Hiring a concrete firm or contractor for a project should be processed like a job interview. Just because you like what these companies say on their website or marketing materials, you’ll just give the contract to them without a challenge? The answer is no, especially if you have a big project and need to spend thousands.
Before you hire a concrete contractor on your shortlist, they must answer the following questions first:
1. Do You Have A Portfolio?
Most firms or sales guys will have one ready to show to you. However, you shouldn’t be satisfied with just pretty pictures of pavements and other stone works. They must provide you with a series of images that includes their people and equipment. It’s better if they can show you the before and after photos. And it would be great if they can show you videos.
2. Do You Offer A Guarantee Or Warranty?
Go straight to the point and ask if the firm offers a guarantee. Even if their website says that they offer one, it’s important that make sure that they do say it in person. Remember that even poorly done concrete can last a year or two before cracks appear, so it’s easy for some companies to get away without a guarantee.
However, hearing that they offer a guarantee isn’t enough, you should read a sample of their contract or warranty information. Be sure to digest everything as some warranties include multiple conditions, which can easily go over your head and you may accidentally void. Also, expect that some of them may only provide maintenance using concrete sealers while some may offer replacements.
Also, warranty conditions may differ from contractors working in different regions. After all, all concrete works and structures have a 100% chance to crack—the only question is when. Factors like extreme weather conditions can speed up cracking. If you live in a region with nasty summers and winters, you can expect that the warranties and guarantees you may read from your local contractors may appear less favorable than the ones you see on the web.
3. How Long Will The Project Take?
After discussing what you want to happen and the project details, ask them outright about how long can they accomplish the project? For small projects like concrete driveways, a decent contractor can finish them in two to three days. On the other hand, concrete walls, sidewalks, and counters can take a week or two.
If they don’t say the ‘right’ number of days, it doesn’t mean that they’re a bad company or an incompetent one. Remember, they’re supposed to be the experts and you’re a layman. Ask them why they will take longer or shorter compared to your preconceived idea on how long these projects take. Take their answers with a grain of salt, and move on to the next contractor. Compare the answer you previously got and the answer of the next contractor, and then practice your best judgment.
4. Are You The One Who Will Secure The Permits?
Securing a permit is a pain, so the contractor you’ll hire should do it for you. Do note that different states and cities have different permit requirements.
Depending on your location and project, your contractor may say no to this, so don’t jump the gun if you hear an answer like that. Remember that some concrete projects, especially the small ones, don’t require permits.
5. Are You Licensed?
Ask the contractor if they’re licensed. Unlicensed contractors can’t secure permits. However, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad choice. Put in mind that most unlicensed contractors can be as skilled as licensed ones. One of their biggest caveats is that they’re not well versed with most consumer protection laws. However, they have the advantage of being an inexpensive alternative to licensed concrete contractors.
So, when are unlicensed contractors a viable choice? Only consider one if you have a small project you want to be done quickly like concrete resurfacing, but only hire one with a good work history with people you know and can vouch for the contractor’s professionalism. Take note that in most states, unlicensed concrete contractors can work on small or low-budgeted projects legally.
However, if you have an expensive contract to offer, you should let the licensed pros do the job instead of risking it.
Knowing the questions to ask your concrete contractor before you hire is one way to ensure that you’ll get one that can get the job done. However, when listening to their answers, make sure that you open your mind. Some of them may not give you the answer you expect, but they may be the unconventional best choice because of some factors and considerations. Practice your best judgment.