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Backyard Flagstone Screwed


Little did I realize that I’d be inviting so much stress into my life when I saw this Sunhouse Gazebo at Sam's Club and bought it.

I then decided I might as well have this old tin storage shed removed, and have the old unsightly cement it stood on replaced.

I went to this place where they sell Flagstone, just to check it out, when I saw this man loading some of it into his old pickup truck. I approached him and asked if he knew how to work with it, and he said yes. I gave him my address and told him to go to my house and give me an estimate, and he did.

This is the Flagstone which comes from Arizona.

This is the estimate he gave me on April 16, 2007
which was to be completed on April 21, 2007:
Total - $3,000.00

1. Remove the old tin store room.
2. Tear up the old cement.
3. Replace it with a 15X20 concrete slab.
4. Cover my other existing old concrete with 32x27 area with Flagstone.

I went to the bank and got a loan.

He came the next day and asked me for a down payment, and I told him I'd only give him $300.00 since he was a total stranger. He agreed.

He came with his wife, and brought a few pieces of Flagstone and 6 bags of cement. He then told me he would need at least $700.00 more. I got angry at him and told him that I didn't trust him at all, because honest construction workers did NOT exist. He got upset with me and told me that "he didn't work that way." After a bit of arguing between the two of us, I decided to give him the $700.00. I didn't hear from him for about two days. I was sweating, and made a post of anger, frustration and fright in my LJ about being scammed, but later deleted it because the man called.

Finally, he came with three other men, and a HUGE professional truck with already mixed cement that must have weighed a 1000 elephants!! The truck was just about to enter my driveway, which I had made last year and had cost me an arm and a leg, when I ran out and told him not to dare enter because his truck was going to destroy my driveway.

The man I hired, I'll call him Joe Blow, wasn't too happy I'd stopped the truck from entering, so he had to have his three men go back and forth to the front street, and have the wheel barrels filled. This of course, did not work, so Joe Blow had to rent a bobcat to carry the
cement and dump it where my gazebo is to go. Finally, he finished with that project. He left my beautiful driveway all spattered with big chunks of cement!

The next day, he started on the Flagstone and was able to cover just a small section. Again, he asked me for more money because he said the Flagstone was very expensive, and that he had to buy some more cement. I know this sounds ridiculous, but he and I stopped giving each other the eye of the TIGER, and I started trusting him, because when I gave him another $1,000.00, I had made a mistake and thought I had given him $600.00 instead of $700.00 last time, and he brought it to my attention, and besides, I saw he had this little sticky on the back of his trucks windshield, "Jesus Is Lord."

By now, I had given him a total of $2,500.00 cash, and owed him $500.00. I had to cancel going to San Antonio for the Fiesta Festival that weekend, because I didn't want to leave Grandpa alone with the man. He had come that Friday, with one truck load of Flagstone, and on Saturday with another one, and left! The job is barely 1/4 finished, and it was already the 30th of April!

Joe Blow managed to put much more of the Flagstone, but told me that he had UNDERESTIMATED the project, and was working for free! I honestly believed it was true, because the Flagstone is very expensive, but did tell him how in the world could he have made such a terrible mistake?! I ended up agreeing and told him that I would never exploit anyone, and to give me another estimate, but not to exploit me and to be fair!

The the amount for the job to be completed wasn't $3,000.00 anymore, but was now $5,6020.00. I agreed, and went to the bank for a 2nd time and got another loan!!

The job was finally competed yesterday (May 6, 2007)!!!!

I never realized that when I bought my Sunhouse Gazebo, it would end up costing me an arm and a leg! Had I known, I would have had it covered with brick!!

They removed old tin shed from in between trees.

This was to be filled with a 15X20 concrete slab.

They must cover this existing 32x27 old concrete area with Flagstone.

They finished adding the 15x20 slab of concrete to the rear of this pic.

Start of Flagstone which took FOREVER!!

This gazebo box ended up costing me an arm and a leg!!!

I do not like that red stuff!

Job completed.

Job completed.

Job completed.

Grandpa and I have started putting up the Sun Gazebo. The Gazebo is very big and were worried at first that it would be bigger than the slab of concrete, but much to our relief, it will fit.

The man sure did leave a filthy mess. The brand new slab of concrete he made was stained beyond repair, and he left my once clean and beautiful PUNCHING BAG covered with that horrible grout!!

This is my punching bag. I pound on it at the end of each day to get all my daily frustrations out of my system!! heeee :o)

Now tell me honestly kids and you WILL NOT hurt my feelings, but did this man do a horrible job for $5,620.00?!

I’ll have to work my butt off more than ever to pay off the loan! :o(

I personally am totally dissatisfied!

There's a saying in Spanish that goes, "Lo barato sale caro!" "What's cheap turns out to be expensive in the end!"

Should I have hired a bonded company with professionals?

I'll show pics when I've had the yard cleaned and the Sun Gazebo UP completely!


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 7th, 2007 10:00 pm (UTC)
Well i couldnt tell ya if ya got screwed or not. The real question would be how much it increases the value of the property.
May. 7th, 2007 10:03 pm (UTC)
Although, you do live in El Paso which means you probably could have shopped around and found some undocumented workers who could have done it a lot cheaper, and possibly better. It's amazing at what some of the "unskilled" laborers can do. You want a simple deck built, they will build you one and add a roof on it and inlay the wood for an art deco look.
May. 7th, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
The man bragged like crazy to me, and wouldn't stop! He also kept complaining that that kind of work kept him on his knees, and he'd cry himself to sleep at night from the pain!

I told him that ALL of us who work for our bread and butter suffer, too! That even doctors suffered for fear of making a mistake and being sued to death!

I put up with him every single day, and I honestly thought I'd have to look at his face for the rest of my life! I give thanks to God that I won't, or will I have to listen to his constant bragging, and constant crying!

He said he was a professional and even showed me some pics before he started, but the pics sure didn't look like the job he did for me!
May. 7th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
construction is a horrible business because if the perosn you decide to hire isnt really established, they're basically calling in people to do jobs at different rates than they're used to in different areas than they have established relationships with other distributors and rental companies.

He probably didnt think out everything with the truck and driveway, and the cost of renting a non-useable truck plus more labor costs meant he had you eat the cost of the difference. it's best to use someone recommended to you by either A) another contractor whose used them before or B) someone you know personally; a family member or such that is in the business who can do the job, or do the same as A.

construction isn't quite concrete, but it's better than doing it yourself unless it's really easy home maintenance. Other than that, you're stuck with what you get and have to hope the person you hired will have good luck performing the tasks you pay for
May. 7th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
You're absolutely right! This experience left me drained, because I went through all those weeks of having him come every single day, just to work for an hour or two. I found myself at his mercy, because he was a total stranger, and I had already giving him so much money, that he ended up being the BOSS, instead of ME!

It was a most horrible experience, having to look at his ugly, rude face, and his wife's also!
May. 7th, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)
way too independent to be any good. most firms i worked with as a kid (both front and back of the house) the owner typically delgated resources and responsibilities. the few times when the owner/operator performed tasks or did a "family job" it was basically a completely independent job, probably not licensed or bonded. which means if anything bad happened, you'd have been screwed even worse, not to say that the guy didn't know what he was doing, but it's worth it to pay the extra for someone who does a much more professional job.

ultimately you probably would've spent in the same neighborhood, but the work would've been much more consistently done and you would've noticed the difference in the way it was carried out. i've known tons of people with special requests (a la the driveway) who've had lots of insane tasks done by hand, and done cleanly, because it reflects on the business and their intent.

good luck with future endeavors, and dont shy away from those yellow pages
May. 7th, 2007 10:44 pm (UTC)
I should have learned from my last experience which was in November of last year.

