Choose Contractor

How To Choose Your Contractor

You’ve heard it all before….

“That contractor was terrible.”

“OMG what have they done!!?!!”

Now don’t get me wrong, these phrases, among many others, have ingrained themselves into the contracting community over many years of sub-par quality work by lower tier contractors.

But have you ever sat back and thought for a second, maybe it was you as the client who did the bad job? Not the contractor doing the work?

A concrete projects result is ultimately dictated by the decisions made throughout its entirety, by all parties involved. Of course, the primary contractor needs to know how to do the work required (expertise), as well as he/she also needs to make the correct decisions throughout the process to make sure everything is completed correctly. But wait, lets take a step back in the process….

Who is choosing this contractor to complete the project you require?

What was your decision making behind choosing this contractor?

Far too often the decision made by clients to choose their contractor is based entirely around the bottom dollar value. I’m sorry people, but we’re not shopping for an iPod here where the product is exactly the same at whatever shop you go to, apples just ain’t apples.

Lets go through a basic process to help you choose your contractor more effectively.

handshake blog

Meeting Your Contractor

Ok, so first things first. Lets take the dollar value out of the equation when meeting your contractors you have chosen to quote your work for the first time, now, lets run through what should be on your mind whilst talking to and receiving your quotations.

Firstly, you want to show your contractor through the work you require, all the time asking for his/her input into what it is you’re trying to achieve.

If you ask lots of questions about your project, you should, with a little analytical thinking, be able to gain useful information about if your contractor is confident with what you have them pricing. As with anything in life, confidence is bred from experience.

If your contractor is hesitant, or seems a little lost in trying to figure out ways of completing certain tasks, you should be able to pick up on this easily and in the back of your mind be putting little crosses against his/her name. Vice versa, you should be able to gain confidence yourself in the ability of the contractor if you can see them having no problems with what you require and are also confident themselves in completing your work.

After this first evaluation of your project, start asking plenty of more questions about the contractor personally. Highlighted areas you will want to find out about are the persons history in the industry, what areas have they specialised in and so forth. It doesn’t hurt to write a checklist of things you wish to ask, make sure all topics are being covered, all the time gaining information that you can evaluate better over a coffee when they leave.

Finally during the quoting process, ask your contractor if they have any address’s of previous work that you can go and look at first hand.

He/she should be able to provide you with several sites that you can visit to showcase their work.

If they cannot or will not provide these address’s, this would be a big red flag up against their name.

Either they have limited address’s they can show because they haven’t been around that long, or they simple don’t have anything they’re willing to show off.

I know myself personally, that as a contractor who takes great pride in his work, I am always looking to “show off” what I have done.

Finally, check to see if your contractor has a website. Although this isn’t by any means something that you would rate a dirty old concreter on, but having a website proves one thing…

Willingness to portray his/her business, history and previous work in the public forum of the internet for criticism by their peers.

The website doesn’t need to be the most flash thing out there, but it should show at least photos of their projects, hopefully, along with testimonials from happy clients.

Quotation Blog

Receiving Your Quotation

So after your initial meeting with your contractor quoting your project, you will either receive a quotation there on the spot, or have one emailed to you after they leave. A lot of the time this can depend on the size and complexity of your project. Often it is easy enough to work out some pricing on the spot for smaller projects, but larger, more detailed projects may take an hour or so to work all the figures out correctly.

How you receive your quotation is a very important part of you decision making.

What you receive will depend completely on the professional approach of the contractor.

Did you get a price on the back of a business card with nothing really explained? (Big RED flag!)

Did you get a hand written quotation with nothing really explained but at least they had a business header on the form? (Need to evaluate further, bit hard to tell.)

Did you get a hand written quotation with a business header and everything explained in detail? (Making your decision making a bit easier now aren’t we?)

Did you get an emailed quotation with business header, everything explained in detail, along with appropriate attached information that can help you on your project and also several job address’s that you can visit to inspect first hand? (Now we’re talking business!)

