Canadian Contractor

Interfering customer poured asphalt on fresh concrete, blames original contractor for the problem

You can't pour asphalt on top of freshly poured concrete if you want a good bind between the two substrates. But if you do, it's nice to have another contractor to blame, right?

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December 7, 2018 by canadiancontractor

I have a favourite saying: In construction, the customer can have fast, good and cheap but only two of the three. Mike Holmes provides all three because his sponsors foot the bill. But most clients do not have pockets that deep and only need a problem solved.

Here’s an example from my contracting world: A customer wanted me to install drainage in a commercial parking lot. The building had extensive water damage, a warped roof, and the parking lot was reverse grade. What’s more, the paver paved over the drainage solution originally installed, so water was running into the underground parkade, driving the tenants nuts.

He wanted it done on the cheap, so I proposed a cheap solution: PVC pipe in a series of trenches leading to a pre-existing storm drain. We jackhammered through 4 to 6 inches of asphalt to put in the pipes and poured concrete to the level of the existing asphalt. It was pouring rain at the end of the job so we put plastic sheeting down and urged the customer to leave it there as long as possible.

Despite my urging, the customer quickly pulled all the plastic off, put asphalt over top of my concrete (to match the color), blocked the drains, and even cut the screens off the drains (so they will inevitably get plugged, which they already have). He then said that the concrete we poured in torrential rain was substandard and that it was our fault.

When he showed me pictures, it was certainly not concrete I was called back to repair due to rainwater – it was the asphalt itself. When I asked him about this, he cancelled the job. A quick call to a few fellow pros confirmed my suspicion. Asphalt won’t bind to concrete if it’s FRESH concrete and this guy knew about neither.

The moral of my story here is that when the customer gets involved, things usually go very, very wrong. They need to be advised of what is happening, cost overruns and the reason for them, etc., but once the customer gets involved in a job it goes sideways most of the time. They screw it up, you take the blame. If it goes well, they nickel and dime you on the bill.




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