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Construction & Masonry Contractors for Patios, Driveways, Fireplaces, Bocce Ball Courts in Stamped, Washed, Broom, Float, Salt, Sand, Sandblast, Troweled, Washed Aggregate.

 

How to properly landscape and hardscape your beautiful lawn and concrete

How to properly landscape and hardscape your beautiful lawn and concreteOnce all the designing, planning, and finally construction is done, most people breathe a sigh of relief as they admire their new yard. Naturally, you want your yard to stay in the same beautiful condition as it’s in that very first day. With regular upkeep that you can easily do on your own, your yard will stay in perfect shape.

The first few weeks after new landscaping is put in is crucial. Make sure you’re watering every single day, late afternoon or early morning. Plants often time go through shock when transplanted so if they seem a bit droopy at first, don’t give up on them. Most plants need only a good watering once a day to thrive in the summer and during the winter once every few days, especially if it’s raining. The exception to this rule is sod. Sod needs to be watered a couple of times a day for the first three weeks after it’s laid. This is vital for the grass to root in the dirt underneath. It’s also helpful to try and avoid walking on it for a couple of weeks. Weeding about twice a month is also going to keep your yard looking amazing. Weeds not only look bad, but they actually drain the resources from your surrounding plants. When you pull weeds, make sure you’re getting down all the way to the root so they are less likely to return.

Hardscape work is just as easy to maintain. Concrete simply needs a good power washing every few months. Even using the hose on a hard spray will do the trick. When there are stains a bit of sand and a non-metallic brush will work wonders. However, using a power washer on stone and rock is not such a great idea. Just using a regular dish soap and running water over your work is going to keep it nice and shiny. Also, make sure the drainage around your hardscape work is clear. Excess water can cause your stones to shift and become hazardous.

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What can cause contractors to go broke?

“Now, as in the mid 1950’s, the United States is emerging from a difficult economy. Graniterock CFO Steve Snodgrass contributes the following article excerpted from the 1956 Engineering News-Record which shows how “the more things change the more they remain the same.” As the recession wanes and business activity increases, the author warns of more contractor financial failures and explains that the end of a recession can prompt increased competition and risky decision-making by unwary contractors. Bankruptcies often rise at the beginning of a building boom. The cautionary message remains as true today as it was then, and reaffirms the old saw that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Broke

You may read more of this very interesting and informative article on why contractors can go broke at Granite Rock or follow the direct link here at What Causes Contractors to Go Broke? by Steve Snodgrass.

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PROJECT INSTALLATION

Once you have a start date scheduled then you are ready for your project installation.  Ask your contractor who will be on site to manage your project so that you can communicate with them during installation. Your project will likely follow these steps:

1.  Demolition of existing items if required.

2.  Sub-grade preparation and excavations.

2A. Pool/gunite/coping and tile.

3.  Drainage.

4.  Set up of hardscape areas and footings.

5.  Hardscape installation.

6.  Structure builds (i.e. BBQ’s, firepits, arbor walls).

7.  Irrigation and drainage completion.

8.  Planting & mulch.

9.  Lawn installation.

10.  Clean up.

Throughout your project you should always keep all changes in writing.  Ask your contractor to provide you a cost and a written change order for any extra work that you request to be done.  Most field project managers do not have the authority to make changes without the office approval. This will eliminate you being surprised with an invoice for extra work at the end of your project that you assumed had no cost attached.  It will keep a positive relationship with your chosen company through the end of the project.

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Contracting the Project

Chose a company that you feel will be the best fit for your project.  It’s not always the best idea to chose the lowest bid.  You should chose a company that you feel comfortable working with through your project.  Depending on the size and phases of your project it can take from one week to one month or longer.  Discuss with your chosen company the scheduling process once the project is started.  Inquire to approximately how long each phase will take to complete, are permits needed, if so who will be responsible for acquiring such permits.  Have all of these items incorporated into your written contract, so as to not to have any issues arise after the project is started.  Ask the company to provide you a copy of an insurance certificate as proof of insurance.  This will show which carriers are insuring the company for Workman’s Comp. and Liability insurance.  After your acceptance of the contract, then you are now ready to move into the project installation process.

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BIDDING PROCESS

Once you have finalized your plans with your designer it’s time to contact a couple of companies for installation costs. Make sure you contact licensed contractors to bid on your project.  It’s important to use licensed contractors to protect yourself and your property.  Licensed contractors are required by the state to carry Workman’s Compensation AND Liability insurance to perform any work on your home over $500.00 in value.  Find a company by contacting the BBB, local trade magazine ads, internet, friend or neighbor referral.  When you meet with each of the company representatives, ask them all questions that are on your mind regarding your type of project (i.e. duration of each phase, examples of work, availability, etc).  You should be comfortable talking with the person that you are meeting with, not everyone clicks and if you don’t feel right with the person, you should send them an email shortly after your meeting and just let them know that you have decided to go a different route in your project and you will not be requiring their proposal. This will be appreciated by the contractor, because he will not be spending his valuable time on a project for which he will not be considered. Once you have acquired your proposals then it’s time to move into the contracting phase.

