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Tips for driveway improvements

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

An attractive, well-kept driveway can help a home make a good first impression, provide protection against flooding, and even add value to your investment. But replacing a driveway can be a costly endeavor.

Better Business Bureau advises homeowners to take the time to choose a contractor you can trust. When looking to hire a contractor for your driveway, BBB recommends the following tips:

• Check references. Ask for local references and verify the contractor is in compliance with all local licensing, bonding and insuring requirements. Always check out a contractor on bbb.org before doing business with them. Before you agree to a paving or paving repair job, there are three things to check: The status of the contractor’s license, whether the contractor’s bond is current, and the contractor’s complaint resolution history with the Better Business Bureau. You may want to make sure the contracting company is a member of an industry trade association such as National Asphalt Pavement Association.

• Get it in writing. Be sure the contract spells out which party is responsible for grading and sub-grading, equipment and materials, labor, pavement thickness and smoothness, etc. Make sure the payment schedule is satisfactory and that there is a clear guarantee or warranty for the work. Also, get in writing an agreement that your yard is to be returned to pre-construction condition. Don’t sign an agreement without understanding it.

• Know your rights. If you hire a contractor, pay by check or credit card when the work is completed to your satisfaction. If you are dealing with a traveling contractor, be extra cautious and make sure to ask for identification and note the license plate number on the contractor’s vehicle. If you get “buyer’s remorse,” you may be able to change your mind after the contract is signed.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has a three-day cooling off rule for in-home purchases.

For more tips, visit bbb.org/news.

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