Nailed: A fraud prevention and compliance blog

Written by Elizabeth Smith,
L&I's Assistant Director for
Fraud Prevention and
Labor Standards

Sep. 21, 2010

Paving scam – again!

The end of summer typically marks the end of the traveling driveway paving scam … but alas, we are investigating multiple suspicious driveway paving jobs in the Spokane area.

L&I investigators have issued 35 infractions to a “company” doing business as Asphalt Driveways. The problem: Our investigators cannot find anybody from the company to respond to our citations.

These particular operators are going into neighborhoods and hanging signs with a toll free 866 phone number. Investigators believe they are from out-of-state and are on the move, working in one neighborhood before moving on the next.

How do these jobs go wrong? Well, L&I is not in the paving business, so I asked someone who is.

"Asphalt is one of those things people don’t know much about," said Mike Cate, General Manager of North Fork Construction in Chehalis.

North Fork Construction specializes in asphalt paving, and sometimes gets called in to fix the work left behind by these traveling paving outfits. In his experience, these jobs are severely lacking in foundation work.

Cate’s crews spend the bulk of any job getting the foundation ready. They bring in gravel, grade the surface, and create proper drainage. “It’s a little like building a house – your asphalt paving is only as good as your foundation.”

How thick the asphalt should be depends on the duty of the driveway, but “an inch is way too thin,” said Cate, who has seen asphalt poured so thin, “I’ve seen vegetation showing through.” Cate says asphalt should be a minimum of 2 inches thick.

Any contractor knocking on your door to offer you a great deal should raise your suspicions. Always check that your contractor is registered with the state before forking over your hard-earned dollars. Registration is not a guarantee of work, but does mean your contractor is bonded and insured, should something go wrong in the job.

Cate recommends taking your background check even further. “Get references and go check them,” he said. “Good contractors should stand behind their work.”

For more information on choosing a contractor, visit hiringacontractor.lni.wa.gov.

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