When it’s time for you to hire a local paving company for that next driveway, parking lot or sidewalk paving job, it is easy to get over-whelmed with internet search results. Regardless of what you need paved, spending some time to find the right contractor is worth every minute of interruption to one’s busy schedule. Without knowing some qualifying questions to ask potential paving companies, it may be easy to select the wrong one if you aren’t careful. In doing so, the wrong company will only lead to head-aches and pot-holes down the road and NO -ONE wants to experience that.

Here are the top 14 tips to keep in mind when hiring a local paving company:

Tip #1 – Select Several Top Rated Paving Companies

The best companies typically get their business by word-of-mouth, referrals and marketing. Ask a friend or a neighbor who has had their driveway paved, who they used. Did they like the quality of the job? If so, add them to your list. This is probably one of the best ways to find who you are looking for. Your local chamber of commerce also may be able to give you some names and numbers of reputable companies.

Tip #2 – Are they Established?

You don’t want to be a business’s first paving company if you can help it. Even though they may be new to the industry and say they can get the job done, politely pass on their offer. If the job is not done properly, you will spend more money to get it fixed and done right. If there are no reviews or customer testimonials, just move on.

Tip #3 – Verify, Verify, Verify

If it’s your neighbor who referred you to the company, then it shouldn’t take too long to verify the legitimacy of that company and their performance.  But if you are hiring a local paving crew without LOCAL knowledge, then it is best to verify all credentials available. Ask the company for some references; they should have several properties that are available for you to speak to someone, confirming the quality of their work.

Simple questions like, “are you happy with the results of their work?” or “how did the job turn out, is the pavement holding up, since time has passed?” Any one of these should suffice to give you a better idea if you should consider the group further. At the same time, it is critical to make sure that the company you are hiring performs the job regularly. You don’t necessarily want to hire a company that paves interstates and highways, to do your driveway; just like you might not want to hire the driveway paving company to handle that large parking lot of yours.

They might not have a lot of experience in one area or the other, so do your homework.

Tip #4 – What Does Their Equipment Look Like?

Make sure that whoever you are talking to has equipment and has a crew. It requires at least 4-6 people to pave a single driveway if you are going to do it right. There’s at least 6 different moving parts and tasks in play while paving.

Some owners and bosses cut costs and hire off of gig sites to find cheap labor.

Do you want someone working at your home who has  no idea what’s going on? Second, hire a company that has their equipment in order. You can tell a lot by looking at the company’s equipment.  If the equipment is very old and beat up, there is a chance for equipment failure, resulting in job completion delays.

Tip #5 – Find Out Exactly What Needs to Be Done

It’s always good to understand the full scope of the job.  If it’s the driveway you are paving, how wide will it be? How will it connect to any sidewalks or the garage door? Make sure that the contractors can explain and show you exactly what will be done, where it will be done and how. That way you can visualize the work ahead of time, make sure it’s what you would like done  and most importantly, the company you are considering can perform all of the tasks that are required.

Tip #6 – Make Sure There Will Be A Contract

It is very important that you have a contract between you and the local paving company.

If for some reason, they don’t want to offer up a written agreement, DO NOT HIRE THEM.  The contract is designed to be your security blanket. The contract  should have details which include things  like; full job scope/description,  list of materials and quantities,  start and expected completion date, any warranties, terms/conditions, payment schedule, site foreman  info, etc. 

Tip #7 – What is their Warranty or Guarantee?

Once the job is complete, is there a warranty? Any professional paving company should offer some form of guarantee for their work. Also, what materials are they using? Is there a warranty on the products alone that are being used?

Tip #8 – Who Is In Charge?

Who will be in charge of the project? Many companies have a foreman, site manager or some other skilled tradesman to over-see the job. Make sure you know who that is, so if something arises and you need to contact someone quickly, you can.

Tip #9 – How about that Insurance?

Do they have insurance?

Require to see a company’s policy, ensuring everyone is covered. It does depend on what type of project you are hiring for, to determine what coverage they need. The legitimate companies will have all this in order and be able to show you verification.

If your property is commercial, special coverage may be needed. The last thing any homeowner or business owner needs is a paving crew-member getting hurt on your property, causing your home or business owner’s insurance rates to rise.

Tip #10 – What Site Work and Preparations are Required?

Inquire about the preparation and thickness of the base and the top-layers of asphalt. 

Companies attempting to cut cost may short the thickness or hastily prepare the base. If the base isn’t firm and packed properly, depressions will occur causing the asphalt to crack, create potholes and more. The proper thickness, density and materials are very important. Ensure that just as in the base layer, the topcoat is done properly.  According to the National Homeowner’s driveway Association, the proper thickness of a driveway’s top coat is critical.

