If you follow me on Instagram, and specifically Instagram Stories (twotwentyone), you know about our current porch situation, which has been dubbed “The Porch Saga”. But I’ve been given some other great names for it– “Cement Stories” and “The Real Concrete Disasters of Indiana”.
I decided to write this blog post because some people have missed bits and pieces, while others don’t have Instagram (I’m sorry, come again?) so they’ve been unable to follow along.
Please note that we didn’t hire this concrete company. They are a subcontractor/trade partner of our home builder, CalAtlantic Homes, so we haven’t really had any control over this situation.
For clarity, I’m going to go in chronological order because The Porch Saga dates back to June 2.
June 2, 2017
The front porch concrete is poured. However, when smoothing out the concrete, the rake must have skipped or something because it created a bunch of waves in the concrete. You could also see where they didn’t smooth out the big section at the same time. It’s like they divided it in half. Whatever the reasons, it seemed like a very rushed job and there was a complete lack of attention to detail, something that is important with concrete because it’s not easy to correct errors after they’ve dried.
They also poured the driveway and walkways on this day. There were/are noticeable waves in the concrete on the driveway and walkways as well. We asked the builder to address at least one section of the walkway. However, we aren’t entirely happy with the walkway. It’s uneven in parts, there’s waves, and there are some cracks in it already.
June 5, 2017
We contacted the project supervisor and let him know our concerns about the concrete. We were told it was being looked at.
Here’s how everything looked once it dried.
June 9, 2017
I followed up with the project supervisor, asking for the status on the concrete. I was told “will be corrected”.
June 13, 2017
I went over the house and saw that a coating had been put on the porch and step. However, the coloring looked splotchy and it was very gritty– you could hear the sandiness when you walked on it. Also, where the step met the porch was already cracking because the concrete mix was so bad. Furthermore, we knew after the first freeze, this coating would start to pop off.
When we had our independent home inspection (I highly recommend doing this) on June 14th, our inspector noted the condition of the porch and said it needed to be corrected.
One section of the walkway and one section of sidewalk by the street were also replaced.
The section of walkway on the left was replaced. But as you can see, more sections should have been replaced as well, but that didn’t happen.
June 19, 2017
During the final walk through of the house, the project supervisor said the front porch and step would be removed entirely and replaced.
June 25, 2017
We went over to the house to have a few family photos taken in front of the house (I used them in this blog post). It appeared that the porch had been removed and replaced because the concrete supports were still around the porch.
June 26, 2017
I received a call from our project supervisor informing me that the concrete crew was supposed to remove and replace the porch over the weekend. However, they were afraid they’d damage the structure of our house with all the jack hammering, so instead, they put a 2-3 inch cap on top of the existing concrete porch and step. Doing so also created a code violation because the step was now too tall. The porch concrete also jutted out past our pillars and the step was wider than the walkway. You can also kind of see where the concrete oozed out of the form where the step meets the porch.
Since we were moving in in a couple days, our only option was for them to remove and replace the porch and step after we moved in because we didn’t want to risk them having the porch torn up when we needed to move all of our stuff into the house.
July 7, 2017
The project supervisor contacted me saying they would start removing the concrete on July 14th. I said that day should work.
July 14, 2017
The concrete guy showed up in the morning and rang the doorbell. I went outside to talk with him. He told me about an optional plan that would be less invasive than tearing out the entire porch and replacing it. At this point, we were open to that because we were so tired of dealing with this damn porch. His plan involved removing the step and putting in two 7.5″ steps that would be the width of the the inside of the pillars. Then, he’d pour a walk way section to fan out and meet the edges of the step. I told him I thought it sounded like a decent plan. I also added that this plan may be more beneficial to my stepdad who has a physical disability and steps are difficult for him– having shorter steps in height that spanned the width of the entryway where my stepdad could hold onto a pillar to steady himself.
I told the concrete guy I wanted Brad to talk with him in person as well. He said that was fine and that he’d come back at 4PM when Brad would be home from work. In the meantime, I drew Brad a third-grade level rendering of the plan and texted to it him. He agreed that it sounded like a decent option. So that was the plan– put the project on hold until we could all meet at 4PM to discuss the options. Or so I assumed.
Owen and I left the house at 11AM to meet some friends and their kids downtown for the ice cream social. I got home at 1:30PM to see two guys working on the porch. They had already made saw cuts on the porch. They had also flipped the breaker to our outside outlet because they tapped into our electricity to power their concrete saw and when they tried to use the jackhammer, it flipped the breaker. I’m sorry, but I don’t think we should have to pay to power their power tools. The work had halted because they were going to retrieve a generator.
As you can imagine, I was rather upset because I thought the plan was to meet at 4PM and discuss the options. I immediately called Brad and said, “You won’t believe this. Or maybe you will…” (I also dropped a boatload of F-bombs, if I’m being completely honest.) By the time Brad got home, I was so upset and frustrated that I had given myself a headache. So I told him I needed to go lie down. While I was napping, Brad talked to the concrete guy and the concrete guy said he had spoken to the project supervisor and the project supervisor said he talked to me and I said that I wanted him to remove and replace the porch. Mind you, I never spoke with the project supervisor that day. I can only assume the project supervisor was referring to the initial plan to remove and replace the porch. So the concrete guy believed the project supervisor had spoken to me that day and went ahead with the removal of the concrete.
