aj mccormack and son pavingexpert.com

FAQ - Emails

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faqs
emailing for help
ruler
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Getting an email reply:

Why don't you reply immediately?

Every week during the busy season, I receive over 1,000 emails plus 100+ telephone calls from people all over the world looking for an answer to their paving query or trying to sell me construction products that I do not want. There are also quite a few 'eejit' questions, such as “Do you sell….”, “How much is….” and “Have you got an office in Santa Barbara?”

When I can help, I do, but my time (and patience) is limited.

With the best will in the world, I simply can't allocate more than a couple of minutes to reading and answering each email. If I were to spend 10 minutes on each of the 70+ emails which I do answer each day, that would eat up almost 12 hours. The 3 hours I currently devote to answering emails each day is as much as I can physically manage. At some point, I have to eat, sleep and earn a living.

 


Have you searched the website?

In many cases, the answer is already on the website, but the enquirer either can't find, or can't be arsed to find, that answer. Comments such as "I'm busy and don't have the time to read your site…." are likely to be given excruciatingly short shrift, often involving industrial language.
There is a very useful and reliable search box in the top right corner of almost every page on the website. Simply type in the key words or terms in your question, click [SEARCH] and in a fraction of a second, you will have a list of potential leads.

However, where it is simply a case of an enquirer not being able to locate the answer despite searching, the email reply from me will often be nothing more than a link to where the answer can be found.

search tool
 

Check the FAQs

There are a growing number of FAQs on the website, but even these don't seem to stem the steady flow of exactly the same question, day in and day out. Please check the FAQ list before emailing queries – the answer may already be there and you could save me some time and spare your eyes/ears from exposure to anglo-saxon profanity.

If you receive a reply which simply states RTFFAQ, it means Read the Effing FAQ.

faq index

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Short and Sweet

Why are you so curt in your reply?

Where a written answer is required, I try to do it as efficiently and succinctly as possible, without using jargon or complicated theorems. This may seem curt or brusque to some, but please understand that it is simply the pressure on my time that compels me to be concise.

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Follow-up questions

Can you give me further information?

Occasionally, the enquirer needs further information or explanation following on from the answer provided. This is often understandable, but it is an enormous help to me if the original question and reply are included in any request for follow-up information.

It's not always possible to recall the fine detail of every enquiry, especially when a day or more may have passed since the original answer was provided. Single line follow-up emails along the lines of "So should I use 60mm or 80mm?" are likely to be deleted, with or without cursing as befits the moment.

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Design and construction:

How would I design/build/price this idea…?

Another perennial favourite, both with DIYers and architects. The former can be largely forgiven, because they simply don't have the knowledge or experience, but the latter are all too often just bone idle juniors looking for a quick and free answer which they can then sell to their client and earn a pat on the head from their boss. That really irks me.

Again, this all comes down to a matter of there being a limited number of hours in the day. I just do not have the time to type out detailed answers and/or to prepare drawings to show how such-and-such would be constructed, or how this and that can be used together.

These are, to be fair, design or consultancy questions. A thorough answer cannot possibly be assessed, considered and prepared in the couple of minutes I have to answer 'free' emails, so the only way to deal with these requests is to treat them as commissions. If I spend 30 minutes typing an answer to Joe Bloggs, it's not fair to then expect Mrs Miggins to pay for a half-hour design job.

Any such design requests will usually be answered with a very brief email stating how long I think it would take to compile an answer, and how much it would cost.

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Commenting on shoddy work and/or materials:

Don't you agree that this job is awful?

Almost every day, I receive a number of unsolicited multi-part emails, links to photo-sharing websites and postal packages laden with photies, videos and highly detailed descriptions of projects that customers consider to be sub-standard or worrisome. As much as I'd like to help, I simply do not have the free time to pore over these missives and type out a considered and detailed opinion.

I earn part of my living by providing individual advice, opinion and comment on pavement construction, materials and paving workmanship, sometimes for personal consideration, sometimes as part of a legal action. It would not be fair for some enquirers to pay for my time while others receive it freely.

 

Consequently, should you wish me to give an opinion on work carried out on your behalf, then I can only do so as part of a professional consultancy arrangement, where I am paid for my time and expertise.

bad job
If you send me photies, drawings, descriptions, etc., you will receive by return a standard email outlining the current consultancy charges and minimum fees/charging period. I doubt that you work for nowt, so please don't expect professional advice and/or comment for free.

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What's this paving???

A regular request is for help to identify a particular type of paving. Some of these requests include a photograph or two, but many run along the lines of, "it's like a brick, and it's red and about 8 inches long" which really isn't much help.

I do have a pretty extensive library of paving used in Britain and Ireland over the past 60 years and more, but it can often take me some time to search through the archive, checking possibles, looking for pictures of probables, and all this takes up my very limited time.

mystery paving
Mystery paving
If I can look at a photograph and say, within two minutes, "Oh! That's such-and-such...." I don't mind, but if I need to start searching then I will have to start charging.

Accordingly, unless it is an easy-peasy-nacho-cheesy ID, then there will be a 25 quid charge to start looking into what it might be.

And, unfortunately, I can't guarantee to always identify the paving concerned. There are cases where a strange, say, block paver has been brought in from Europe and just isn't on my radar, or a special type of stone has been sourced for a particular project. In such cases, where I search but don't find the indentity or not even a shortlist of 'most likelys', then the charge holds.

If I look at a supplied photograph and know that it's unlikely I'll be able to identify the paving in question, then I'll say so, but you'll just have to trust me. If you don't think you can trust me, then don't bother asking.

 

So, if you do want to send a photo to be identified, it would be enormously helpful to show it as close-up as possible for a full piece, and include a ruler or tape measure so the dimensions can be judged.

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Advice on prices:

How much should I pay for....?

Another common request is to advise whether such-and-such a price is fair or reasonable, or to give guidance on what would be a fair price for the proposed work, or to work out the cost of materials for a particular job.

When it comes to pricing materials, a builders' merchant or landscape supplier will freely price materials with no obligation in the knowledge that, if they win the order, they make a profit, whereas, because I don't sell anything, I make nothing. Why would I waste my limited time creating a priced list from which I will not earn a penny?

As for pricing projects, I just can't comment. I haven't seen the site, so I can't make allowance for unknowns such as drainage, variation in levels, access problems, etc. and then there is the HUGE variation in prices that occurs throughout Britain and Ireland. If you want to pay a consultancy fee, I will spend time examining site drawings and Bills of Quantities. I'll even visit the site, if necessary, but this is NOT a free service. for a consultancy quote

Follow the advice given on the Getting a Contractor page: Make sure you obtain at least three quotes to give an indication of any potential problems and a guide to what is the 'going rate' locally.

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When an answer is essential or urgent:

I need an answer NOW!

There are instances when advice or an answer is desperately needed, or needed as quickly as possible. I do try to help whenever I can, but I have to be realistic and so I cannot simply drop whatever it is I'm working on at that moment (which is most likely work that pays for the running of this website).

When an answer is essential or urgent, the only way to guarantee more-or-less immediate attention is to pay for consultancy time.

text Text/SMS to arrange a 15 minute mini-consultancy.

Do NOT text questions. Do NOT text photies.

At best, I will ignore them. If I'm in a bad mood, you will get 160 characters of abuse by return!

ruler