Are you thinking of installing a new concrete driveway?
A driveway can transform the exterior of your home and vastly improve its curb appeal, says The Listing Real Estate in Orlando. But a driveway is also a big investment. One mistake during the installation can ruin the external look of your property and your pocket will be paying the price for a very long time.
This is why the material you use for the driveway and the contractor who installs it matter. Concrete is a great choice for a driveway because of its range of styles and colors. Moreover, concrete needs little maintenance is easy to shovel in winter and can last upwards of 25 years.
But there is more to how long a driveway lasts than the material it is made of. Choosing the right contractor for the project is the critical factor in the quality of the driveway. That’s because mistakes during the installation of concrete driveways are hard to fix.
What are the things you should be looking for in the contractor you hire to lay your driveway?
Licenses and permits
Many states require concrete contractors to be licensed. A licensed contractor has been trained to the highest level required by their profession. They have also agreed to abide by the state’s standards and the rules of the professional bodies overseeing their trade.
A licensed contractor has been vetted and approved by others and can be trusted. Also, the contractor should be able to get the necessary permits for the project. Obtaining permits can be a lengthy and expensive process, but an experienced contractor can do this without too much difficulty.
Insurance, bonds, and guarantees
At the very minimum, the contractor should have enough liability insurance to cover the people who will work on the project and any damage to your property. If they are also bonded, that is an advantage. While insurance shields you from liability in the event of injury during the work, a bonded contractor ensures you will be reimbursed if the project is not completed as agreed.
Additionally, if the contractor offers a guarantee for their work, that is good too. But make sure you directly verify a contractor’s insurance and bonding with the respective companies.
Local experience matters
Installing a concrete driveway is a complicated job; there are many factors the contractor has to think about. The contractor’s years of experience matters because there are things that can only be learned in the field. The longer they have been in the profession, the better.
On the whole, experience matters, but give preference to contractors who have local experience – people who have worked in the area for a long time. That is because they understand the weather, soil, and drainage of the area. They will also be aware of any local regulations that may affect the project.
Ask for and contact references
Another good reason to use local contractors is it is easier to verify their references. An experienced contractor will have a list of clients they have worked for. If they did a good job for those customers, they should have no problems sharing their contact.
Ask for local references only. The jobs must have been done within the last two years and they should be similar to your own project. When talking to a contractor’s references, ask for permission to see the finished project, but if that is not possible, ask to see pictures of it.
Request a sample contract
When reviewing the sample contract, focus on the details and terms of the contract. How transparent is the contract and how easy is it to understand? Are dates and schedules clearly indicated? How does it assign responsibility? Does the contractor provide specific details about the scope and quality of the job? For instance, do they state how thick the pavement will be? Is the contract comprehensive; does it include secondary jobs? What are the terms of payment and is the included guarantee legally binding? A contract with details and clarity will save you from future problems.
You should contact or investigate as many as ten contractors at the beginning of your search. But you should only request quotes from the 3-5 contractors who meet the above criteria. Compare quotes to find the best one.
The best quote is not the lowest one, but the one with the most details and transparently-priced items. The prices a contractor quotes should be binding; without this, you will have no way of keeping costs under control.
Evaluate their customer relations
Finally, how does the contractor relate to you? Are you comfortable talking with them? Are they open to answering your questions or do they make you feel like you are probing by being defensive? How quickly do they respond to emails and are the responses detailed?
A contractor will normally put their best foot forward to win your business. If you are not happy with the interaction at the early stages, you may be sure it will only get worse.