My experience getting my driveway repaved: Part 1
Over time, many of our neighbors put in new driveways with a 1.5" binder course and a 1.5" top coat. Being "frugal", I never seriously considered putting the top coat on our driveway until this past winter when the heavy snow left our driveway a squishy mess during the many freeze/thaw cycles we went through. I remember being a bit surprised when parts of the driveway were moving as I walked on it to get the mail out of the mailbox. At that point, I decided it was time to look into getting this mess taken care of when the weather warmed up a bit:
A couple of months ago, I finally sat down and tried to come up with a way to get some quotes from a few reliable paving companies. I figured that I should be well positioned to get a quality job done at great price since the price of oil (a major component of asphalt) is down about 50% over the past year and I have cash to spend in a recession following the collapse the housing bubble. Looking back, it's hard to believe I was ever that naive. :)
With that in mind, I put together my strategy for finding a few vendors to contact for a quote:
- The stodgy old phone book: I went through local phone books and yellow pages and added every paving contractor that I could find to a spreadsheet.
- The Better Business Bureau: I looked up the reliability report for every paving contractor in my spreadsheet. Some were an BBB Accredited Business, some had a great rating, one had a F rating and numerous unresolved complaints, and two were apparently no longer in business.
- Craigslist: I checked out Craigslist to see if any of the companies on my spreadsheet were hungry for work and embraced the web as a way to find new business. As luck would have it, two of the companies on my list had posted on Craigslist. One had paved my in-laws driveway many years ago and the other was a BBB Accredited Business with an A+ rating and a Craigslist ad mentioning "recession prices".
- The company web site: As an information technology (IT) professional, I wondered how many of these companies actually spent the time and expense building and maintaining a professional looking web site. It turned out that five out of twenty five companies in my spreadsheet had a decent-looking web site (including the company with the F rating from the BBB).
- Ask friends and neighbors for referrals: Not too much detail from these folks, but I found four people with a positive paving experience to share. Unfortunately, one of these companies was no longer in business.
- Check them out with the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety: This turned out to be a disappointing once I figured out that paving contractors in Massachusetts are not required to be licensed.
Using the above criteria, I ended up calling five paving companies and asked them to come by and give me a quote for an asphalt top coat on my driveway. My quest for the perfect (and affordable) driveway continues with Part 2 of this saga where I lay out the details of how things played out with those contractors. Stay tuned!