Tip #11 – What Is the Sourcing of the Materials?

There are different qualities of asphalt out there, with different percentages of recycled products in it. If a good quality grade of asphalt isn’t picked, the quicker the driveway will deteriorate.  Double check to ensure they are getting the proper materials to do the job correctly.  This is another reason to use a reputable company. Some of the lesser reputable owners try to re-use old products and even recycled driveway materials, to save money.

Tip #12 – Know How to Protect Your Investment

Knowing the aftercare plan for your space is just as important. Keeping any warranties in mind, knowing when it is time to perform regular maintenance can help preserve the driveway or parking-lot. Depending on the application or surface you choose, there may be sealing or re-surfacing needed at some point. It’s important you know, so you can plan accordingly.

Tip #13 – Avoid “Low-Ball” Offers

To have a good experience, the paving process requires specific steps to be followed and cannot be done by just anyone. It is almost guaranteed that if you have been offered extremely low prices for the job, buyer beware, there is a reason for the low ball offer!  Attempting to save too much money in the beginning will most likely cause you more money in the long run, due to repairs or re-paving.

Tip #14 – What about Tree Roots?

Not every company you interview is going to be honest, so do your part and  protect yourself and your investment. Most contractors are there to pave your space, take your money and hopefully never see you again. For example, let’s say you want to pave your driveway. Said driveway is a straight shot from the road. Easy, right? Well, what about the tree’s that are lining the driveway?  Some of them are awfully close to the road. Many companies don’t want to point out issues such as this, so instead of working around it, or re-designing the driveway, some will build right over root systems. Knowing in 5-10 years, well, the driveway will be uneven and cracked once the roots have twisted and turned their way skyward, pushing the pavement up. Quality companies point out issues such as these and help you work around it, the correct way. 

Taking This All Into Consideration

All the questions above are great filters to weed out bad candidates. The last thing you wants is to pay out a bunch of money for a shoddy job. The skill of paving a driveway or parking lot is hard work, especially for the laborers; finding a paving company that is thoughtful enough to take care of their employees, just as much as their equipment, is a bonus.  Finding one that takes care of their employees, equipment and customers is the perfect candidate.

According to Virginias Asphalt Association, one industry standard that is often shorted or just not followed at all, is probably the most critical “standard.”  Some contractors and property owners occasionally will ignore “set & cure times” to speed the job up, or get the space up and running sooner. Not allowing all the steps of the paving construction process to cure and set into place is very important.  If the foundation or asphalt is walked on, driven on, or used in some manner to cause ruts or grooves in the compaction and grade of either,  it will result in faster deterioration of the finished product.. Most are anxious to start using their driveway or parking lot as soon as possible, so people drive on them practically as soon as the paving company has pulled off. You cannot notice it right away with the naked eye, but over time, the damage is done.  Those indentations’ will allow water puddles to form, causing the asphalt to weaken and crack, creating the despised pot-hole. For darn sakes, if you get your driveway paved and go through all the work to find a good contractor and get the job done right; wait the suggested amount of time before using it. 

To all those who live in climates that experience extreme temperatures, be careful! Be aware that extreme temperatures cause plenty of issues on newly paved asphalt. In very hot climates, don’t leave heavy objects sitting in one spot for long periods of time. It will create indentations. Proper maintenance of you pavement is critical in colder climates as well. Sealing any cracks, holes or other weak points is very, very important. If you don’t take care of your driveway, the extreme weather will ruin it. 

Just as you need to take care of your space in extreme conditions, regular sealing even in the mild and temperate climates will help protect against harmful UV rays. Protective coatings should be applied every 3-5 years according to the National Asphalt and Pavement Association. In addition, it is suggested that the best possible time to pave a driveway is in the spring time.

Choosing A Company

Based on the results of your interviews, you can now narrow the list down further to those companies who left you confident about their abilities to handle the job. You are now ready to have the driveway contractors on that “short list” make bids for the job. Just please remember the questions and rules to be followed in your selection process:

The final step is the contract. Before you sign anything, make sure the contract covers the following:

  • What are the responsibilities of the driveway contractor, exactly? Who is responsible for bringing in other professionals (for example, electricians) for peripheral work?
  • Compaction of the sub-grade and base
  • The thickness of the pavement
  • The overall cost and payment schedule
  • How long the job will take
  • A guarantee

So, now you are ready to make you decision.  Rest assured, if you followed the steps and advice above, you will be in good hands and have no regrets when it comes to hiring your local paving company.