What You Should Know before Hiring an Asphalt Paver?
What is “Hot Mix” Asphalt?
It’s a mixture of aggregate (stone and sand of various sizes) and liquid asphalt cement mixed together under exacting conditions at a “Hot Mix” facility. It is available for use immediately after the pavement is placed and rolled, with no curing time required. Not only is it durable, long lasting and easy to maintain, the flexibility of the pavement enables it to easily conform to varying terrain features; and, being flexible, it resists ground movements (freeze-thaw actions) that could affect rigid pavements. There are many varieties of asphalt mixtures, each formulated for a specific purpose. Some provide a smoother and more uniformly textured surface, and may be more desirable, especially if you also intend to use a portion of your driveway as a play area (such as a basketball court, etc.). Consult your asphalt contractor for recommendations based on your own unique needs.
FULL-DEPTH HOT MIX ASPHALT DRIVEWAYS
Full-Depth Hot Mix driveways are totally constructed of Hot Mix from your sub-grade up, rather than having a stone base with an asphalt layer on top. Full-Depth driveways have the added advantages of being more resistant to freeze-thaw actions and poor drainage problems by keeping water out of the driveway base and providing greater uniform pavement strength.
CALLING IN A CONTRACTOR TO BID
A driveway contractor can be found through several sources:
- Look in the yellow pages of your telephone directory (a typical heading might be Asphalt and Asphalt Products or Paving Contractors.)
- Check with some of your friends or neighbors who may have had similar work done recently.
- Ask some of your local builders or others in the construction industry that can make recommendations.
- Call two or three contractors for bids, so that you have a range of prices to choose from.
- When the contractor or their representative comes by, go over the entire job with them so that you both know exactly what is to be done and who will do it, then ask for the specific items in writing. A good contractor will do some probing to see what your soil conditions are. If your driveway is an overlay job–the placing of a new surface on an already constructed asphalt or concrete base– the contractor will only have to check out any bad spots that have developed in the old pavement and their causes before putting down the overlay.
When a new driveway is being built, it is important that correct drainage be figured, that any low or soft spots be corrected, and that a soil sterilizer be applied to prevent grass or weeds from germinating and growing up through the pavement at a later date.
OVERLAYING A PRESENT DRIVEWAY
If you already have a driveway constructed of asphalt or concrete and it’s in bad shape, an overlay (the putting down of a new surface) of Hot Mix Asphalt will make your driveway like new again.
Prior to the overlay, it is important that all holes and trouble spots be patched and compacted correctly; otherwise your troubles may carry through to the new surface. Additional thickness may be required depending on the thickness and condition of the existing driveway.
If your driveway has a gate, check to see that the overlay will not affect the opening and closing of the gate. If it is affected, get a clear understanding of who is responsible for re-hanging the gate. Similarly, if there are surface boxes (water, valve, etc.) or drainage gratings in your driveway, check if the contract includes re-leveling of them.
BEWARE THE BARGAIN DRIVEWAY
If a contractor offers to do your driveway as a demonstration or special advertising job by phone, or by coming to your door and saying that you’ll have terrific savings, you should be wary of the quality of the job that will be done.
BEFORE YOU SIGN ANY CONTRACTS
- Contractors rarely offer a bid unless asked to do so.
- Ask contractors for references of any job that you can check.
- See if you can locate the paver or the firm in the phone directory (If they’re not listed, they may be just passing through your town or using a telephone answering service).
- Ask for bank references.
- Call your Better Business Bureau for a report.
- Ask the contractor if the company is a member, or purchases their Hot Mix Asphalt from a member of the National Asphalt Pavement Association.
AGREEING ON A CONTRACT
Once you’ve decided what kind of driveway you want, taken several bids from contractors and selected the contractor to do the job, you’re ready for the contract.
The contract should spell out such information as which party is responsible for grade establishment, preparation of sub-grade, pavement compacted thickness, furnishing of equipment, materials and labor, final job smoothness tolerances, payment schedule, and job guarantee/warranty. Also, get agreement that your yard is to be returned to pre-construction condition. You will also need to be aware of the laws concerning state contracts for home improvements.