How to Find Good Paver Contractors

Image by Nicholas Humfrey. http://www.flickr.com/photos/njh/201936851/

Hardscape being installed.

Selecting a good paver contractor, one who is trustworthy, reliable, and skilled, is one of the most important decisions you can make if you decide to have your concrete pavers installed professionally. We know about all the horror stories about contractors: high or unfair prices, sloppy work, or not even showing up for the job! Especially if we have no friends or people we can trust to give us references, it might be especially hard to select the best contractor available. If you have an important job – carpentry, landscaping, masonry, or anything – and need professional installation, how do you find a trustworthy, licensed, skilled contractor? Read here for some tips and questions to ask to prevent an incident where your pavers contractor doesn’t show up or does substandard work.

Where to Find Contractors

There are many ways to find contractors, all with different degrees of efficiency.

The best way to find a reliable contractor is to get a referral from a friend or family member that already used his services. This way you will already know that the contractor does a professional job, and you can check out their work in person if you visit the referrers home.

If can’t get a referral, try searching online for contractors in your area. Visit their website, if possible, to see examples of their work and find contact information. Also try searching for “pavers contractors reviews” or the “specific contractor/company’s name reviews” to find online reports from customers if they exist. This can be a great way to get an uncensored look into the company’s operations.

If this doesn’t work, try the yellow pages. This is a rather antiquated method, however, as you will pretty much be throwing darts at a dartboard in this situation and hoping to pick out a good contractor.

The final method is to ask a local home improvement store or mason supply yard for recommendations. They may be able to point you in a direction of specific contractors or at least a directory of local contractors who may be able to serve your needs.

As you can see from this picture, picking the wrong contractor can be hazardous to your project! This is how you can avoid this calamity:

Questions to Ask Your Prospective Contractors

You should always interview as many contractors as possible, both to collect bids and to evaluate their skill and professionalism. You should still ask these questions even if you get a solid recommendation or referral from someone just to cover all the bases. Some questions to ask include:

About the Contractor and Previous Jobs

  • How many years has the contractor been in business? The more experienced the contractor, the better, though of course a new contractor is not necessarily a bad one. In particular, how long have they been installing pavers?
  • Does your contractor have experience with the job that they have been hired to perform? The more experience with basic and advanced jobs (and all the potential problems that could arise) will allow the contractor to be more suited for the work. If your project (paver driveway, paver walkway, paver patios, etc.) is especially large or small, or has some challenging aspects, are they qualified to handle it? Many contractors will have photos of previous jobs, so ask to see them. Do you like their work, both the craftsman ship and the design? This is also a good way to get ideas for your own project.
  • If possible, visit some of the contractors’ old jobs. Make sure, though, that the people who completed the work for those jobs will be completing the work at your home – otherwise, what’s the point?
  • Can the paver contractors provide you with references? You could also ask around for unsolicited references, or check out third-party/commercial consumer advocates. As stated above, do a Google search as well for reviews. You could also check around with companies that sell the paving stones to see if they have any knowledge or recommendations.

Rules and Regulations

  • Do they have the proper insurance and relevant licensing to do the job? Are their workers legal? This is a particular concern in some countries where undocumented immigrants sometimes work as manual laborers. It is often best to go with companies that don’t employ these individuals. This is especially important considering Worker Compensation laws – having a laborer working off the books at your home is not good for you, the employees, or the contractor.
  • Are any particular permits required for the work being done at your home?

Training

  • Have the pavers contractors taken any official training from a professional organization in their field, such as the ICPI? While this certification is not legally required, you can take comfort in the fact that they have the newest and best methods and support at their disposal for your home improvement project.
  • Does the contractor have design skills/experience? Often their experience in jobs will give them an eye for aesthetic details. You may be able to get some great tips from your contractor to make the job even better pleasing to the eye! Their experience in creating shapes and designs with concrete pavers in particular places and for particular projects might be invaluable. If they do not have this experience, you may have to hire someone else to help you with the design, if needed.

On the Job

  • Do they subcontract out any part of the job? To whom? You could ask the same questions of the subcontractor as to the contractor.
  • Who will be supervising? Will workers be left alone without direction? How many jobs does the company take at a time?
  • What paver brands do they usually recommend? Why? Make sure you like the pavers they prefer to use before you sign on with them.
  • Will there be any damage or disruption (such as clutter or materials) on neighbors’ property? Or on town property? Where will materials and tools be kept? For example, you will probably have pallets of brick laying around your yard for a few days. Will they be on the grass? On concrete or driveway? In the street? This is all important to know before the work begins.
  • When will the project start? When will it finish? Does the company/contractor have a reputation for punctuality and reliability?

Finances and Warranties

  • Will they provide a detailed estimate, and is it free? Do they follow as close as possible to their estimate? This is where references may come in handy.
  • What are the payment terms? Many hardscape contractors ask for 1/3 at the start, 1/3 after delivery of materials, and 1/3 at completion. Ask for a detailed list of the materials, labor, and other fees that you are being charged. This will be important to compare to other proposals prepared by competing contractors.
  • Make sure nothing is left out of the contract. Do they include cleanup of your yard due to machine work and other excavation? Make sure there will be no “gotcha!” extras waiting for you on job completion.
  • Will the paver contractors provide a warranty for his/her work? How long? Is it limited/full? Does the manufacturer of the materials (such as in the case of concrete pavers) provide any kind of warranty?