Questions to ask a Paving Contractor

When installing paving we have drawn up a few questions for you to ask contractors. You want to make sure that your paving is installed in such a way, that it will last a lifetime and not fail very soon. We have compiled some important questions to ask contractors, in order to find out what you are being quoted for. DO NOT ASSUME THAT A CONTRACTOR KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING. You have to live with your installed paving, not the contractor.

Browse the below questions to see typical responses obtained from good, mediocre and poor installers.

Just take a look at the below questions to see typical responses obtained from good, mediocre and poor installers.

Are you going to dig up any soil?

Soil decomposes and could cause paving to sag.

“Yes.”
The best installers will always remove topsoil and replace it with a sub base or foundation layer, even for pedestrian traffic
This is more troublesome and will cost more.

“No but…”
Installers might only scarify soil and some will add cement in order to stabilise it. It is not as good as excavating and replacing soil with another material but is cheaper. Bear in mind that this method might hold risks.

“No”
They won’t dig out anything. They might compact the top soil if you are lucky. This is the cheapest way but your paving is bound to fail because natural material in topsoil decomposes.

Are you going to construct a foundation (sub base)?

You don’t want your paving to sag.
A foundation layer is standard practice throughout the world. Search the internet for paving installation advice and you will see this in any guideline, YouTube video, and “how to” website

“Yes.”
Although the material is cheap, it costs money to have it delivered and to cart away the excavated soil.
Be prepared to pay more for this critical element of paving installation.

“No but…”
Installers might argue that South African soils are better than those found in other countries.
The point is, it is a gamble. The root of most paving problems is the lack of a foundation layer which leads to a host of problems.

“No”

“What is a sub base?”

Do you use a roller to compact the foundation (sub base)?

The earth moves and soil decomposes. This will cause paving to sag.

“Yes.”
The best installers will use a roller or heavy plate compactor to compact their sub base or foundation.

“No but…“
I use a plate compactor.
Follow up question:
How big is your compactor?
Small compactors offloaded from the truck by one man is not recommended. This will not create sufficient compaction of the foundation layer.

“No. “
These installers might do no compaction at all. Your paving will fail if you don’t have a well compacted sub base.

Where is water going to flow and drain?

Water ponds only become bigger and create all sorts of other problems.

Good installers will always consider drainage and create the necessary falls with their foundation layer. In addition, the best installers would install drains when necessary.
It is a larger initial investment but you won’t have problems in years to come.

Experienced installers will be able to tell you where water will drain. They will not create slopes with bedding material. All slopes will be created before bedding material is installed.

We will see as we go along (but we use Spirit levels).

Will you draw pavers from different packs when installing?

There will be slight variances in colour between different batches and even packs of paving from any paving manufacturer anywhere in the world.

“Yes.”
Good installers will draw pavers from different packs.
This will take longer and cost more.

“No but…“
Installers might say it is impractical and wastes time. It is true, but you won’t get variable patches in terms of colour.

“No. “
These installers won’t understand the concept.

How are you going to install the edges?

Because you don’t want your pavers to creep sideways it is critical to have solid edge restraints.

Good installers will bed their edge courses in concrete and haunch it with concrete. They will ensure that the concrete beds also retain the layers underneath the paving. They might also use kerbs to reinforce their edges.
This takes time and cost more.

We bed pavers on the edges in concrete.
Follow up questions:
Will the bedding be around 100mm thick?
Do you also haunch it with concrete on the sides?
If you use kerbs, are they also bedded in concrete and haunched with concrete?

We dig a trench on the edge and put cement.

For more objective paving advice, please refer to the following information: