How to compare bids for your next paving project

Economy Paving crews perform a full-depth replacement, which is the result of neglecting a parking lot for years and refusing to do maintenance practices to prolong the life of the concrete and asphalt.
Mark Weber

Mark Weber
Sales rep, Economy Paving, Arvada

As you watch your parking lot fill with snow, you know each new inch is additional work for you. The concrete and asphalt surrounding your building is the bridge each employee crosses every workday to do their job. Adapting to mother nature in Colorado is not easy, much like keeping a commercial facility in tip-top shape. Anyone responsible for maintaining a facility quickly learns the amount of industrial knowledge and infrastructure one will manage can make your head spin. Maintaining a facility in the ever-changing climate of Colorado brings challenges all its own, adding regional yearly projects to an already full plate. Shuffling through competing paving bids you may have more questions than answers; when all you want is to compare apples to apples.

Upon reviewing the three mandatory bids, all you find is contractor jargon and project totals. The lowest bid seems attractive, but what are you actually buying? Will you find yourself right back here in a few short months gathering new bids? Below are some tips for next paving season and suggestions on how to create a paving project scope of work.

Before you call your local concrete and asphalt companies, walk your property and begin to define a scope. Sending an estimator to inspect your property without preparation will add time and effort to the bidding process. Preparing for a site walk will prevent a paving company from presenting you with an outlandish scope of work or creating a project scope catered to its strengths, rather than your needs and current issues.

Highlighting problem areas, as well as providing a budget range, desired date of completion and any special requirements will aid in an effective bid process. Marking areas with paint and numerical reference will allow management to compare dimensions of desired repairs and the cost associated with them. This will allow for efficient comparison between contractors and make selecting a company easier.

Understanding warning signs related to your lot is important and can be done with little working knowledge of our industry. While anyone can see large potholes and crumpling curbs, there are a few additional warning signs one should look for when building a scope of work.

Water is the No. 1 enemy concerning concrete and asphalt and often is the main concern for operations managers when designing and building a project. The movement or direction of water to go where you want it is vital for a long-lasting parking lot. During your lot inspections make note of all pooling water locations to discuss with your contractor. These areas cause trouble regardless of the season and will lead to expensive solutions if neglected for multiple seasons. Land shifting, sinkholes, irrigation and poor grading are all possible culprits for water pooling. Hairline cracking and exposed rock in your lots are warning signs that need to be address in your walks.

These early signs of stressed or weakened material can lead to major renovations down the road. If not addressed, water will continually penetrate the subgrade below your lot, causing large cracks and alligatored areas. Large cracks and alligatored areas can only be fixed with a remove-and-replace procedure. Remove and replace is generally the most expensive item for a customer due to the large amount of material and man power needed to perform the task. Maintenance packages are an excellent way to prolong the life of your parking lot and save your company money.

Crackfill and seal coat are popular asphalt maintenance applications and have been in the industry for decades. Offered by most contractors, these applications will be presented in a square foot or linear foot metric. Online tools such as Google Earth will allow for management teams to verify contractor measurements or set a desired scope.             Route and calk along with grinding of trip hazards are examples of concrete maintenance. Much like asphalt maintenance, these inexpensive tasks can add life to your property and, more importantly, keep your tenants safe. Knowledgeable companies will be adept with current Americans with Disabilities Act regulations and guidelines for getting your property safe on multiple levels. Performing maintenance practices are recommended every one to three years, depending on sun exposure, traffic capacity and vehicle weight. Annually budgeting for concrete and asphalt maintenance will save your company money in the long term and allow you the opportunity to discuss practical knowledge of an outside industry to decision makers in your company.

Understanding that very few companies get excited about spending time and money on concrete and asphalt repairs, the above tips can make your life easier and much less expensive. Your parking lot often is the first representation your customers receive of your company and with minimal preparation you can extend the look and life of your property.

As your calendar begins to fill up, remember these tips for your next paving project. Survey your lot for warning signs, note weakened paving material and obvious damages. Take advantage of accessible aerial technology and understand dimensions of your property as you set the scope for the project. Plan for annual maintenance practices to extend the life of your current parking lot. When the next paving project presents itself move with confidence, you are ready.

Featured in January 2017 issue of Property Management Quarterly. 

Edited by the Colorado Real Estate Journal staff.