I picked up two men from close to the border to paint redo my dining room. They did a wonderful job for a fair amount of money. I then hired them to paint the exterior of my house and do detail work on the iron bars on my windows. I made the mistake of agreeing to pay them by the day, so they took advantage of me and it took close to two months to finish just 1/2 of my house. I finally had to tell them that they had exactly one week to do the other half and to forget the iron bars and iron doors. The man got so enraged that he yelled at me that it wasn't his fault that I had an OLD house! Yes, my house is old, but it’s solid and well made, and will be standing for many more years to come! He ended up only doing the front, and not the other side, plus I feel he must have added water to the paint because it didn't look like the back at all!

I just can't understand why most independent construction workers feel they have to take advantage of those of us who hire them! Don't they realize that if they worked in an ethical manner, people would recommend them to friends and family, and they could make a lot more money?

I won't be hiring anymore workers for a long time, because it's going to take me a LONG time to pay off the loan!
May. 7th, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
Underestimating to get the work is a common tactic...

Next time, you should insist on a fixed price quote up front, it may cost a bit more than the most competitive quote, but at least you'll be sure you're dealing with reputable businesspeople...
May. 8th, 2007 03:09 am (UTC)
I can now see that you're right! I thought he was stupid for giving me a wrong estimate, but now I can see I was the stupid one!

I had no choice but to agree, since he already had half the job done, and as I mentioned before to someone, the roles switched to where he was the BOSS, and I had to accept everything he said!
May. 8th, 2007 12:01 am (UTC)
Your mistake was finding a random person to do this job rather than checking references. That is all. It's quite possible this man has little experience with contracting, especially with generating a quote. Also a signed contract would have been useful for keeping each side aware of what was wanted and what was delivered.
May. 8th, 2007 03:31 am (UTC)
Yes it was. Whenever I need a worker, I go to this place downtown, right next to the border where all these men gather for work. People drive up and find them there. I've had too many bad experienced and will just have to stop penny pinching when it comes to labor.

The first paper was a receipt for the first $300.00 he asked for. I signed, and he did too. It was just one of those receipts you by at the store. By the end of this terrible experience, I ended up with six different receipts.

He would go himself and buy just a few pieces of Flagstone at a time, because they are very heavy. I kept telling him to have the place deliver the entire amount of Flagstone needed, so he could do the job faster, but he said no, because he liked to go personally and pick the best ones. All I know is that he wasted so much time!

After he finished, I wasn't satisfied with his work, but I realized there was nothing I could do. I thank God he at least finished the job.
May. 8th, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
It's terrible a few people give a whole trade a bad name.
Sorry you had so much trouble.
May. 8th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC)
Yes it is. I know there are honest men who do a job to the best of their ability, and who are fair, but there's always rotten apples in every batch, that give a bad name to the good ones.

Yes, it was a terrible experience! Thank you!
May. 8th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
one question... Did you ever ask him for his buisness license?

El Caveat Emptor. let the buyer beware.

Using someone that you know or is known by a friend is one thing but using a jackleg without ever seeing his work was so very risky.
May. 8th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
No I didn't. He did slip one time, where he told me it had been years since he'd worked with Flagstone and for this reason he'd miscalculated the price of it. I caught it, but it was too late for me, because I had already given him too much money, and was afraid he'd never come back.

I suppose I was so excited and impatient by my Sunroom Gazebo, that I didn't thing straight, and hired him on the spot without asking for references, or looking for other estimates.

I think the worse part of this whole experience was his attitude. When he asked me for more money, he was outraged that I told him I didn't trust him, since he was a total stranger. His wife wasn't a darling either! I'm just glad that I'll never have to see his face again, because I had to see it for way too long!
May. 8th, 2007 03:55 am (UTC)
Marry in haste...repent at liesure...

1)After having spent many years in construction related fields I KNOW that MOST jobs do not come in at thier estimate.

2)After looking at your history of hiring for home repairs....you constantly set yourself up for failure. (Decide on the spur of the moment, don't hire professionals...etc.)

