Be Smart When Choosing A Paver Installer
Let’s be realistic. A paver installation job is not cheap. With the material costs and labor, projects can become quite expensive. But what are you really paying for? What are you actually being charged for? Choosing a paver installation contractor that’s right for you can be a demanding task in itself, but with the right knowledge you can avoid being charged an arm and a leg in hidden costs and fees. You don’t want to make this process more stressful than it has to be, so why cut corners? Be wary of choosing a paver installation contractor who guarantees a full installation job for only $8 per square foot. It’s absolutely impossible to complete a project for that much without cutting corners or charging more in the end. When choosing the right paver installation company for your project there are certain realities you need to be aware of. This week, we’re breaking down an average walkway job so you can prepare yourself for the actual costs for a complete paver project. Take a look at the numbers below to see why an $8 per square foot job is not feasible.
For this example we’ll use an average 300 square foot walkway project. At the “advertised” cost of $8 per square foot, certain paver installation companies are basically saying they can complete a whole job for just $2,400. Let’s take a look at the material costs to see just how far $2,400 will get you.
The pavers themselves cost an average of $3 sq ft. With tax the pavers alone will cost you approximately $963.00 Deducting that from the $2,400 and you only have $1,437.00 left to cover the rest of the materials and labor costs.
Now we’ll move onto the excavation process. This is to create a proper base of 6 to 8 inches which usually generates about 10 to 12 cubic yards of dirt that needs to be disposed of properly. This task approximately costs $150. Once excavated you need to bring in about 10-12 tons of three-quarter inch road stone, which costs $20 per ton. With tax that comes to $256.80. Following the road stone are 2 tons of concrete sand that needs to be installed which costs $35 a ton, equaling $75 with tax. After deducting soil disposal, road stones, and concrete sand costs the remaining $1,437 has now dropped to $955.20.
From here let’s look at what the equipment, trucking, and labor costs would be for day one. The steps mentioned above usually takes a full day with a two man crew. To be realistic, a good foreman can operate the needed equipment and also drive the large truck. They’ll also be able to do all the layouts for the job and supervise it properly. At a bare minimum they would be making $18 an hour. The foreman would also have a helper with him, who would make around $12 an hour. Factoring overhead costs associated with having employees and your labor for the first day is at least $300. Adding that to the equipment and trucking costs (which average at least $250 a day) and your total for that first day has a minimum of $550. The remaining $955.20 has now drastically dropped to $405.20.
Day Two and Three
On day two we install our pavers costing another $550 in labor and equipment. Day three we wrap up the project by cutting the pavers and cleaning up for an additional $550. Hopefully during this process the contractor you have chosen is using a good quality edging restraint which costs around $12 a length. For this size of a project we usually use about 10 per project, which costs $120 in total. Other materials the contractor should be using at this stage is polymeric sand to fill in the paver joints. These bags cost around $20 each, and we use about 3 for a job this size. With tax that comes to $65. So at this point, what is the contractor left with when charging $8 per sq. ft.? After factoring in the labor, materials, and equipment, your contractor is left with a -$879.80.
Now, there still is a final step of cleaning and disposing of any remaining construction debris which adds an additional $100 in costs. That’s not even including considering whether or not the contractor will put your torn up lawn back together or if that is now your problem. On average restoring your lawn can cost a couple of hundred dollars in topsoil, seed and hay alone.
So after a three day project labor, materials, and equipment comes to a total of approximately $3,599.80. If this job was sold for $8 sq. ft which we found cost a total of $2,400 the contractor is in trouble. He just lost almost $1,200 just covering the necessary expenses for the project. There is no money remaining to maintain his company’s overhead costs, not to mention some sort of profit. This contractor will not even last long enough to honor his warranty!
Avoid Choosing a Paver That Will Cut Corners
There are many ways that certain contractors will cut corners to save costs. I’m going to show you what to watch out for so you can save yourself from choosing a paver installer yet again only a few years later. A properly installed paver project can last a lifetime, with little maintenance necessary. First of all, most contractors offering a full project for only $8 sq. ft. are not excavating deep enough or wide enough. Some barely even excavate more than a couple of inches! Right off the bat this job is set to fail. The second way certain contractors cut corners are by bringing in less stone then necessary or using the wrong type of stone like recycled crushed concrete that only runs about $5 a ton. This type of stone tends to break down over time causing a handful of walkway failures. These contractors also don’t use concrete sand, they use a product called “dust” which costs $8 a ton rather than $35 a ton for concrete sand. The problem with using “dust” is how it deteriorates your pavers from the bottom up as it traps water over time and more important it does not meet ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute) and NCMA (National Concrete Masonry Association) standards. This product alone leads to more project failures than any other cost cutting method as the moisture trapping “dust” causes heaving and spreading in your pavers.
There are other ways contractors can cut corners, like not using the proper edging restraints. Some contractors will just mix up a bag of concrete and trovell it along the paver edge. This thin layer only lasts a few winters at most before breaking apart and your pavers begin to separate. Rather than spending $12 for a length of edging restraint they’ll only spend $3 on a bag of cement. If you have a contractor who does any of these cost cutting methods, you can be sure that you will also be cleaning up their mess as they finish, like replanting grass and repairing other damages to your landscape.
Now what I’ve mentioned are just ways they cut corners with material costs. There’s also ways contractors can cut corners with their labor too. Consider this, do you want a contractor with years of experience that has worked with the same crew day in and day out? You can guarantee that they’ve got all of the right tools, equipment, and connections to utilize for your job. Say you went with the cheapest bid offered. What you can most likely expect is an individual who does paver installations on a part time basis that constantly hires new untrained workers to help cut costs. I’d hate to say it, but they might even be picking up day laborers that stand on the street corners and in front of home improvement stores to do your job! Though a well trained crew has higher costs, in the long run you would be saving yourself from spending thousands more to repair a failed installation project.
As you can see, there is just no way a proper, long lasting job can be accomplished for $8-$10 sq. ft. I have seen hundreds of failed jobs because the contractor did not do the proper installation or use the correct materials. Their crews were probably not well-trained and did not have the years of experience installing concrete pavers. When choosing a contractor like this, you are doubling your costs to repair these failed jobs. The best advice you can take away from this is to do it right the first time! When choosing a paver contractor don’t fall for the low price per square foot price trap, make an intelligent decision choose a paver installer that won’t disappoint.
NJ’s local paver restorations professionals NJ Paver Restorations services the following Central New Jersey areas including: Hillsborough NJ, Princeton NJ, Belle Mead NJ, Bridgewater NJ, Somerset NJ, Skillman NJ, Montgomery NJ, and many more, call (732) 558-6011 today to get started!