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  1. #1
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    Default Driveway Damaged Due to Contractor's Use of Bad Concrete

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: VA

    Good evening folks.
    long story short, my driveway was done about 8 months ago. after the first snow storm in Jan, i started noticing really bad surface damage on the driveway. I was very meticulous with the driveway from the very beginning so this bothered me a lot. I contacted the contractor who said he would 'take care of it' when it warmed up (without giving much details). Long story short, for the past 3 months, i've been in the middle of a fight between him and the concrete company, and now he's saying that he will not replace my driveway because "it's not his fault. it's the concrete that was bad". I keep having to explain to him that my contract is with him, not anyone else...so i can't take anyone but him to court if it comes to that. he doesn't see to get it.

    The concrete company did an independent analysis and i have that report. it says that 3500 psi concrete was used, and not the recommended 4500. also says that salt coming in from the street via the car and the cold weather and extra water could have been the culprit.

    What should i do? Sue or not?
    if sue, can i sue for the replacement costs, or can i sue for more?

    many thanks!

    ps. i have audio recording of him (yes, that's legal in VA) saying that he'll fix it. Also, his signed contract says that "....company warrants all work for a period of 24 months".

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Driveway Damaged Due to Contractor's Use of Bad Concrete

    saw your other thread and that led me here. A couple points:


    does the warranty require you to take any particular cautions to prevent damage due to salt or anything else lest the warranty not cover the damage?

    does your contract state 4500 psi concrete would be used? If not, you will need somebody to testify that industry standards demand 4500 psi concrete is used in the type of situation you have.



    if sue, can i sue for the replacement costs, or can i sue for more?
    what are you referring to when you refer to "or can I sue for more"? Just what more do you have in mind? Generally, and especially since so far this seems to be nothing more than a warranty issue, all you would be entitled to is either have the damage repaired or the cost of having it repaired, whatever that takes. That could take removing the entire slab if the wrong concrete was used or if there is no other way to adequately repair the problems noted so that could result in your damages actually being greater than what you paid for the original work.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Driveway Damaged Due to Contractor's Use of Bad Concrete

    Thank you for the reply.
    No clause or particular cautions to prevent damage due to salt or anything else. the warranty statement i mentioned is word for word and left at that.
    The contact does not state 3500 or 4500. The contractor is adamant that 4500 is used only for commercial....frankly, that may or may not be true. the independent report says:


    "Concrete that is not air-entrained and/or has lower surface strength is particularly susceptible to scaling. 4000 psi air-entrained concrete with a low water to cement ratio is generally recommended to resist scaling in concrete subjected to freeze/thaw cycles and deicing chemicals. Further, northern Virginia is considered to be in a severe class for weathering probability. ACI 332.1R, Guide to Residential Concrete Construction, specifies air-entrained concrete with a minimum strength of 4500 psi for driveways in a severe weathering region. It was noted earlier that 3500 psi concrete was used in this project. Further, if any additional water was used to ease the placement of the concrete, it would decrease the strength of the concrete. 3500 psi concrete designed at a 4” slump may be only 2500 psi or less at an 8” slump."

    What i meant by "or can i sue for more?" was with regards to my loss of time, the frustration of having to deal with this, and the fact that my new driveway has looked like sh*&T for 5 months. (i understand if this does not amount to any $ amount, and if someone would view it as simply 'whining' but i wanted to know if i could successfully put a value on the above.

    The contractor has mentioned 'fixing' the driveway, without taking it out and putting new concrete in. I'm not ok with this option simply because the 'fix' is only a bandaid and won't last long. perhaps 2-5 years. I've gotten other estimates (new estimates gotten about a month ago) for total replacement of the driveway anywhere from 10-14k. I paid 11k. I wanted to sue for 20-25k (including 8-10k for the "pain and suffering" factor, although i doubt that's the right term since i wasn't physically injured in any way).


    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    saw your other thread and that led me here. A couple points:


    does the warranty require you to take any particular cautions to prevent damage due to salt or anything else lest the warranty not cover the damage?

    does your contract state 4500 psi concrete would be used? If not, you will need somebody to testify that industry standards demand 4500 psi concrete is used in the type of situation you have.





    what are you referring to when you refer to "or can I sue for more"? Just what more do you have in mind? Generally, and especially since so far this seems to be nothing more than a warranty issue, all you would be entitled to is either have the damage repaired or the cost of having it repaired, whatever that takes. That could take removing the entire slab if the wrong concrete was used or if there is no other way to adequately repair the problems noted so that could result in your damages actually being greater than what you paid for the original work.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Driveway Damaged Due to Contractor's Use of Bad Concrete

    The concrete company did an independent analysis and i have that report. it says that 3500 psi concrete was used, and not the recommended 4500. also says that salt coming in from the street via the car and the cold weather and extra water could have been the culprit.
    The strength or rating of the concrete (3500 or 4500) is not the cause of the damage, choosing one over the other. The damage you described, the surface scaling and chipping is caused by a number of factors but the compression strength of the concrete is not one of them.

