Trouble with Block Paving

8 Jul 2006
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United Kingdom
Hi Everyone,

I have a long story to tell and I am asking for help and advice please. I need a true and honest opinion as I think my contractor is bulling me. (This is the very short version)

In May 2010 I had some work done including a new block driveway totalling £9.5K. After about 6 weeks a colour difference showed up in the middle on the right side - see picture first attempt. I called them back; they agreed and said it must be a faulty batch of block. The rep from the manufacturer came, it transpired the manufacturer had supplied 11 packs of colour batch A and 1 pack from a different colour batch so they don’t match. The contractor did not check the batches prior to laying saying nobody does ?

In the coming days samples were sent to try and match up the original blocks. They picked a new pack and came and laid it, it was raining but they did it anyway. It looked terrible, very little kiln dried sand, gaps in the blocks etc… but they said I should let it settle over a few weeks it was late September 2011. I had asked them to mix the new blocks all over the driveway to help give a uniform look, they said they would but did not as you can see.
In January 2011, the contractor, supplier and manufacturer came and said, yes it is still not right but it needs a summer on it so it can weather ! . We will come back and check it in June. July came and I made a fuss, they all came back and said it’s getting better. All along I have said its rubbish, the colour does not match.

They are now giving me two options, to seal over it and that will match it up or remove and reorganize the blocks to a more uniform look ?
Please give me your opinions on how it looks and what you think of their statements. The main man says it looks great and it will eventually all fade together! He actually says, it looks the same when it’s wet because that brings out the true colours therefore it will all match eventually.

The second picture is how it looks today. Picture second attempt.

Surely we should be able to have a great looking driveway straightaway ?

Please help ?
Thank you - Stoyer
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Its a tough one. It's very hard to get a feel for how bad it is without seeing it in real life.

You are clearly however not happy with it and there has been some responsibility taken by the supplier. Personally as a contractor i feel it is largely the responsibility of the supplier, sending different batch's on the same order is clearly a mistake by someone because even if he had checked them prior to laying the contractor would have had to send them back anyway so i think that is a nonsense excuse on behalf of the supplier.

As for some resolution, i can understand why the various parties are reluctant to spend or part with money fixing it as it should weather in better but the next step is up to you really and how far you want to take it.

Trying to live with it and get some of the money back as compensation might be your best bet. As for spreading them around, whilst this would probably work you would really need to lift most of the drive to do it really well and the contractor i imagine will not go for it. Its a shame as otherwise it looks like a nice job.
Cant see a difference from those pics. Anyway the contractor should check the colours and pull "randomly" from the packs - that's what most manufacturers say in their blurb.
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Freddy, the pic with the shape of a car was 1st attempt, they have placed them more randomly in 2nd pic, (photos should have been other way round).
I dont think they look to bad, probably more noticable if you are looking out the window down at them.
If they can scource the right paviour, its not a big job to replace them.
Not a very big drive for 9.5k
Anyway the contractor should check the colours and pull "randomly" from the packs - that's what most manufacturers say in their blurb.

that is simply to avoid having lots of the same colours in one area, the batch problem is a whole other issue. They premix dye and then use it gradually making the blocks, then when they need more dye they start a seperate new batch so as to clearly break in case of slight variation.
Hi All,

Thanks for your comments so far.

Cotswold - After the first attempt - there was no matching paviour available, the second attempt was there effort to match. My grievance is, why should I have to have a "second attempt drive" after paying for a first class good one.
9.5k was for, removing all the old flags, front lawn, borders right side & front. Laying base, front and garage drainage channels, soak away in the front lawn, new top soil & lawn, new driveway and a large three step up to the front door.
The driveway looks uneven in the flesh, moreover from the rooms upstairs. If I except the blocks moved around into a more even scheme how would it look. As I don't think there are enough different coloured blocks to get it to work ? If it was all the same as the middle I might be happy ?
The photos do not show the full extent of the problem.

I feel if the job had been done correctly with all the matching blocks it would look fantastic but because they cocked up I am left with an inferior and less attractive drive.

Whats your opinion on the "when it looks wet it looks ok" statement ?

Here is a picture when it rains or as it dries and a better one from today.

Thanks again for looking and comments
Its sh1te, I would invoke the warranty and have it all replaced.
They have had their turns making good.

Any paving specialist like to comment please -I really need an expert opinion.

Have you paid yet?

If you have, then there is nothing you can say that will convince the contractor, other than the threat of legal recourse, IMHO.

Maybe time to find a solicitor to get a letter draughted, or, learn to live with it.

If you haven't then, eventually, they'll either give up or come back to sort the whole lot out again.
Lets face it you have given them every opportunity to correct and it is still a dogs dinner, even when wet.

It is NOT an attractive driveway, as I`m sure it was sold as.

Tell them to either replace it or remove it and give you your money back.
With a solicitors letter.
Hi All,

Yes we paid a few days after it was finished - it did look good then. It was only after about 6 weeks when we started to notice the first problem.

I have started proceedings against them, a letter has been sent.

I will keep you informed.

Thanks guys.

Hi All,

Well it's nearly a year since I posted this story, I thought I would bring you up to date with how it looks now.

Myself and the contractors have been arguing all year, I am now waiting for a court date.

They say it is blending in beautifully !!
They also say I am to blame because I power washed the lower half, which has stopped the colour weathering to match ?

I would very much like to hear your opinions please.

Thanks for any help offered.

I'm sorry this has been such a saga for you.

The problem is there is no total solution aside from lifting the drive and starting again with a complete new batch.

Power-washing was a bad idea as it can change the surface texture of the blocks and reduce the strength of colour.

Have you tried chemically cleaning it? A dose of hypochlorite would be interesting to see how they react when all cleaned together.

The other option worth considering is spreading kiln dried sand and plating it without a neoprene matt. Its a trick i sometimes use to help blend a little between old and new paving of the same type and works quite well on tegula.

These are very much options to be considered at your own risk as they may exacerbate the problem but if it was me i would try it especially the re-plating/sanding.

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