Feb 12, 2011

Hiring a good Brick Paver Contractor in Ann Arbor

Not all brick pavers installers are the same, choose wisely

I have been passionate and an advocate of interlocking pavers and modular retaining walls for over 28 years.  I have seen the brick paver market mature in Ann Arbor, Saline, Canton, and Southeast Michigan through good economic times and bad.  I have seen contractors come and go and I have witnessed successful and poor paver installations.  With the financial investment that a homeowner is making, hiring a good brick paver contractor is essential.

When high density concrete paving stones and modular retaining wall systems first came on the scene during the early 80's here in Southeast Michigan, most installers specialized as brick paving contractors.  They committed their time,equipment, and resources to the quality techniques and installations of paving stones & landscape walls.

During the economic boom of the 90's, landscapers began to offer the installation of paver patios, walkways, driveways, porches, etc.. as part of their many services. This shift from specialized brick paver installers had a dire effect. Today the results of their inferior workmanship is showing throughout Ann Arbor, Saline, Canton, & Plymouth

When inexperienced and unqualified landscape contractors began to install interlocking pavers and modular retaining walls & steps to keep up with demand, the design, performance, and quality of  paver installations began to deteriorate. On one day their workers are installing trees,bushes, and sod, and the next installing a complex paver step & raised patio installation. The exception are some larger reputable landscape companies that do have a designated brick paver crew which perform good paver work.

Quality brick paver installers specialize in the design, installation, repair, cleaning, sealing, and maintenance of paver patios, walkways, driveways, porches, steps, and more. Brick pavers and retaining walls are usually over 90% of their business.  Professional brick paver contractors educate their customers to the expected performance and yearly maintenance needs of paving stones & landscape walls.

Experienced brick paver contractors specify the proper design and products for the customers expectations & needs and delivers with high quality workmanship.  Reputable brick paver contractors offer industry standard warranties and full after installation services like repair, cleaning, sanding, and sealing.

There are several quality, professional, experienced, and reputable "full service" brick paver installers in Ann Arbor. Below are some key factors when getting estimates for brick pavers or retaining walls.

I recommend getting 3 quotes for new installations, and at least 2 quotes for repair, cleaning, & sealing.  If you are getting more than 3 to 4 quotes then you are most likely just chasing a lower price, and that is not a good idea. Always be suspicious of a very low quote and ask all the questions.

Make sure you are comparing "apples-with-apples".  Usually quotes from different contractors will not match up or some are very vague.  Make sure you get a detail itemized list of services, sizes, & products that will be used for your project.  It is not a bad idea for you to compose your own list of needs or ideas for contractors to bid on.  If a good contractor proposes a new idea or concern, you can easily add that to your generated list for others to include in their estimates.

Go with your gut feelings.  If the bidding contractor gives you a level of confidence that the work will be performed to your expectations and in a timely manner, give that alot of weight in your final decision.  Paving contractors that have experience, product knowledge, and honesty will exhibit this during the bidding process.

Asking your prospective contractor for references and whether they are fully insured is important, but those contractors that have a Michigan Builder's License are a step ahead.  Landscape licenses are simply a $100 yearly fee and requires no testing.  Brick paving contractors that obtain a Michigan Builder's License have taken classes, passed a state exam, and take required continuance classes.  This factor should have some big weight in your decision to select a quality contractor.

As the prospective customer, it is your job to do the diligent work to hire the right brick paver contractor for your needs.  Ask the right questions and do the proper estimate comparisons and you can avoid the pitfalls of selecting a bad contractor.