Let’s say you get two bids for a new patio installation in your backyard, with one being significantly cheaper than the other. Why is that? While this could be under-the-table contracting, there’s a much more likely scenario: even with the same skill, labor, and patio materials, the difference is in the ground preparation. It takes time, effort, equipment, and more material to properly prepare the foundation, a cost offset in the cheaper bid by bypassing it for a “you get what you pay for” solution.
Pitfalls of a Cheap Patio or Walkway
The major differences between these bids is the depth of excavation and the materials used for the foundation. In the case of the cheaper patio, the depth excavated is roughly the depth of the pavers, bricks, tile, etc. that is being installed, plus a couple inches. During excavation little attention is made to the type of ground, such as hard clay or soft loam. Only a single material, sand, is used as back fill, and then leveled out before the patio material of choice is laid down.
You Get What You Pay For
The problem is, with this single thin layer of this fine material, is runoff erosion and settling. While side by side both patios will look great right after installation, time will treat the inexpensive patio much worse as the uniform appearance starts to sag and warp from the weight, weather, and settling ground. Soon you’ve got an eyesore and potential tripping hazard in your backyard you either have to repair or live with.
The Right Way to Make a Patio or Walkway
So, how does that more expensive patio estimate avoid the pitfalls of the cheaper bid? It comes in two major stages, and you’ll probably be able to tell right off the bat that you’re getting a long lasting patio or walkway.
Full Consultation and Planning
We live in a world of “Free Estimates,” so it’s always a surprise when someone charges for their time. However, this shouldn’t be looked at as frugality or them scamming you. It’s a commitment of their time to come over to your home, perform a detailed inspection, and then go to their office and spend time, skill, and technical resources to bring you a full plan and bid. This isn’t a quick-look estimate, but a consultation: something you’d do with a lawyer or architect, and that you should be doing with your landscaper.
Excavation and Foundation
Although many companies can make a patio or walkway look nice, the key to making it long lasting is the preparation work required to ensure stability. This work includes excavating out the loam or unsuitable material to the proper depth, filling the area back in and compacting the stone and gravel in lifts to avoid settling later, using a screed on the top layer of sand or stone dust to ensure proper pitch and run off and making sure the finish grade comes together, not just on the patio and the walkway, but the entire property to ensure the line of vision is smooth and uninterrupted.
Want to learn more about how to make your landscape and hardscaping last? Contact New England Enterprises and we’ll come out to do a full consultation and plan of your next project, walking you through every step of the way. Have a bigger project? We’re also full excavation and demolition experts, browse our site to learn more.