As the famed circus man P.T. Barnum used to say, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” No one likes to think that they’re the sucker, though. Yet it seems like every summer, we hear about people getting the wool pulled over their eyes by some sketchy or unscrupulous driveway contractors.
The typical scenario sounds something like this: Some contractors pull up outside your house, truck and all, saying they’ve just been finishing off a neighbor’s driveway up the street, and they have some extra asphalt on hand. They ask if you’d like to get your driveway done for a very, very low price — but you have to do it right away, or there’s no deal.
Sound too good to be true? Well, that’s probably because it is. What typically happens after an interaction like this is that the supposed contractors either don’t have enough materials to coat your entire asphalt driveway and then demand you pay exorbitant fees for them to come back and finish the job — or they leave you with a poor, ugly piece of work that in itself requires extensive driveway repairs that cost double or triple the job itself.
And good luck trying to track them down afterward: Many flee the state, never to be heard or seen from again.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Fist of all, never allow someone who just showed up on your doorstep uninvited to do work on your house. The idea that the “extra asphalt” is somehow going to go bad if they don’t use it is a myth: 67.8 million tons of asphalt pavement material was reclaimed just in 2013 alone, and almost 100% of it is reusable.
When you need work done on your driveway, take the time to research reputable contractors that you can trust. It’s fine to share recommendations with neighbors — just make sure they’re the real thing, and take a look at their driveways to make sure the job is up to par! Don’t be suckered into a promise that can’t possibly be kept, just for the sake of saving a few extra dollars.