There is now an unusually wide gap between the two gates. The gates don't line up nicely in the centre nor along the top, although the company tried to improve the appearance of the top by raising the top board (leaving a gap below it, where I fear that moisture and debris will easily get in). They damaged some of the wood on the gates and around the latch in the process. Furthermore, there is now unpainted, exposed wood, and I expected this to be painted, as I paid professional painters to paint the gate after it was built last fall, and I don't think I should have to pay painters a second time. The company put on a new latch that is extremely difficult to use from the outside, when we go out the back gate, as we have to try to reach over and line up a bolt with a little opening on the other gate, and the gates don't line up easily to facilitate this. Also, in order to keep the latch from sliding back, allowing one side of the gate to swing open, a lever has to be lined up just-so in order to be placed over top of a piece of metal that juts out. This is difficult to do while trying to reach over from the outside. So, the gate is still not easy to use. It is difficult for me, and it will be impossible for children to latch the gate properly when leaving the yard. (We have a neighbor child who frequently comes into our yard to retrieve balls, etc., and if he can’t close the gate properly, our dog is at risk.) We need a latch that latches automatically when the gate is closed, and I did specifically request this last fall when the gate was built originally. However, with the large gap, the latch that was on there before, that did latch automatically before it stopped meeting up properly, no longer reaches from one side to the other.
In spite of all the money we paid and all the time we waited, we still don't have a gate that functions as we need it to or that looks like a professionally-built gate that adds value to our home. I am also not convinced that this will be a long-lasting solution and that we won't have problems again within a few months. For instance, it would take very little (expansion, contraction) for the bolt on the latch to no longer line up at all, and with such a wide gap between the two sides, security, privacy, and aesthetics are all compromised.
When I expressed my concerns to the owner about the gap between the gates, etc., the owner asked me what I wanted. I said that I wanted a normal, properly-functioning, single gate, as I had already twice requested. He argued with me and denied that I had requested that, even though I had done so twice, the second time being right before he started the work!!
Had the workmanship been better, I might have been willing to accept his solution, instead of the solution I had repeatedly asked for, but I am not satisfied with the workmanship nor with my treatment by this company.
The sod problems were not addressed at all.
Unfortunately, I do not have much to say that is positive about this company, except that they do beautiful brick work (at least, before they spill cement on it). However, dealing with them was an extremely negative experience, and I would definitely not recommend this company for fence or gate building, unless you are happy with a shoddy, amateurish job.
I feel that the owner and his workers rushed through the work because of the late start and the lateness of the season, which may have contributed to the problems, but they are clearly very inexperienced with building gates and with building fences on sloping yards.