My husband and I recently hired Giancarlo and his team to build our backyard concrete patio and decorative cast-in-place stepping stones. The look we were going for was a modern, smooth finish.
We interviewed several contractors and hired Giancarlo. His estimate was the second highest we received but we believe in the saying "you get what you paid for" and felt really comfortable with him during our initial meeting. He was punctual, energetic, seemed very knowledgeable about concrete patios. Because we had a specific look and design we wanted, we wanted to make sure we hired someone who knew what they were doing.
Unfortunately, there were some mistakes made on the patio itself and the customer service provided. Here’s the breakdown:
The GOOD: Giancarlo was always available for texts, emails and calls. He and his team were punctual and FAST – we met with Giancarlo beginning of May, the work started a couple weeks after that and it took only 1.5 days to complete. When things went downhill, I reached out to Giancarlo and asked for $300 back (more on this later). While most contractors would probably ignore that request, Giancarlo responded very promptly and agreed to give our money back.
The BAD: Inconsistencies. We had several conversations with Giancarlo about the specific look, measurements etc of what we wanted for our patio. Concrete is expensive and long-lasting so we wanted to make sure we got the final product and look we wanted. We found that he was inconsistent in the things he told us and he backtracked quite a bit:
1) During our initial meeting with Giancarlo, we told him we wanted 2” in between the cast-in stepping stones. He said that was too narrow but he could do 3”. Totally fine with that. But by the end, he was saying he would need 6”-12”. We couldn't really understand why it was possible to do 3" during the initial consultation but now he was backtracking and telling us 6-12". Anyway, we settled on 6" and that was good enough.
2) We wanted black gravel for around the stepping stones. He said black gravel is really hard to find so if we wanted that look, we would need to source our own. He said he couldn’t reduce the cost of the estimate even if we purchased our own gravel because we really only need 4-5 bags so the cost is negligible. As non-concrete contractors, we were able to find black gravel pretty easily at a store in Whitby and we ended up needing 17 bags even with half the space back filled with dirt. The amount of bags he said we would need was a huge miscalculation.
3) He said he would clean up “everything he touches”. But left 3 big tree roots . When asked why they were left behind, he said “I can’t take tree roots and your husband knows that” – not true., he never told my husband that. And speaking of clean up – we found several cigarette butts in our yard from the workers. We have a crawling 9 month old who likes to put everything in her mouth so this was very disappointing.
The UGLY: To our dismay, we found a foot print in one of our decorative stepping stones after the first day. We took a picture of it right away and asked Giancarlo if there was anything we can do. We were very disappointed with his response, which was that he was sorry, hopefully it won’t be too noticeable once it cures and that him and his team are not perfect. He didn’t bother to go through the different options on how to deal with a foot print on an area that is supposed to be decorative. If the foot print was in an area that could be covered with furniture, I would understand his response and would even have rolled with that but this was in an area that was too visible. After being dumbfounded by his response and asking for options he said he could patch it up but that it would look 10% darker in the rain. We opted for the 10% darker patch over a foot print.
Attached is the picture we sent to him and the patch job that was done. The patched area is MUCH darker than 10% and not just in the rain. The picture is a week after the job has been complete. Because we were so unhappy with the above, we reached out and asked for $300 back (total cost of the job was just under $8000). He agreed gracefully. We’re glad he agreed but do feel that he should’ve offered to discount the price before we had to ask.
But then things turned even uglier. One of the things that was in our contract was that he would patch up a small area of our house foundation wall before pouring our patio. We noticed 2 days after the job was done, that the foundation wall was never fixed. My husband texted Giancarlo to ask why this wasn’t completed. After texting back and forth Giancarlo called my husband and was EXTREMELY unprofessional. He yelled and said that we had “ruined his weekend”, why didn’t we mention this at the final inspection etc (maybe because we were distracted by a huge foot print and subsequent patch job). He did call back afterwards to apologize and explained why the foundation was not patched up. The explanation he gave seemed fine but if something was a part of the contract and it was not completed, he should’ve come to us at the final inspection, pointed it out and provided an explanation proactively before we had to notice and wonder why it wasn’t done. And of course, not getting mad when the customer asks a valid question is important.
Needless to say, we won’t be working with Churchhill Construction again.