Inexpensive Stamped Concrete, will cost you later

I am writing this article to make a case for paying a bit more for your Stamped Concrete or other Decorative Products.

We have recently been repairing many bad stamped concrete jobs done by others due to our 30 plus years of experience. Haven’t found many that I can’t repair unless so bad that removal and replacement is the only option.

Low price will generally guarantee poor quality do to cost cutting by the installer to get the job. The sad part is that low strength concrete, lack of proper reinforcing, poor crack prevention due to lack of control cuts, poor coloring process, poor base and poor sealing application

Sadly the problems don’t show up until the check has cleared or after the first winter freeze when cracks will appear, peeling surface or whitening of sealer. These are but a few issues.

We have recently resealed two of our projects one from 1992 the other from the year 2000 both with no cracks. The one from 1992 even blows me away.

If you were to breakdown the cost over the lifetime of the job and added in the resale appeal I think that even paying $1000 more would be a great investment since stamped concrete will outlast pavers consistently if maintained properly. Resealing in most cases is all that is needed.

Please be advised that after all these years in business that it still amazes me that some Stamped Concrete Contractors have no integrity. It’s not always about the money. You either love doing this or you don’t!

Ted Mechnick

Split-Rok Construction Co.

http://www.split-rok.com

 

 

More about house raising

For those who follow this blog or new readers there is something that has come to my attention that should be understood by those unfortunate enough to have to raise there house due to to the super storm Sandy of 2012.
What I would discuss here are things needed to be known to more efficiently get the process done without having you and your wife or sigificant other
her get devoted or separate.
As the dust settles after the storm all the so called great thinkers of the state and federal government departments are working feverishly to create new guidelines and laws as part of this process to make a bad situation even worse.
This storm was a 100 year event so as is usually the job of government let’s get everyone’s opinion of what we should do to prevent this from happening possibly for the next 100 years.
I might add that insurance companies caught with there pants down are also to blame for the problems we as qualified contractors are having getting these houses raises efficiently and in a timely fashion.
There are others like myself who try to get projects completed in a timely fashion but around every corner there is a new regulation in the making while your moving toward completion.
Here’s the rub. You have hired a contractor like Split-Rok Construction experienced in the process of raising your home and who fully intending to meet deadlines set but in the background sits the authorities. Those who think they have a crystal ball into the future. They think that over building is the solution to the possible next storm. It’s almost like writing an article in the paper that their will never be another 9-11 God Forbid.
No one can predict future events. Stuff just happens but how strong willed individuals handle it us key.
Please don’t get me wrong I sincerely believe in some regulation and definitely in inspections since there are always a few roaches that slip through the cracks and they need to be quickly recognized and removed from the process.
My full intention of this blog is to address items I have found to cause delays in the process of raising a home prior to actually beginning to raising so you may be better prepared to save your marriage, but if your not stop reading hear or do the direct opposite and make a few more lawyers richer.
Please rest assured that this might not be a complete list of possible scenarios but I feel enough for you as a homeowner to better negotiate this process with fewer problems.
Cost:
Be prepared for cost overruns. Some houses when lifted and inspected can have unseen damage under the home that are sometimes not caught by a trained eye prior to lifting. This can sometimes be avoid by you or a your potential contractor doing a thorough inspection under and above prior to lift. That said that is still no guarantee that there won’t be issues that pop up. This is why I stress vetting out your contractor and having in writing how extras are to be charged back to you. Extras are surprises that are not followed by a smile from either party. They cause sometimes massive delays and if people think guys like me go “Oh Boy” gonna make some extra money here. I speak for myself when I say “oh s..t” gonna be stuck here longer than expected.
We are all running our businesses to make a profit but being stuck on a nightmare job although challenging and potentially rewarding at the end prevents us from moving on to other projects.
Note: Size does matter here. How large a crew does the contractor have and how many men does he have presently. Important since if he has limited help and too many of these projects going on can become a problem since some guys need to move people around in a futile attempt to make all clients happy. As a result your extra might throw a wrench in the works of an already tough project. You need to know that your project will be given priority status. This can be done with a well written contract. Reasonable completion dates stating reasonable excuses for not meeting those deadlines.
