How To Not Get Screwed On A New Concrete Driveway

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    A Friend is asking about a concrete job they just contracted for. They live in a Southern State and the driveway will be 16 feet wide and 70 feet long with an additional slab near their carport at the home for additional parking.

    The contractor was suggested to them by other contractors that are backed up with work. He has said he is licensed and insured but hasn’t provided proof of it yet and even if he does the work he is doing probably won’t be inspected by anyone who would require that proof.

    Money has been given the contractor and he has come out with a small crew that has set some forms. There is some debate about how deep the concrete will be as they are only setting 2x4s for forms and he has contracted for 6 inch deep concrete. Rebar mesh is expected to be used however under the pad the contractor has not placed compacted stone.

    Ok so from first note it does seem that this driveway is under size for what has been contracted. Only the stone that is currently in the driveway will be used. The contractor has given some BS excuse that the concrete will seep down into the existing driveway stone and that will increase its depth.

    Cost Vs Quality

    People say you get what you pay for however sometimes you don’t even have the chance to pay a little more to get a little more. This is the case with this contractor. They are installing what they know they can get away with. The home is located in the south and freezing temperatures are not a common thing that will last for many months as is true in the north. Three and half inches or a bit more of concrete might be enough in this area especially with the use of wire mesh throughout the driveway. Some contractors don’t even use the mesh however many contractors will use actual rebar especially under paths where vehicles will ride.

    The contractor has quoted $3,795 complete for the whole job. With a quick calculator the cost of concrete should come in around $1,800, The cost of rebar mesh, formsĀ  and other materials will most likely push the cost up to around $2500 for materials. This means the contractor will make about $1,300 for maybe 2 days work with 3 guys on the job not including the main contractor who is jumping job to job. Cleanup and Removal of debris dirt is also included but I told our friend that he should hold on to the dirt so he can use it for grading around the driveway in a couple weeks.

    In reality is our friend getting ripped off? Probably not but is he getting everything he wants? Probably not.

    Its a give and take situation here and the price vs quality is an issue.

    Another more professional contractor might come out and dig out 10 inches of soil where the driveway and pad will be placed and then backfill with stone and compact it. They might then use some rebar and mesh rebar and our friend would have a driveway that would probably last longer than he will be alive and he is not very old.

    On the other hand being in the south with hard soil that has been compacted over the years and pouring a slab and driveway of this size along with some stairs at the side door of the house it seems that our friend is getting a great deal for the money.

    If he wanted all that he is asking for he would have to pay somewhere in the area of $10,000 for it but since he is contracting with a guy that just does what is needed he is going to save a lot of money and still have something that he can enjoy.

    Will he get cracks? Well all concrete cracks but hopefully he shouldn’t have serious problems if the right concrete is ordered and if they place the rebar mesh in the center of the concrete and don’t just lay it on the ground flat.


    Final Note

    If you want a job done the way you want it done then you should be willing to pay for it and you should be willing to wait for the right contractor to be free to do the work. If you are willing to go with something that works but is of lesser quality in materials and labor but costs you half the price then that is the choice you have to make.

    The home owner should also expect to do some work himself such as grading around the slab after it cures, keeping the slab moist for at least 7 days and not driving on it for 7 days. The contractor is providing a 2 year warranty on his work but I think they can just forget about that. What they have in the first 30 days will be what they live with and nothing better.

    Life is all about choices and to make the right choices you really need to educate yourself about any large project you are having done. It doesn’t take much. Look at some of our How Tos and use other resources. If it takes you a long time to earn the money that you will be paying for a project then why would you only research it for half an hour.



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