What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Yes, do your homework. Get a few bids and don't be pressured into going with the first guy that you talk with about paving stones. There are a few companies out there, whose "salespeople" have been trained in psychological selling and high-pressure "closing" techniques in order to get you to sign up on the spot. Be wary of these types of sales trick where they also want you to sign up on the spot by calling the "owner" (typically their sales manager) and dropping the price 20-30% if you sign up today. These are your typical "used car sales types" - not professional contractors who know their trade! If they were honest, they should have started at that price to begin with. Also be very wary of the low cost installer - or the internet low price offer of $7.99/sq. ft. You've heard the saying, "You get what you pay for." Every paving stone job and situation is unique. These are simply "bate and switch" tactics to get their foot in the door and then try to charge you more. And if they do quote you a low price, what "short-cuts" are they taking?! I have seen all the tricks these guys pull... and it is not pretty. Your job will most certainly fail = sinking, or gapping open of the paving stones in time. Protect your investment in a paving stone installation; pay a little more to go with a solid construction contractor like Hill Construction Co. who has been in the business a long time and does it right! And be very wary of any company offering you a 25 year warranty. Will they still be in business 25 years from now - not likely. This is yet another deceptive practice - also read the fine print of such extended warranties. There you will find that the paving stones can move by 1/4 - 1/2", which in our book is a poorly installed/failed job!
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
That I grew up in a construction family watching my father do many high profile and visible heavy construction projects back in the days before the Silicon Valley boom. I have done and seen all aspects of both residential and commercial construction. Of all the things I have done, I discovered that the design and installation of interlocking paving stones for residential driveways, walkways, and patios excites me the most. In the process I discovered that I have a natural talent for "hardscape" and landscape design, realized the need and huge demand for recycled/sustainable products and have steered the family business in this new direction, specializing in the design/installation of interlocking paving stones, water friendly artificial turf, and fabulous outdoor living spaces using the wealth of exciting new products and construction techniques that have recently come to market.