You can see where I’m heading with all this. These are all factors you should be taking into consideration before you even get to the money value for your work.

From here, wait until you receive all your quotations from competing contractors, summarise a checklist on paper or in your head, and start working out in an order which contractor do you feel confident in that can complete your work correctly.

decisions blog

Final Decisions

After you’ve received all your quotations and you’ve gone through your checklist to figure out which are your top choices for your project, then we can start talking turkey with the persons quoting.

Firstly, there are a few things you need to understand as to not offend the person quoting your work.

A good quality concreter has worked for years gaining the necessary expertise he/she needs.

Although there is no listed apprenticeship for our industry, it takes a minimum of 2 years on the screed before you get the hang of it properly, at least 4 years of finishing before considering yourself a decent finisher, along with a minimum of 6-8 years working decorative finishes like exposed aggregate and concrete resurfacing techniques.

Our skills in the industry have not only taken a long time to learn, but we’ve also done it busting our bums day in / day out in one of the most physical trades out there.

Your pricing will be based around industry standard meter rates that technically are adhered to by most contractors.

But, depending on the extent of your work and what needs to go into it, your pricing will vary from contractor to contractor taking into account the level of experience and knowledge they bring to the equation.

When I talk about experience and knowledge, this is directly linked to not only how well they screed and finish, but all the little things they’re going to put into your pricing that will make sure your project is first class and not something that’s going to fall apart at a later stage.

Lets get back on track now with the money side of things.

Okay, so you’ve gone through all your checklists and chosen your contractor based on the confidence you have in them to provide the work to you.

If you’re happy with the price, give them a call and organise some start date. Getting in early is important as a quality contractor will usually be back logged with work.

If you think there is room to move on the pricing, then by all means, broach this topic with the contractor.

But….

Please don’t ask them to match the price of the other contractor, instead, simply just say something along the lines of….

“I’ve gone through all the quotes and I really think you can do the best job for me, however, you were a little dearer than the cheapest quote, can you sharpen up your pencil at all?”

You will very rarely find a negative responsive or attitude from approaching the situation this way. We as contractors, fundamentally have quoted your project with the intention of winning the job. So yes, we will always be happy to sharpen up the pricing a bit if that’s what it takes to win the job. But, don’t expect a massive drop in pricing, we still work off the opinion of not devaluing our trade and expertise, but, every dollar counts right?

Just remember at all times, there are two parties involved in each project.

The key to keeping both parties happy, is firstly making sure you, as the client, choose the correct concrete contractor through process of elimination and not just choosing them because they were the cheapest price.

If you have used your intelligence and succeeded in your decision making, the rest of the equation will be taken care of by the skilled installer you have chosen to do your work, subsequently you should never have to utter the phrases I mentioned at the start.

Happy hunting.

checklist blog

Ensuring a Quality Driveway Installation

Whether you’re installing a concrete driveway for your new home, or ripping up your old one to upgrade to a shiny new exposed aggregate one, there are a number of items on the installation check list that you should make sure your contractor ticks off, to guarantee a quality, long lasting product.

You can choose a skilled concreter as far as finishing goes, who will make your concrete driveway surface look great, but the differences between a Quality Project, an Acceptable Job and OMG What Has Happened often comes down to the little things within the concrete layers.

Excavation & Subgrading

machine blog

Lets begin with the dig out of your site. As a general rule of thumb when excavating, if you’re digging out good fill, sand or rock, then it’s perfectly fine for that to be excavated and sub-graded ready for the new concrete. On the other hand, if your contractor is encountering clay seams throughout the area, then a bit of further work needs to be carried out.

It is a good idea to remove these clay seam areas and replace them with good, solid fill. What will typically happen, is when the concrete is placed over the clay seam, it will sink from the concrete’s weight, causing the concrete itself to move and at best find a point to crack along, at worst….fail and lift/drop in that section completely.

