Over the past sixteen years, I have been called out to troubleshoot more than a few poorly installed decorative concrete jobs. In most cases, the homeowner or business is left with the unenviable task of going after an unresponsive company. When I see these jobs I can’t help but think “how did they choose this installer?” and over the years there has been one predominant answer. Customers thought they had found a good installer until the stamped concrete was actually installed. Deciding on which decorative concrete installer to use is first a process of elimination. Later, after the reputable contractors have been identified, you can choose which company suits your needs. If you go through a few relatively easy steps, you can usually eliminate the companies that are not doing the “right” thing. The following paragraphs include a few suggestions you can follow to ensure a positive outcome on your next decorative concrete project.
In New Jersey, all non-licensed trades must register with the division of consumer affairs under the home improvement category. All companies participating in the installation of decorative concrete, stamped concrete, colored concrete, concrete countertops, etc. fall into this category and must register with the state. When contractors send in their registration they must also send in a current certificate of insurance. You can check a contractors status by visiting http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/HIC/ This should be the first thing that you check when interviewing prospective contractors. If they are not registered they should be eliminated from your list.
The BBB or the Better Business Bureau is another great resource for eliminating prospective contractors. They have a grading system from A – F and give each company a grade in accordance to how they have conducted themselves. If a company is not listed or has a failing grade your stamped concrete should not be installed by them. http://newjersey.bbb.org/
Another great way to eliminate bad companies is to ask for references. Any contractor or installer should have at least one or two completed jobs close to your area. Get the name and telephone number of the reference and be sure and call to make certain the company actually did the work. If the reference checks out, visit the job and view the workmanship for yourself. If you request references and the contractor is reluctant or cannot produce any, this should be a red flag and the contractor should be eliminated.
While the suggestions above are certainly not fool-proof, you will be amazed at how many companies you can eliminate by following these steps. Once these companies are eliminated, you can start the process of choosing the company that best suits your needs by calling them for an estimate. Remember, it’s too late once a bad stamped concrete job is installed!!