By J.R. Crowell
May 5, 2020
Have you ever missed the forest because of the trees? This could mean many things in many circles. In our world, it means we found one issue on a site evaluation and focused all our attention on that one area and neglected to evaluate the entire site. If this happens, the customer may not get the best repair and you may leave business and your reputation on the table. In our experience, the best clients want the best results. Check out the story below to see where a site eval paid off for everyone.
Helms Polyfoam was brought in on a project to provide a secondary opinion on the condition of a settled concrete parking lot beside a commercial building. The customer’s initial concerns were regarding a settled, 100 sq ft section of the parking lot. Upon arrival, the evaluation team noticed a 1” wide, completely exposed expansion joint. The open joint allowed for a visual of the soil (or lack thereof) beneath the concrete. They noticed a large void, between 12”- 18”, but more importantly, they noticed wet soil conditions despite no rain in the area for several weeks. Further inspection below the parking lot revealed extremely saturated soils along the property’s perimeter and also revealed voids under almost the entire parking lot. That’s close to 2,000 sq ft, not just the original 100. Let the detecting begin.
We like to joke and say to be a good site evaluator, you need to know a little about a lot. As the team worked the site, no gutters were found on any of the 3 structures and most concrete joints were exposed. This means all rain events dump water directly around the perimeter of the building and right underneath concrete through the exposed joints. Thankfully no foundation problems were found, but this is definitely a contributing factor to the voids underneath the parking lot. Remember though, the current soil conditions were saturated and no rain had happened within a few weeks. That’s when a keen eye noticed a plumbing clean out valve. This tenacious site evaluator opened the clean out pipe and had the customer flush all toilets. No movement. Best guess was a pipe break so we had the customer enlist a plumber to track the problem. Sure enough, there was a busted pipe underneath the parking lot. Hello water source.
This client already had a repair plan to level their concrete. Our repair estimate was 3x the price of the competitor. Typically, that brings about a bit of sticker shock, but let’s remember, we uncovered another 1,900 sq ft worth of parking lot that needed serious attention. Our team also pointed out the need for gutters, parking lot waterproofing, and found the busted pipe. Had we simply quoted the “shiny penny” and not done a proper eval, the customer would not have gotten a proper repair and that facility could have faced major issues down the road. We would have also left business on the table, and potentially gotten a bad reputation for a failed repair.
The customer was more than happy to accept our repair plan and they now have new gutters, a stable parking lot, no leaking pipes, and nicely sealed expansion joints. It is our job as the contractor to be the expert and make sure our clients are aware of all issues. They expect it. They deserve it.