This might be beginning to sound difficult but if you continue to read this article I can assure you its worth your time and money.
Costs: Cheaper is not necessarily better. There are countless cases documented in New Jersey alone where someone hired a contractor thinking they were qualified because they had a license to do business in New Jersey only to find out that the actual license really has no weight. Anyone can get a contractors license in New Jersey. It only the government’s way of calling another tax something else. I have sat before the the State Appropriations Committee in Trenton and believe me it Damn scary what goes on there. That’s another article.
Look for Industry certifications. Example: ACI certification. These are people very serious about doing their job correctly. All trades have certifications but the best certification of all is contractors track record. Better Business Bureau can easily be called to check out any black marks against your contractor.
In this case as I think you are seeing you need to be fully engaged in the process. Those I’ve had pleasure of working with raising there homes that keep engaged in the process are best served.
To keep this article short and as simple as possible here are items that slow the process.
1. Poorly designed plans
2. Delayed permits as a result of incomplete  paperwork.
3. Poor scheduling of trades. Have to get firm commitments from contractors. Hire a team. We have a team of subcontractors at Split-Rok Construction that we work exclusively with. When I call the response is in most cases immediate.
4. Utilities being delayed shutting off and turning on. This item can be a real problem since homeowners who are displaced want to get on with there life.
5. Underground items not on plans. Example: Found a foundation from likely 50 years ago below the foundation we removed. Not found until piles were being driven. No way of knowing. Cased a 1 week delay.
6. Change orders or redesign during construction. Think before you lift. Are you just going up and down on a new foundation or are you wanting to add something while raised like underhouse parking. Great extra. Not that costly and functional if allowed by code. Note that changes during construction not only cause delays due to resubmitting plans but costs can increase due to extra time charged by house lifters for use of their equipment.  You generally have 60 days too work on home. You may be charged extra time for use of equipment. This costs more as does extra work after contract signing. We use Devooght House Raisers exclusively for their professionalism and experience. Timely lifts and resets all the time. One hell of a team. Usually raised in one day unless something is in their way.
8. Back to poor plans that you assume have been calculated by the engineer or Architect to work but don’t. Wrong elevations. As a result stairs exterior stars do not end at proper location needing a redesign and approval from town your working in. Can be a nightmare when there are fixed elevations that don’t agree with setbacks.
9. Arguing with inspectors. These people are just doing their job as you are. There are rules in life that in some cases don’t seem to make sense but this one does. It’s as simple as black and white. These people are your eyes. They are people who have had to study what is proper and improper construction practices. Be glad they are there. They assure you that what is to be your home stays standing. Poor construction practices and cutting corners by inexperienced or dishonest contractors is rampant in a disaster enviornment. I was remodling the interior of a home in Point Pleasant Beach and was subbing out window replacements. An out of town contractors price was $10,000 higher then my local guy. They come from out of state and they go and with your money. Good luck trying to get them back to fix a bad water heater for example. Local contractors like us in business for over 30 years have built a reputation. I protect mine at all costs.
I live here. A bad reputation spreads faster then a god one. I sleep well at night when I’m not up planning my next job and coordinating my days work. Most guys like me have built your project 10 times in their head prior to the first shovel going into the ground.
If you love what you do and have been born with and cultivated your skills over time you can’t help but achieve the finest result.

Here at Split-Rok Construction Company established 1985 we have a saying. “The Difficult we Do Right away. The Impossible takes just a bit longer”.

I can always be reached by email at Ted@split-rok.com. or by calling our office at 732-899-5641 if you need guidance with a project or a quote. Love to help people. Like to make a living but being of service to others is at times more important.
Hope I’ve helped in writing this eliminate some fears and given you more confidence to perform what looks like a daunting task. It’s easier then it seems when you know the ropes
http://www.split-rok.com is another way we can be reached.

