How to find a good concrete contractor
It’s a hard fact: you only get one chance to do the job right with concrete. Unlike some other home improvement projects, correcting poor workmanship can be costly and many times impossible without redoing the entire job. Because of this, hiring a highly qualified concrete contractor the first time is extremely important.
A cheap price usually means cheap work and cheap work is more costly in the long run.
To help guide homeowners when looking to hire a concrete contractor, we compiled a list of items to think about when evaluating your prospective contractors during the estimate.
- Are they insured for liability and workers compensation?
Any contractor you use should have liability and workman’s compensation insurance. This is a must have for any professional contractor. The insurance protects you if your property is damaged during the job or if one of the company’s employees is injured while working on your property. While a state license is not required in IL, most villages require contractor licensing in order to apply for a building permit. It’s important to ask to see their certificate of insurance when receiving the estimate.
- Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau, if so, what is their rating?
Get the answer to this question, then follow up by checking the rating yourself. The company’s BBB rating will give you a good idea of how their work meets customer’s expectations. A poor rating may indicate the contractor has a high number of unsettled customer complaints.
- Do they specialize in concrete and how many years of experience do they have?
It is important the company you select specializes in concrete and has many years of experience finishing concrete. Be cautious of contractors who claim to do it all. Concrete construction is a skilled trade that takes many years of practice to perfect ones craft. If a company has been doing concrete work for a long time, that’s evidence they are not some fly-by-night startup that may not have the expertise and equipment needed to do quality work that will withstand our Chicago winters. Also, make sure the contractor you hire is the company that will actually be performing the work and not subcontracting it out to another company.
- Will they provide a detailed written estimate?
It is critical you receive a written estimate that clearly lists dimensions, scope of work, materials used (e.g. six bag mix 4000 psi concrete), terms of the warranty and payment schedule. It’s important you and the contractor are on the same page and expectations have been understood by both parties. The more information on paper, the better. A sloppy and/or too general contract may lead to unwanted surprises down the road.
- Who will be supervising the work?
Will the person you received the estimate from be the same person managing the project? Who will ensure details are not missed, especially when the concrete is being poured? Being able to deal with the same person from start to finish will make the project run much smoother for you. Also, make sure the owner or a highly qualified foreman will be on site during the pour. Remember, you only get one chance to do it right with concrete.
- Can you see nearby examples of their work?
Any good contractor should be able to give you examples of driveways they’ve done near your location, so you can drive by and have a look. A contractor who cant produce a list of driveways they completed around your town may not have they experience they claim or may not be to proud of their past work. Also, ask to see driveways that are 2-3 years old, that is a better indication of the quality.
- How professional was the estimate?
Did they arrive on time? Did they exhibit a professional demeanor? Did they listen to your needs and were able to address all your questions? Did they take time to review the estimate with you? Did they appear pushy or aggressive in their sales approach? Overall, if you don’t feel comfortable with a contractor from the start, its probably a good idea to look further.
- Do they have high ratings on review sites, such as Angie’s List and Home Advisor?
A contractor who does high quality work will have customers eager to give feedback regarding their work. The same is true for those that do very poor work. A simple Google search will uncover what others are saying about a concrete contractor. Keep in mind even the best contractors will have a poor review for time-to-time but a pattern of poor reviews and complaints is a red flag.
- What associations are they involved in and do they have any certifications?
There are a number of trade associations for the concrete industry as well as certifications a contractor and/or their employees can receive. A contractor that is actively involved in the concrete industry is a good indicator that they are passionate about what they do and are up to date with the latest products and practices.
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