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2009 March » Our Sustainable Home
Archive for: March, 2009

How to excavate

March 3rd, 2009

This is what a properly excavated hole is supposed to look like:


not this:


Each excavator who came to quote on cleaning up the mess left by Premier Construction took one look and said “Who would do this?”

Excavations are not completed from outside the hole (which is what PCMS tried to do). The excavation equipment will go all the way to the back of the property, and begin to dig out a square and level hole, gradually moving forward to the front of the property. This makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Posted by Colin
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Securing the site

March 3rd, 2009

Just a quick note about securing a site.

Orange plastic fencing is only appropriate when there is still a structure in place, or it can be positioned at least 4′ away from the hole. Otherwise you’ll want to source 6′ high metal fencing that you’ve probably seen around most construction sites.

We got ours from Fast Fence and we found them to be a really great company to work with from beginning to end. Their sales staff were really helpful on the phone working out just what we needed. The delivery guys were polite, and well mannered, and got everything unloaded quickly. Looking at our setup they left behind a couple of extra stands just to make sure we’d have enough. “Concientious” is the word, I think.

Our bill for renting fencing for the month was about $400. Most of that is delivery, which is understandable considering the size of the fence sections.

So Premier Construction failed to provide the correct safety fencing for our site (and put neighbouring children at risk) so they could save themselves $400. That’s just sad.

Welcome to the construction industry.

Posted by Colin
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Demolition Recap and Alternatives

March 1st, 2009

I’m not sure how much worse demolition could have gone. It’s great that no one got hurt during this phase but in all other ways it was a disaster. I think I should have been more demanding of the demolition company and obviously less trusting of their expertise.

In watching tv shows like Holmes on Holmes, I felt that if something was ever being done incorrectly on our project I’d be able to spot it right away because it was always so obvious in the show by just looking at the poor quality of the work.

Looking back now, it does seem obvious that the site was out of control. But the strange thing is: at the time, I couldn’t see it. I thought this is the way it was done. I now think a responsible crew would have demolished each day, only what they could clean up by the end of the day. As it was, the demolition was so chaotic there was dangerous debris constantly overflowing to neighbouring properties.

We went through the standard process of taking bids and researching who each company was before making our selection so there is not much I feel we could have done differently to assure the company was a good one, except for one thing: we could have gone with a really big name.

Priestley Demolition was one of the companies we approached to bid on the demolition. At that time, they were thousands of dollars more than the company we hired. In retrospect, they would have been thousands of dollars less. They also would have completed the work in a week instead of a few months.

I believe that the demolition company we hired cut-and-run because they were over their head, and realized the job was going to be incredibly costly to complete. But if that had happened with a large company like Priestley, their reputation is far too valuable to throw away on one job. They would have bitten the bullet and finished the work that was started, no matter what.

The good folks at Priestley were even kind enough to spare us some of their time to discuss what went wrong with our demolition and give some advice, even though they had never been hired and were no longer needed at the point we were talking to them.

If you have a build of your own coming up, I would encourage you to strongly consider going with a well established company. They will almost certainly cost more than the no-name brand, but they will do the job safely and correctly.

What would you be willing to pay to not have your project endanger your neighbours and be put months behind schedule at the first stage?

Posted by Colin
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