9 Tips On Hiring A Good Concrete Contractor (plus a checklist)
If you are a homeowner, you know that concrete improvement and maintenance projects are always just around the corner.
And while it’s fun to check work off of your task list, choosing a reliable concrete contractor for the job is stressful. After all, there is often a considerable amount of money involved - not to mention the aesthetics of your home!
Just imagine it: wouldn’t it be a relief to know that you are hiring a contractor that is trustworthy, honest, and dependable?
At K. Graber Construction, we understand the stress that choosing a good concrete contractor causes. We want to help you make a good choice so that your investment is money well spent.
That’s why we put our years of experience to work and wrote this article giving you 9 tips on hiring a good concrete contractor. At the end, you’ll find a comprehensive checklist so you can make sure you don’t miss anything.
Let’s get started!
How to Find A Good Concrete Contractor
Just like all good things in life, finding a dependable concrete contractor takes time and energy.
Our first encouragement to you is to simply take the time you need to do plenty of research and make a confident decision. Don’t allow things like a fast-approaching winter to rush your choice.
But how do you make the right choice?
Here are 9 tips so you can choose a good concrete contractor:
1 - Know What You Want With Your Concrete Project
Choosing the right contractor starts with you!
In other words:
Before you can make an informed decision and hire the right person for your concrete job, you need to know exactly what you want.
You particularly need to know what is most important to you.
Is keeping a low budget most important? If so, you should consider choosing a less experienced contractor. Inexperience doesn’t necessarily equal a poor job, and these contractors usually have lower rates than established businesses.
Is quality work of utmost importance? If quality trumps budget, than your safest bet is choosing an established concrete contractor with lots of experience and good referrals. You’ll be guaranteed a good job, but you can also expect higher prices.
It’s also good to be clear on what style of concrete work you want to do. Do you need to have a sidewalk or driveway poured? Perhaps you want a stamped patio installed or a retaining wall built.
While most businesses that work with concrete do a wide variety of jobs, many have areas of particular expertise and skill.
That’s why you should clarify precisely what you want to accomplish - so you can find a concrete contractor who specializes in that area.
2 - Create a List of Potential Contractors
After you nail down what’s most important to you, it’s time to compile a list of potential contractors.
Where should you go to begin compiling your list?
An excellent place to start is with friends and family. If you know someone in the home improvement field, ask them if they have any trusted contacts. You could also check with anyone you know that had a recent concrete project done. If they did their homework, they might have a quality suggestion for you.
You can also browse the internet for potential concrete contractors. Just be aware that you might find quite a few contractors in your area. Here are a few ideas for helping you sift through results from Google:
Professionalism: It’s true that concrete contractors likely aren’t web design experts - so don’t be too hard on them. But a professional website is indicative of a company that is run well and strives for excellence in all areas.
Transparency: Is it immediately clear what the contractor offers and how you can get it? If so, that’s a great option. If not, look for someone with more transparency.
Knowledge: Does the website demonstrate that the company you are researching is knowledgeable about concrete? If the website’s homepage isn’t clear on this point, you can always read the company’s blog.
Contact Information: Make sure the website is clear on how to contact the company. If a contractor is avoiding direct contact with you, red flags should start to go up!
The Yellowpages of the phone book are another great way to find potential concrete contractors. After all, there’s no better way of getting to know someone than having a conversation with them!
3 - Educate Yourself On Questions to Ask the Contractor
Once you’ve compiled a list of concrete contractors, it’s time to start talking to them.
This makes many people swallow hard - especially if they don’t know much about concrete.
But here’s the thing:
The contractor you want to hire is probably the one that you feel comfortable with.
In other words, the contractor that wants to have a conversation with you and kindly offers knowledgeable responses and suggestions to your questions may be the one for you.
Still, having an idea of some questions you’d like to ask potential concrete contractors beforehand is a good idea.
You can always ask questions about insurance, certifications, estimates, and more. Those are important enough that we’ll discuss them as their own topics.
We also encourage you to ask practical, technical questions about concrete, how it is poured, cured, and more. Asking these questions gives you a glimpse into the knowledge a concrete contractor has of the industry.
Here are a few examples:
What kind of concrete is best for the soil in this area?
Do you recommend using concrete additives? Why, or why not?
Should I use rebar in this concrete application?
What is your water-cement ratio? Why do you use that ratio?
How will you keep my concrete from cracking?
How can I maintain my concrete and lengthen its lifespan?
Only a reliable concrete contractor will be upfront about their personal practices like water to cement ratio. Good, confident answers also indicate a contractor with knowledge and experience.
4 - Get A Quote and Compare Prices
We all care about how much a concrete project costs, so getting a quote from each contractor is an essential step to choosing the right person.
But make sure you remember the priorities you set when you decided what was most important to you for this particular job.
