Tree guys broke our concrete walkway

LynnDSFebruary 28, 2013

Hi folks! I'm new, both to this forum and hiring out contractors and could really use some advice. I really wasn't sure where to post a question like this, so I opted for this section because it's really a problem with the contractor's service.

We hired a "tree expert" to cut down two diseased maples sitting on our sewer line. I thought I did everything right by checking his licenses, insurance and opting for a member of the BBB. It turns out he sub-contracts all his work. I did not know to ask this, and it's a problem. I'll explain later.

First, the two different companies that cut down the trees did so in a timely fashion, however, someone dropped a large limb on our concrete walkway and crushed it. I checked with three separate concrete guys and all three suggested either gutting the whole thing or living with it because the concrete was poured likely in the 50's and they all suspect they'd wind up cracking the surrounding concrete while trying to cut out the crushed sections. BUT they all quoted in the $300 range if we really wanted them to do it and over $1000 assuming the surrounding sections would be destroyed. Maybe I picked the 3 most expensive guys in the city, I dunno. That's the info I have. I relayed it to my "tree expert" and he not only will not fix it, but he won't even negotiate a lower price for the work done (I haven't paid him yet). I didn't sign a contract, so it's all verbal, but I also didn't sign a waiver of liability or anything, so I thought he would be responsible for damages caused by his guys. Am I wrong?

These guys also trashed my neighbor's yard, leaving gouges in her lawn and tree bits. I expected sawdust and such, but not this. I asked him if they would clean this up because she's trying to sell her home and it's part of his motto to "always leave the yard clean!", and he did the run around enough for me to catch his drift. No, he will not clean her yard. Am I again wrong to assume he should??

Last, he sub-contracted out the stump grinding to, and I am sadly not joking about this, two meth addicts staying with their elderly mother down the street. I have no idea how they even acquired a stump grinder, but it was far too small for the job, and they were fiddling with it right on our water shut off valve (it's in our lawn), so I put a stop to their "work" immediately, and discovered the "tree expert" hired them when they were, without permission, scavenging our wood on our property. I explained to him that if I wanted to save money, I would have hired random two-armed men to do the job, but I'm paying for TREE guys because I wanted TREE guys doing the work. Those two men were not TREE guys. His response: "Oh, I thought you knew them..."

I realize I cannot withhold payment even though I have damaged property and in all likelihood would have to reseed sections of my neighbor's lawn. I want to know is this not his legal responsibility? If so, can I file claims directly through his insurance if he refuses to help?

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The stump grinder was rented for the day. Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. Do not pay them. If they sue you, all you have to do is defend against their claims. If you sue them, all the burden of proof is on you and they only have to defend.
If you want them just to go away and leave ALL the damage for you to correct at your additional expense, then pay them.
If you feel uncertain about how to best proceed, talk with a good attorney.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 5:41PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

I would not pay anybody till all is fixed to you're satisfaction.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 5:41AM
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"I realize I cannot withhold payment"

Why? Just don't pay him.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 9:01AM
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Yes, you have had dammages. However the value of a section of concrete after 50 - 60 years is very, very, little.

While you're entitled to be made 'whole', you're not entitled to profit. You and the other owners have enjoyed that drive for 50 years.

This might be a good time to replace the drive - and maybe settle for $100.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 2:24PM
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I fail to see your logic Geoffrey, just because it may be old is no reason to settle when it was destroyed by stupidity.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 7:37PM
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and Geoffrey contradicts himself when he says that you're entitled to be made 'whole'. and settle for $100.

That is all they are requesting. That the concrete is fixed. It will cost more than $100 to fix the concrete and be made 'whole'.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 9:31AM
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The logic is a 50 yr old concrete drive way is worn out.

It's used up, it's depreciated, it has marginal value. It's just like prorating the value of shingles, car batteries, etc.

The average life span of a concrete driveway is 25 to 30 years.

Being made 'whole' doesn't necessarily mean replacement.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 12:03PM
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One of the early paved roads in my area was done in concrete in 1925. The aggregate was from field stones collected by local farmers and purchased when they delivered them to the portable crusher that followed the road crew. Until 1958, it was a major East-West US highway. It is still in surprisingly good condition.
But only those on the scene know about the original and present quality of the concrete at that residence.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Then what does 'made whole' mean to you?

To me, that means fixing the damage. The quotes that they have say it'll cost at least $300.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 1:44PM
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Are you saying physicians are allowed to malepractice without liability and penalty on old patients?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:30PM
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