Q&A / 

May 13, 2016 AsktheBuilder Newsletter

Yesterday I had the pleasure, if you want to call it that, of standing next to my open septic tank while it was being pumped.

I shot videos of the process looking down on it from my deck. Believe me, you don't necessarily want to see a close-up shot of the inside of a septic tank.

I'll have the video ready for you next issue should you want to see how septic tanks are pumped out.

Why should this be important to you? If you have city sewers it's not. But if you do have a septic tank, it's really important to have it pumped at least every three years - and more often if it's heavily used.

My tank was in really good shape. It has a 1,500 gallon capacity and there was only a very slight amount of scum / grease on the surface. There was only about a 3-inch layer of sludge at the bottom.

You want a somewhat clean tank like this so you don't ruin the leach field by sending effluent to it that has too many impurities.

I'm giving serious thought to installing a PVC pipe into the top of my tank that extends down about 3 feet. I'd then connect a bubbler motor that sends air down into the tank and creates lots of air bubbles for ten minutes every two hours.

This is how sewage at municipal city plants is treated. The sewer plants just aerate the sewage for a period of time before they then release it into a local river. Adding oxygen to sewage helps break down the impurities in the water FAST.

Did you know that fresh concrete can BLEED? If your contractor makes a mistake at this point, BAD THINGS happen. CLICK HERE to watch my CONCRETE BLEED video.

Ryan Dodged the Bullet

A few days ago, I told you about condo roof report I had to prepare for a woman who lives in Alameda, CA. That's right next to San Francisco Bay. I sent her the report an hour ago and saved her and her fellow condo neighbors about $35,000.

If you live in a condo association or similar situation that has a HOA, then you should be talking to me BEFORE you ever go out to bid on a project.

When I shared the story about the condo roof situation, you may have been one of the handful of subscribers that then hired me over the past three days to help save you tons of money.

I just HAD TO SHARE an email I received from Ryan, a subscriber to this newsletter. Ryan hired me to do a fast phone consult on a tar and chip driveway he was about to have done.

Ryan's a subscriber to this newsletter.

Understand that he lives on a common driveway that feeds four other houses, so a mistake made in this job could be very costly and make him look bad since he's spearheading the project for his neighbors.

Moments after Ryan and I hung up he met with one of the contractors bidding the job - the contractor with the *low* bid.

Realize that in the phone call I gave Ryan all sorts of information and questions to ask the contractor. Here's what Ryan sent to me last night:

"Thanks for the time today. I learned a lot from your expertise. The guy came out and things got a little interesting. I asked a few of your questions and he provided some decent answers, but we probed a little harder.

He claimed his Dad owned the asphalt plant and his application rate sounded a little suspect. He gave it to me twice about 30 seconds apart and the number wasn't the same! I also figured out we had a "miscommunication" on the quote.

The quote supposedly didn't include the driveway tails to each house, but I am sure we covered that on the first visit. I took your advice and told him I needed at least three recent references and an opportunity to see a completed job or two where he did the same tar and chip. He claimed due to privacy concerns he couldn't provide.

He mentioned he had a job about half hour away he could drive us to. Once we determined the quote was off, he offered to complete the tails for material only. Eventually we landed on him getting the new quotes put together, but he pushed to begin work right away on the main drive. That seemed odd he would not figure we would need to regroup given the quote went astray..

Long story short, he rushed off and didn't complete the measurements to get the individual drives to my neighbors' houses done. He also claimed he already bought stone and asphalt for our job. I reminded him his Dad owned the plant so he should be ok.

I then received a text within a couple hours with notice he was only guy in town that does tar & chip and we would be forced to do concrete or asphalt at a much higher rate but he would be happy to provide references and had decided to decline on completing our project.

I think we dodged a bullet and you kept me out of trouble with my neighbors! I will be using your advice to evaluate the other local contractors. It's funny as it looks like there are quite a few tar and chip options in Central OH!"

Ryan's LAST PARAGRAPH says it all. Can you see how he was dealing with a crook?

Also, the reason Ryan almost got taken is that he started to get bids for the job without having his own written specifications to hand out to each bidding contractor.

You MUST have those to AVOID getting hosed.

In certain situations I offer a service to produced detail written specifications. My Contractor Hiring Guides contain basic written specifications for most jobs, so those may be all you need.

You should consider those and you should get with me on the phone BEFORE you go out to bid so I can tell you exactly what you should be doing.

I'll be talking with Maureen in Delmar, CA in just 90 minutes about a job she's getting ready to do.

Bosch Tool Reviews

I recently published four tool reviews about Bosch Tools.

There's one I really want you to look at because it's not your ordinary review.

See if you can spot which one it is and tell me if you feel Bosch was happy with it. Remember, it's my job to tell you the truth about everything I see.

That way you can make an informed decision when you buy a tool.

Not all reviewers have the actual hands-on experience with tools to recognize the inherent downsides of a particular tool.

Bosch 12-inch Miter Saw Review

Bosch Job Site Radio Review

Bosch EXTREME Rotary Hammer Review

Bosch Digital Level Review

That's enough for a Friday.

I'll be back with you on Sunday most likely.

Tim Carter
Founder - www.AsktheBuilder.com

Do It Right, Not Over!


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