Umbriano - Completed 2014
I've been thinking about how to write this article for a while now, you see, it's never an easy or comfortable experience when you get called in to remediate another contractor's work. Especially when the project has only installed for about a month. Remediation might even be too kind, in the end this project turned into a total redo of the original installation. This article will discuss the defects of the original work and how we corrected the installation to make the homeowner's original vision come to life and have one elated homeowner in the end.

After initially meeting and discussing the project with the homeowner it was clear that there was a significant problem with the patio installation. The recently installed Umbriano patio, not even a month old, would need to be completely redone. What's wrong with this picture? And this is not your average 300-400 s.f. patio, this patio is over 2000 s.f. in size. The original installer claimed his work was “perfect” and did not need to be fixed in anyway shape or form. The homeowner saw things differently and wanted some corrective measures taken. A big problem indeed!


After the paving stones were installed other trades working on the home started talking to the homeowner and saying that something with the new patio doesn't look right. Although they aren't experts with this type of work it didn't take an expert to see that something wasn't right. When the issue is clearly obvious many of the comments were similar, “I don't think it's supposed to look like that.” The problem that everyone seemed to point out was regarding the grading and overall level of the patio surface. Everyone agreed that a patio shouldn't be shaped like a boat, the water should gently flow off to the edges.


The paving stones were installed with a large depression in the middle of the patio, hardly a comfortable surface for patio furniture. A patio with too much of a grade change will make you feel as if you're falling over when sitting down. If you look at the pictures below a string line was stretched from edge to edge and you can see just how much of a depression there is in the middle. The other trades working on the site all said, “I didn't know you had a boat installed in your backyard.” After a significant investment in time and money the last thing this homeowner wanted was a boat in their backyard.


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Unfortunately I get quite a few calls from homeowners in need of someone to fix or modify their hardscape installations such as, walkways, driveways, retaining walls and steps. Most of these projects are only 1 – 3 years old, some are even less such as this project. I find this situation somewhat depressing but I accept the challenge to repair these projects and diligently work to correct their shortcomings and make the homeowners original vision come to life. It's important to me that the homeowner get's the project they've been thinking, planning and dreaming about for years.


In every one of these projects there are expectations that the contractor has and that the homeowner has. The homeowners wants their project completed in a timely manner and the contractor wants to do the project and be monetarily compensated for the work. Disagreements can sometimes happen between homeowners and contractors, the good ones though, will never let it become a problem. The good ones will fix, repair or replace any issues. Mistakes can happen, you're never a bad person by admitting that you made a mistake. The exact opposite is true, you're one of the good ones. There are no easy lessons in the contracting world, sometimes you have to take your lumps and move on.


There are some things I would like to point out that can prevent so many issues with any contractor. I have compiled a small list below. All of these items need to be completed before the project begins.


  • Have a contract with written specifications and warranty, prior to any work starting.

  • Pay by cheque, paying by cash gives you absolutely no recourse in case anything goes wrong.

  • A drawing is always helpful. Of course I'm a big fan of 3d design. Even a hand drawn plan is perfectly fine. Have this signed and included in the contract documents. Something is better than nothing.

  • A grading plan, even a simple one , defining step heights and water flow off of the pavement.

  • Does the contractor and/or any of the employees have any certificates of training. ICPI, NCMA?

  • Proof of liability insurance and W.S.I.B coverage.

  • Unilock has a good document on being Paver Wise.

  • A manufacturer's endorsement such as being an Unilock Authorized Contractor is always a good thing. Unilock now guarantees their authorized contractor's work for 2 years.                


So after all the drama how did you actually fix this patio? I'm glad you asked! The Umbriano paving stones were installed using Unilock's five size pattern “e”. There is also Umbriano midnight sky banding throughout the patio. Before removing any stones many pictures were taken and many sketches with notes were drawn. The highest priority was to correct the grading issues , thus a grading plan was created. Many string lines were used and also a laser level to establish hard surface elevations. After all this homework it was time to start picking up the stones and setting them aside for re-installation.


The key in this type of work is to remove and re-install the stones in small sections and not try to pick up too many stones at one time. The challenge on this project was trying to keep 6 different sizes and colours of pavers true to their original pattern. Not an easy task when dealing with so many sizes. When dealing with the five size pattern the Umbriano pavers have to be installed with a very specific pattern or they won't fit properly or look right. Working this way is usually more difficulty and stressful than doing the original installation and I would recommend only an experienced installer attempt this. Inexperienced installers can become overwhelmed and frustrated with dealing with so many variables.


So after the dust settled were the clients dreams realized? Unequivocally, Yes!


Materials used on this projects

Main body: Unilock Umbriano, 'Winter Marvel' , 5 sizes, Pattern 'E''

Banding: Unilock Umbriano, 'Midnight Sky'

Banding: Unilock Belpasso 'Nuvola'

Polymeric Sand: Unilock Unicare 'Grey'

Edge Restraints: Snap-Edge

*note: We will be back in the spring for additional work. The lighting will be installed in the spring, Firebowls too. New photos will be done once the furniture is taken out of storage. Stay tuned.

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Updated Pictures *hot*

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