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Excavating a pool with a Skid Steer

Discussion in 'General Industry Questions' started by d4dozer, May 15, 2019.

  1. d4dozer

    d4dozer Well-Known Member

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    We recently performed a swimming pool dig in a confined back yard space. The material from the pool dig needed to be trammed to the front of the property to be removed from site. The only access was through a 1200 mm wide door with 2100 mm head height.

    We used a mini cat 301.4 c to do the excavation (took the cabin off) , dumped the material on the ground in the confined area and picked up the material with a Terex PT30 which would just fit through the door with zero clearance on the door. The pool volume was 35m3 though with bulking about 45m3 came out and was all trammed approximately 25 m through the door. to the front.

    Total time expenditure for both machines was 22 hours and the task was performed in 1.5 days. We agreed an hourly rate contract (although we offered to fix the price) of $89 dollars per hour which is very reasonable in Western Australia.

    The wonderful pool installer declared that we exceeded industry standards for a pool dig and should have completed the task in 11 hours. He has argued that we should have dug the pool with the PT30 Skid Steer to avoid the double handling, used one machine only. Unfortunately we are now in court because he refuses to pay.

    Whilst the access was too tight to build a ramp for continued up and down access (getting in and out once with an excavator was obviously possible) and pools are often dug with a skid steer I would like other operators opinion. Ideally excavators are for digging and skid steer are for tramming. leveling and loading. Any machine can do anything with a good operator, though it is inefficient and hard work if using the wrong machine.

    Are there any opinions out there as to "industry standards" for swimming pool digs. Obviously I cant use anything said in court but I would be interested in anyone else who has an opinion.
     
  2. Tones

    Tones Senior Member

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    WARNING, WARNING. They will cause more grief than you ever need. Ask about " industry standards" about payment and if he's read the 'Baseball Bat, Broken Knee" clause.
    A better idea is to wait untill they have the reo fixed then go and backfill the hole and walk away, I have seen this done in Brisbane.
     
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  3. JD955SC

    JD955SC Senior Member

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    He’s just trying to stiff with a thin excuse. Might even have tried to stiff you if it had been a normal pool with no access restriction like this one and had gone faster.

    If he knew “how to do it” as he’s telling you he should have done it himself.
     
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  4. DIYDAVE

    DIYDAVE Senior Member

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    Fast, cheap, or right, pick one!;)
     
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  5. Jeckyl1920

    Jeckyl1920 Well-Known Member

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    Very often pools are excavated with a skid steer only around here. I would say that was a fair amount of time having to use the small equipment.

    As said, the guy is a jerk and doesn't want to pay. There is no standard for a limited access excavation.

    There is a standard for safety and not destroying property.

    Honestly, this dude is building a pool, and he's whining about $1,000....... take a picture and hang it on the "refuse service to this guy" wall.
     
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  6. aighead

    aighead Member

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    I'm a big know nothing but I just did the math and either way it sound like completely reasonable prices to dig a pool, the (less than) $2k for the 22 hours it took seems wicked cheap.
     
  7. Nige

    Nige Senior Member

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    Remember that the OP is using Oz dollars. In US$ the $89/hr works out to a hair under $62. So the total for the job was the equivalent of US$1,360.
     
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  8. aighead

    aighead Member

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    Jeez! Even cheaper!
     
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  9. Bls repair

    Bls repair Senior Member

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    Tell him you made a mistake and have to fill in the pool and redig it:)
     
  10. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    So $89 Assie dollars for both machines? If so then he's arguing over $979 ASD on a pool dig??o_O

    I don't get that. Here in Alabama it would cost that much to go to file a court case.
     
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  11. Jeckyl1920

    Jeckyl1920 Well-Known Member

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    I bet you he's banking on him caving and discounting the job. I say take his ass to court plus fees.

    There are companies/people that do this type of stuff all the time and make/save big bucks doing it.
     
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  12. Tones

    Tones Senior Member

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    In Australia you make your case in the Administration Appeals Tribunal, no lawyers involved. It can take years to get your case in there and the judgement is not legally binding. You would have a better chance in front of Judge Judy. Pool builders here are renowned for the BS the OP has come across, hence my comment about backfilling the hole. I have known of this happening many times
     
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  13. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

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    Two best thing's about an in ground pool …..

