Taking the cheapest price is not always a good idea when choosing your pavement maintenance contractor.
If service and quality are not important and your budget is a major factor then get 3 bids and choose the lowest bidder.
By choosing the lowest bidder you may have a contractor whose incentive is not to make you happy but to just get the job done. If you receive a bid more than 25% less than the other bidders you may want to ask yourself why? Most of the reputable contractors have similar costs. There may be a few differences but over all their costs are almost they are the same. The good pavement maintenance contractors all pay about the same for benefits, labor, material, insurance and equipment.
The easiest way for a sealcoating contractor to lower his price is to lower their costs. The easiest way to lower costs are;
- Not to have insurance
- Adding more than the recommended amount of water to the sealer when mixing. By diluting the sealer with too much water you bring down the cost of the sealer and provide the customer with an inferior product. Water can increase the amount of sealer at no extra cost.
- Not applying the manufacturers recommended application rate of the sealer. This should be on the sealcoating contractors proposal. If it is not, ask how much sealer is being applied per coat. If they don’t know immediately, it should put up a red flag. You can check the answer by checking the manufacturer’s product specifications. When the sealer is applied the parking lot will look nice and black. You will only know in the years to come if the contractor used the right dilution rate and application rate when applying the sealcoating product.
- To create the least amount of inconvenience, how many mobilizations does the contractor plan on sealcoating your parking lot in? Sealcoating A closed building all at once on a weekend is an easy job. Sealcoating the parking lot in a shopping center, apartment or condominium complex can rarely be done all at once without complaints. Parking lots that are used 24 hours a day seven days a week need to be sealed in sections to prevent as much inconvenience as possible. Properly planning how to complete the job so not to have the owner or property manager in a bind is a key to a successful sealcoating job. The number of mobilizations the contractor plans on doing the job should be on the quote as well. The more sections a parking lot is sealcoated in the more expensive the job becomes.
- How many coats of the sealer are being applied? It should be on the quote itself. If it is not, be sure to ask for the manufacturer specifications for the number of coats and make sure that matches the proposed work. Typically light traffic is one coat, moderate traffic is 2 coats and heavy traffic is 3 coats in the major travel lanes and 2 coats in parking stalls.
- Cracksealing- If they are cracksealing do they have the proper equipment and how many linear feet of cracks are they sealing? There could be a huge difference between quotes. What type of crackfiller are they using. In New England you want a hot pour rubberized asphalt crack filler. In most cases cracksealing should be done before sealcoating.
- Is the contractor doing any asphalt repairs? If so how many square feet and how are they doing it? Asphalt repairs are typically done before cracksealing or sealcoating.
- Ask how long they have been in the pavement maintenance industry. The sealcoating industry is very easy to get into. Each year many sealcoating contractors call it quits and new ones spring up. If you choose the lowest bidder they may not be willing to come back and repair any warranty work. The contractor priced the job wrong along with others and cannot afford to come back and repair any problems. Experience also helps in planning how to sealcoat lots so not to cause too much inconvenience. The sealcoating contractor should be able to make out a detailed plan on how to do the job without too much disruption to the tenant or owners.
- Choosing the lowest bidder, doesn’t always work out. Make sure to read each proposal closely. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples with each bid. You should ask for references. You not only want to go look at the work the contractor has done, but also talk to the contract person onsite and see how their experience was all around.
The bottom lines is, if done properly, even in the busiest parking lot the sealcoating job should be organized and relatively painless for everyone.