For every honest asphalt contractor in Pinellas County, there’s a crook out there lurking in the grass just waiting to pounce on unsuspecting home owners. We’ve laid out some tips to help owners avoid getting ripped off and we hope you will learn from this and not have to learn the ‘hard way’. Whether you’re in Largo, Clearwater, Pinellas Park or the greater USA, these tips for avoiding scams will be of help now and into the future.
Scam 1: Before and after compaction
One of the most common scams we’ve seen is contractors quoting a certain thickness and not mentioning anything about that thickness being measured BEFORE compaction.
What is compaction? Have you ever seen a steam roller? That’s the big Fred Flintstone looking bull dozer and its used to compact asphalt. Compaction is a required part of the asphalt process as it actually binds the hot asphalt into a single layer. Prior this compaction the laid asphalt is no better than hot, fluffy mud. Quoting a client the thickness of non-compacted asphalt would be like a restaurant selling a ten inch sub and handing you a seven inch sub.
Asphalt thickness before and after compaction: Once a four inch thick layer of asphalt is compacted it may lose as much as an inch and a quarter of thickness and a two inch layer will drop down to a single inch. It’s actually quite hard for a home owner to judge the thickness of asphalt after it is laid as the accompanying grass or roadway should meet up to the asphalt seamlessly.
How to avoid this ‘pre-compaction’ quote scam:
Get the thickness of your asphalt driveway in writing with the terminology “after cured” or “after compaction” within it.
Scam 2: Door-to-door “we have extra” salesmen
This may not be the most common, but it is the worst kind of asphalt scam.
How it works: An overly aggressive salesmen knocks on your door and uses a border line fear tactic to get you to purchase the company’s “extra asphalt” that’s about to go to waste in the dump truck around the corner. First off, there is no such thing as “extra asphalt”. Asphalt is very expensive and professional contractors will measure carefully. If there is any extra, it will never be enough to come even close to completely covering a driveway. What excess is left over is dumped back at the plant and a simple cost of doing business as an asphalt contracting company.
Next, this “truck around the corner” also does not exist. This tactic is used so that you cannot walk outside and physically see the truck. Since the truck is actually standing by at the asphalt plant this is the best story they can come up with. They will insist that they just finished a project and there just so happens to be enough asphalt in the truck to complete your driveway but it has to be done right away. They will show you legitimate prices of other companies and give you a price well below half these numbers. Here’s how they can charge half and still make a killing:
For starters, they will spend a tenth the time they should prepping the subsurface. They are in a hurry and to make their scam work, they have to be fast. The speed also helps sell the need for urgency which their scam is based on. Without proper subsurface prep, the asphalt, even if laid thick, will crack and pool.
They will then lay an extremely thin layer of asphalt. Likely just thick enough to look great for a day and then begin to crack and crumble at the weakest points the very next day. Asphalt, as previously mentioned is expensive so this is a great place for the crooks to save on costs. This extra thin layer will cool quickly which leaves almost no time for compaction. Without proper compaction your driveway will have a very rough and rocky surface.
Hire a Pro
The easiest way to guarantee you don’t get ripped off on your asphalt driveway project is by hiring a professional. We also wrote a whole article on that topic. Check it out here.
There are just so many asphalt scams out there that we couldn’t fit them all into one article. Be sure to come back soon to read Part Two on how to avoid asphalt scams.