    " The day you dig it and the day you fill it in " :)
     
  14. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    You said he agreed to the hourly price so he has no court case. If he had any issues with the way you were doing the job he should have brought them up WAY before it came time to pay for the completed job. The industry standard is to pay for the work when the job is completed.

    I once dug up a yard and the customers wife was complaining it was more than they expected. They had decided they wanted it dug deeper than they originally told me. It took 2 more tandem dump loads to haul it away. The truck driver was a friend and said stick to your guns, you did a good job at a very reasonable price. She called her husband and came out with a cheque for the full amount about 5 minutes later.
     
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  15. DIYDAVE

    DIYDAVE Senior Member

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  16. d4dozer

    d4dozer Well-Known Member

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    The crux of his (the pool sellers) argument is that we should have used a skid steer without the excavator and halved the time and that industry standard for a pool dig is 11 hours and we used double. We are now being listed for trial, but because its under 10k there will be no legal costs. He told the registrar in the pre-trial conference that he has proof that 11 hours is the industry standard. I suspect he is bluffing, but was interested in an opinion on how long a pool dig would take. Should have smelt the rat because we offered to provide a firm and fixed price, but he was adamant that the work should be hourly rate. Interestingly, in the pretrial he told the registrar that he "fell of his chair" when he saw 22 hours and it was so far from normal that in good conscience he could not pay it.......
     
  17. Jeckyl1920

    Jeckyl1920 Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry you have to deal with this. I think that, since his conscience can't pay for the hole, it also can't pay for the pool.

    Did you give him the fixed price?

    You should get rental prices, and tabulate how much fuel you used, and how much the hourly wage is. Take pictures of the site, complete with path of travel. Make your case that he's getting a good price.
     
  18. d4dozer

    d4dozer Well-Known Member

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    We asked to look at the job before we started, but he said that as it was an hourly rate job that did not matter...so we did give him the fixed price as our first time at the job was when we started work.
     
  19. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    He was planned to screw you from the get go. It was a tight access job and not your typical pool excavation. I've done jobs where people complained it took too long to spread 3 loads of topsoil in the backyard. Yeah, it takes longer when the idiots building the new subdivision put the heavy fence up before anybody has their landscaping done. This forces you to have the trucks dump the soil on the street in front of the house. Then you only have 7' between houses so it's one bucket at a time. Not much different than your job.

    If he insisted on the hourly charge instead of a fixed price he doesn't have a case! He wanted it hourly so he could dispute it. There is a reason he didn't even want you to look at the job beforehand. He knew it was a PIA job and that's why he called you. I don't think there is such a thing as an industry standard for an excavation and this certainly wasn't a standard excavation. There's all kinds of things you can run into. Even on bid jobs at a fixed price there are usually clauses in the contract that address extra charges for unforeseen issues that could come up. Stick to your guns. He insisted on hourly and it took this many hours. If he doesn't like it, too bad. He can see how long it takes to dig with a shovel. I doubt you're the first one he's tried this on. You should look up if he's had any other lawsuits or see if there are other complaints about him or his company.
     
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  20. sfrs4

    sfrs4 Well-Known Member

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    This is very much a case of making sure you have everything in place before going to trial dot the i's and cross the t's. Pictures of the access, travel and conditions, reasons for using two machines, pro's and con's of both ( tracking time plus digging with skid, where as the exc was digging while the skid was tracking) and costs for both equaling roughly the same amount either way, proof of him refusing a fair fixed price. Also speak to other contractors locally and see if they know of him, it sounds like he's done this before and thinks he's a smart ass, if possible get proof of him trying to stitch up other contractors, court records would be even better. If you have friends in the business get them to "quote" for the work given the information you weren't given to again prove you weren't just trying it on. Most of all remain calm, concise and professional while on trial practice answering about the costs and time taken and reasons so it's all straight in your head, this looks so much better than getting irate and or fumbling around like you don't know what your doing.
    You can always bend health and safety rules to make it fit why you used two machines, due to the tight confines of the dig area a skid would of been dangerous with large blackspots for operation, and the final access and egress of the pool dig would of been unsafe for a skid unlike an exc which would of been ontop of the dig.
     
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