The home remodeling or improvement project that adds the most value to your home, behind only kitchen and bathroom renovations, is creating an inviting and functional hardscaped outdoor living space. If you have done work on your home recently, or if you are budgeting for an upcoming project, chances are you’ve searched the web for average project costs. Quite a few websites offer price ranges, most of which are loosely based on formulas, costs in your region, and average industry labor costs. Some even offer the dreaded “price per square foot” estimate that can leave you with more questions than answers.
When reviewing these websites, I found them to be severely lacking in both the information each provided, and the information each requested. They asked only for my zip code and the square footage (SF) of the patio. That’s it. Based solely on these two questions, I was given estimates ranging from $6 per SF to $15 per SF – not a helpful or informative range. No website asked me for my soil type and none seemed to care about the access to my property and to the project area (maybe they could just carry 50 tons of stone through my 3′ fence gate).
They didn’t specify, so I was left wondering if all paver types and styles cost the same. I also hope the fact that my yard drops 2 feet from one side of the house to the other side will not be a problem. In short, I was left with quite a few questions. Are there any special considerations because I am in a new home? What if I don’t want a square patio? Where will all of the runoff water go? What about adding steps, walls, stone pillars, or a fire feature? Do I need to worry about permits?
The bottom line is that dozens of questions need to be considered when budgeting and planning for your paver patio project. Only a qualified hardscape contractor is equipped to look at all the factors that affect price, functionality, and the feasibility of your dream outdoor oasis. An experienced, accredited contractor builds 50 or more projects like yours annually. He or she will determine what makes your project unique. And what makes your project unique will influence the price – never accept a generic estimate that is drawn up on a “price per square foot” basis. You want a unique project, so demand a unique design and a detailed price.
Instead of asking, “how much does a paver patio cost?” ask the following questions of each of the contractors you interview. After all, you are making a sizable investment in your home.
- Are you ICPI and/or NCMA certified? (These two organizations set industry standards.)
- How long have you been building paver patios?
- What is your better business bureau rating?
- Please explain the building process
- What do you do around the foundation of a new home to prevent settling? (Soil around new home can settle for up to ten years.)
- Will you build right up against my siding or stucco?
- How will you determine my soil type?
- If required, what type of soil mending might I expect?
- Please provide a list of references and jobs I can visit
- How will you ensure proper compaction, both for the patio and for any steps you build?
- How can I expect the job to progress, day to day?
- What will you do about storm water management on my property?
- Where do you buy your materials? I’d like to talk to that dealer about your work
A qualified, experienced contractor should explain most or all of these items to you without being asked. They are items that are a part of every job and are factors that make every job and every price unique. So, how much should your paver patio cost? As you can see, it’s a complicated question with a complex answer. A qualified, experienced contractor with the proper knowledge can help guide you to the correct answer.
-Steve Compton, GM-