Whether you are planning to put in a new driveway, pave a parking lot, or need a foundation for a new building, the first and most important step in planning the project is to find a good concrete contractor. Dependability and honesty are two essential ingredients in an upstanding contracting business, but you also want to make sure you hire someone experienced and competent. Furthermore, you do not want to pay exorbitant prices for work that can be done well for much less. If you are not sure how to start looking for this type of contractor, here are some tips to help you along.
Use Your Local Government
No, your municipal building department is not going to come out and act as your paving contractor, but they may be able to give you a list of good contractors in your area. Your municipality should employ what is known as concrete inspectors and they know who’s who in your local area. Talk to them and you may be able to get an insider’s look at the best concrete contractors in town.
Post a Bulletin
In the old days, this advice would read as “ask your friends and co-workers for recommendations.” While that is still essentially the gist of it, Facebook and social media has made it easier to cast a much larger net. Why ask just the few people you know from the neighborhood when you can ask hundreds of your friends on Facebook? If you live in a large enough city like Houston, you may even be able to use resources like Reddit and Twitter to find recommendations. Keep in mind, too, that most concrete contractors do more than just pave driveways. Many of them work with metal buildings and are involved with commercial painting. Even if the ones in your area are not, they may be able to recommend someone in these fields.
Make Your Own Judgments
Once you have a list of five or six contractors who might fit the bill, set out to inspect their work. Hiring a foundation contractor or a company to rebuild your driveway is an expensive proposition, so when these companies tell you how great their work is, do not just take their word for it. Go out and see for yourself. And do not limit yourself to their most recent customers. The true test of a good concrete job is how well it holds up after a few years. When on site, look for cracks, application inconsistencies (the finish is uneven and incompetent), and appropriate joint placement. Bring an experienced concrete inspector with you if you are not sure how to tell a good concrete job from a bad one.
Talk to Prior Customers
You can learn a lot about a company’s work by looking at it, but do not forget the importance of actually talking to the customers themselves. There is more to a good contractor, after all, than just the finished product. Ask their customers if they would use them again if a concrete project came up in the future. Additionally, check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure you are not about to hire someone with a long backlog of unanswered complaints.
Finding the Right Contractor
As you may have guessed, hiring a good contractor takes time. You can skip all of these steps and simply hire the first guys you see in the phone book, but you are taking a big chance if you do. While there are some fantastic contractors out there, the market also has its share of liars, scammers, and fly-by-night outfits. To avoid shoddy work, due diligence is important. Research your prospects, and get as many referrals and recommendations as you can.