Q I CONTRACTED TO have a new concrete driveway, garage floor and cement-formed steps leading to my house installed in August of last year.
All the work was completed by the end of September and the company was paid in full by Oct. 2. The work was done according to our agreement; however, by July of 1990, there was much evidence of crumbling, pitting, puddling and cracking of cement throughout.
The cement steps showed signs of discoloration and pitting as well. My attorney sent them a letter and they responded by coming to my house to look at the problem. This meeting was a waste of time because he had brought a representative of the concrete-mix company who claimed all of the problems were "normal" wear and tear because of the Buffalo winters.
I suggested they compare my driveway with another in the neighborhood (which was installed by another contractor at the same time as mine) and they both agreed that driveway looked much better than mine. It is my belief that this contractor charged me an exorbitant price (over $12,000) for this job and neither he nor his concrete supplier want to take any responsibility for this unsightly mess.
I paid all that money to improve the appearance of my property, not to make it look worse. I feel that I'm being "taken" because I am a woman and a single parent and it's obvious the contractor is not interested in doing anything to resolve this problem.
-- T.R., Cheektowaga
A HE'S WILLING TO do something, although it probably won't be enough to satisfy you, but he's also anxious to protect his reputation and defend the job that he did for you. One part of his defense -- that there can be no guarantee against the kinds of problems you say you have when it comes to concrete work in this area -- we know is true and that lack of guarantee is an industrywide practice here.
This contractor explains:
"Her contract with us, signed by her, clearly shows that all the materials specified in that contract (expansion joints, wire mesh, stones for filling and 4-inch cement pad using a six-bag mix), were used as agreed upon.
"When I was first notified by her attorney, I immediately contacted our concrete supplier. That company's representative and I went to investigate the problem. I explained to the customer that due to the nature of cement, there is no guarantee against discoloration, cracking, or peeling, due to weather conditions, and this is spelled out in the contract.
"However, it was agreed upon by the customer and me that I would repair the one (and only) piece which had been damaged. This piece is approximately 3 by 4 feet and is positioned at the side entrance of the garage. The entire procedure for that portion will be done free of charge to the customer. It was understood that because of the winter weather it would be best to complete this procedure in the spring of 1991.
"In the meantime, I have received a report from a cement technician which concludes, 'The driveway examined was in excellent condition. There was minor discoloration but the driveway was generally uniform. The joints were spaced properly to provide maximum crack prevention and were clean and crisp. The driveway had passed the critical initial winter and will provide many years of serviceability.' "
"It is my understanding that receiving full payment from the customer would indicate that my work had been completed to her satisfaction. Please understand that I still intend to do the work specified above, if the customer wishes so and in accordance with the material specified in the original contract."
If you reject his explanation and the additional work he has offered to perform, you can still consider Small Claims Court in an attempt to cover part of the costs of whatever repairs you think are needed, but given the terms and conditions of the contract you agreed to we doubt you would be successful.