Picking up Nickels

Friday, September 04, 2009

My experience getting my driveway repaved: Part 2

This is Part 2 of my series on getting my driveway repaved, where I detail the experience I had with the five paving contractors that I called for quotes. For my initial call the candidates, I conveyed a simple message:

I'm looking to get an estimate for a top course of asphalt for my existing driveway. I currently have a binder course only and am looking to get this job completed before the end of August.

Now, on to the candidates:

  1. Company A: These guys were great on paper. They've been in business since 1933, are a BBB Accredited Business with an A+ rating, and have a professional looking web site. I left a message with a receptionist and was called back by the owner himself less than an hour later politely telling me that they would not pave over binder put down by someone else. I asked him who he would call if he were in my situation and he gracefully sidestepped my question. (One interesting addendum: when I was speaking with one of the employees of the contractor I eventually went with, he mentioned Company A by name as one who has a good reputation in the paving business.)

  2. Company B: This company was also great on paper: BBB Accreditation with an A+ rating, a professional looking web site, and the Craigslist ad boasting of "recession prices". I was called back a couple of hours after leaving my message and a polite and professional representative came by to check out my driveway and give me a quote that same afternoon. He recommended replacing a small portion of my existing binder and paving over the rest for about $4200 (Holy Shnikes!). He's made several follow up phone calls since then, which eventually became quite annoying even though they I initially thought he was being professional.

  3. Company C: These guys are based in the town that I grew up in and I remember seeing their trucks around town when I was a kid. They did a nice job paving my in-laws driveway many years ago, had a B- rating with the BBB (with no complaints in three years), and they advertised on Craigslist. I called them on Tuesday afternoon and the owner stopped by a few hours later. His diagnosis of my driveway was more dire than Company B. He told me that quite a bit of my binder had failed and would need to be replaced and that he would get back to me in a day or two with a quote. I didn't hear back from them for a week, so I left another message and the owner called back the same night. This guy spent a lot of time on the phone with me and quoted me $4800 for replacing the failed portion of my binder and adding a topcoat or $6500 to remove everything and rebuild the entire driveway. He recommended that no matter what I decide to do I should not put a top coat over what I have now because the binder was in such terrible shape. He suggested that doing nothing and letting the existing driveway last as long as it can would be a better choice.

  4. Company D: This company had paved a few of the driveways in my neighborhood and has a B rating with the BBB. I left a voicemail and the owner stopped by a few days later after a missed appointment and some phone tag. His assessment of my driveway was very similar to Company C: the majority of my binder coat was not salvageable. To accentuate his point, he took out a pocket knife and removed a chunk of my binder coat. He told me that this coat of asphalt should be 1.5" thick, where mine is less than 1" thick in some places:

    He called back a few days later and quoted me a price of $5400 to replace my entire driveway, which I was able to get down to an even $5000 by offering to pay cash for the job. The owner followed up a couple of days later by mailing me a written proposal and a list of references for work done in the town I live in.

  5. Company E: These guys also paved a couple of driveways in my neighborhood. In fact, the owner stopped by my house a couple of years ago when working on my neighbor's driveway and did the "I'm doing a job in the area and have an extra truck of asphalt" routine. I passed on his generous offer that day, but my neighbor told me that the guy did a good job for a great price. I was also shocked to see that they were a BBB Accredited Business with an A+ rating and a good complaint history, so I ignored that little voice inside my head and left them a voicemail. The owner called back a few days later and said that he was eager to get a deal done today (not a good sign) and I said I was still in the process of getting quotes and was not ready to commit to a deal. He stopped by a few hours later and after quickly looking at my driveway he said he would put a top coat on my existing binder for $3000 and had come and gone in less than five minutes.

Next up is Part 3 where I discuss who I decided to go with and why.


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