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MEET THE DESIGNER

There are many landscape/designers available in your area.  First, you could get some referrals from someone that has used a particular designer in the past that you have seen, their design ideas implemented into an actual installed project.  If you do not have anyone on any specific project in mind, you can always call our office for assistance. Second, set up a couple of meetings with different designers to get a couple of different ideas on your project…. their fees, and how specific you would like your drawing to be.  You could have a designer prepare a standard drawing for a few hundred dollars, to a full set of drawings which will show exact materials, irrigation lines, drainage, installation specifications of each item, and thiswill cost you a few thousand dollars, depending on the size of your yard.  Either investment is a plus in the future of your dream yard, because with a plan your yard can be installed in phases, and all items and preparations will not be missed that are critical for a future phase, being installed without damage to existing work.

Best regards,

Anselmo Goulart GM&C, Inc 2208 Camino Ramon, Suite A San Ramon, CA 94583 925.327.0800 Anselmo@gmandcinc.com

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Dream Yard Wish List

Figure out what you would like to change or add to your yard. (i.e. new patio, BBQ island, fire pit, arbor, Cabana, lawn, planting area, pool, spa, seat wall, retaining wall, mow band, fountain). You and your partner should take time to walk your entire yard, and discuss your wish list.  Ideas for a completed dream yard project.    Your dream yard can be achieved in phases.   It’s understandable that these days most people do not have the entire available budget needed to install all of the components to your dream yard at one time.  Don’t stress about it, write down all of your ideas and call us for an initial meeting to discuss them.  We will listen to your ideas, give you additional ideas to incorporate with your own, and prepare a budget for each item required.  With correct planning your yard can be installed in phases without breaking the bank.  Check back next month for the next phase to achieving your project.

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Caring for your Concrete and Masonry work

Regular maintenance and care of your concrete and masonry work is important for every home owner. Luckily, it is pretty easy to keep up as long as you know what to use.
Concrete- Concrete is especially easy to maintain. Power washing about every three months is likely to keep it stain free. If there is a spill of oil, grease or gas then make sure to wash it off immediately. For more stubborn stains use a bit of sand and non metallic brush. Using course salt is also an option, but it will wear on your sealant faster and can cause discoloration in newer concrete.
Hardscapes- The most basic form of care for your hardscape areas is making sure the drains and drainage areas are clear and cleaned out. Depending on the weather and your surrounding greenery they should be cleaned about every 3- 6 months. Before rainy months is especially important. Excess water will cause slippage and movement of your stone/rock/etc. As for stains using a mild dish soap with a bucket of water should do the trick. Try not to use anything too abrasive to avoid scratching.
Sealing- Sealing your concrete or masonry surfaces is a personal choice. It is true that the sealant will protect against water and most damage, but it can change the feeling of the surface and sometimes the color will vary slightly after. In high traffic and harsh weather conditions it is definitely a good idea to use a sealer. Before the winter months especially. High quality sealant should last at least two years and can last up to four, depending again on the traffic and weather conditions. Cleaning sealed concrete should be handled the same way as regular concrete for the most part. However, using things like salt and sand should be avoided. A sponge or course towel should do the trick.
Hopefully as we approach these winter months you find your home looking as beautiful as ever.
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Your Summer Oasis Awaits

As summer comes to a close we hope you all spent the summer in the company of friends and family enjoying the sun. When school is starting up and kids are back to hitting the books it’s the perfect time to work on your home. The days are still long and warm, but there is little chance for rain delay. Right now is a great time to start work on your backyard. Backyard barbeques and outdoor kitchens add so much value to your home and can add a lot of fun to your life. Year round, but especially in the warmer months, having a get together and being able to cook and socialize at the same time outside is so much more fun. It gets the whole family involved and allows the cook some valuable chatting time. We’re not talking your old fashioned plain ol’ barbecue here… our barbecues can have gas or electric ranges, electrical outlets, and even ovens and sinks. They are almost fully functional kitchens.
They can be made to fit your home and patio. Granite, stone, concrete, and brick are all popular choices for outdoor units. The whole process takes about a week depending on your wants and the current state of your backyard. We work with electricians and plumbers who can retrofit your outdoor oasis to your needs.
Enjoy your last few months of summer!
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Newsletter

Summertime is always busy for those of us in the construction industry. It’s good to stay busy, but having a break once in a while to meet and talk to other people in the field is always nice. This July we had two chances to do that. We attended the Pacific Coast Builders Conference as well as the NARI meeting.

The PCBC was a great success. We met and talked with a ton of interesting people who really knew a lot about their particular field. The showcase this year was on Sustainable Living. “Going green” is becoming more and more popular within the industry. I know many businesses that have made the switch and are doing well with the competitive edge. The next PCBC will be in San Diego next year June 5th – 7th.

If you are not a member of NARI, then I would recommend you become one. NARI is such a recognized name and they have the highest ethical standards. Every meeting there is a speaker from the construction industry and time to talk to other local contractors; it’s a great networking group. For more information about NARI go to http://www.nari.org/.

When we weren’t in meetings or out in the field we were working on our newest project, Rate-Your-Customer.com and Rate-My-Contractor.com. Both sites are fully functional now and people have been signing up each week. We are still running a great promotion through the end of July… if you sign up you are entered to win a $200 Home Depot Gift Card!

We hope you stayed cool and busy this summer. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email us at info@rate-your-customer.com. Thanks!

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