Tips and Tech Info to Help you Make the Right Choices
Selecting the Best Surface for Your Job
The three main options for your home surfaces are: Asphalt, Concrete, and
Interlocking Pavers. Additional options include Flagstone, Marble stone and Brick. Which you select depends on your taste and budget. However, we will always make recommendations based on the area to be re-surfaced.
Asphalt is made up of Rock, Sand, Tar and Bitumen and starts out as a dense
(thick and heavy) dark liquid. It is designed to flex as the ground moved and yet remain solid enough for heavy cars and trucks to drive on it. Because of its flexibility, it is a good solution in colder climates where freezing and thawing occurs.
Maintenance: For the best life span it needs to be resealed every 3-5 years.
Pros: The least expensive paving solution. Less labor intensive to install and cheaper materials. Can be tinted for color variations. Can last 20-30 years.
Cons: Will dry out and crack over time, with large cracks turning into potholes and depressions. However, proper maintenance such as seal coating can help prolong the life of your surface. Not the best in hot climates.
Concrete is made up of three basic components: water, aggregate (rock, sand, or gravel) and Portland cement. It is a durable material that has a good life expectancy.
Maintenance: Should be sealed every 2 years for best life expectancy
Pros: Last up to 40 years which is longer than asphalt and requires less maintenance. Can be stained and stamped for variations in color and patterns.
Cons: More expensive surface. Cracks are harder to repair than asphalt cracks. Oil stains are hard to remove. Not the best in cold climates. Can crack and also is affected by salt.
Pavers are made from a very dry mix of gravel, sand, cement and color. The mixture is placed into a mold to produce the individual pavers. paving stone driveway is at least four times stronger than a regular concrete driveway.
Maintenance: None except for maybe a weed killer to remove weeds from the sand between the pavers.
Pros: Excellent solution – period! They come in a variety of colors and styles. They are highly recommended for climates with extremes in weather or earthquake prone regions, because they never crack, and the surface is easy to repair if needed. They are ready for use immediately after installation. Life expectancy is 50 year or more.
Cons: We really can’t think of any!
Selecting the Best Contractor for Your Job
Your home is your sanctuary and a deeply personal place reflecting who you are. It is also your single most valuable asset. Work done well and that stands the test of time is a sure way to improve both the beauty and functionality of your home as well as its value. Finding the right Contractor is essential – so, how do you make the right choice? Should you select the lowest priced bid, the Contractor with the largest company, or your neighbor’s son who’ll do the work on a handshake? Make the right decision and you’ll talk about them forever, make the wrong choice and you’ll probably be talking about them too, just not smiling when you’re doing it!
Following are some tips to help you make a good decision:
Tip #1: Don’t choose on price alone
“You usually get what you pay for” is so often true! You are about to make a serious investment of both money and time, and you should choose a Contractor that can provide excellent workmanship, has experience doing the kind of job you need done, and offers a fair price – and that doesn’t always mean the cheapest. There are different factors at work, including cost of materials, and the actual process used to complete the project. So, make sure you review the bids carefully, comparing every aspect of the project before
making your choice.
Tip #2: Chcck out the contractor’s business credentials and reputation.
Find out how long they have been doing business in your area. Anyone can say they can do a job, but Contractors that have been around for several years have stayed in business for good reason – usually happy customers as a result of quality work and fair prices.
Any reputable business will have references available. Speak with past customers, and look at the work that was done for them. Find out about the complete experience with the contractor such as if the crew was respectful and cleaned up every day, if the project was completed on time and budget, if the foreman was easy to communicate with during the length of the work, and if they were able to offer suggestions and advice that assisted you in making good decisions.
Ask for proof of insurance and a contractor’s license:
It is essential that your contractor has the proper credentials. Make sure they have a contractor’s license for the specific work you are having done. They must also carry Worker’s Compensation Insurance and General Liability Insurance, both of which can be verified by checking with your State Department of Commerce or the state Licensing Board. Do not select companies that do not provide Worker’s Compensation Insurance for their crews. This is an obvious hazard to their workers, but can also expose you to potential litigation in the
event of a job site injury. Have they ever had a complaint filed? Check with the BBB to see if there have been complaints filed against a contractor. And if there were, were they resolved properly.
Tip #3: Get an estimate and any guarantees in writing.
Do not leave your project to chance and memory. Get an estimate, final contract and any guarantees in writing. Make sure that everything the contractor promises to provide including materials, crew, equipment, preparation work and time estimates is clearly spelled out. Guarantees on materials and workmanship should also be clear. What are the payment requirements? You should not need to leave a deposit of more than 25%. Beware of contractors that ask for everything upfront. A solid business will have a good enough cash flow, and enough confidence in their own work to wait for final payment at the end of the project and upon complete satisfaction.
Tip #4: Pay attention to your overall feeling about the contractor.
You can’t under estimate the importance of a good working relationship with a contractor. They could be with you for as little as a day but for as long as several months, so you want to be sure that you get along.
- Are they easy to communicate with
- Do they respect your time by being prompt
- Are they sensitive to your concerns.
Usually your feeling about them during an initial interaction is a good indicator about your future relationship.