Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Tale of my Paver Patio

Allison and I bought our house in November of 2007. I think it was a warm fall because we still had leaves on the trees in the back and what I thought was a decent amount of grass for November. As the months went on and we entered the spring, my back yard was consistently a mud pit. I always ruined shoes when going out there and we eventually stopped using the yard unless it was bone dry and hot as Hades (which has it's own issues). Whenever it would rain I would have standing water all over the yard (which brings out the mosquitoes) and the stamped concrete patio I had under my deck was completely warped I had a pool sitting on the concrete too. Something had to be done.

The Old Yard:

In the summer of 2008 I started calling several landscaping and concrete contractors to come out and give me estimates. People were quoting me $20,000.00 for a 18x20 concrete patio. It became clear that my home being a middle unit in a townhouse community (with poor rear access), contractors just didn't want to do the job. We had at least 15 people come out before I decided to wait until the winter when they would all be hungry.

True to my plan, I started calling new contractors (I wasn't giving any of the guys who came before a second chance). First I had to get my deck redone which was something we didn't plan to do but was becoming a huge safety concern for us. You can read about that here. As the deck was getting done, I established a good relationship with the construction crew, so I would have them evaluate the landscape contractors coming through. They gave excellent feedback on the parade of contractors coming through and helped me get my number down.

The first thing I did was price out the materials myself. To do a 18x20 paver patio, the proper base, put a mulch bed around the sides and back... my material cost came to about $2500.00. A friend of mine had used Mike's Hardscaping in Marlton for a job and he said they were very reasonable. So I started there. They took WEEKS to get back to me but when they finally did the quote was reasonable, but I wanted to entertain other offers. We had Ace Pavers, Quality Landscaping, Eaise Landscaping, Create-a-scape, Think Pavers they all came in higher than Mike's. We also had Sun Viking come out. Now I am sure if you have been driving in the neighborhood the last 2 weeks you have seen the trucks and know that I went with them. Derek from Sun Viking was very knowledgeable about the pavers and how he wanted to approach the job. Some of the other hardscapers recommended a retaining wall and I started to think it would be a good idea to get one due to the slope in my yard. The other hardscapers came in with RIDICULOUS estimates for the retaining wall, Derek's quote was more on the level to me. Derek handed me a 2 page list of references encouraged me to call; that is what pushed me over the edge to go with Sun Viking. They weren't the cheapest (they were the 2nd) but when it was all said and done, I felt they would do the best job.


The guys at Sun Viking completely exceeded my expectations with the job they performed. Simply excellent work and the crew was incredibly nice (Dave - one of the workers - even let me film him for one of my comedy websites). Little things like going back and checking the quality of the pavers and quality of their cuts completely validated my decision. One of the lead workers (also named Dave) got a bad stomach bug and missed a day and when he came back, didn't like the look of some of the corner cuts another worker had done, so he redid them. Top notch work ethic like that is what makes me glad to recommended Sun Viking to anyone.

I also want to apologize to my neighbors. I was under the impression that the land behind the fences before the wooded area was a common walking area, although I am not 100% sure where our properties end now (getting the official survey from the township). Had I known I would have asked first and thank you for your understanding to allow us to continue. Also extra special thanks to my neighbors at the end unit for letting both sets of crews go on your front lawn to get all that material in the back.

Here is the final product:

Here is a quick run down of how much the other contractors cost (in percentage compared to Sun Viking)

1. Ace Pavers - 12% More
2. Quality Landscaping - 12% More
3. Create-a-scape - 17% More
4. Nick's Curb Appeal - 29% More
5. Think Pavers - 23% More
6. Dom's Hardscaping - 34% More
7. Eaise Design - 36% More
8. Mike's Hardscaping - 4% Less

If you have any questions about this project or the deck, please feel free to contact me through the Timbercrest site, I would be happy to answer. Thanks for reading!

PS - In case you were wondering, no I did not get a kickback from anybody. I just want to share this information to save you time.