Like other areas of the construction industry, the concrete and masonry business has a wide mix of professionals, generalists and beginners. Jose Salazar, owner of Paradigm Concrete and Construction, says it's important to choose a contractor with the right mix of experience, flexibility and price to match your project’s scope and timeline. Here are a few suggestions from Mr. Salazar on finding the right contractor for your needs:
• Like any other professional, many contractors have strengths and weaknesses. If you need a retaining wall, then hire a company with that experience rather than one that specializes in driveway and patio work.
• Consider getting recommendations from other owners who’ve had recent projects that you’ve noticed in your area. Your trusted local carpenter or construction contractor may also have masonry contacts to suggest.
• Take time to get three bids in writing based on your actual project needs. Don’t choose by price alone; consider the other points made here regarding specialization and recommendations. Taking shortcuts could cost you more in the long run.
• Don’t hesitate to ask for proof of a contractor's license and insurance—they’re required to work in most areas. You want to be sure a company’s employees are covered while working on your property.
• As work begins, get specific about labor and material costs, as well as deposits and project payment schedules. “Several times, we’ve been contacted by people who’ve hired somebody and given too much money up front, and the contractor just leaves the job. It’s very important that people don’t pay in advance for work that’s being done.”
• Review sample work whenever possible to help build a trusting relationship with a contractor. Professional contractors should encourage it.