It’s hard to know whether a contractor is reliable and/or if their price quote is in line with where it should be. Additionally, do you know exactly what is included in that price and what you’re getting for that money? Of course, the best way to evaluate a contractor is to do your research; look at reputations, look at industry pricing, products and methods used, etc. The best way to ensure that you understand exactly what you are getting is to have a written contract signed by both parties. You want to make sure that this contract is detailed, straight forward, and doesn’t contain any “fishy” language. There are also some key components that should be included within the paving estimate.
- In-person Inspection – Be precautious if a paving company is quoting you over the phone without actually coming out to the site. A professional paver should be inspecting the property onsite. This allows for them to assess the current state of the blacktop, to take accurate measurements, to understand what exactly needs to be done, and put together a more accurate plan and price. This also helps to eliminate hidden costs. If the paver doesn’t come out to the site, it is much easier for them to later say “we didn’t account for this”.
- Verbal Explanation – While a written explanation is extremely important and helpful, it is easy to misunderstand contracts, especially if you aren’t a professional in the industry. Your paving contractor should take the time to discuss and go over the contract with you. Additionally, it is important to make sure that they are listening and understanding your needs. While our opinion and suggestions are important as the professionals, we also need to listen to you to understand your expectations, needs, and wants. While we may believe one method is the best option, it may not be in your budget or may not be something you’re interested in. However, if this is the case, your professional paver should make sure that your expectations are accurate and that you understand the lifespan/expected wear of your method of choice.
- Drainage Plan – It’s so easy to forget about drainage when discussing your paving project, but it is of huge importance. Without the proper drainage, your pavement will deconstruct prematurely due to water penetration. It is key to make sure that your contractor is discussing their plans and/or suggestions for a draining system within your paving estimate. This will help you to understand how your drainage should be working, which also allows for you to better understand and identify if it isn’t working correctly.
- Methods & Materials Used – What types of materials will they be using? Asphalt isn’t descriptive enough! What type of asphalt? How thick will the asphalt be? Are they ripping out the existing asphalt and paving new, or simply paving on top of the existing layer? This should be indicated to you, as well as included in your written contract.
- Reputation – In this day and age, checking a contractor’s online reputation is usually one of the first steps of research. In fact, if the reviews are not so good, a consumer is very unlikely to even continue their research. However, gathering referrals from the contractor at the consultation can be very beneficial as well. A reputable contractor will have a large number of happy clients, contractors, and business partners to share with you. If you are interested in further qualifying your contractor, contacting some of these sources can be helpful. If a contractor shies away from providing you with referrals, this should be a red flag.
- Customer Service – In the contracting world, customer service is often lacking. I think we can all agree that there is nothing worse than having poor communication with a contractor set to work on your home. They don’t show up when they say they will, they don’t call, they are late, etc. The first stages of your project (scheduling, and the estimate) are great times to gauge the customer service of the company. If before or during the paving estimate the customer service or communication falls short, chances are it’ll only get worse after you sign. Communication is key in executing a project accurately and to your satisfaction. This means an in depth and clear written contract, as well as clear and respectful verbal communication. Schedule organization is also another key in determining how the customer service is of the company. Customer service is not an area that you want to compromise on, as if you do this will likely cause you unnecessary headaches.
Whether you are receiving and estimate for driveway paving or parking lot paving, the estimate is an important indicator of how the rest of the project will go. Not only can a signed contract help set the tone, but it will also serve to help keep both parties accountable. It is important that you understand fully what work you are expected to receive, and if you are paying what you should for said work. Checking your contractor’s reputation and asking around should be a key part of your research phase.
At EastCoat Pavement, our process starts with a free paving estimate that includes a thorough analysis and site inspection. During this consultation, we will take the time to answer all of your questions, understand your needs, and assess the current state of your pavement. Since we specialize in commercial parking lot paving and maintenance, we are also extremely experienced in working closely with clients to create a custom project plan for execution based on traffic patterns to ensure the least amount of interruption as possible. We will manage every aspect of the job from the first call to a successful completion. But don’t take our word for it, give us a call and let us walk you through our process and provide you with a comprehensive paving estimate that you can understand and feel comfortable signing.