As the person who answers the phone at a small asphalt paving company, a question I am often asked by potential customers is "Can you give me a ballpark estimate?" or "Can you tell me what the asphalt price per square foot will be?" It frustrates me to not be able to provide a satisfying answer. When a homeowner or property manager is looking to have paving work done, cost is almost always the factor that determines whether the customer will be able to go ahead with it. While I want to be as informative as possible, pricing driveways, road work, and parking lots is an involved process. There are too many factors that go into even a small driveway quote for me to be able to give someone any kind of useful number over the phone. These are several of the main elements an estimator must factor in when writing up a proposal for a potential customer (and that a client should consider):
- The extent of the wear to an existing driveway or parking lot is assessed to determine what scope of work is needed. This can be anything from a coat of sealer or a thin asphalt overlay to grinding out the underlying damaged asphalt in order to replace the existing drive or lot.
- In cases of new paving, grading and excavation may need to be done in order to create a smooth and drivable parking lot or driveway.
- Some companies offer free estimates; others do not.
- The necessary equipment is factored in, as well as transportation for crew members and that equipment. On our quotes, this is referred to as the number of “mobilizations”, or times equipment must be fueled up and driven to the work site. This can be costly, and estimators calculate as few mobilizations as possible to minimize the cost to both the paving company and the client.
- When figuring a quote, the estimator determines which asphalt plant is either closest or charging the least for the necessary materials. The cost of the material and of transporting equipment to the plant to obtain it also must be factored in. Due to these factors, pricing isn’t by square foot, as material prices vary from plant to plant and day to day.
- Some work requires the paving company to subcontract another business for excavation, concrete, etc. in which case these costs are also factored into the quote. The company may also need to hire additional trucks to transport the needed materials to the job site.
- If the amount the client is able to spend is very limited, estimators are able to calculate different options that target the most urgent areas for repair in order to accommodate the customer.
- It’s important to be as direct as possible with a company you’re requesting a quote from – is one area a priority over others? Do you want the company to assess the site and make their best recommendations? Is there a fixed amount you can budget toward the project that can’t be exceeded?
- If estimates are drastically different between companies, inquire as to why. Some companies will choose to exclude work that would be beneficial to the customer to make pricing more attractive. Others may include all of the necessary work and be reluctant to remove any of the steps needed to make the drive or parking lot usable for more than a few weeks or months. Take note of the difference in recommended work and don’t be afraid to ask the estimator why they think certain steps are or aren’t necessary for your project.
- If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of estimates that don’t outline the steps the company is going to take, because they may be leaving something out that is necessary for your project to be durable and long-lasting. Any “discount” due to the company having leftover materials from other jobs is a scam and will leave you with an incomplete, unusable driveway or parking lot.
- Always ensure that an estimator provides you with a physical quote prior to agreeing to any work, whether they deliver it to you by e-mail, traditional mail, or by hand. Having a written contract protects the customer from being scammed and left with an incomplete job.
- Due to the necessary calls, calculations, and planning that must be made, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to prepare a proposal. It's also important to be aware that any requested revisions will take time. If a client needs a quote in the immediate future, a paving company may not be able to provide one without cutting corners, and many companies will be unwilling to short-change a customer in order to do so.
While it isn't possible to give an estimate over the phone, many asphalt paving companies give free estimates and would be happy to take a look at a driveway or parking lot that needs paved or seal coated. To inquire about a quote, you can fill out the form in our "Contact" section or call our office at (330) 682-6025.