    When the mix leaves the plant, it contains the necessary mix to meet the specifications. That is all the concrete company can testify to. It is what happens to it next that causes the problems.

    Little or now water is added to the mix at the plant. The water to mix is added by the driver when he arrives on the site. There is a specified amount of water for the size of the delivery to achieve what is call the "slump" of the concrete to achieve the specified strength. If too much water is added the concrete not only looses some of its compression strength it also causes other problems. Sometimes the contractor will ask for more water to be added so the concrete is moved more easily and it spreads faster.

    When too much water has been added the 'fines' migrate to the surface and when the concrete is troweled (finished) the top layer is not really concrete anymore but more like mortar on top of concrete. There can be adhesion problem between the two layers. In addition, when was the finishing done, too soon or too late. What was the outside temperature when finished? Was the sun beating down on the concrete when it was finished?

    Comes winter and water can get through the top layer and freeze causing chipping and scaling where you see aggregate.

    My point is that the report from the concrete company means very little in of itself. It is going to be difficult to prove what the driver and contractor did or did not do that caused the problem.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Driveway Damaged Due to Contractor's Use of Bad Concrete

    ok. thank you. I understand what you're saying.
    To answer some of your questions:

    the weather was not sunny.....he chose a day that started out sunny but ended with a DOWNPOUR! (i have pictures and video of the apron being covered by plastic while essentially a stream runs over/under/around it). The damage was i think done at least partly because of the condition of the concrete which you described.

    What's the angle i should approach this then? (as far as the suit)
    Is making the case about the 'warranty' my best bet?
    Is making the case about working in the rain my best bet?
    Is making the case about poor workmanship my best bet?

    do i even have a case?

    Quote Quoting budwad
    View Post
    The strength or rating of the concrete (3500 or 4500) is not the cause of the damage, choosing one over the other. The damage you described, the surface scaling and chipping is caused by a number of factors but the compression strength of the concrete is not one of them.

    When the mix leaves the plant, it contains the necessary mix to meet the specifications. That is all the concrete company can testify to. It is what happens to it next that causes the problems.

    Little or now water is added to the mix at the plant. The water to mix is added by the driver when he arrives on the site. There is a specified amount of water for the size of the delivery to achieve what is call the "slump" of the concrete to achieve the specified strength. If too much water is added the concrete not only looses some of its compression strength it also causes other problems. Sometimes the contractor will ask for more water to be added so the concrete is moved more easily and it spreads faster.

    When too much water has been added the 'fines' migrate to the surface and when the concrete is troweled (finished) the top layer is not really concrete anymore but more like mortar on top of concrete. There can be adhesion problem between the two layers. In addition, when was the finishing done, too soon or too late. What was the outside temperature when finished? Was the sun beating down on the concrete when it was finished?

    Comes winter and water can get through the top layer and freeze causing chipping and scaling where you see aggregate.

    My point is that the report from the concrete company means very little in of itself. It is going to be difficult to prove what the driver and contractor did or did not do that caused the problem.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Driveway Damaged Due to Contractor's Use of Bad Concrete

    Quote Quoting samharris
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    What i meant by "or can i sue for more?" was with regards to my loss of time, the frustration of having to deal with this, and the fact that my new driveway has looked like sh*&T for 5 months. (i understand if this does not amount to any $ amount, and if someone would view it as simply 'whining' but i wanted to know if i could successfully put a value on the above.
    No, you aren't going to get more than the cost to set everything right. "Pain and Suffering " or general damages are awarded when there is a significant change in quality of life sue to negligence by the other party. You would likely have trouble proving negligence here, never mind proving you should be compensated for having to look at an ugly driveway.

    If you approach this as a warranty issue you should have a very good chance of getting your driveway replaced at no additional cost to you. If you try to sue them for negligence you give yourself a much more difficult case.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Quoting samharris
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    What's the angle i should approach this then? (as far as the suit)
    Is making the case about the 'warranty' my best bet?
    You posted while I was responding.

