I found James Li, the owner of Bestview Landscaping, through Kijiji. I hired his two-man operation to replace an existing asphalt driveway with block pavers (interlock) and add a walkway, retaining wall, and redo the porch steps/landing. About 500sqft of work altogether. First note, James bids considerably lower versus the competition. For most this may be obvious alarm bells. I knew something would have to give, but I accepted the tradeoffs, as at the same time I couldn't justify $15K to $20K bids (3x more) I received from other contractors due to my neighborhood.
Once they were finally onsite, due to weather and delays in his other projects, the excavation was done manually. No Bobcats. This is back-breaking work. He did not redo the base of the existing asphalt, so it's unclear if the existing base was deep enough to hold up the pavers in the long run.
Positives: the driveway looks decent. It's not the work of a craftsmen or artisan, but the curb appeal of my house has definitely increased.
Not so positive issues:
1. They dry cut the soldier course in place (versus wet saw or guillotine), which creates tons of cement dust. My neighbors were hating me. Never mind that's is pretty hazardous in general (Silicosis). This dust sticks to everything once when wet. Not surprisingly, it rained off and on through-out the project. So what was suppose to be a city red, all the laid pavers have a pastel ashy/white film which I'll need to chemically pressure wash or wait a year for the weather to wear it off.
2. Our Unilock Ledgestone steps, which is $50 per unit, was installed with a sizable chipp when doing the mitre cut.
3.There is a section of pavers where the grading is flat producing a small pool standing water with rain. So in the next freeze/thaw cycle, I'm pretty sure we're going to have heaving.
4. The original quote was for radius steps which involves far more cutting and labor than square. Once the work began, James did a bait-and-switch and asked us to change our design to square. I compromised and had them doing a bigger landing.
5. They left behind a mess. A quarter of our front lawn is dead, because they kept garbage on it for two weeks. The sod they replaced some of the areas also died overnight. And they left a pile of bedding sand at the side of my house.
6. They didn't leave us a single extra paver for future repairs. But left us the stack of old pavers from our original porch because "They matched our backyard pavers, and they would be hard to find." ?? Extending that logic, why wouldn't you leave us a handful of the new pavers??
James run a cash business. He provides 80% of the quality for a third of the price. There is zero warranty to his work. I've tried reaching him regarding these issues, but so far he's been a no show.Take the good with the bad.