Steel Installation

steel blog

From here we start working on the steel and expansion material installations that form the backbone of your concrete driveway.

Firstly, N12 starter dowels should at least be drilled into all cold joint trip points where the new concrete is meeting old concrete in a walk through area. These dowels are drilled into the existing concrete, then will be in the middle of the new concrete while it is installed, this will create a strengthening point which will not allow the new concrete to either drop or lift above or below the existing concrete level.

Next, Abel Flex expansion foam should be installed at all cold joints where new concrete meets old concrete. This material allows the concrete to shrink during the curing stage without pulling away from the adjoining hard surface, as well as, if the concrete does move at some stage in the future, it has a cushioning barrier where the tension can’t get too high causing the concrete to lift above the joint.

Then we move onto the slab mesh installation. Slab mesh should be installed throughout the entire area approximately 50mm from the edge of your new concrete, then chaired to a minimum depth of 50% of your new concrete.

We push onto the final necessity which are re-entry bars. These are made typically from N12 deformed bar and placed at all internal corners of your new concrete, which are usually a high percentage point of failure for cracking.

Concrete Installation

concrete pour blog

During your concrete installation, assuming that you have hired a skilled person on the screed and trowel, there is only one thing that you need to keep an eye on, water content.

The water acts as a separator for the the materials within and reduces strength throughout the concrete as a whole, as well as separating the matrix on the surface which is to be finished. Apart from not wanting to weaken your concrete for obvious reasons, if the surface matrix (mixture of sand and cement on the surface), is watered down and separated, it can a lot of the time cause your concrete to start dusting up and eroding. If this happens with plain grey concrete, it’s not the end of the world, as a simple clean and seal will fix the problem, however, if it happens with your exposed aggregate concrete, you may find yourself having stones start to let go and not be held in properly, leaving a terrible looking result over a short period of time.

Finishing Up

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Control joints need to be installed on all concrete driveways. These control joints act to weaken a certain high percentage cracking line, which allows the concrete to find that weakened point and (hopefully), crack within the control joint that has been installed. Control joints can be installed either during the pour by tooling them into the concrete, or saw cut into the concrete after the setting process (typically 2 days after pouring).

It is also advised that you seal your new concrete, then continue to maintain the sealer every 12 months after installation. Sealer acts as a vapor barrier, stopping water from penetrating into the surface matrix of the concrete. Whilst also making it easier to clean, it stops the concrete surface from eroding away.

I hope you found some of this information informative. Have a chat with your contractor during the quotation process to make sure all these areas are not only included in your pricing, but are 100% to be installed.

It’s always better to pay a little more for a quality installation, rather than saving some money upfront, only to end up paying double down the track when things start to fail.

Covacrete Resurfacing – Style Choices

Decorative Covacrete Resurfacing is the process of taking your existing old, worn out concrete area, then through the process of overlay resurfacing, creating something sleek and stylish that will have your friends and family envious with your new concrete.

Typically we start out the process with any repair work that is required, fixing small cracks and depressions with grinding and patching products, also, if required, removing sections of the previous concrete that cannot be repaired and replacing it with new concrete before starting the process.

Once this is completed, the surface areas receives an acid bath and high pressure clean, removing some of the remaining existing surface, whilst also getting rid of unwanted dirt, mold and greasy particles.

From there we begin our actual resurfacing process, which typically the products use do not change, only the application in which they are applied. We generally base coat your existing area to make sure everything is nice and smooth for our new product, then we tape whatever patterns are required, then we spray our main colouring and border colours, followed by decorative applications of swirls, patching and flecks, finally finishing off with 2 coats of high grade sealer.

Standard Finishing Style

Our standard finishing style consists of the basics.

After repair work and base coatings are completed, a basic taping pattern is laid down, usually in a diamond or tile shape and a border if required.

