You need to find a qualified and experienced paving contractor when paving your driveway, resurfacing your asphalt paving or adding an pathway, asphalt pad or parking area to your landscape. All of theses projects add value to your property, but only when completed correctly and built to last. Choosing the best contractor is vital, and following these top tips should help.
Tip # 1 - Get Multiple Quotes
A general rule of thumb when tackling any home improvement project, this tip applies to paving in particular. Get at least three quotes on your project. Even if you have a favorite contractor, or want to use the same company your neighbor hired, get a few more quotes in order to compare warranty, price and project inclusions.
Let each contractor know you are obtaining multiple quotes, and set a time limit for your comparisons. Gather the quotes together as they come in and rank them based on the initial meeting, professionalism of the quotation, price and other important elements of the project.
When comparing these quotes, check for inconsistencies in the work. Are all the paving contractors using the same asphalt mix (type and quantity)? Insist on a minimum compacted thickness of 2â€, and disregard any bids that are unclear on this point.
Tip # 2 - Uncover the Contractor's Reputation
Word of mouth remains the best form of advertising for contracting companies, but it also helps consumers to choose wisely. When choosing whom to call, or when comparing the various quotes you have obtained, be sure to dig for the contractor's reputation around town.
Check their website and local listing in the phone book. How long has the company been in business? Did the estimator supply a list of current references? Have they completed any work in your neighborhood? Is the firm listed with the Better Business Bureau, and how have they handled past disputes?
These basic questions give you a profile of the reputation. Plan to conduct further research on your preferred contractor(s) before signing the contract.
Tip # 3 - Ask About the Contractor's Experience
Although the general reputation helps to narrow down your choices, homeowners should have in-depth information about the contractor before making their final decision.
Start with the sales staff or estimators. How many years have they been in the industry? Can they handle your questions and educate you on the processes? The installation crew needs to have experience as well, with at least one well trained crew leader on site at all times. Ask for the name of that contact.
Certain questions help you to gauge the experience of a contractor. Discuss what type of traffic control the installers will implement (especially important for suburban and urban properties). Ask about any local bylaws regarding heavy trucks and machinery and find out whether the contractor will obtain the necessary permits. Find out what asphalt mix will be used, and what thickness you can expect (compacted thickness). If the contractor cannot confidently and honestly answer these questions, move on.
Tip # 4 - Consider Scheduling
Good paving contractors often book up quickly. Remember that weather and other factors can shorten the installation season, but an experienced paving contractor should be able to provide an estimated start date.
Some contractors can offer immediate service, tempting you to pay more or settle for lesser quality work. Although timing is important, always remember that quality workmanship and durable materials are worth the wait. Be wary of â€œtoo good to be trueâ€ scheduling offers.
Tip # 5 - Get a Detailed Written Contract
Many disreputable paving contractors have their sales pitch down pat, and can fool even the most discerning consumers. Protect yourself by insisting on a written contract before paying any deposit or signing any papers.
Your written contract should include:
- Total job cost, including applicable taxes
- Payment terms
- Details of the project, such as asphalt thickness, base specs and size of area to be paved
- Warranty coverage
- Terms and conditions
Read everything through carefully to be sure that you will receive exactly what the estimator outlined during the sales pitch. Due diligence has saved many homeowners from hiring mistakes, lost investments and severe headaches.
Negotiate payment terms that support both parties. Many contractors require a deposit, either to secure your position on the schedule or pay for materials up front. The balance of your project will likely be due upon completion, but be sure to have a good look at the paving before releasing final payment. If your project does not comply with the details set out in your written contract, appeal to the estimator and insist on proper completion.
Examples of Poor Business Practices by Shoddy Paving Contractors
We like to highlight professional, hard working contractors, but sometimes homeowners need fair warning about shoddy companies to make the right hiring decisions. Disreputable paving contractors tend to follow the typical pattern, and keeping an eye out for these signs may help you to avoid trouble.
Shoddy paving contractors tend to offer:
- Inferior materials - recycled asphalt, a weaker mix or a mix not suited to your climate
- Less materials - always insist on compacted asphalt at least 2-inches thick
- Completion of unnecessary work - if one of the quotations covers excess work, and you cannot obtain a reasonable explanation from the estimator, it may be unnecessary
- Next day or nearly immediate installation
- Limited warranty coverage
Avoid out-of-state or even out-of-county contractors, unless they have worked extensively in your area over a long period of time. Many disreputable contractors shift from region to region, moving on when their workmanship and poor business practices catch up with them.
Look for above average work, fair prices, experienced installers and a solid warranty when hiring the best paving contractor. Follow these tips to find a paving company you can rely on for quality work and dependable service. Your property is worth the time to research and hire wisely.Posted by: TrustedPros