Considerations for Choosing the Right Houston Paving Contractor
Pavement installation and maintenance is an expert-level job, which makes knowing what to look for in a Houston paving contractor extremely important.
There are numerous asphalt paving and concrete paving services to choose from in Houston, so how do you choose the right company for your project? Here are five important things to look for in any Houston paving contractor you are considering:
1) Extensive Experience with Local Houston Paving Projects
Experience is nice, but experience in Houston is even better. Every region in the U.S. presents its own pavement challenges, and the Bayou City is no different. The paving contractor will need to have measures in place to mitigate the negative impacts of the climate and local soil conditions.
For example, large tracts of land in Houston feature clay-rich soils – often termed “gumbo” soil for its high concentration of organic solids. Gumbo soil has the tendency to dramatically swell and shrink with rain/drought cycles – placing extreme stresses on any pavement installed on top. Houston’s extreme heat also influences how concrete and asphalt paving is installed – for instance, concrete cures faster in hotter conditions.
If your pavement contractor has experience working in and around Houston, they’ll have the knowledge, materials, and processes in place to deal with gumbo soil. The pavement team, for example, may spend extra time excavating out the clays, if possible. Alternatively, they may mix an additive into the soil, such as lime, polymer, or an enzyme mix which are options that chemically bond the soil together and strengthen it.
If your pavement contractor has Houston-area experience, they’ll know how and when to deploy soil stabilization methods.
2) Positive References from Previous Clients in Houston
If your pavement contractor has experience in the city, they should be able to point to specific Houston-area projects they’ve worked on. Ideally, these are projects that you could go inspect in person, and a reputable contractor will have no problem providing references.
If you do have references to check out, the important points to consider are the condition of the pavement and its age. Some cracking is normal, but if the pavement is uneven in places, if there are numerous potholes, if it is warping or shedding aggregate (or large chunks of material), poor installation or maintenance practices may be the cause. If these problems are present and the pavement is still relatively new (less than five years), then that’s a potential red flag. If properly installed and maintained, concrete will remain in good condition for decades. Asphalt requires a bit more attention, but significant signs of damage shouldn’t set in for at least a few years following installation.
It’s also worth asking if the contractor has a visual portfolio that you can check out beforehand. If the team has worked on projects similar to yours in the past – such as a large commercial foundation or access road project – that’s a bonus.
3)Asphalt Paving Contractor Houston, Should Be Bonded and Insured
Pavement construction is a high-risk job, especially in heavily trafficked, dense urban areas like Houston. Worker and pedestrian injuries, damage to vehicles or nearby buildings, damage to utility lines, damage to the company’s property are all potential risks during pavement construction.
Given these risks, it’s strongly recommended that property owners focus on paving contractors that are bonded and insured. Workers’ compensation and general liability are considered standard and protect the client should damage or injury occur. Hiring a contractor without these in place means your company may be held responsible if an accident occurs during the job.
A surety bond is an additional layer of protection for clients that guarantees quality of work and service. With a bond in place, if the client disputes the contractor’s workmanship or practices, they can seek resolution by filing a claim against the bond.
You can think of a bond as a sign of reputation and confidence. It essentially says, “we believe in our work enough that we stake money on it.” If a Houston paving contractor can’t back their work to that extent, that’s a concern.
4) A Well-resourced and Staffed Paving Company
Everything Is bigger in Houston, including commercial development. Whether it is site prepping a multi-acre field or laying the foundation for a multi-level parking garage, Houston pavement contractors take on some big jobs. To ensure those paving projects are executed on time and on budget, contractors must have access to considerable manpower and equipment resources. Ideally, your contractor will have backup equipment in case the unexpected happens because losing a single piece of machinery can cause major delays.
A reputable pavement contractor will take every measure to avoid equipment-related delays, and therefore will have a plan B (and plan C) should a piece of machinery fail in the field.
The same can be said about manpower because contractors need a lot of skilled labor to see projects through safely – including engineering expertise.
Asking a few questions can clear this up. Do they rent or own their equipment? How do they keep track of their equipment resources? How many projects are they currently managing? Reputable companies can provide intelligent answers when put on the spot. Contractors that can’t explain their contingencies to their clients may not have contingencies in place at all.
5) A Paving Company with Reasonable Estimates and Clear Communication
If a paving contractor submits a bid that appears too good to be true, you know how the saying goes. It’s a common tactic for less reputable (and less experienced) companies to submit a noticeably lower estimate than competitors. Cost is always a factor, but extremely low bids usually come with low quality work and materials. Chances are, you’ll have to bring in a professional to redo the project and pay twice for the same job.
And with any significant construction project, you should expect professional communication throughout the process. This should be apparent from the start, and it should continue during permitting, planning, and project execution.
Choose a Houston Pavement Contractor with a Great Reputation
Asphalt and concrete can last for a long time if they are expertly installed and professionally maintained. Whether it’s a parking lot, a driveway, a street, a walkway, a foundation, or any other paving project, it should last decades. That kind of investment isn’t something property owners can trust to just any contractor – especially in Houston, where added challenges are expected.
You don’t need to know the ins and outs of pavement construction to identify a reputable Houston contractor. If the paving company has a history of successful Houston projects, is protected by insurance and bonding, and has a deep pool of resources to draw from (which is critical in today’s world of disrupted supply chains and labor markets), they should be ready to tackle your asphalt or concrete project with professionalism.