Adding a paving stone driveway, walkway, pool deck or enhancing other outdoor spaces is a great way to beautify your home. With so many local paving contractors, it’s important to know what to look for when hiring a paving contractor in Southern California.
As you start doing your research, you’ll find that one big differentiator is that some contractors use in-house employees while others subcontract out their installation labor.
If this is your first paving project or you don’t know much about the paving process, you may be unsure of the differences between the two or what it could mean for your project. Both results and your overall experience are at stake.
In-House Crews vs. Subcontractors
When a company says they use “in-house crews”, it means that all of their crews are employees of their company. Additionally, the company carries workers’ compensation for all of their employees under their company’s name.
Sometimes, paving contractors contract out work to outside crews. These crews are not employees of the paving contractor and may work for another company or on their own.
Subcontractors work on an as-needed basis and get paid per job rather than being a full-time employee. Subcontractors should always carry workers’ compensation, but many times, in the Los Angeles area, this isn’t the case.
Potential Dangers of Working with Subcontractors
Unfortunately, not all paving stone contractors are completely honest about their crews. A salesperson may say their company uses in-house employees when in reality they’re using subcontractors for the work. This can be a very costly mistake when hiring a paving contractor.
You assume a big risk when you work with a company that contracts out labor to other workers. You also don’t know what type of training these workers have received, if they have any of the proper licenses, or if they’re legally allowed to work in the United States.
When crews aren’t properly trained, it could lead to low-quality work or even accidents on the job. Accidents do happen occasionally during paving projects. But when a contractor performing the work doesn’t have valid workers’ compensation and/or liability insurance, it leaves you, the homeowner, liable for damages.
These accidents could bring your project to a screeching halt for weeks or more until the subcontractor replaces labor. It could even mean that these subcontracted crews walk off of a project entirely!
Some contractors mask the truth about workers’ compensation or their certifications. Sometimes, they’re not paying for workers’ compensation or they borrow the paperwork for licenses from someone else. Always check with the Contractor’s State License Board to ensure that a contractor’s license actually belongs to them.
Benefits of Working with a Paving Contractor with In-House Crews
When you work with a company that uses in-house employees, you can have peace of mind knowing that all the work – from design to installation – is being done under one roof. Because these contractors provide their crews with the proper training on a daily basis, the level of professionalism and quality of work is often higher.
For a project to be successful, it’s crucial that your paving contractor keeps a close eye on workers and knows what’s going on at all times. When a contractor uses in-house crews, they have better control over their teams and are able to vouch for the quality of work you’re receiving.
When hiring a paving contractor in Southern California, here’s what to look for:
- A valid and verified contractor’s license
- Proof of liability insurance of at least $2 million
- Workers’ compensation on ALL crews
- Paving stone industry memberships and certified installers (such as ICPI)
- Excellent online reviews on sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, etc.
- Client testimonials
- Portfolio of completed projects
Why Does This Matter to Homeowners?
It’s not automatically a bad thing if you come across a company that subcontracts their employees. In some cases, it’s okay for companies to use subcontractors to perform work, especially if it involves a specialized service. For example, it’s not uncommon to see general contractors contract out labor to people who have more knowledge in specific areas.
However, when a company that offers one main service, such as paving, and uses subcontracted crews for their work, consider it a red flag.
The best paving companies in Southern California use in-house crews for all of their work. When hiring a paving contractor in Los Angeles, always ask whether their crews are in-house employees or subcontractors.
Be wary of companies who don’t give you a straight answer or try to avoid the question altogether. The type of crews a company uses can (and often does) impact the quality of service you receive and the end result of your project.
We’ve heard too many horror stories of homeowners who’ve made the costly decision to move forward with a non-reputable paving contractor in Southern California, only to find themselves with a mess on their hands and even becoming financially liable for a subcontractor’s mistakes! This is why it’s so important to do your research and understand the type of crews a contractor uses.
At Pacific Pavingstone, we pride ourselves on the fact that all of our work is done in-house by teams that are continually learning to be the best in their niche. We’ve established a complete apprenticeship program in paving stone, masonry and landscaping, which helps ensure our crews are properly trained for all jobs.
All of our crews go through regular, extensive training that includes classroom study and in-field skills assessments. Our workers are covered by workers’ compensation, and we hold four important contractor’s licenses in categories for: general contracting, paving stone, landscape and pool.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your driveway or enhance the look of your backyard, Pacific Pavingstone is here to help you with your next paving project. Contact us today for a free consultation!