We contracted with Stone Image Works (Current address: 208 East Terminal [Down Stairs], Atlantic Beach, NC) also doing business as Beautiful Lawns for two projects. The first project was for the installation of a paver walkway and patio. The patio included a fountain and surrounding flower bed with drip irrigation. The second project was the installation of a whole lawn irrigation system. Both projects were completed over a five month period. The performance and quality were marginal at best. Major issues we have with the two projects are addressed separately below. Pavers: During the initial meeting the Stone Image Works Owner/Representative orally described the process for installing concrete pavers. The process was consistent with installation standards established by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI). For residential patios and walkways the process consists of excavating the designated walkway/patio area and laying a compacted aggregate base generally 4? thick although the thickness may vary based on subgrade conditions and climate. A layer of bedding sand 1? to 1½? thick is placed over the compacted aggregate base. The pavers are then positioned, leveled and compacted over the sand layer. Unfortunately after the project was complete we learned Stone Image Works had not installed the compacted aggregate base. We were told by the Stone Image Works Owner/Representative the compacted base aggregate was not required and not used in our area by any of the landscapers he knew. The local ICPI representative confirmed the contractor?s claim was not true and he stated we would most likely begin to see problems with the installation within a year or two. We were not able to reach an acceptable resolution with the company. Irrigation: In November Stone Image Works installed a 12 zone irrigation system. Four months later in April the backflow preventer was installed and the water turned on in preparation for spring and summer watering requirements. Pipes in the system were broken in four locations. Stone Image Works was contacted and sent a repairman to our home the following week. While observing the repair we noticed some of the pipes were only 2? below the surface of the ground as opposed to normal 8? to 12?. The breaks occurred where the thin-wall PVC pipes compressed against each other. In three of the breaks leaks occurred at the point two or more pipes were compressed against each other. The pipe at the fourth break was completely shattered. Since the repairs were made we also learned the rain sensor was not connected to the controller. The wire was simply coiled and buried in the ground. Additionally waterproof wire connectors were not used. Finally, after checking with a plumber we learned Schedule 80 pipe should have been used instead of thin-wall pipe to connect the irrigation system to the house water line. Our experience with the work performed by Stone Image Works also doing business as Beautiful Lawns has been totally unsatisfactory. In my opinion the company either lacks knowledge of applicable industry standards for installing concrete pavers and irrigations systems or knowingly does not apply them. We will never use Stone Image Works/Beautiful Lawns, nor recommend the company to others. Lessons learned from the two projects as they relate to Stone Image Works are as follows: 1. For all stone/paver work insure the contract clearly specifies the work will be accomplished in accordance with and comply with industry standards defined by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI). If industry standards are not available, insure the contract clearly defines how the work will be performed. For example, all irrigation pipes will be at least 8? below ground surface. 2. Insure the contract contains a completion schedule and include clearly defined monetary penalties should the schedule not be met. 3. Insure contract contains a customer satisfaction clause that allows the withholding of at least 25% to 50% of the contract price without penalty until all work is finished, inspected, and accepted by the customer. 4. Include in the contract that the customer has the right to oversee or obtain an agent to oversee work performed and to insure all applicable industry standards are followed. Further, the contractor agrees to remedy substandard work at no expense to the customer and within a reasonable time frame. 5. Require the contractor to provide a complete list and description of the materials to be used and agree to replace components identified by the customer. (NOTE: The intent here is to allow the customer an opportunity to research materials the contractor intends to use and specify preferred items.) 6. Insure the contract contains a warranty clause that requires the contractor to compensate the customer for any work failing to meet industry standards or failure to use materials approved by the customer.