As a professional paving company in North Texas, we run across folks who are unhappy with the quality they've received on their driveways. Some think they've been scammed. Sometimes they have and sometimes not so much. Either way, the threat of being scammed these days doesn't feel good at all so here's a post that discusses it in more detail.
Being scammed is something we all live with the possibility of today. We know it can happen in pretty much any endeavor we take on in our daily lives. Still, we've all become accustomed to taking calculated risks with our online shopping, the payments we make, the contracts we sign, and the passwords we put on our computers just to name a few.
Today, everyone does some due diligence, but eventually we have to make a decision to move forward.
You don't want deferred maintenance...
When it comes to driveway paving, putting it off because of fear is actually costing you far more than you think. The small puddle turns into alligator cracks and before you know it, expensive repairs are necessary to remove and replace damaged asphalt. The point is, it's not good to wait as deferred maintenance costs many times more than regular maintenance.
Still, the buying process can be a challenge. How do you know you're getting a fair price? How do you know the work will be completed on time, and on budget? Honestly, it can be hard to know, unless you have some honest discussions with the companies your getting bids from, references, or other experts that you can rely on. You should still be getting multiple bids on any home improvement project as experts recommend. The trick is to avoid being scammed or getting shoddy work that you've paid full price for.
What does not constitute a scam?
It seems that most of the time, when we talk to disappointed homeowners in Texas, they haven't been scammed at all. There are usually underlying issues involved. Here are a few to consider...
Underlying Water issues:
An example would be a paving company that points out that a homeowner needs a culvert and the homeowner doesn't want to pay for one. They pave without it and as a result water rushes over and under the driveway eroding it prematurely. This is not a scam because the paving company did what they were contracted to do, despite telling the homeowner what they did actually need.
Underlying base issues:
Another example would be an asphalt overlay that cracks. Here in Texas we have very bad soil conditions and the weather takes a mighty toll on paving of all types here. When a newer asphalt overlay cracks, the cause is most likely due to the underlying base or dirt. This would not constitute a scam because to remove the existing asphalt can be very costly for homeowners and few are willing to take on the financial burden of removing an entire driveway to start from scratch. This isn't a scam unless the overlay was wafer thin throughout. A good company would come see what happened, but in the case of a paving scam they very likely wouldn't.
Heavy Vehicle Traffic:
When a dump truck, trash truck (especially one with one rear axle), or other heavy trucks and trailers drive on a driveway, the weight can damage the asphalt. This is especially true in the period of time before the asphalt is cured. Asphalt companies will ask you not to drive on a new driveway right away, and no heavy traffic should be allowed on it before it has time to cure. If asphalt is bending and breaking, it may not be the overlay or driveway, but rather the commercial traffic driving on it. This would not be a scam, but a good company could help you out and look at the damage and potentially fix it for you. A scammer wouldn't be reached for comment.
"Weeds and water go where they want."
If a company puts in asphalt and some grass or weeds make it through it's not necessarily a scam, but it can also be a tell-tale sign. Here in Texas, grass and weeds are pretty veracious, and they can make some asphalt seem like it was put on thin even when it wasn't. Additionally, a paving company with a good reputation could put in a driveway that inadvertently has a small area with thinner asphalt than it should, but a paving scam would involve a very thin layer throughout.
If a paving company falls short in a small area and a few weeds poke through it would be more appropriate to categorize it as an isolated defect of workmanship and the company should be willing to remedy it. On the other hand, if numerous patches of thick grass and weeds grow though more consistently across the driveway, it is likely a scam, especially if the company will not be willing to make good on it.
Remember... A quality paving company should be putting at least 2-3 inches of asphalt on top of a firm base and any weeds or grass that eventually make it through would be more sparse. A scam would involve very thin pavement throughout. A good company will address issues, a scammer wouldn't.
What may be a paving scam?
The best way to explain a paving scam is that it would be a combination of factors including a high-pressure sale where the company may say they have extra asphalt from another job or something and have to do the work immediately. This alone could be fine, but the scam part is that the price is high, and the quality of work low.
In our book, that would constitute a scam - shoddy work for high dollars.
Here are signs to look for that may lead to a driveway you're not proud of:
• High-pressure sales
• Unmarked trucks
• Something is too-good-to-be-true
• No written estimates
• Door-to-door sales
• Leftover product
• Out-of-state plates or phone
• Company doesn't pull up in Google
• Company has high percentage of bad reviews
• Not a company in good standing with the state
Here are a few things you can do to get a quality paving contractor:
• Check references or past work examples
• Get multiple bids
• Use a site such as HomeAdvisor to ensure contractors have passed a background check
• Get a clear explanation of the work being bid
• Let contractor know exactly what you're expecting
• Get recommendations from the neighborhood sites you are a member of and check out their driveways.
Hope that helps!
Keep in mind, the vast majority of problems with paving and driveways in Texas isn't the result of a scammer, but is more often attributable to the existing driveway, the underlying road base, water issues or other factors that Texas has its fair share of that are cost prohibitive or not approved by the homeowner.
Although there is no real way to officially warranty paving due to the water and soil issues here, a good company will stand behind their work and value their reputation.
When they won't stand behind their work, don't have or don't care about their reputation, and also do work that is suspect, that's when things get scammy.
Comments are open so you can leave your thoughts, too.
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