If the quality of work is of utmost importance to you, the lowest quote may not be the deciding factor in your decision.
In fact, we’d advise you to be on the lookout for concrete price quotes that are significantly lower than the others.
Exceedingly low estimates can mean the contractor uses inferior products or doesn’t do the necessary prep work for a quality finish. It may even mean that they aren’t licensed and insured to do the job you are asking them to do.
We’d also caution against upsells during the quote process.
A good concrete contractor may offer a sincere suggestion about ways to improve your project. It’s ok to listen and accept ideas if they meet your end goal, but remember to stay focused on your priorities.
And finally, ask for an in-person visit to your worksite when the contractor formulates an estimate. After all, how can a concrete contractor give an accurate estimate if they don’t evaluate your job site and determine the unique aspects of the work you want to be done?
Once you’ve received quotes from each contractor and met with them in person, you can start narrowing your list of potential candidates and move on to the next step.
5 - Request a List of References
You can always head to Google and read reviews on contractors or ask a friend that had the business work for them.
While those are both valuable resources in understanding a company’s quality, we suggest asking the contractor directly for references.
If the contractor hesitates to give you any references, turn the other way and run!
If the contractor does give you a list of references, check-in with them and see what they have to say. Here are a few questions you might ask them:
What kind of project did you hire the contractor for?
How long did the project take?
Were you satisfied with the contractor’s communication?
Did you feel you got what you paid for?
Would you recommend the contractor to family or friends?
It’s particularly valuable if another contractor within the same field of work vouches for a company’s work. That’s a sign of respect from other experts - which is harder to gain than respect from those who don’t know any better!
6 - Ask About Schedule
Scheduling concrete pours matter - especially when it comes to commonly used surfaces.
After all, it’s best practice to stay off of concrete for at least a week, and usually more.
That means you don’t want to have a new driveway poured a few days before hosting a graduation party!
You need to check to see if the concrete contractor’s schedule can align with yours. If you need your project finished in the next month and the contractor doesn’t have an opening in that time frame, you can say no to that company.
However, if you have a flexible schedule, we recommend choosing someone that doesn’t have a completely free schedule.
Because concrete contractors with the most experience and success may have busy schedules. Alternatively, those that are running a subpar operation may have a dwindling business and entirely open schedules.
7 - Verify Licensing and Insurance
When you speak with a concrete contractor about your upcoming project, ask them if they are licensed.
You can also check with the state licensing board to verify that a contractor has a license.
An unlicensed contractor hasn’t agreed to abide by the state’s laws, which probably means they aren't going to do the extra work required to meet local codes either.
You’ll also want to ask for proof of insurance.
Because if your property is damaged due to negligence by the contractor, you want to be sure their insurance will cover the costs of repairs.
In addition, be sure the contractor carries worker's compensation insurance so that you are not liable to cover employees who may be injured on your property.
8 - Ask For a Contract and Get Everything In Writing
Every contractor technically has a contract, but if it’s just in their head or in your head, you aren’t guaranteed anything.
You’re setting yourself up for a “he said, she said” kind of argument that often results in hiring a completely new concrete contractor.
So, make sure a written contract is a standard procedure for the contractor and ask about what typically goes into their contracts.
Try not to leave anything up for discussion when it comes to creating written contracts. Be sure that you consider all aspects of the project and ask that they be put into writing.
When you do this, you aren’t being difficult or unreasonable. In the end, it benefits both parties because everyone on the job understands their responsibilities ahead of time, and it ensures quality work.
Here are a few things to consider when reviewing a contract:
What is the work schedule?
What are the materials needed?
What is the payment timeline?
Who is responsible for cleaning up the job site when the project is done?
To get an idea of what it might look like, you can view this construction contract template.
9 - Trust Matters - How Did You Experience The Contractor?
The bottom line is that you want to trust your concrete contractor.
Completing the first eight steps in this article should allow you to feel confident about hiring a contractor.
But don’t forget that the way a contractor talks to you and communicates with matters. A company may have hundreds of 5-star reviews, but if you feel brushed aside or disrespected by them, you should look elsewhere.
Your contractor should welcome your questions and answer them directly. They should be friendly and approachable and return all calls or emails in a reasonable amount of time.
Good, reliable concrete contractors do exist. With the information in this article, you can find one near you.
If you are looking for a trustworthy concrete contractor in Northern or Central Indiana, consider K. Graber Construction.
In a world where construction and concrete projects are associated with excessive paperwork, fears, setbacks, and potential complications, we cut through the noise and clutter to provide every customer excellent service coupled with complete integrity.
But don’t take our word for it! We’re pleased to say that we’ve received only 5-star reviews on Google. Check them out, along with the kind comments made by many.
We’d sincerely love to lend a helping hand with your next concrete or construction project.
Contact us today! We look forward to hearing from you.