When it comes to dealing with underground construction contractors, many business operators would rather crawl across broken glass on their bellies than obtain multiple quotes from contractors. This is an unfortunate fact for both the customer requiring the service and the industries that provide legitimate, value based, and competent services. The simple truth is that there are quite few bad apples out there and you have to be very careful to find the right contracting partner for your project.
Many times when a customer requests a quote from a contractor, what they are really looking for is a ballpark estimate so they can determine if it is within their budget. A good contractor will take the time to gather the initial project details and provide a good faith estimate. You should only work with contractors who are willing to work with you. If at any time you feel rushed or they seem bothered by your requests, then find a different contractor immediately.
You will be able to get a good feel for how thorough the contractor is by how well the quote is organized, the attention to detail and in particular, if they list any assumptions that may not have even occur to you earlier on in your planning. Look for a contractor who looks for ways to do the job faster, easier and at less cost to you. However, whatever you do, do not shop based on price alone. Underground construction is not a business that can be taken lightly. It isn’t exactly rocket science but it can be complicated, costly and when done incorrectly – deadly.
Ask for references and take the time to email or call the references provided. Next, Google the contractor’s business and see if they truly have a presence on the Internet. A well established company does not just appear over night with lots of links and references. That takes time to develop and can be a very good indicator that you are not dealing with a fly by night operation. Often you can even determine how busy they are, the types of projects they are bidding, winning and completing by reviewing their web site.
Once you have whittled down your list of contractors, make sure to request what is commonly called a “site walk” – do not accept a quote site unseen. In the end, if the project ends up to be more complicated or costly than the contractor planned, you could find yourself in the driveway having a very uncomfortable conversation or worse, they just disappear, leaving you with a mess. Caveat emptor! It is imperative that the contracting company that you are working with take the time to physically walk the site, take measurements, and identify and communicate to you any potential areas of concern or risk.
After the site walk you should be provided in writing, a “Final Quote” that details the scope of work to be performed, conditions of understanding, a project timeline and an agreed upon price. Managing your contractor and project is a full time job and one that you have to accept responsibility for. If you are already busy with lots of other projects or commitments, you should give serious consideration to finding a nationwide provider of directional boring and trenching services, to help turnkey your project.