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The Green Scene in Watershapes, Sept. 2010

Contractors, Footprints, and Dust
By Scott Cohen

Among contractors, it’s not unusual to find those who don’t think much of their counterparts in other trades.

That seems a bit sad, really, but there’s a reason for it: All too often, you run into situations in which other contractors do things that are silly or negligent — and then refuse to accept any responsibility for the consequences.

I’ve encountered just this sort of situation many times — and when you consider the cost of addressing the issues and correcting the problems that result, the harm done can range from the mostly insignificant to the truly devastating.

caution tape

Scenario: We were working on a spectacular job in an affluent community in the northwest corner of Los Angeles County and had installed a series of decks on different levels all around the property. Each featured a beautiful sand-washed finish — including one in an upper-level area right next to the house.

Once the flatwork was finished, we pulled off the job site for a couple weeks to let the decks cure before we started walking across them to set up our landscape lighting and irrigation systems and their controls. Unbeknownst to us, a tile specialist who had nothing to do with our portion of the work came on site to install limestone ledger inside the house. Unfortunately, he decided to set up his masonry saw on the upper deck we had just poured and finished.

He spent three or four days sawing away at his limestone, effectively covering the freshly poured deck with dust. The homeowners spoke up and expressed concern, but the tile guy assured them that he could clean it off and that there would be no problem.

Unfortunately, however, when that kind of fine dust settles on fresh concrete, there’s no good way to clean things up without damaging the finish. Ultimately, he had to resort to pressure-washing the deck: While it certainly removed the dust, it completely destroyed the finish’s decorative qualities and left us with a deck area that didn’t match any of the others.


To read the entire article, buy THE CANDID CONTRACTOR: Lessons Learned From The Construction Defect Expert Witness Files of Scott Cohen

Contractors and homeowners will save thousands of dollars with this new book from Scott Cohen of HGTV fame. Cohen pulls back the veil on common construction mistakes with pools, ponds, decks and associated structures, explaining how to remedy them when they occur – or, better yet, avoid them entirely.


Scott Cohen is president and supervising designer of The Green Scene, an outdoor design and construction firm based in Northridge, CA. He provides consultation for clients nationwide and gives seminars on designing landscapes, swimming pools and outdoor kitchens.