There is NO OBLIGATION to hire any of the companies who submit a quote.
Concrete pouring is an exact science. If the concrete isn’t mixed correctly, it won’t set right and you’ll have to tear it all out and start over. Since you don’t want to do two jobs – especially if one goes badly – hiring a contractor to do the work for you will save you time, money, and aggravation. Let’s look at specifically why you’d want to hire a concrete contractor.
Construction work of any kind requires permits and knowledge that you likely don’t have and don’t want to either overlook or have to research. A contractor is already highly knowledgeable about these potential issues, as well as dozens of other things you’re not even considering. Even if you could physically pour your own concrete, do you really want to trust your DIY prowess when you’re installing a driveway, or the foundation to a house?
Even if you prepare and research heavily beforehand, there’s a good chance that doing your project yourself will be a slow process. You’ll need to double-check your measurements, learn how to pour evenly and make sure everything is level, and even still you might end up mucking up the whole business. Hiring a professional can get it done in a fraction of the time, and they won’t need to worry about messing up; they’ve done this a lot and their experience is ultimately what you’re paying for.
If you do your own concrete project, there’s a good chance you could do alright. But if the framing is off, the ground isn’t level, or you’re missing the necessary tools, your finished project could look pretty bad. Since pouring concrete is a lengthy, potentially expensive process, do you really want to look at shoddy workmanship for decades? Or worse, have to tear it out and repour in a few years because it wasn’t done correctly?
The process of pouring concrete isn’t simply mix-and-dump; you need a lot of very specific tools and the knowledge of how to use them. You could rent them from a hardware store, but that costs money, and you still need to learn how to use them. And yeah, you could buy them, but how often do you plan on pouring concrete?
If something goes awry in your process, a contractor is insured and will usually guarantee their work. If you do it yourself and mess up, who is going to cover your costs and time?
You should always have a list of questions to ask any contractor you hire, so here are the most important ones for a concrete contractor you’re considering.
You’ll still likely have to get them yourself, but even if you don’t, it’s good to know. For one, if the contractor doesn’t know, then they’re not experienced enough to be paid for the job they’re doing and you should look elsewhere. Additionally, the contractor having this information will save you some time and research.
This is something to do before you finalize your decision, but get in-person quotes from 3-4 different contractors, and ask them to break down that price into materials and labor. These vary wildly from company to company, so it’s good to know going in if you’re getting a reasonable price quote.
First, get a written contract that outlines total itemized cost, what’s being done, and the specifications of how it’s being done. You want your project to be as specific as possible, and you also need to know if their work is insured and guaranteed. Get some expert advice as to how exactly you want the project to look, i.e. the slope of your driveway or the thickness of the walkway they’re pouring.
Concrete pouring consists of three major parts; measuring and framing, pouring, and drying. If the actual labor takes 8 hours, then you have to factor in drying time before it’s ready to use. So if you’re pouring a new patio for a summer party, make sure your contractor tells you exactly when it should be ready for visitors to walk all over it. Concrete can take 2-4 weeks to fully dry to where it’s safe to use, so be as proactive as possible when planning your project.
Especially during the summer months, contractors are busy people. If you have a one-week window of time in the middle of July with which to work, you’re going to need to call around early or be a bit more flexible in your timing.
The contractor will want to see where you’re wanting the project and what exactly you want. Know beforehand what your vision for the space will be; be as exact as possible. If they’re ripping out your driveway and you’ve always wanted it to be wider, now is the time to make that abundantly clear.
The contractor will want to know your deadline, what time of day you’ll be available, and who will be around to answer questions while they work, should any arise.
You’ll also want to know where your property lines are; if your contractor starts working on your patio and you want it to extend 4 feet, but that encroaches on your neighbor’s property, the contractor shouldn’t have to be the one dealing with that. A quick search online will tell you where your boundaries end.
Most training that concrete pourers get is on-the-job, journeyman education where they start low on a crew and work directly with professionals. There are also civil engineering degrees and certificates that professionals will pursue to ensure the highest level of quality in their work, and of course, these people will cost more, delivering the highest quality results.
Many contractors will be ACI – American Concrete Institute – certified as well. Trade schools and community colleges often offer hands-on training and certification, and any professional worth hiring will have taken their licensure examination and passed as well.