    If you want your driveway fixed then you need to approach this as a warranty issue. The contract states that they will guarantee work for 2 years, it didn't last for 2 years. Unless they can prove that you were negligent and caused damage to the driveway then you should win without issue.

    If you are trying to make money, or otherwise prove a point then you are going to need to invest a significant amount of time and money in the suit, try to prove the contractor was negligent, and hope the judge is willing to asses damages above and beyond what you incur plus the cost of the driveway (it is unlikely that this will happen)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Driveway Damaged Due to Contractor's Use of Bad Concrete

    Understood.
    How do i come up with the exact figure to sue?
    like i mentioned, i have 3 new estimates. should i take the highest? should i take the average? can i at least add up some of the hours i'll be losing from work for having to prepare the case, go to court, consult with advisors, etc.?

    Is it unreasonable to demand a new driveway in the suit as opposed to a surface fix?
    is it unreasonable to demand a different contractor to do the work?
    How do i give the contractor a chance to replace the driveway himself before the case goes before a judge?



    Quote Quoting brownj12
    View Post
    No, you aren't going to get more than the cost to set everything right. "Pain and Suffering " or general damages are awarded when there is a significant change in quality of life sue to negligence by the other party. You would likely have trouble proving negligence here, never mind proving you should be compensated for having to look at an ugly driveway.

    If you approach this as a warranty issue you should have a very good chance of getting your driveway replaced at no additional cost to you. If you try to sue them for negligence you give yourself a much more difficult case.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Driveway Damaged Due to Contractor's Use of Bad Concrete

    I would say all of the above.

    You have the warranty as a primary cause of action. If there was a threat of rain that day, he probably should not have poured the job and that was his judgment call. You can check what the weather forecast was for that day. All else could be poor workmanship and best practices.

    Do you have a lawyer or are you going to use a lawyer? He would know how to fashion the suit.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Driveway Damaged Due to Contractor's Use of Bad Concrete

    What i meant by "or can i sue for more?" was with regards to my loss of time, the frustration of having to deal with this, and the fact that my new driveway has looked like sh*&T for 5 months. (i understand if this does not amount to any $ amount, and if someone would view it as simply 'whining' but i wanted to know if i could successfully put a value on the above.
    no. the repair or replacement is it

    The contractor has mentioned 'fixing' the driveway, without taking it out and putting new concrete in. I'm not ok with this option simply because the 'fix' is only a bandaid and won't last long. perhaps 2-5 years. I've gotten other estimates (new estimates gotten about a month ago) for total replacement of the driveway anywhere from 10-14k. I paid 11k. I wanted to sue for 20-25k (including 8-10k for the "pain and suffering" factor, although i doubt that's the right term since i wasn't physically injured in any way)
    let me amend my previous answer regarding damages.


    If the original contractor performs the necessary warranty work to remedy the problem, you are due nothing more.


    if you engage a different contractor there are a few situations that can apply


    first, you do not get to go to a new contractor and expect the first one to be liable for a penny unless the first contractor refused or failed to fix the issue at hand.

    then, depending on what was done, what you would be owed would vary.

    if the slab was completely removed and replaced, you would be entitled to the cost of the original contract plus the cost of removing the existing slab minus any work the first contractor had to do to get the area to a rough prepped condition. Example; if he had to remove trees, he is owed the value of is work to remove the trees and repair the ground related to that. If he had to remove a slab, then he is entitled to the value of his work for removing the slab. The portion you would be able to claim would be the actual work involving pouring the slab.

    You would not be entitled to the difference in costs of contracts. In your examples, in one you could actually owe, or not be due $1000 but in the most expensive, the added $3000 would be out of your pocket, not the first contractors.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Driveway Damaged Due to Contractor's Use of Bad Concrete

    thank you.
    no, i don't have a lawyer. I'm assuming that this would cost about 3-6k in fees....and i don't want to risk never getting that money back.
    i'd like to do this myself....although i did learn today that a corporation (inc.) will need to have a lawyer from their side in civil court.....so i'm up against a lawyer....not the individual. I guess i would be at a disadvantage......
    Quote Quoting budwad
    View Post
    I would say all of the above.

    You have the warranty as a primary cause of action. If there was a threat of rain that day, he probably should not have poured the job and that was his judgment call. You can check what the weather forecast was for that day. All else could be poor workmanship and best practices.

    Do you have a lawyer or are you going to use a lawyer? He would know how to fashion the suit.

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