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Repairing damaged concrete and Stamped Concrete

In my previous post I noted that road brin is the culprit of deteriorating concrete this winter. We have never seen so much damage even from rock salt as we are seeing this year. I have done the research and can assure you that brin to melt snow is definitely the issue.

I 29 years of stamping concrete I have never had calls regarding deteriorating concrete. Brin goes through sealers and dramatically destroys concrete almost immediately. The winter solution is to park all vehicles off the driveway during the winter. Even my SUV that we rarely use was used in one snow storm and where it was parked has spots that have been compromised. More patching. Thank God we used color hardener by L.M Scofield to do the job. If this were integral color not repair would be possible since color could not be matched.

There is a solution to be able to park your car on the driveway in winter without worry of damage. The product that we now can use is salt guard. Stripping sealer and applying salt guard prior to resealing with give the protection needed to prevent brin damage. This is a relatively new product but has been showing great results. Remember that we recommend striping sealers by wet sandblasting like that done by Atlantic Green Pro here in New Jersey. All other chemical stripping in my opinion is not effective. If any sealer is left behind poor salt guard protection may occur or new sealer may become white as a result of old and new sealer not being compatible.

I can always be reached by email if you need further assistance. I generally do not charge for advice unless what you need is elaborate to explain then I charge accordingly.

I can assure you that you will always get the right solution t your concrete problem. I have given my life to this trade and nothing but the best will do. We have many solutions to your problems and can direct you if asked

Ted Mechnick

Ted@split-rok.com

helical pile contractors

We are raising more and more houses at the jersey shore even 2 years after Sandy. Many being raised are engineered with the use of helical piles. If you have heard of this process and wondered how it works it’s realitively simple but choosing the right honest contractor to do your job is key.

Here at split-rok construction have found just that contractor. Both efficient and honest HSS Helical piles in point pleasant fit the bill.

We are presently raising and installing a house on 153 Ocean Ave. Point Pleasant Beach that we renovated the entire interior on in 2013.

A soil boring was done that indicated that solid base was encountered at 25′ below the surface.

Experience in knowing the area and an honest appraisal of the situation lead Adam Musgrave to

Recommend trying to use a larger helix the accomplish the necessary torque required without Having to charge us to go deeper. His fear that there might be a soft layer below 25′ that if broken through might cause us to have to go deeper then 25′ or more and therefore push us way over budget.

A test pile was drilled as shown hear and luckily we hit 4800psi. More than enough to hold our 1000′ structure. All other piles driven torqued out at about 15-16′. Job well done. Can’t thank Adam and his all American crew for their help.

When I showed up on the job and saw a large American flag hanging on back of there machine I told Ed there Forman that the flag alone gave me confidence in them.

Many contractors that are doing this type of work are not at all as reputable as Adam and his company. I’ve spent 30 years in my own business and 10 years prior to that working in the union as a concrete finisher,and haven’t seen this type of dedication for years. What a pleasure to feel 20141006_092842confident that I gave my client the best possible job at the best price.

Split-Rok Construction is actively engaged in raising and reconstructing homes at the shore and have a group of honest contractors we use to make this trying experience easier.

We bring to the table over 40 years of experience in the construction industry and a team of professionals that will not take advantage of your misfortune. We take on the project fully from permitting to monitoring every phase of the project without charging exhortant General contractor inflated costs.

We test and check all materials and watch each man to carry out his assigned task. We will do a great job what more could you ask.

Ted Mechnick can be reached by phone or text at 732-915-6391 if you want to call to see if we fit your needs. No charge for assessment of your condition and always a honest appraisal will be given of what’s needed to get back into your home cost-effectively.

Wet Sandblasting

In the Stamped Concrete industry today it has become necessary to remove old sealers prior to resealing particularly if you do not know what was the original sealer. I have tried to strip with chemicals of all types and some are not good for the environment and very messy and can ruin adjacent plants and  gardens. Strippers are do not get all the material off and if the slightest amount is left behind you may encounter the same problem after applying new sealer do to incompatibility of sealers.

I am happy to say that I have found an environmentally friendly solution to this problem. The solution id wet Sand, pulverized glass or coal slag blasting with water.

