Pavement Maintenance

Making a Decision: Why the Time is Now!

Deciding “what to do” is probably the single toughest part of any pavement maintenance project. You might be unfamiliar with the processes, terminologies and costs associated with paving or pavement maintenance work. This can lead to confusion, frustration and uncertainty about what to do and exactly how to proceed. Even if you have some experience with pavement projects, it’s likely that you’ll have a difficult time sorting through the different recommendations that you are likely to receive from the contractors you engage. Too often this complexity can lead to substantial delays in the project or, in some cases, to giving up on the project. But don’t delay. Any time a repair or maintenance is deferred you run the risk of transforming a simple or modest project into a far more costly and time-consuming one. That’s because (unlike wine), asphalt pavement does not get better with age. The effects of weather, traffic and sunlight conspire to break down asphalt over time, so simply shelving a project until “later” will only increase the chance that the solution will be more involved, more expensive, and more inconvenient for all involved. Your goal as you begin the work to extend the life of your pavement investment should be to simplify the process from beginning to end. Not only will that make the work easier to understand, it will result in the proper maintenance option, performed at the appropriate time, by a reliable contractor—for a cost-effective solution to your asphalt repair.

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Scope of Work: What is it and Why is it Important?

Once you’ve decided that work on your pavement needs to take place, you need to decide what kind of work and how much of it. This is referred to as “scope of work” and should include all the main components of the proposed project. This is an essential step in the success of the project because a properly thought-out and well-written scope of work is the foundation for getting the job done properly, on time, and within budget. A clear scope of work also greatly lowers the chances for confusion as to what’s included in your project.

There are several ways to help determine what your scope of work should be.

The three most common are:

Apples to Apples — Have one paving contractor determine scope of work and provide the details for the project

Consensus Approach — Meet with multiple asphalt contractors at the same time and have them collectively decide what to do

Design/Build — Select two or more contractors and have them design independent solutions that can then be reviewed and evaluated

Apples to Apples

One contractor or firm creates the work scope and distributes it to all interested parties.


Exact bids are received and can be evaluated based on factors such as price, warranty offered, company reputation, prior work history and scheduling

Easier to compare bids because line items are similar


Tends to focus solely on the lowest price, which may result in quality issues or deviations from project specifications.

Can exclude valuable input from contractors who did not develop the initial work scope.

Depending on the quality of specifications (or expertise of bidding pavement contractors), the resulting bids may still have some variation in key areas

Little emphasis on the long-term objectives for the pavement surface.

Consensus Approach

Two or more contractors attend a “job walk” and work together to determine what types of work need to be done.


Similar to Apples to Apples


Tends to focus solely on the lowest price, which may result in quality issues or deviations from project specifications

Determining what work should be done can be problematic if a consensus can’t be reached

You are unlikely to learn what each contractor can do best because they won’t want to share their detailed business advantage with their competitors


After discussing the project objectives with the management company, each contractor submits a proposal for consideration. Proposals generally have the same end result but could suggest different construction approaches to get there.


Because each contractor works with the manager directly, the goals are defined up front and can be weighed against budget or other constraints

When done properly, there is a thorough understanding of the job, and expectations are clearly defined and understood

Can be a blueprint for longer-term maintenance planning or multi-year projects

Can help the owner budget for future work

Lowers the potential for costly short-term work

Owner/Manager has a chance to “get to know” the contractor


Generally does not guarantee lowest possible price

Might require more up-front involvement from owner or management company

Summary on Scope Creation

Each of the above approaches can be used on most projects. The key is to pick the one that’s right for you and your situation. It might be that your property only needs some basic routine maintenance and, therefore, a Design/Build approach is probably not needed.

If, however, you are in stages 4 or 5 of the pavement life cycle, you need to consider taking a long look at the Design/Build option and be sure that all your concerns and questions are addressed in the early stages of the project. After all, stages 4 and 5 are the most costly phases of pavement maintenance and a mistake in scope at those stages can be very difficult and expensive to correct in the future.

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