Mark Roemer image of a newly paved driveway

Factors to Consider When Hiring a Driveway Contractor

I, Mark Roemer Oakland, understand the importance of a driveway in a suburban neighborhood. You must maintain it in good condition and get it replaced every couple of decades. However, choosing a driveway contractor isn’t easy. You need to put in some research to get the best out of your money. Let’s check out the factors you need to consider when hiring a driveway contractor.

1. Experience – No one wants to hire an amateur for a complicated job. You’ll never hire a carpenter’s apprentice for making or restoring an exquisite coffee table. The same holds for even regular things in your daily life. You don’t want an amateur to drive you around the city. That’s why you can’t compromise with a driveway contractor either. While driveway repair appears easy, it can get very complicated depending on the materials and tools required for the job.

Even if the driveway contractor has a few amateurs or inexperienced workers under them, you want the contractor to have put his fair share of years into the trade. When you hire an experienced driveway contractor, you know that they have dealt with all kinds of situations and are better prepared to tackle complications during the work and adjust their plan accordingly. An experienced driveway contractor would also thoroughly assess your property and account for everything that can go wrong to give you a better quote at the start instead of nasty surprises in the middle of the job.

2. Referrals – If the driveway contractor has been in this business for a few years and does a good job, he would have a decent portfolio of impressed clients. A reputable contractor won’t have any issues with showing referrals from his list of satisfied clients. When you are talking to different driveway contractors, make sure to ask them for three or more referrals. If a contractor is unable to even come up with three referrals, you should avoid them.

Your job doesn’t end after you get the referrals. Instead of taking those referrals at face value, you need to investigate them and contact those clients. Ask them detailed questions about the contractor’s services and quality of work. Genuine clients won’t have any trouble answering those detailed questions since most of them would have the same thoughts and experience. You’ll also get to know the kind of work and customer service you can expect from the contractor.

3. Licenses – When you hire anyone with a skilled trade, you want them to stick to the proper guidelines, and safety regulations and want them to have proper training and experience. Since you aren’t in the same industry, you only have referrals, licenses, and certifications to verify those things. The same holds for a driveway contractor. You need to make sure that they have the proper licenses and that their employees are properly trained.

Around half of the states in the US require contractors to be licensed when working on commercial properties. Unfortunately, most states don’t require a driveway contractor to be licensed for working on a residential property. While this keeps barriers of entry to the business low, it makes it difficult for you to hire the right contractor. So, while licenses may not be a necessity in your state, if a contractor has it, their trust factor and qualifications get a stamp of approval. Similar to the referrals, check the license with the local governing body and authorities to make sure it’s authentic.

4. Insurance – Insurance is another important factor when considering a driveway contractor. If a driveway contractor offers you suspiciously low rates compared to the competition, ask them for insurance documentation for the company and its employees. A contractor can offer you far cheaper rates than the competition if they don’t have insurance since they are saving on insurance premiums, paperwork, and tax and can transfer the cost benefit to you. 

However, you should always avoid such contractors. While the cost of repairing or replacing your driveway may be lower without insurance, it can come back to bite you in a big way. If one of the workers gets injured on your property or your property gets damaged, you won’t be covered and may even be held liable for covering those damages out of your pocket. You’ll end up paying a lot more on fighting a legal battle or settling out of court than the amount you saved on repairing your driveway.

5. Budget – Budget is always the most important factor in any kind of home improvement or maintenance job. Make sure that the driveway contractor presents you with an estimated cost of the project with a detailed price breakup after thoroughly assessing your property. If the contractor is inexperienced or dishonest, they would give you a quote without any physical inspection and that’s a red flag. Moreover, a quote helps you compare the prices of different driveway contractors.

6. Residential vs commercial and hidden fee – Every industry is specialized and you don’t want a contractor that has only worked on residential properties to repair the driveway on your large commercial property. Everything from the grade to the materials on commercial driveways is different since they experience more traffic and often heavier vehicles. So, if you want to get your commercial driveway fixed, make sure that it is done by a contractor with relevant expertise.

Depending on the scale and scope of the project, there are different complications that may occur. Before hiring a driveway contractor, ask them about the challenges that they expect and the increase in project cost if that happens. A reputable contractor values their reputation and your trust more than your money and would be transparent instead of slapping you with hidden fees.  

I, Mark Roemer Oakland, suggest that you consider the above-mentioned factors when hiring a driveway contractor. Make sure to ask them the right questions and do thorough research to find the right company for the job. Driveway repairs and replacements aren’t cheap and choosing the right company can have a drastic effect on the longevity of the driveway.