July 15, 2017
The crew showed up at 9:30AM to start jack hammering the porch. We already had plans to leave for the day, so it worked out nicely that we only had to listen to the jack hammering for a couple hours once we returned home. As we were leaving that morning, we saw them running an electrical cord across the street to tap into the power source of a house being built.
To remove the concrete, they’d jack hammer it up, place chunks of concrete in a wheel barrel, roll the wheel barrel down our front yard, empty the concrete into a bobcat, and then drive the concrete chunks over to the overspill lot. While this method was minimally invasive, it put a lot of strain on the sod in our front yard, and a large section of it has started to brown.
When we got home around 5PM, the guys were still working so we had to endure the jack hammering for about an hour.
When they were done jack hammering, the crew also pressure washed the porch area. However, they tapped into our water. Again, I don’t think we should have to pay to clean up their mess.
They finished up at 7PM. Before they left, Brad talked with them for a little bit. One guy said the concrete was 11.5″ thick, which explains the need to jackhammer for 9 hours.
Here’s what the yard looked like after they were finished with the demo.
July 18, 2017
The masons came out and replaced sections of brick that were damaged during the concrete removal.
July 19, 2017
The concrete crew arrived to start pouring the porch and step. One of the guys rang the doorbell to tell me they were starting the work. I probably said something along the lines of, “Ok, we’ll just be hanging out inside.” We were having our friends over for dinner that night, so I spent most of the afternoon cleaning up the house a little and prepping for dinner.
The guys finished up around 6:30/7:00PM but since our friends were over, I wasn’t able to take a good look at the porch until around 9:00PM. While I was peeking out the front door window, I thought the front porch step looked funny. So I excused myself and ran outside through the garage. As I turned the corner, I could see that something was not right with the step. It was almost double the depth it should’ve been. I ran back inside and grabbed a tape measure– it measured 33.75″ deep. For comparison, I ran over to an empty spec house and measured that step– it was 18″ deep.
I went inside, grabbed Brad and told him he had to see this. Brad was pretty dumbfounded when I showed him the step and told him about the other step being only 18″ deep.
July 20, 2017
First thing in the morning, I texted our project supervisor and asked if there was a reason why the new front porch step was poured to be almost twice the depth as the original step/what’s in the building plans. The project supervisor said he’d look at it. About an hour later, he texted me back and said the concrete guy mentioned that when tearing out the porch, I brought up that my stepdad has a physical disability, and that he poured the larger step thinking it would help him.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the concrete guy’s good intentions and attempt at being thoughtful, but had he rang the doorbell again that afternoon and informed me of this plan, I would’ve told him it wasn’t a good idea because a deeper step isn’t beneficial to my stepdad. A wider step, where he’d be able to reach and hold onto a pillar in order to steady his balance would be more beneficial. So maybe the concrete guy got deeper and wider confused?
I replied to the project supervisor that while I understood his intentions were good, that’s not what we agreed to. The project supervisor agreed and said they’d tear out the incorrect step and redo it the following day.
July 21, 2017
A couple of guys showed up and started working on removing the old step and pouring a new one in the afternoon. I’m guessing they worked until 6:30/7:00, because we had left around 5:30 to go out to dinner with my parents. When we got home, Brad and I went outside to check out the step. I immediately noticed that one side was longer than the other. To be sure, I ran inside and grabbed a tape measure. Sure enough, one side is 1/2-inch longer than the other side. The step also isn’t level.
Not only that, but where the step met the porch didn’t look good. There were two chunks missing from the front of the porch where the porch met the step.
And while I was looking at the rest of the porch, I noticed that I hadn’t seen the side of the porch from when it was poured two days before. It appears that they completely forgot to smooth out the side of the porch, leaving the concrete all lumpy and bumpy, which won’t be good in the colder months when water gets into those crevices and freezes.
The guys also failed to cover our landscaping with tarps, so everything was covered in a layer of white dust.
July 25, 2017
Photos of the step once it dried.
July 24, 2017
I texted our project supervisor first thing in the morning to ask when he could meet with Brad and me at the house to discuss the front porch and step. He never responded, but a couple hours later his boss, the area construction manager, showed up and rang our doorbell. He said our project manager sent him over to take a look at the porch. The construction manager said the porch and step looked bad. He said that they’d bring in a different concrete crew to remedy the situation, beginning this week, and worst case scenario, they’d have to remove the entire porch again, and re-pour the porch and step.
I’m preparing myself for the worst.
I mentioned making the step as wide as the inside of the pillars and fanning the walkway out to meet the edges of the step. The construction manager said they’d do that as sort of an apology gift. He also said they’d have landscaping come back.
Here’s the super fancy rendering I slapped together.
So there you go.
I’ll definitely keep everyone up-to-date on Instagram Stories. But I’ll probably write a follow up post too.
And before you go, I want to say thank you to all of you who’ve sent me messages of support and those of you who say you’ve been following this saga like a reality TV series. Who would’ve thought a porch would be so captivating? I appreciate the laughs and commiserating.