by Ted Lovell, President of Jet-Seal, LLC
Often homeowners, commercial property owners, municipalities and sometimes even professional property management companies choose the lowest bid for paving and sealcoating projects.. This practice can end up costing much more in the long term long term. Most professional property management companies follow the basic guidelines of obtaining the proper documentation before accepting a bid from an asphalt contractor. The usual documentation consists of; proof of sufficient liability insurance, proof of workmen's compensation insurance and a W-9. Many may neglect to use resources such as the Better Business Bureau, personal references and online reviews. I'll explain why failure to do your due diligence can be costly..
Homeowner's violate these safe practices more than any other group. Many look at the bottom line and are seduced into thinking they are getting a bargain. These are some of the perils of taking the bait and some additional things to look for and questions to ask. All commercial grade asphalt sealer comes in a concentrated form from the manufacturer. The manufacturer provides strict guidelines for the mixture that is eventually applied to your parking lot or driveway. The components of the mixture consist of water, performance additives such as latex and silica sand. A typical recommended amount of water to be added is between 25 to 30 percent depending on factors such as the solids content of the product, the additives used and humidity. There is no way to know if the contractor added 25 percent water or 100 percent water. There are products that can very inexpensively manipulate viscosity. Over diluting the product will result in less solids being left on your pavement after the water dissipates and the product cures resulting in premature wear. Under diluting the product can result in the product not curing properly and tracking tar into your home or business. Additives are expensive and many contractors forego them completely. The benefits of latex additives are; accelerated drying time, a harder, blacker finish and aiding in suspending the silica sand in the sealer. If the sand is not distributed evenly throughout the final film left on your pavement it will cause premature failure. The benefits of silica sand when properly mixed are a harder, longer lasting film as well as providing a less slippery surface. If someone slips and falls on your pavement the property owner as well as the contractor can be held liable. This brings us to the next problem with choosing the lowest bid; insurance.
Fly by night contractors have been around forever. Some things to look for are out of state license plates, toll free telephone numbers with no local area code. Magnetic signs that can easily be changed to the "area" they are "hustling". The old "we have some additional material left over and can offer you a great deal". No reputable asphalt contractor ever has left over material. The cost of asphalt has soared with the cost of petroleum. Reputable paving companies rarely miscalculate the amount of material needed to complete a project. If they do certainly isn't by much. Reputable sealcoater's have round tanks with a hydraulic agitation system. Avoid any sealcoat company or individual with a square tank because proper agitation, which is essential is impossible. Properly agitated sealer will last virtually forever in a tank unless it freezes. So no reputable sealcoating contractor has "left over material" with the exception of late fall when a freeze can ruin the product. These scam artists rarely carry any type of insurance. If a hose breaks and sealer covers your home, your automobile or your concrete, you are left holding the bag so to speak. If a worker is injured or a freak accident causes death on your property and the contractor does not carry the proper insurance, you could lose everything.
When the economy took a free fall there were and still are people entering the asphalt maintenance business as a way to feed their family. Their theory was a cheap pickup truck, a plastic tank and a couple of brushes and bingo...I'm in the asphalt maintenance business! Without the proper knowledge of application procedures, proper equipment, liability insurance and workmen's compensation insurance even the most well meaning guy trying to provide good service can cause you the same grief as a con artist. Well meaning or not if something goes wrong you could be held liable. This brings us to the next topic; experience. How long has the company been in business? Verify this with as many sources as possible. The internet holds a wealth of information and a little time spent doing research can pay off tremendously. Usually, if something's less expensive there is good reason. Paying a little and getting a lot violates the common law of business.
~Ted Lovell - President - Jet-Seal, LLC
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