How To Pick A Contractor
Important Questions and Considerations before Picking Your contractor
- Too Good To Be True - we would advise you not to choose a contractor that has called you offering deals that seem too good to be true as more often than not they are! The Driveway industry has a terrible reputation due to rogue traders taking advantage of the vulnerable or people with a lack of installation knowledge. Never agree to anything until you have obtained further pricing from other companies. If you do you could risk a sub-standard job and be left with a project that needs to be restarted from scratch and you could find that the installer will have disappeared without trace. With most high quality companies you will need to book well in advance, so do your homework and, if necessary, wait for your new block paved driveway, patio or project to be installed professionally.
- Quotes vs Estimates - where possible always get a quote as opposed to an estimate. A reputable installer should be able to give you a quote for a small home project giving you the peace of mind of how much the job should cost. An estimate is exactly that - an estimated cost - you could find you are left with a hefty bill should the installer have mispriced the work. Please note this may not always be possible if the project is large and complex.
Get Written Quotes - get more than 1 quote, you should aim for at least 2 or 3 equivalent quotes from experienced professional companies detailing the proposed work. Things that generally should be included in a good quote:-
The patio or driveway design
What style and manufacturer of block paving will be used
Does the driveway drainage comply with the 2008 planning regulations
How deep will excavation be
What sub-base will be used to lay the driveway and how will it be compacted.
- Who Are You Contracting - always get a professional, written quote where possible or at least an estimate on company letterhead or an email from a registered company email address. Make sure the address is genuine and traceable - not a PO box or an accountants address. Preferably the phone number should be a landline - not just a mobile and be extremely cautious if you start getting calls from companies you have never contacted.
- Trade Associations - always ask if the driveway contractor belongs to a trade association like the Marshalls Register of Accredited Landscape Contractors or the Tobermore Register of Approved Contractors. These manufacturers normally carry out much of the hard work needed to vet a company and regularly visit the paving contractors on site to check on working standards, The Marshalls Register also lays down a strict code of conduct to which the driveway installers must adhere too so make sure you that you check the company is a member of the association they claim to be. Too often we see rouge traders claiming false membership of an association and illegally using their logos and literature.
- Previous Installation History - try to choose a local installer who has an established business and strong trading history changing there names every couple of years is a real alarm that you should avoid most companies have years of trading behind them. You should always ask for local addresses where they have installed block paved driveways or patios over their years of trading. There is no substitute for seeing a contractor's previous work, they should be proud to show off their work.
- The Money - only ever pay a very small deposit in advance. If the contractor you are considering does not have the resources to start the groundwork on your driveway or patio then they are probably not a credible business or financially at risk. If extra work is discovered once the job has started get the extra costs agreed in writing. Most companies will only request final payment once you are happy with the project. We recommend a £200- £500 deposit and 50% stage payments of outstanding balances on groundwork completion and job completion.
- Public Liability Insurance - always ask about public liability insurance. Contractors should have a minimum of £5,000,000 for Public Liability. Believe it or not this is not a legal obligation, although any company should be insured as a matter of course - if they are not you need to ask why (if they are a ligitimate member of a trade association this is very often a criteria of their membership).
- The Guarantee - real guarantees such as the Marshalls Accredited Landscape Contractor guarantee is insurance backed and index linked for 5 years on labour and 10 years on materials. This is just one of the guarantees that we offer.
These are pictures of a classic situation we routinely get called to by customers. Often they have been duped or mislead into paying dishonest contractors who fail to complete or make a mess of an install. In this instance unfortunately the contractor employed quite literally did not know how to install block paving.
We won an award from Marshalls for best driveway transformation in the Southwest of England for the work carried out below. Please take a look at the pictures and the lovely review from our customer.
'If we hadn't used a "cowboy" builder, who really did take us to the cleaners and do the worst job ever, I would never have searched Check-a-trade to try to find someone who would take up his "work" and install a beautiful driveway. We contacted Plymouth Block Pavers. Wayne came around - saw the mess the first builder had made of the job and we felt encouraged that his firm would do a good job. I am SO glad we went with them. The new, relayed driveway is now stunning. We were guided by Wayne re choosing new pavers and Neil and his son were so professional in laying the drive'.
Undisclosed Customer, Cornwall 2019