With the recent rise in Asphalt paving scams here in the Raleigh area, we decided in order to protect our customers and clients that we would cover several of the top ways to spot a paving scam BEFORE it happens.
The Tactics of The Paving Scam
Paving scams have been around for years. Generally, they begin with an in-person interaction. Most often with a crew showing up at your door. The “contractor” claims that he has a truckload of leftover asphalt from a job they were doing just up the street. He just needs a place to dump it, so he offers to pave your driveway for a deal that seems too good to be true.
Once a price is agreed upon the crew will get underway paving your driveway. Generally, once they are nearing completion you will receive another knock on your door. This one is always bringing bad news. Some new development in the paving of your driveway has caused the price of the job to increase, often more than doubling the total cost. After getting you to agree to the new price and even signing a contract the crew will hurriedly finish the job, accept payment, and disappear into thin air. Any phone numbers or contact info they provided will turn out to be fake, making the crew completely unreachable, and untraceable.
The Contractor Shows Up at Your Door
The number one most obvious sign that you are going to be scammed is that the contractor shows up at your door. Most, if not all reputable contractors will NOT perform door to door sales. Be very wary of any contractor that shows up on your door offering paving services.
They Claim to Have Extra Asphalt from A Previous Job
Paving contractors just by the nature of the job are very good at estimating how much material they will need to complete a job. This is a must because once the hot asphalt is at a location, it must be laid and compacted in a very short window depending on temperatures. Many people think asphalt cures or dries like concrete but this is incorrect. Asphalt is set up and finished through a compaction process. If it is not compacted while at optimal temperature it will not achieve the proper densities and will become a loose aggregate that will ravel apart and deteriorate. Asphalt is a recyclable material and is processed back into an aggregate state at the asphalt plant using a crushing machine. The asphalt is then mixed with new liquid asphalt emulsion, sand, and fresh rock to make NCDOT Certified asphalt that can be resold to paving companies as needed. Due to the price and temperature constraints of the material no reputable paving company would have a substantial amount of asphalt left over nor would it be usable after coming from another job.
There’s No Written Contract Up Front
The absence of a written and signed contract up front before any work is done is another dead giveaway that you are the target of a scam or about to get a job of very poor quality. Contracts are in place for the protection of both the business, and the customer. Contracts outline expectations for the contractor and the client, without the contract the terms of the deal are subject to change.
The Contractor and Crew Are Driving Unmarked Vehicles
Contractors running around in unmarked trucks, or with plates and phone numbers from out of state are another good indication that this crew is a traveling paving company and is probably looking to scam you.
Get Referrals from Previous Customers
Lastly, if all else fails, take the time to check Google’s Business reviews . A quick google search will turn up the business’s information and reviews. A quick read through of the reviews will let you know the kind of company you are dealing with.
How to Tell If You Have Been Scammed
Maybe you’re reading this article just a bit too late, or maybe you’re just not sure that your paving job is holding up like it should be. Whatever the case, it’s easy to spot a shoddy contractor or paving job if you check for these traits.
The Prep Work
Just like painting, staining, or any other work where finish is an important aspect, the preparation work involved in paving is imperative. Without proper grading work and base preparation, the pavement will not drain properly. Asphalt is only as good as the stone base it’s laid on, if pavement is applied to a wet or moving sub-base it will flex and move under the weight of a vehicle and ultimately fail long before its proposed lifespan.
Installing pavement gives traveling water a smoother surface to move across and causes drainage water to move at faster speeds. The base must be graded to allow water to flow away from the house, as well as to prevent pooling on the driveway itself. Water pooling up on the surface in several locations is a clear sign of the contractor not properly preparing the base of the new driveway.
Another form of preparation work to watch out for is a crowned grading. This is where the center of the driveway sits up higher than either of the edges much like residential roads. The reason this is not a recommended tactic is not because it is less effective at draining water, but because this kind of preparation work is a great way for scammers to give the appearance of a quality job with thick asphalt on either of the visible edges, but the center of the driveway is often paved too thin, resulting in premature failures of the pavement down the center.
When asphalt is laid down it may look like a completed road or driveway, but in order to create a driveway that lasts for decades the pavement must be compacted right after having being laid. The use of a roller on the freshly laid asphalt ensures that the pavement is properly compacted, as well as smoothed into a tightly knit surface strong enough to support your vehicles. Without compaction the asphalt will not properly bind as it cools, resulting in a loose, crumbling driveway.
Shoddy paving contractors will sometimes try to save money by laying asphalt at the agreed thickness prior to the roller compacting the material. Depending on the mix design, asphalt generally compacts ¼’’ for every inch of loose material put down, if you are paying for a 2” driveway then the contractor should be putting down 2.5’’ of loose material prior to rolling.
Just Be Careful
In the end, it all comes down to being careful, doing your homework, and trusting your gut. There are plenty of legitimate businesses out there that will pave a driveway that will last for decades, but unfortunately, there are those who will take your money, and disappear, leaving you with a failing driveway just months or years down the road. If you are in need of a new driveway, “leave it to the professionals” and let the most trusted paving company in Raleigh come give you a free, honest estimate on a driveway that will last for years to come.