Top 7 Questions to Ask When Getting an Estimate for Concrete Leveling
We all have those projects around the house that we have been meaning to get to. You have the fun ones and the not so fun ones. While leveling your sidewalk or driveway will keep you safe and add value to your home, it’s not one of those projects you enjoy spending time or money on, much less have experience dealing with. So, when you are finally ready to do something about it, like any home improvement project, you should spend a little time researching what you need to know about and determine whether you can tackle the project yourself or if you should hire someone.
Should you determine that you can grind down the sidewalk or patch up the crack yourself, then great! Tackle it! But, if you decide it’s too big of a project for you to handle and outsourcing is the solution, here are a few helpful questions to help you find and hire the right contractor for the job.
Where to Find a Concrete Leveling Contractor
The obvious choice to look for a contractor is the internet. But where to start? Google has made our lives so much easier by putting contractors in front of us, by just a few keywords. When browsing the “yellow pages” of Google, do a few searches for different key words, rather than relying on the first words that come to mind so you get better coverage from your search engine results. Also, as you begin to do your search, keep in mind that the first few listings are paid ads. These are contractors that pay Google to put their name first. While this makes life easy, it does not mean the top few are the best choice, just the ones that pay to get in line first. Before calling a contractor for an estimate, you should consider doing some research on the company rather than picking the top one listed.
Other sources for finding a contractor are third-party websites that help narrow down the search in your area, such as Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor. But, as it is with Google, these contractors pay a fee to be listed on these reference sites so again, do some homework.
Finally, a strong referral from a family member, friend, or colleague also goes a long way. Ask who they work with and what was their experience was like.
No matter what your source is for finding a few contractors, it’s always a good idea to get a few estimates. If nothing else, you will learn a little bit from each contractor that surveys your project. But don’t go overboard. A good rule of thumb is three estimates. As you schedule these estimates, you should be armed with a few questions to help you determine which is the best fit for you and your project.
Questions to Ask a Concrete Leveling Contractor
Below are a few questions that you can ask before, during, or after your estimate for concrete leveling. None of them are stead-fast; but they should help you keep your thoughts organized and help you to map out what services you will receive, how the process will go and what it will look like when you are finished.
1. How will you provide my estimate? Will it be on the spot or mailed to me?
This first one is easy and basically just lets you know how they will be communicating with you. As a general rule of business; speed equals trust. If they want to take until next Tuesday to get you an estimate or need to use some fancy logarithm that requires them to report back to you in a few days, chances are they are padding the numbers, not comfortable with their own calculations or they haven’t been doing this long enough to know what’s what. Most contractors should be able to provide you an estimate on-site via paper or the tech-savvier ones can email you a formal estimate. Worst case, they may need to look up a part number or double check a price for a specialty item and may need to get it to you by the next business day.
2. What product do you use and how will you level the concrete?
There are a couple of different applications for concrete leveling. Two of the most common are mud-jacking and polyurethane foam. Mud-jacking is more commonly known as it has been around longer, whereas polyurethane foam is considered the more modern approach. Outside of these two, there are a few others so be sure to ask which service each contractor will provide and how they will take to conduct the work. Although typically more expensive, there are many benefits to polyurethane foam, such as longevity and drill-size that tend to outweigh any difference in cost with other solutions.
Other key take-aways here are how quickly after the work is completed can you access your property and will there will be any clean up on your part.
3. What is your experience with a project similar to mine?
There’s no right or wrong answer here per say. You are trying to see how comfortable they are with the process and how skilled they are at their job. Keep looking for non-verbal clues here on how they communicate with you. The piece of sidewalk that you are getting fixed is semi-permanent. The cost and money to replace it is almost double what it costs to level it, so it needs to be done right the first time. Make sure the person you are working with is confident and skilled enough for the job.
4. Do I need to be present for you to complete the work?
This is more of a need-to-know piece of information. Everyone is busy, as a society we juggle heavy workloads for both work and personal lives. Having this piece of the puzzle will just allow you to determine if you need to carve out time from your schedule to be present.
5. When will you be able to do the work?
This may be helpful information in terms of deciding between one contractor versus another, especially if you have something you are working around such as traveling or a party at your home. Keep in mind that the length of time it takes them to provide an estimate is not a direct reflection on their services. What is important here is communication as to when your project will be completed.
6. What does your warranty cover?
The key components of a concrete leveling warranty are length and coverage. A typical warranty will range from 2-10 years depending on the product and age of the concrete and will cover any movement greater than ¼” during the term of the warranty. Be careful here though as some contractors will add in additional service fees in the fine print. Also, be mindful of lifetime warranties. A contractor’s warranty is only as good so long as the contractor is in business, and even if they are in business, if the owner has changed hands the warranty may not carry over from owner to owner. And, often times, lifetime warranties have fine print that create hurdles to getting your re-lift covered.
7. What are your payment options?
More, need-to-know information here, most importantly, when payment is due and what forms of payment are accepted.
Typically, contractor-based services require payment in full when services are rendered. And, in some situations, such as larger residential projects or a commercial project, a contractor may require a down payment prior to scheduling your work. Either way, you should expect to pay for services in full on the day your project is completed.
In terms of forms of payment, typically most contractors allow for check or credit card. Depending on your cash flow, it may be helpful to know not only if your contractor accepts credit cards but which credit cards they accept, and if a transaction fee will be applied to your payment.
Any other questions?
Sure, ask away! A contractor that is knowledgeable and skilled in their field won’t shy away from a few friendly questions.
Keep in mind that asking the right questions is only half the effort. As you ask the questions, pay attention to the technician’s responses and how they are relaying the information to you. Are they stumbling over what to say, or reaching for the answer? Do their responses sound scripted? Are they making good eye contact? You want to work with someone that is an expert in their field, transparent and ultimately cares as much about your project as you do.
Who Should You Hire to Fix Your Concrete?
Once you have had a chance to gather a few estimates, it’s time to make a decision. But how do you choose…lowest price, longest warranty, how quickly they can come out? Go with what is at the top of your list, right? You may have an upcoming party at your home and want to show it off, so time is of the essence or maybe your budget isn’t that big, so price is your biggest trigger.
While it may make things easier to use this method, think about the long-term investment of your project. Evaluate which factors, not just one factor, makes the most sound decision. In the end, the key is what is important to you with your best interests in mind.
Here are a few other helpful resources that may help in your decision-making process for selecting a concrete leveling contractor:
When you are ready, JAG Lifting Solutions offers free estimates and are happy to answer any questions you may have about our services and how we can repair your sunken concrete.