The entire surface is then sprayed with Covacrete in the colour of clients choosing, followed by off setting flecks. Then after removing the tape revealing our pattern, 2 coats of high grade sealer are applied.

Contemporary Finishing Style

Our Contemporary finishing style consists of a little more intricate design, with more of an old fashioned type feel to the end result.

After repair work and base coatings have been completed, we then proceed with our taped patterns in the design our clients choose. These may consist of center pieces like a compass, borders and inserts from sides into the main surface area, these borders may also be a mock tile design.

We then proceed to spray the borders and center pieces with different colours than what is to be sprayed over the main area. We then tape these areas off ready for the main coatings of Covacrete.

The main surface area is then sprayed in a different colour of the clients choosing, followed by off setting flecks to add some depth and character, finally finishing off with removing all the tape and 2 coats of high grade sealer.

Modern Finishing Style

Our Modern finishing style is a blend of sharply contrasted colours and patterns, really adding that WOW factor to your area.

As always, after completion of the preparation work and base coating, we then begin our taped designs on the surface of the concrete. Using triangular patterns with small and large areas, blending and contrasting against different aspects of the existing area as much as possible, maybe adding a border if required as well.

From here we typically give the surface a double coating of the main colour that has been chosen, followed by anywhere from 2-3 other colours that we use for patching full areas, patch sliding out of individual corners of our triangles, and of course swirling designs itemising each triangular area to be individual from the next. Sometimes, flecking is also completed depending on the final results if the area needs to have a little depth added, then of course finishing off by removing our taping and 2 coats of sealer.

This design is a focus on team work and understand between our clients and our selves to come up with something that is truly unique. Although a plan is laid out for the colouring and basic designs, in the end this process comes down to the individual installer’s artistic approach and what he/she see’s needs to be done to work properly throughout the area.

You are hiring the installers artistic approach and ability more so than just someone who you think can complete the work.

Summary

At the end of the day, whichever style suits your fancy, you’ll end up with something that not only looks superb, but really elevates the feel of your property..not to mention increasing it’s value.

Keep in mind what I’ve outlined here for the basic fundamentals of each style, although their names generalise for an end feel to your project, there is no reason why we can’t mix and match these styles to create a style that is truly unique.

Have a chat with us soon about your project, not only are we qualified, professional and experienced installers of Covacrete Resurfacing, we like to give ourselves a few notches on the belt for having the artistic foresight to make any area be a world class design.

New Website Launch

Welcome to our new website!

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After some database errors on our previous CMS, the decision was made to switch our site over to a more efficient CMS with a whole new design and layout. Unfortunately, we had to lose some of our content along this journey, but with a little support from our friends on Facebook and everyone else who follows our progress, I’m sure it won’t be long again until we’re ranking back up where we need to be. In this blog I’ve listed out below each section of our new website for you to take a look at in more detail.

Our Services Page

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We have detailed out our main concrete and resurfacing applications that we provide to our clients. Starting at the old nuts and bolts plain grey concrete, right through to our top of the range covacrete resurfacing and epoxy coating options.

Our Services

Company News Page

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On our News page we update content frequently with projects completed and their details, along with industry and company blogs. Feel free to source our RSS linked at the top of the page to stay up to date with our activity and completed works.

News Articles

Our Galleries Pages

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Our galleries pages consist of photo’s and videos of our completed projects. We update these pages after each project is completed. We also share most of these pictures and videos on our Social Media that you’ll find linked at the top of the page.

Galleries

Colour Charts Page

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Our colour charts page consists of links to our Coloured Concrete and Covacrete Resurfacing colour ranges, along with our aggregate options for exposed projects. All charts are clickable to enlarge to assist decision making.

Decorative Charts

Customer Relations and Contact Information Pages

For our customer relations section, you will find a testimonials page with feed back from our completed works given directly to Home Improvement Pages (our main advertiser). These testimonials are verified independently through HI Pages and whether they are good or bad, they go against our name.

