Repairing Other Repairs

past repair of retaining wall

Being asked to fix issues another company has already “repaired” is always tricky.  This is especially true when we previously placed a bid to do the work.  In this case, the owner went with a “cheap” price to attempt to stabilize a large retaining wall.  That “cheap” price was only for the installation of helical tiebacks.  Our pricing included the same plus installation of proper drainage behind the wall (drain pipe through the wall and weep holes (note there aren’t any within the wall in the photos) since the hydrostatic pressure against the wall was the root cause of failure.  When asked if we would do only the tiebacks as per the other company we agreed to do so explaining our experience with these types of issues necessitates we could not provide a warranty with only half the necessary work being completed for full stabilization of the wall.  In other words, it would be like trying to drive your car on the road with only three of the required four wheels.

Fast forward one year where we are asked to get back involved in this same job due to the wall shifting again.  Note in the photos the separation of the wall from the mortar patches at the end of the wall.  Further, the owner is trying to sue the previous repair company because they will not honor their warranty.  The owner discovered (after consulting his attorney) he cannot sue them because they have an ironclad “arbitration clause” which will take at least six (6) months before they are able to arbitrate his case.  Needless to say this owner is mad and, yet, cannot afford another repair until he recovers his funds from the previous “repair.”  There’s a lesson to be learned here for all.

According to the owner our pricing was about 40% higher than the other company.  Remember, our price included digging up the soil on the uphill side of the wall in order to install proper drainage behind that wall.  Instead, the owner made his decision on price only!  Which takes me back to three quotes we’ve stated before.


There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot do a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are that man’s lawful prey.   Author Unknown


“It’s unwise to pay too much but it’s unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money, that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it’s well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better!”   By JOHN RUSKIN (1819-1900 (English Writer))


“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” — Benjamin Franklin

Repairing other repairs