3)The best way (in the future) is to find a competent professional you trust...either from a satisifed neighbor or co-worker...and use that guy.
Even if it costs "more" at the outset. Because if this concrete pad starts coming apart in a few years it will cost even MORE to repair or tear out.

4) Marry a man who will tell you NO. Then he'll research how to do it RIGHT. We've ben talking about a screened in back porch for 2 years now...we start work on it in a month. Hooray for us.

I'm just sayin is all....'cause I love that SLPG!
May. 8th, 2007 11:25 pm (UTC)
Two years talking about a screened back porch??? I’m in awe by both your patience!!!

My problem is that I have no patients, and when I saw that Sunhouse Gazebo, I wanted it and bought it at the spur of the moment. I then wanted it up immediately, but found that the only place it would look nice would be where the old tin shed stood. Then Flagstone came to my mind, and I drove directly to this place to have a look at it. I looked at it, but never bothered to ask how much it was! Then, I saw this horrible slob, putting some in his truck, ran excitedly to him and gave him my phone number. He went to my house, gave me a grand estimate, and I said yes on the spot, without knowing who the hell he was, or bothering to get other estimates!

Yes, impatience is my downfall, plus I’m too trusting and believe everybody else is as trustworthy as I am. Hopefully I’ll eventually learn from these past two expensive lessons, because if I don’t, I’ll eventually find myself out in the streets!

As for marrying, nah! There isn’t a man alive who could possibly put up with me. I’m too stubborn, too independent, and just can’t take somebody tell me NO! :o(

BUT, there are things that make me smile from ear to ear, and that’s for you to say you love that SLPG! Yee Haw! :o)
May. 9th, 2007 06:33 am (UTC)
The ratty pick-up truck was a clue.
Maybe you'll learn from this. We all do.

I could never say NO to you....but maybe one day I'll hear you whisper....yessssss....LOL
May. 8th, 2007 04:48 am (UTC)
I don't think you got a good deal. If it was within the agreed-upon time frame, I'd have more praiseworthy things to say, but considering it was 2 weeks late, it doesn't display anything significant. It's just functional, that's about it.

Sorry to say it
May. 8th, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)
The job was to be completed in three days. It was finished in close to three weeks. I had to see this awful man's face every single day, for about an hour, and I hated it, but I was in a trap because I trusted him and had already given him too much money.

The estimate almost doubled later, and I could do nothing about it, because again, I had already given him so much money, and I was afraid he'd never come back, and I'd never see my money's worth of Flagstone.

When he finally finished, and I saw the end results, I wasn't satisfied, but I didn't care at this point, because I didn't want to ever see this odious man, and his wife's face again.

I know, he conned me, and I feel so stupid for it.

Don't worry about being honest, that's what I wanted with I made this post. :o)
May. 8th, 2007 04:50 am (UTC)
It sounds like there was fault on both sides. I am terribly sorry you had that kind of experiance. My husband works construction when he is working. He can build a house from the ground up and tear it back down again blindfolded. Sadly my house doesn't reflect what he is capable of due to lack of funds, interest, and whatever.
Now the point I have about the referances...
Dad hired a guy he had known and worked with for years after my mother died to do the sideing, shutters, doors, windows, and a deck to our home. This was almost 10 years ago. Long story short... it costed 3x the extimated price, the shutters and deck were never put in aside form one set on one window, the sideing is not finished to this day, he didn't put in gutters and down spouts, he never put in storm doors, he bought cheap items despite chargeing top dollar so 3 of 3 doors are now rotting, and he took the final amount of cash that dad gave in and went ahead and paid him since they were friends and never came back. The guy kept running out of things, not haveing time to come out to work on our house (running a construction business no less), needing more and more money with less and less results, etc... He ended up running out of sideing and when dad explained to him that the contract they had was legally bindeing(despite dad not pressing the issue or holding him to it because he had to work with the guy) and that the guy needed to deliver a finished product because dad was out of money and had already given him 3x what he asked plus a little bonus cash, and dad even forgave the deck and let that go, the guy never came back or even produced the items to complete the job when my dad told him my husband would finish it up if he would just bring the rest of the sideing he was supposed to already have. BAD EXPIERANCE and now we will never have the money to finish it. We even have a hot tub with no frame, that was to be built into the deck, in our yard waiting for the money for a deck. I hope my settlement check is enough to at least buy the rest of the items to complete the house and said deck.

