A short word before I begin…
We used the reviews on HomeStars.com to assist with our decision making process. However, this wasn’t posted because we didn’t want to deal with the owner responding back, ignoring the constructive criticism and continuing to justify his actions.
Checking reviews in 2021 the same pattern is visible where there is a communication issue with the owner and the response turns defensive.
Why am I posting it now? To add my voice to the small minority that had issues with the owner, to highlight a fault with how he operates his business and encourage him to improve.
Concrete Replacement Experts did great work, but dealing with the owner (Wade), was a challenge. This will be covered in the longer review below but it took three weeks to get a response from Wade plus a few more before he came on site.
At that site visit he called me “high maintenance”, didn’t appreciate my “snarky” comments and threatened to quit the job. In the end my question didn’t need a site visit and could be discussed once demolition was completed and forms were being set up.
That’s all I needed to know.
27 days of stress and follow up with Wade could have been avoided if he responded to any of my earlier messages and said the same.
Read on to see how this unfolded.
Estimate/Change Order/Waiting for Work to Begin
Our fifty year old driveway was in poor shape. Every year I would pick more and more concrete out of the grass after the snow melted. Water was pooling and not draining correctly and as it started to crumble it became more of an eyesore. With over 1,500 square feet of driveway we wanted to be confident in the company we selected.
I contacted Concrete Replacement Experts and the owner, Wade, responded to my estimate request the same day with an email, text and phone call. He was on site the next day to do an assessment.
We discussed needs, wants and limitations with an existing hedge and fence. After seeing everything he generated a quote within 15 minutes and took time to review it thoroughly.
Concrete Replacement Experts replaced a double driveway down the road from us a few years back. This was a first hand look at how the crew worked and what the finished product looked like. While obtaining estimates from another company the estimator walked over to this double driveway and commented on the quality of work. When another company compliments your work this is a good sign and adds to the confidence that Concrete Replacement Experts was the right company for the job.
We signed the contract and began preparing our site in advance of the driveway removal. This included removing 100 feet of hedge, stump grinding the roots, removing a rotted fence and renting a disposal bin to remove the debris.
Once the site was prepared I informed Wade that all prep work was completed and asked a question about a change order of what to do with a downspout that crossed our sidewalk and what could be done with it. Wade responded he would have to look at the sidewalk and slope to discuss options.
This is when I start of the three weeks when I didn’t hear from Wade about coming on site to “discuss options”.
In two weeks I wrote two emails and when I didn’t receive a response I sent Wade several text messages. When those were unanswered I called and left a voicemail. My persistence in obtaining a response continued to increase and the more time elapsed without a response the more tension rose between Wade and myself.
After 27 days Wade came on site and indicated that the request I made didn’t require a site visit and could be discussed when the work began on site. Had this been explained during the three week period I was looking for a response the matter would have been settled and not escalated the way it did (details of the escalation are below in the Day to Day Summary).
Once this was addressed our focus turned to waiting for the work to begin. During this time Wade sent several messages regarding weather and timing of when the work could begin. Summer 2020 was a mixed bag of weather and scheduling is a challenge but true to Wade’s estimate, we had work starting less than four weeks after the site was ready for the crew.
Concrete demolition is not a clean (or easy) job but the team goes to lengths to minimize the impact to the property and neighbours. At the end of each day the team tidied up public spaces like the roadway and sidewalk. Any gear, tools and debris was contained within the property and the roadway was washed down when the large equipment was removed.
The driveway demo and preparation took four days in total. There were some surprises along the way as the original driveway was poured on sand and what couldn’t be used under the road crush gravel was hauled away. The days were long and the crew would show up at 8AM and carry on for 10-12 hours. Rick (the foreman) took time to explain any challenges with the job, discussed alternatives and ensured the preparation was done to my satisfaction and to the concrete crew coming in next.
Rick, Jeff and Ross worked tirelessly and were great to deal with.
It was raining when Wade told me the concrete crew would be onsite in a few hours. I was doubtful the weather would cooperate but the clouds passed, the sun came out and the entire 1,500+ square feet of driveway and sidewalk was poured and finished in six hours (the team admitted to going slower because of the heat and humidity)
The husband and wife team responsible for the concrete worked effectively and each time I looked out the window they had made substantial progress down the driveway. They take pride in their work and were more than accommodating when curious neighbours stopped by to ask questions. It’s amazing that a two person crew (three if you include the concrete pump operator) can do a whole driveway and seeing it in action is a thing of beauty.
