Robert Lamoureux: Patios, walkways and foundations

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected]
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Question No. 1 

Hi Robert,

I have 5-year-old concrete patios and walkways that have a somewhat rough finish. I would describe it as an exposed sand finish. It’s similar to areas in the mall. My grandchildren keep skinning their knees. Do you know anyone who could grind to a smoother finish? 

Thanks, 

— Bill 

Answer No. 1 

Bill, thank you for writing in and being a loyal reader. Unfortunately, the aggregate is exposed and there is nothing you can do with that other than possibly doing an overlay, if you’re on a budget. The overlay is a skim coat of concrete that is placed over the existing concrete to cover the surface, which can be stamped and colored if you wish. Otherwise, it’s a complete tear-out and re-pour. Hope this helps. 

Best of luck, 

— Robert

Question No. 2 

Hi Robert,

My name is Roger M. We live in Santa Clarita and are interested in buying property off of San Francisquito Canyon Road. Because of the terrain, the city is telling us that the building would have to be on an elevated platform of some kind, such as foundation. With that said, over the weekend I was watching an episode of “This Old House” and they were showing this thing called helical piles. They didn’t go into great detail, but it is some sort of boring device that allows you to build off of the ground. They were in Florida and it allowed them to build off of the ground some 7-12 feet using metal poles. Locally we would only have to be up about 4 feet, but I’m wondering if this is something that we can do here in Santa Clarita. They were saying that the cost savings with this method was phenomenal when compared to other builds to raise a home off the ground. I’m fishing for information right now, and would like your opinion if you have experience with this. 

— Roger

Answer No. 2 

Roger,

Yes, I do have experience with these. The last one of these that I did was out in the San Fernando Valley. Unfortunately, due to the earthquakes here, you cannot use these on new construction. We were able to use them due to this being a repair to only part of a multi-story building. Florida is a totally different story and these are quite useful there. Due to the hurricanes and volumes of water, they can and do save homes from flooding. Great technique. It’s a big coring bit with a shaft of about 2 inches in diameter with angled blades that work very much like a corkscrew. The depth is dependent on the soil pressure that the engineer will call out. There must be enough pressure present to hold the weight. The property I did last, we had to go down 27 feet to achieve the proper pressure, in that case 4,000 PSI had been called out. The coring continues until the required PSI is achieved. In Florida these get sleeved and poured with concrete. Here, such as in my last case, there was no sleeving required because this was just a repair on a multi-story building. Unfortunately, you’ll have to go with the local requirements for raising the height of your build. 

Good luck to you.

— Robert

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