Before You Hire a Concrete Contractor

Jan 01, 2011
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Concrete bench
Source: Andrew Rollinger, Flickr.com

See that lovely house down the street – the one where the owners just put all that gorgeous stonework around the entrance? You probably thought that they must be millionaires to be able to afford it. Well, surprise – that fancy stone really isn’t stone at all! It’s concrete, and much less expensive than you thought. You suddenly realize that sprucing up the front walk and putting in that patio you’ve always wanted are within your budget after all. Once they’re completed, you might think about consulting a landscaper about the next step, but the patio and walk are first on the list.

Now that you’re ready to start, here are some tips for hiring a concrete contractor.

Get References

Start asking around. Talk to family, friends and co-workers and ask whom they’d recommend for the job. Ask them to show you the work that was done in their homes. Are they pleased? Was the price affordable? Did the concrete contractor stick to the schedule and the budget? Was he easy to reach and pleasant to work with? If the answer to all these questions is yes, then put his name on your list.

Get Estimates

Once you have a short list of concrete contractors – say, three or four – call each one, set up a meeting, have them come over to look over the place where the work will be done and give an estimate. Find out whether there are specific issues, such as weather conditions, that you need to keep in mind. A concrete contractor in Cincinnati will know what sort of materials can withstand years of ice and snow, followed by warmer summer temperatures, and how to maintain the work once it is done.

Remember that the lowest bid isn’t necessarily the most desirable. This is your home, after all, and you want excellent-quality work that will last. Lower than average bids are usually a warning signal. They can mean unreliability, no guarantee of the work, shoddy materials and so on. If you want good work that lasts, be willing to pay for quality.

Protect Yourself

Before signing anything, make sure that the concrete contractor is licensed, bonded and insured. If he has no insurance, you may be liable for all costs if there should be an accident on your property during the work. If he is not licensed, that could mean real trouble. Protect yourself, your family, and the concrete contractor and his workers too, by making sure that he has all licenses and insurance required by law.

Also, before you do any sort of construction work on your property, always check with the contractor and the local authorities to see what permits you need to obtain. Make sure to have those permits in hand before work begins, and keep them in a safe place during and after the job.

Get It in Writing

Once you have chosen the concrete contractor, draw up a contract. The contract should include all details of the work – all materials that are to be used, the project timeline, the payment schedule, any applicable warranties, and cleanup.

Rahel Jaskow is a home improvement writer, covering topics from pest control to frugal DIY.

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