On our Terms of Service page you will find a basic disclaimer for our clients to read, understand and agree to prior to us commencing work. Only basic information, but it’s good for both client and contractor to be on the same page with all the finer details.

Last but certainly not least, the most important section of our new website. Wander on over to our contact page where you can either click the phone number to get in contact with us, or fill out our form to shoot us an email. We always look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read through our first blog for the new website, I hope you enjoy the site as much as I have in building it. If you notice anything that could be improved, or would just like to leave your comments, please feel free to do so below.

Concrete Driveway Resurfacing Robina

Project Description

Location: Robina, Queensland
Project Size: 220sqm

Starting off with an old, worn out exposed aggregate base, our client was wishing for our modern style of finishing of covacrete resurfacing. After spending a few days cleaning and repairing the surface, we then proceeded to double base coat the concrete with our modified covacrete, creating a smooth surface to work upon. Sharply angled taped lines were then placed throughout and a double main coating of Ash Grey was sprayed over the surface. For our swirl and patching decorations, we used Light Bluestone colouring to really emphasise the highlights, then finished off with a Bluegum fleck throughout just to add some depth.

Exposed Aggregate Driveway Paradise Point

Project Description

Location: Paradise Point, Queensland
Project Size: 140sqm

This one was back breaking. With the builder finished and handover taken place, we came in to commence work on this project. With small sides which required new concrete pathways, they had been left extremely low and in need of 20m.cubic of 20mm road base to be hand shoveled and barrowed up the sides. After this was complete, we formed in the intricate garden beds, allowed for our falls and began installation of the new concrete. Plain grey concrete was poured up the side paths and rear water tank slab, then we finished off with Dalmation 50% aggregate from Hytec for the driveway.

Exposed Aggregate Driveway Riverlinks

Project Description

Location: Riverlinks, Queensland
Project Size: 170sqm

A new house build saw it’s completion ending with a new driveway to be installed. A relatively flat site, not a lot of machine work was required, so we went about our business preparing the site for new concrete. Formwork and steel requirements installed, we placed the side pathway and carport during the first pour due to access issues with the trucks, then finished off the remainder in Dalmation 80% aggregate and a good acid cleaning.

Concrete Driveway Resurfacing Nerang

Project Description

Location: Nerang, Queensland
Project Size: 130sqm

After installing a new concrete carport section for our client, we got onto work on the existing driveway, preparing it for it’s new surface. Existing was a few layers of old paint which previous owners thought was a good idea. After a couple of days of floor grinding and hand grinding, we had the surface fully stripped back to bare concrete and ready for our covacrete coatings. We decided upon a contemporary design, with 100mm border and 2/3 inserts in a tile pattern Chocolate Brown colour, then we sprayed the main area with Latte with off setting flecks of cream.

Plain Concrete Driveway Molendinar

Project Description

Location: Molendinar, Queensland
Project Size: 375sqm

After years of entering their property on an old dirt track, our client finally decided it was time to upgrade to concrete. Not a great deal of machine work was required on this project, so after a quick scrape, the form work was put in place and all the steel cut so as to be able to place it during concrete pour as the truck exited each section. Reversing the trucks down over this 125m long driveway was a bit tricky, but we managed and with the steel being placed whilst moving down, we had the concrete finished off by trowel machine and a broom.

Covacrete Resurfacing Driveway Logan

Project Description

Location: Logan, Queensland
Project Size: 390sqm

Existing on this premises was an old driveway consisting of exposed aggregate section and plain grey concrete sections. We began this project with a full heavy acid clean and pressure wash, then continued on with the minimal repair work required. The existing exposed aggregate sections were double base coated with modified covacrete, then finally the remaining plain concrete was single base coated with standard covacrete. Our client was only after a basic effect for the final look, so without any patterning, we completed 2 coats of Salmon coloured covacrete, finishing it off with off setting flecks and two coats of high grade acrylic sealer.