Hours after the driveway was poured a Concrete Replacement Experts employee (Brad) was onsite to apply sealant. Two days after the pouring Brad was back on site to remove the forms, clean up around the site, used the spare dirt to backfill areas and planted grass seed where necessary. Concrete Replacement Experts really do go the extra distance to ensure your property is in the same shape they found it.
After 28 days the barricades on our driveway were removed and another sealant was applied and our driveway was ours again to use.
The remainder of the summer was spent installing a fence, placing several yards of rainbow mountain rock between the fence and driveway and putting things in order after a destructive summer.
Day to Day Summary
For full transparency here is the timeline of communication between Wade and myself regarding the sidewalk downspout change order:
- June 15: Sean emailed Wade with question regarding how too handle downspout drainage by sidewalk
- June 15: Wade replied over email and said he would have to “look at the sidewalk and see the slope”
- June 24: Sean emailed Wade for follow up
- June 29: Sean emailed Wade for follow up
- June 30: Sean texted Wade for follow up
- July 2: Sean phoned Wade and left a voicemail
- July 4: Sean texted Wade for follow up
- July 6: Wade responded with indication he will “call later today” (note: 22 days since June 15)
- July 6: No phone call received
- July 7: Sean texted Wade, this was a frustrated message that said “how long should I wait before responding to the other quotes we received?”
- July 8: Sean called main office number, indicated that hasn’t been able to speak to Wade and was told Wade would be asked to contact me
- July 8: Wade called Sean, said he would be able to come out on “Thursday, Friday or Saturday but most likely Saturday” to discuss (note: 24 days from June 15)
- July 11: Texted Saturday afternoon (3PM) and indicated I was disappointed that we weren’t going to receive information about our driveway
- July 11: Wade called Sean two hours later and said he would be on site shortly
- July 11: Wade came on site and threatened to walk away from the job and didn’t appreciate “snarky” messages and questioned if he wanted to work for customers who were “too high maintenance” (note: 27 days elapsed since initial question about change order on June 15)
July 11 was the day the our interactions escalated. Perhaps my message to Wade that afternoon were snarky but this was not the first time Wade promised to respond and didn’t and my patience was wearing thin.
Wade showed immaturity by threatening to quit the job when I was asking for an update over a three week span. This does not embody the “white color professionalism” standard (as per marketing materials) he is trying to uphold.
If we had switched companies in July it would have been a month (or longer) before we had another concrete company on site to start demolition. The pandemic was a strain for all businesses and concrete companies were no exception. They were maxed out on work and not enough bodies and equipment to go around.
At this point we disrupted three neighbours without a fence and wanted to get on with the work. We reached common ground, put our last few weeks of experiences behind us and moved on with the driveway replacement.
This is a day by day summary of work done during the driveway replacement process.
- July 16: Crew on site and removed majority of sidewalk and a few chunks of the driveway. Began work at 10AM and left by 1PM. All debris left on driveway.
- July 18: Crew on site at 8AM and worked until 5PM, this was a big demo day. All debris on driveway was cleared, remaining sidewalk and driveway moved and hauled away (two truck loads). Examined slope, identified sway and marked height. Discussed removal of sand underlay.
- July 20: Crew on site at 8AM and stopped at 8PM. Creating forms for the sidewalk and driveway as well as removal of unnecessary sand underlay. Discussed widening the driveway and downspout placement. Downspout being placed under the sidewalk/grass is too complicated, will have it go up and over the sidewalk. Two loads of road crush dropped off on road. Installed all forms and moved road crush gravel on to driveway. Spread out majority of gravel but some areas look a little low.
- July 21: Crew on site around 8:30AM and stopped at 7:00PM. Another load of road crush gravel was brought in and tamped down for sidewalk and driveway. Heavy equipment and trailers removed, debris and garbage packed up and taken out.
- July 22: Concrete was poured today. Cement pumper and flatwork concrete team onsite at 10:30AM to prepare and set up. Concrete truck arrived at 11AM and began pouring. Able to pour driveway and sidewalk and two person crew (husband/wife) settled, formed and finished the concrete. By 4:30PM the work was finished, tools were cleaned up and left the site by 5:00PM. Brad came by around 8:00PM to seal the driveway and would return in two days to remove the forms.
- July 24: Brad on site at 9AM to remove forms and clean up. All construction material removed, sod was installed upside down and fertilizer and grass seed installed on top. Raked and cleaned up grass. Backfilled areas by mulch with intentionally left dirt and spread mulch overtop. Swept the roadway and sidewalk and shovelled away the dirt.
- August 19: Brad back on site to remove the driveway barrier signs, washed the driveway and second application of sealant was applied.