My preference although a bit more expensive is pulverized glass. It gets lost in the surrounding areas and the heavy slurry is easily cleaned up. I do not own a Geoblast machine but have a company I sub out this stage of the work too. He does a great job and I feel is fair with his pricing.

Years of trying other solutions has failed. Look to my article on this site on how to reseal. There is a proper method to this also.

www.split-rok.com

Concrete consultant

Ted Mechnick owner of Split-Rok Construction is now available to consult on any concrete or Decorative concrete issues you might be having. Generally most consultations can easily be handled on the phone. There will be a charge for these consultations but it will be affordable.
I have had over 40 years experience in the concrete business and 30 of those years in the Decorative Concrete Business.
Whether its a Design issue or something that is in need of repair I can generally give you the correct approach to solve your problem.
I have learned many interesting solutions over the years to what might seem to be an impossible problem.

Many have consulted me over time and have started this blog with the goal of helping those either homeowners or contractors that need solutions to their concrete issues.I have helped many since the inception of this site and truly enjoy helping. This business has been rewarding to me over my career. This is my small way of giving back.

If you’re a homeowner and think the problem you have is a hopeless problem call me first. I might have a simple solution. Sometimes the Contractor you have hired although good at stamping might not be totally knowledgeable about all aspects of this profession due to not having run into certain issues that can occur with Stamped or Decorative Concrete. I have run into about anything imaginable with this process over the years. Some problems that occur are but not limited to sealers blushing or turning white, sealers peeling, color problems, crack repairs and many design issues. I am here to help. Don’t get frustrated or angry. It might not be worth it. Email me first. Pictures are a big help. I have a nationwide information base. To date I have not been stumped if given the correct information.

I have recently helped a gentleman in England repair cracks with a video I made to show him how to correct his cracking issue. I will go to whatever  length I necessary to get you a solution to your problem.

Take advantage of my years of experience in the concrete business. Protect your reputation if you are a contractor, as I have over the years. It’s your greatest asset.

Ted Mechnick

Certified ACI( American Concrete Institute)  Concrete Finisher and Member of ASCC ( American Society of Concrete Contractors)

Ted@split-rok.com
732-915-6391

Resealing Stamped or Colored Concrete

I know that many articles have been written regarding this topic but I feel it necessary to write this to promote what I feel needs to be more clearly addressed regarding the proper preparation and application of sealers.
Some of this may sound redundant but I can assure you that this post is being written to make more clear what is an extremely costly risk you are taking with a cavalier approach to resealing your concrete.
Years ago we at Split-Rok Construction could and did instruct our clients who were handy around the house on how to apply new sealer. Very easy to do and effective whether done by us or them provided they followed simple rules of application. Today that is not the case due to Government intervention into the sealer industry trying to prevent Volatile Organic Compounds from going into the atmosphere. Their mandate was to replace one type of solvent with another in HOPE that this would produce the desired result. Yes I am a fan of protecting the Earth at a reasonable cost but this was not well researched and therefore has done more to hurt my industry than would have hurt the environment if better thought out. The result of this poorly planned and unnecessary restriction has caused problems that have resulted in making beautifully installed stamped concrete turn white and hazy after application as a result of changing solvents.
The main mistake being made is assuming that we can, Apply new sealer over old thinking that Sealer is Sealer. This is longer the case since VOC sealers do not commingle well with Non-VOC sealers.
Unfortunately and fortunately there is a solution but it can be costly to perform but absolutely necessary to assure a good result. Removal of ALL old sealer by use of Water Sandblasting and thorough rinsing prior to new sealer being applied in thin coats. Thin coats seem to insure a good application result.
Very important to have ALL sealer removed and area be clean and dry and only apply sparingly. If applied to thick you risk to thick a coat and the same problem you had at the start comes back.
Sounds more tricky than it is but its very doable. Preparation is the key.

Should anyone reading this need more clarity about this process I can be reached by going to our site http://www.split-rok.com and drop me an email.

Thank you for your interest.
Ted Mechnick
Split-Rok Construction Company