Q: My poor driveway full of cracks and potholes is due for a makeover. Before I start making calls, does the BBB have any tips on hiring a contractor to repair it?
A: An attractive, well-kept driveway can help a home make a good first impression, provide protection against flooding, and even add value to your investment. But replacing a driveway can be a costly endeavor.
Better Business Bureau advises home owners to take the time to choose a contractor you can trust. When looking to hire a contractor for your driveway, BBB recommends the following tips:
1) Check references. Ask for local references and verify that the contractor is in compliance with all local licensing, bonding and insuring requirements. Always check out a contractor on bbb.org before doing business with them. Before you agree to a paving or paving repair job, there are three things to check: the status of the contractor's license, whether the contractor's bond is current, and the contractor's complaint resolution history with BBB. You may want to make sure that the contracting company is a member of an industry trade association such as National Asphalt Pavement Association: www.asphaltpavement.org.
2) Get it in writing. Be sure that the contract spells out which party is responsible for grading and sub grading, equipment and materials, labor, pavement thickness and smoothness, etc. Make sure the payment schedule is satisfactory and that there is a clear guarantee or warranty for the work. Also, get in writing an agreement that your yard is to be returned to pre-construction condition. Do not sign an agreement without understanding it.
3) Know your rights. If you hire a contractor, pay by check or credit card when the work is completed to your satisfaction. Do not pay for services in advance of the work being complete. Payment of 30 percent in advance for materials may be required in the contract. Be wary of door to door contractors who may suggest they have materials remaining from another job. If you are dealing with a traveling contractor, be extra cautious and make sure to ask for identification and independently verify all license, bonding, and insurance requirements. Also note the license plate number on the contractor's vehicle. If you get "buyer's remorse," you may be able to change your mind after the contract is signed. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has a three-day cooling off rule for in home purchases: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0176-protections-home-purchases-cooling-rule.
For more tips, visit bbb.org/news, and for the latest news check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BBBTNGA.
Get answers to your questions each Friday from Jim Winsett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Inc., which serves Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. Submit questions to his attention by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN, 37401-1447, or by e-mailing him at dflessner@ timesfreepress.com.