Steer clear of concrete driveway repair scams with a few easy tips
Cracks in your concrete driveway are inevitable and are most often due to age and weathering. When you’re ready to get those cracks fixed up, it’s imperative to hire the best local driveway repair pro for the job.
Luckily, with a few tips and tricks like getting multiple quotes, understanding the driveway repair process, and knowing what to look for if scam artists show up at your door, you can make this decision with confidence. Below we shared some best practices, so you can know what to look for (and what to avoid) when you hire a professional driveway contractor.
1. Get Multiple Quotes
The rule of thumb is to get at least three estimates from different contractors. During this process, you should also check out their references, and if possible, go look at some of the work the contractor has done to make sure they are familiar with this specific type of work.
It takes some elbow grease, but the time and research will be well worth it. A good pro will make sure to repair your driveway properly, and you will have gifted yourself with the peace of mind of a job well done.
There are three steps to getting a good quote.
1. Call the company and ask when they can come to your home to inspect the area that you need to be repaired. Quotes given out sight unseen can be inaccurate for the scope of your project.
2. During the appointment, ask exactly what the quote covers, how they will do the work, and who will do it. Ask to see proof of their license and insurance, as well. If the contractor can’t answer your questions and doesn’t make a plan to get back to you with answers, move on to the next company on your list.
3. Get everything in writing. Never let a contractor begin work without a signed contract. This protects both of you.
2. Understand the Basics of Concrete Driveway Repair
Understanding the process helps you navigate your way through quotes and contractor-speak.
The first thing to note is that, unfortunately, your concrete will never look brand new again. Short of replacing the driveway completely, it’s just not possible to regain that new concrete look.
Concrete driveways are repaired using a mix of cement and chemical binding agents. Pros should be able to tell you what kind of crack you have: shrinkage, expansion, heaving, settling, overloading, and premature drying. This conversation is important because they may be able to apply a preventative that will help you avoid more cracks in the future.
You should also know that some cracks are actually meant to be there. Necessary cracks occur along purposeful joints in the concrete slab, called control joints. These cracks in your driveway may not require repair after all, so having a pro look for themselves can help save you some money.
3. Know the Common Concrete Scams
While there are many trustworthy pros out there, it’s important to keep an eye out for scams during your search. Being informed gives you power. Here are the three most common concrete driveway scams:
The name-dropper appears at your door unannounced, saying they just did concrete repairs for someone(s) on your street/block/etc. You can get a great price if you agree to hire them right now.
The best way to handle a name-dropper is to ask for their references in writing and with phone numbers. Tell them you will call your neighbors to get their input. Usually, the name-dropper will say they don’t have all that information on them, maybe leave you a card (if they have them), and, hopefully, leave.
The “I Have Extra” Contractor
This person also shows up unannounced and claims to have “extra” materials after finishing a job in the neighborhood. If you can pay them now (in cash), you can get a nice discount on what you need. Reputable contractors don’t use this technique to get clients, so it’s best to pass here.
Pros will be able to take a credit or debit card. And cards are preferable because they have built-in protection in case anything does go wrong. If a pro insists on you paying in cash, it’s probably best to work with someone else.
4. Don’t Pay Everything Upfront
Many states and cities have laws about how much a contractor can ask for as an upfront payment. Be sure to look into what the regulations are in your area before starting the job. However, no matter what, you should not pay in full upfront.
Generally, a reasonable deposit ranges from 10% to 50% of the total project cost upfront. If a contractor asks for more than that, consider it a red flag.
A good pro will also want you to be comfortable, so have a conversation about a down payment that works for both of you.