Rescued Projects Case Studies

Retaining Wall Miscommunication

Until consumers understand that hiring an unqualified or inexperienced contractor, or going for a “special deal if you sign today” is VERY risky, I will keep relaying these stories.

THE ISSUE: Once again, another CON-tractor took on a job without a fitting level of experience or a realistic plan of action, causing grief and depleting the funds of yet another good family. I knew the contractor from years prior. His last company went bankrupt leaving suppliers unpaid (to my understanding) by several hundred thousand dollars, and now he’s in business again and was being sued by 2 different homeowners – one for misappropriation of funds and a second filing for breach of contract and unpaid debts. We were able to find this information online in about 4 minutes. Please always do your due diligence and check references.

I originally saw this retaining wall project in 2007 when it was just getting started. We were working a few blocks away and I happened to drive past it. I can tell you that the moment I saw the work site, I knew the job was already going wrong. One wall was up… crooked, leaning, and badly built. It was mid-afternoon, mid-week, and no one was working – another bad sign. In our market, this is a regular occurrence with less professional contractors, so I just kept driving.

I forgot about the job until about a year later when I was driving by the same house. Surprisingly, the job was still incomplete, so I got out of the truck and I took another look. By then, a second wall had been installed and was worse than the first. The job was overgrown and untouched for a long time, leading me to conclude they hit a major snag – I was right. They had been shut down by the City.

As timing had it, a few weeks later we were approached by a geotechnical engineer hired by the Owners to consult in the completion of the installation. The Owners were taking the Contractor to Supreme Court for damages, and the engineer knew we had done a lot of work in the area and are well known for successful completion of projects with difficult access and challenging conditions.

The original plan was to build a tennis court into the hillside behind the house, but with no planning, no engineering, and no permits, there was no chance it was ever going to go well. I was surprised because the work I saw did not look like it was in preparation for the job being outlined for me. The Owners had been told by the original contractor that it was ‘all planned and taken care of’ and was ‘all sorted out’. It took another 6 months to undo the bureaucratic damage, work out the logistics and get the restoration underway.

The original quote was around $85,000. On completion of proper planning and engineering, the cost was going to be more like $400,000!!! The concept was abandoned and the task became one of restoration and repair instead, but still over $100,000, plus payments made to the first contractor, plus legal fees, city fines (illegal tree clearing, non-permitted work, etc).

The Fix: Stage 1

Rebuild the hillside – we had to replace about 500 cubic meters of fill and also control ground water in the rear cut slope. We installed a heel drain that now flows at a constant 3 to 5 gallons per minute. We replaced the fill in lifts (layers) and sandwiched geogrid between lifts for added strength.

The Fix: Stage 2

We then began the retaining wall installation to provide the owners with something useful… a 2000 square foot patio used as a play court, entertainment and family gathering area. We installed over 800 tonnes of aggregate and 1500 square feet of retaining walls, plus over 2000 square feet of paving stone and paving slabs for the main patio, steps, a lower sitting area, paths and walkways.

The Result

A cheap price and high pressure sale usually ends badly. And a high pressure sale for a high-value project is usually not good either (See our other case study – Abbotsford Retaining Wall). We want you to make your decision to hire our company using the most information available, and want you to be confident that we are the best choice for your project.

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