Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mrs. Wrath you've got a lovely driveway

How I got my driveway paved (badly) for free

This mouse can roar

I think I have mentioned before that while I am generally a soft-spoken congenial person, I do not take kindly to having my hand forced. I will tolerate a fair amount without making a fuss (trampoline...) but if you try to push me around, I will push back. Hard. And if I have the law on my side, you're in big trouble.

Several years ago - at the time of the last external paint job, in fact - a truck belonging to one of the local paving companies was driving past my house at the end of the day, with asphalt that was left over from the day's work. This leftover asphalt is more or less garbage. Not enough to do a proper job anywhere, and it can't be combined with a fresh batch the next day.

So, as a cost-saving device, paving companies will often look for an unsuspecting person onto whose property they can dump the asphalt. Industry standards dictate a properly levelled gravel or sand bed, topped with 2 inches of compacted asphalt as the minimum requirement. Charging to dump leftover asphalt is one of the oldest scams in the book and unsuspecting home owners are left wondering why their driveway is crumbling years before it should wear out. They like to target women and the elderly, people they see as being unknowledgeable and too weak to fight back.

So... they spotted my driveway, which was in dire need of a paving job. I was saving up to have that done the next summer and planned to have the old asphalt ripped up and the bed properly built up, then paved. Paving guys asked painting guys if they wanted the driveway paved. Painting guys said, "Not our house." Paving guys pointed out the great "deal." Cheapskate painting guys thought I'd go for it.

I arrived home to find 3/4 of my driveway paved and a message that for the paltrey sum of $75 the paving guys would return to finish the job. I don't know about any other jurisdictions but here it is against the law to make material changes, such as paving the driveway, to a property owner's property without express permission, preferably in writing. There is a handy, dandy city by-law that actually prohibits such activities. I'm not sure about the legality of it, but I'm almost certain that doing a partial, unwanted, unsolicited substandard job, then demanding money to return to set things to rights is more or less, in a word, extortion.

So I called the paving company and pointed out each of the previous two points. Paving guy said he thought they were "doing me a favour." I pointed out the lack of industry standards, not to mention the fact that I would now have a visible seam between the two lots of asphalt and that, basically, he was trying to charge me to dump his garbage on my property. He restated his position that they were "doing me a favour" and that he thought I'd be suitably grateful. I advised him that I had just had the trim on my house painted, had some paint left over and hows about I do him a favour by painting 3/4 of the trim on his house with my leftover paint and for $75 I'll return to finish the job. He didn't think that was such a great idea.

I informed him that I had been saving to have the job done properly and ironically, his was the company I planned to hire (100% Fact. I'd had them quote on the job the previous summer.) and that now that was going to cost me more as there'd be two layers of asphalt to lift up. Also, since they'd seen fit to come onto my property, do unrequested and unwanted substandard work, I wanted the job completed for free. He did not agree. He wanted to speak to my husband. Ha, ha and, indeed, ha! I lied and said he was out of town and that he was going to be madder than a wet hen when he saw what they'd done. Which would have been true had we still been married...

I threatened legal action. Paving guy wouldn't budge.

So I began legal action, in the form of a phone call from my lawyer, advising that if the situation were not rectified, for free, within a reasonable length of time, I would be taking them to court. The situation was not rectified. She wrote a letter, citing the applicable city bylaw and reiterating that they would be taken to court if they did not comply.

They complied. They may have been slightly shady, but they were not stupid and knew I had them dead to rights.

So, five years in and while the pavement isn't in as good a shape as it would have been had the job been done to standard, there is a seam in the pavement running the full length of the driveway, and you can see a difference in the two batches of asphalt, it is still acceptably intact. A few little crumbles around the edges, but no frost heaves or actually holes yet. The legal fees cost about the same as the paving company wanted, but they were more than $300 less than a proper paving job and my principles are intact. But I still hate that damned seam.

(not a picture of my driveway, but you get the idea)


Blogger Cooper said...

You Rock!!! Having spent timie in the construction industry I too have seen my share of...well...scumbags. Good for you to stick it to them !!!!

September 10, 2007 at 11:52 p.m.  
Blogger Ricardipus said...

That is un-be-freakin-lievable. They actually dumped the crap on your driveway and paved it without your knowledge?

I'm thinking a few fines for a) trespassing, b) littering and c) illegally disposing of dangerous goods (yes, asphalt counts) would have been in order.

September 11, 2007 at 11:10 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have been happier if the paving contractor was under the asphalt.

After all,...

it was that ass's fault!


September 13, 2007 at 12:02 p.m.  

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