So you’ve decided to improve your home with pavers, and now all that's left to do is to find the best contractor for you. However, finding a contractor can be a daunting task. Here’s some inside info that will help you.
1. Where to look for a paver installer or contractor
The first step for many people is an online search. Ideally, you want to make a list of at least two or three pavers contractors. Try to avoid adding general contractors to your list.
General contractors are a good idea if you are doing multiple projects simultaneously, but for a specific project they can be somewhat more expensive with less expertise in that area.
2. Check up on your paver contractors
It’s important to do your research. Check with the Contractor State License Board and check to see if your contractor’s license and insurance is up to date. It’s also important to check for any major complaints or unresolved issues with the Better Business Bureau, and of course, check the reviews on Angie’s List.
3. Check their industry recognition
Reliable contractors are often recognized by the manufacturers who inspect their work according to the manufacturer’s own specific standards. Be sure to look for authentic badges on your contractor’s website or brochures. Of course, you can simply call the manufacturer and ask them to recommend a company to install their products.
4. Make a call for a free estimate
You found the contractor you like and you decide to give them a call to schedule a free estimate. Ask yourself, did they sound organized? Were they accommodating? Were they able to provide the name of the person you will be meeting with?
If a company doesn’t have good customer service at the first call, then they certainly won’t have good customer service when you run into problems.
5. Prepare for the meeting
Go to the contractor’s website and search if they have an online catalog with online paver prices so you can browse by your budget and style. Knowing your preferred paver type can save you a lot of time and money.
6. Free estimate meeting
A good company representative will listen to your needs and answer any questions. The rep should have the experience to provide you with a basic design and cost. Ask the rep questions about certification he has – a good rep will be certified with the ICPI. Find out if the representative will be present during the actual work.
7. Getting the price
Always ask for a written estimate. Some reps will give you a price onsite and others will have to do more calculations and send you the proposal by email, depending on the complicity of the work. A bad sign is when the contractor lowers the price every time you say, “I need to think about it.” Prices that are too good to be true usually are!
8. Comparing and choosing the right company for you
Take your estimates and do a simple table score:
• How was your initial experience over the phone?
• How was your experience with the rep? (Pushy, changing prices, suspicious promotions, etc.)
• How professional was the estimate?
• Was the price reasonable but not “too good to be true?”
• Have they received any awards or industry recognition?
• How were their online reviews?
9. Signing the contract
Once you’ve found a company who you feel comfortable working with, and their price fits your budget, make sure all the information you've discussed with the contractor is in the contract. Make sure there is a sketch with all information. Make certain that the paver installation will be conducted according to ICPI standards.
10. You can always say no or change your mind
Even after you sign a contract, you have three business days to change your mind, and the contractor must return your deposit. It is far better to change your mind during that time period than to wait it out. Pavers are long lasting and durable; make sure to make the right choice.
About this Experts Contributor: James Browning represents Go Pavers, a family owned and operated paving contractor, providing services in Los Angeles. Since 1991, Go Pavers has specialized in residential stone work and design and installation of paving stones. You can follow this contributor on Twitter @GoPavers and Google+.
As of July 7, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.