Point being.... don't take friends word for it. NEVER HIRE A FRIEND! It ruins the friendship if they take advantage of you or if you simply don't like the job they did.

What is the red stuff? Are you stuck with it despite not likeing it? He should have known btw that the job would take that long. It seams even longer when you are anxiously awaiting the finished product too. Why did he have his wife there?
May. 8th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
I’m so sorry that had to happen to your dad! And what makes it even more unforgivable is that the man was a friend, and co-worker! I can’t for the life of me understand how there are some people who can be so untrustworthy and ruthless!

This horrible man that I hired was a complete stranger. I should have told him to leave when he asked me for some more money, even if I would have lost the $300.00 I had given him on the first day, because he showed he had a nasty temper when I told him I didn’t trust him to give him more money. I don’t know what happened to me, but he made me feel like a dog, for doubting his integrity! He was the best con artist I’ve ever seen, because he used the Lords name a lot to me, and he showed me his little JESUS IS LORD on the back of his truck window. I have no idea why he would bring his wife, who would sit in his truck!

You’d think I would have learned from my exterior house painting experience. I was conned in a much more expensive way with that project. I didn’t mention the amount I ended up paying those two men for painting only 4 sides to my house in my LJ, because I’m too embarrassed by my stupidity, but it was over $5,000.00. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s the truth so help me God! Plus one of the men started throwing some doorknobs in rage on my hardwood floor and yelling obscenities about my house! That’s when I finally told them to get the hell out of my house! I put up with these men for 2 whole months!!!

The red stuff is grout, I think that’s how you spell it, and yes I’m stuck with it. This coming weekend, Grandpa and I are going to get on our knees and wash the entire thing, to see if it will look better. Oh, and the man had also promised he’d rent some kind of machine that would buff the Flagstone to a shine, and he never did. I’m going to go check that out, and rent it, and buff it myself to see if it’ll help make it look nicer.

The Flagstone weighed many tons, and he did have to buy a lot of it, because the area he covered was pretty big.

I hope you, your dad, and I will never again have to hire one of these untrustworthy beasts again!!

What a nightmare!!
May. 8th, 2007 05:24 am (UTC)
I don't know how much flagstone you used weight wise but with a basic google search I found Arizona flagstone pieces matching the pictures of yours for an average of 100 dollars a ton with free shipping all over the US. Some deals, some more expensive. Maybe that will help you estimate the cost you feel you should have gotten. Concrete, grout, seal, sand or pebbles, etc... not included.
May. 8th, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC)
Should I have hired a bonded company with professionals?

Was this guy licensed? Did you get any references from him? Did you check out his previous work? If not, then you did not do your due diligence.

Using unlicensed contractors who are not bonded and/or are not professionals is a gamble and one ends up with the situation you now find yourself in.
May. 8th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
No, he wasn't licensed, and I didn't get references. The only thing he showed me were a couple of pics of work he had done with Flagstone!

I just don't know how to explain this, but the man obviously was a con artist! He tricked me terribly when he gave me the estimate of $3,000.00, and when he was 1/2 finished, he told me he had underestimated. I had already given him a two thousand dollars, and I found myself at his mercy.

And he and his wife used the Lords name a lot, going so far as to shaking my hand when I gave him the second thousand dollars, and blessing my house!!

I trusted him, and now I realize I shouldn't have, and there's nothing I can do about it. At least I've learned from this experience. I think! :o(
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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