If concrete or asphalt paving isn’t installed while observing best practices, that pavement is doomed to early failure. Whether it’s a parking lot, a road, a driveway, a sidewalk, or another large piece of commercial pavement, it should provide 25-30 years of reliable performance with proper installation and maintenance. This is only possible if the project’s contractor has the right experience and resources in place.
If your organization is searching for a pavement contractor, it’s important to identify one with that combination of expertise, equipment, and manpower.
To do that, asking questions is a tried-and-true approach. You’ll learn a lot about a contractor by asking the right questions, so here are four to bring into your initial consultation.
1) Does the pavement team have experience in your area?
The U.S. is a big country with staggering variance in climate and soil composition. As such, there’s a multitude of region-specific pavement installation practices, each designed to work with the climate and soil the build team is regularly faced with.
For example, Houston’s hot, wet weather means contractors must expect (and factor in) weather-related delays. Those contractors must be ready to pour and finish concrete quickly, as hot weather means faster curing – or they must have measures in place to slow the curing process.
Also, much of Houston is built on gumbo soils, which feature expansive clays and organic material. Paving contractors must account for this, often by stabilizing the soil with additives and ensuring sufficient compaction. Efficient drainage is also critical, as these soils tend to suck up water after a heavy downpour, so they swell when it’s wet and shrink when it’s dry. That places a lot of stress on pavement projects.
With all of this in mind, you need a paving contractor with experience in your geographical area. If the paving service confirms that they have this experience, get specific with them regarding how they handle weather-related delays and Houston’s challenging build conditions.
2) Does the contractor have past clients that are willing to provide a positive testimonial?
This follows from the first question. It’s always wise to check paving services online and read any customer reviews before proceeding. It’s also wise to check the company’s Better Business Bureau rating and confirm they are in good standing.
But what’s better is speaking directly with one of the contractor’s past clients. Preferably, regarding a project installed more than a year ago. A reputable pavement contractor will have no issues providing references, so consider it a red flag if they won’t provide them.
Here’s why you want to target a project that’s at least a year past completion: Sometimes, poor workmanship takes a while to reveal itself. In this way, pavement construction is like car maintenance – if it’s not done right, it may take a while before it’s obvious. And if it’s not done right, it may be impossible for an untrained person to spot what went wrong.
After some time passes, poorly installed concrete or asphalt paving will develop obvious problems. Extensive cracking, warping, and base failures are examples, and they won’t be an issue if the pavement was properly installed.
If, after speaking to a couple of older clients, they back the contractor’s work, you’re on the right track.
3) Does the pavement contractor pull their own permits?
In Houston, contractors need a permit for almost every paving project. They also need a permit for any demolition services and a separate permit for site development. That’s a bundle of paperwork (and fees) that must be resolved before the project can officially get started. These permits are acquired from the city and can take a while to process, so they must be requested as soon as the ink dries on the contract.
More than 99 percent of the time, a reputable contractor will insist on pulling their own permits. There may be the rare exception if the company is hired as a subcontractor, but even in this case, a reputable crew will at least review the permits before proceeding.
A reputable company will not risk that reputation by skipping or rushing the permit process. A company that doesn’t care about its reputation may not even bother acquiring permits in the first place. That puts you, the property owner, at risk of serious financial or legal consequences if an accident occurs or if proper safety measures aren’t in place. If the contractor performs shoddy work without permits, it will be difficult to hold them accountable.
4) Can the contractor provide site planning and site development services too?
Even reputable paving services may turn in low quality or late work if the job is beyond their scope. This goes back to being properly resourced as a commercial pavement contractor. At the minimum, a reputable contractor will have ample equipment resources, an experienced crew, and one or more on-staff engineers to oversee site planning.
A shorthand way of identifying such a contractor is to choose one that has a successful history of site planning and development jobs. In Houston, site planning, site development and drainage construction are standard parts of any pavement project. Extensive grading and demolition may also be required.
By partnering with a contractor that can do it all, you’re more likely to pick a contractor that has it all, at least where equipment and personnel are concerned.
Ask the Right Questions, Get the Right Answers, Find the Right Houston Pavement Contractor
Every pavement job is an investment. From permitting and planning to pouring and finishing, it may take weeks to complete a project.
Pavement is not the kind of investment that property owners can afford to waste. If you ask the right questions before choosing a pavement contractor, it will soon become clear which crews can be trusted and which you should avoid working with.
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