I first contacted Brain Lindemuth (owner) in early August 2007 about building a patio in my backyard. When he came out, he was friendly and offered some good ideas about the project. I got his bid on August 20, and after visiting one of his projects and discussing it with my wife, we signed a contract with him in mid-September.
Now let me say that we are pleased with what we eventually got. However, here are some of the problems we had:
1. He said they'd be there everyday and would not do anything in-between. I have this in writing as well. This was a falsehood. They would be gone for days at a time and one of the workers told us that they were working on another project.
2. The retaining wall they built sat on approximately 1" of gravel (I have photos of this), which is completely unacceptable. 4" is the minimum. The product installation guide says 6". I had them rebuild it. Lucky I caught it. Brian didn’t argue with me on this and said he would make sure they’d fix it. They did (I think).
3. One side of the patio was supposed to have an arc. What they actually built was shaped like a lopsided parabola. (I have photos of this too). It was awful. I had them rebuild it. They did it again, and again it was awful. Finally, Brian came out and fixed it (but where was he in the first place?) This was the key problem: Brian was rarely there to make sure things went right.
4. They built a set of steps that led from the lower patio to the upper patio. In the first attempt, the sides were not square so that they flared out, one step sat crooked, and one tread didn't abut the riser in the back leaving a 1.5" gap behind the tread. I actually pointed this out to Brian. He was so defensive about it that I really wanted to fire him immediately. But he calmed down, I calmed down, and he agreed to rebuild the steps. They redid, and they made the same mistakes again. They finally got it right at the same time they rebuilt the retaining wall (see #5 below).
5. One retaining wall that held up one end of the upper patio was not parallel to the surface of the pavers. Consequently, the pavers didn't properly meet up with the wall cap that bordered the patio. Brian argued vehemently with me about this, that it is "not done" and that is the way it is suppose to be. It was obvious that his worker (Carlos) made messed it up. We're both looking at it like the proverbial elephant-in-the-room, and Brian is pretending he doesn't see it. He actually tried to tell me that the way to level it off was to run a progressively thick layer of mortar under the wall-cap/patio-border. If they did that, the mortar layer would be at least 1" thick at the end of the wall. Well, they eventually had to tear down the entire wall to fix. Fine with me. At least they did fix it, but I had to be on him to get it done.
I don't know how experienced Brian actually is, but if I were to identify the central source of the problem, it is his very poor communication skills. I could rarely reach him on the phone. I send him multiple e-mails that duplicated the voice messages I left. Just when I thought he had decided to walk away from the project, he'd call me or e-mail me, and sometimes it seemed he hadn't even gotten my messages.
This communication problem extended to his workers. I don't really know how much he told them about the project, but he did tell me once that he didn't want to burden them with too much information. I could have guessed that. I think the actual reason he didn't "burden" them was that he didn't know himself. He told the only English-speaking person what he wanted for the day, and left them to do work it out. And since the workers weren't great (or allowed to) make decisions about anything, they ended up building and building until there was an obvious problem. Well, I think they would have just gone right along building if I hadn't stopped them.
When it was all done, we were happy with the results. However, Brian then billed us for stuff that he called "extra", like change orders. In fact, these were just costs that he incurred in repairing his mistakes. When I disputed this, we argued again, him telling me that I was taking food from his family. I stuck to my guns and told him I was not going to pay for his mistakes. In the end, however, I paid him for over half of the cost of the extras, hoping to avoid some future unpleasantness.
There were more problems, but these are the main ones. I strongly recommend you avoid this contractor, even if it means spending more money.