Paving Contractor Wants 50% Upfront for $67,000 job

I have a bid to pave streets and parking areas for a park I own in MI. The bid is the only one I received after making RFP’s to a 1/2 dozen companies. The amount seems reasonable (23,000 sf of asphalt 3" deep plus prep work and sealing of adjacent paved areas). However, the contractor wants 50% upfront. Other than a specific contract, what protections and assurances should I receive from the contractor prior to handing over $33K?

To me it all depends on the contractor. How long have they been in business? References? Reviews? Licensed? Bonded?

Would they consider an escrow account where the funds are deposited until the work is finished?

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Not trying to challenge you, but why do you need to go 3" deep on the mill and pave? I always thought 2" would be good enough and that’s with garbage trucks picking up twice a week in the communities I ran.

One other thought, paving estimates range in price wildly. I always tried to get at least three or four so I could zero in on a fair price for the work involved. Maybe it’s wise to make some more calls and maybe find a company w/o such a large down payment.

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The parking lot being repaired is so far gone that existing materials will be removed and we are starting over. I have built subdivisions in my past life, and have always gone at least 3" on paving. Also, I continue to use 3/sf as a guideline for pricing asphalt, and this bid is actually pretty good. Not only does it include excavation, prep, materials and paving for 21,000 sf, it also includes pot hole repair and sealing the rest of the drives in the park. My only question was the amount of upfront , but after talking with contractor, I will be paying for material directly to the asphalt provider ($27,000).

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we NEVER pre-pay a contractor for anything. Caveat Emptor

I’ve had paved roads installed at our communities also and would do 3 inch. Plus sometimes 2 inch could be laid at 1.9 or less inches making it even thinner.

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In this case, the asphalt supplier wants materials paid for prior to delivery ($27K). And the contractor has agreed to progress payments. So I feel pretty comfortable now

We would not feel comfortable dealing with a contractor who doesn’t have enough relationship with his vendors to get net 10 or net 30 from their supplier - or to put it on a card… That’s just us.


I have never paid for paving upfront and I always call the blacktop plant to see if they are paid in full. If they are not paid in full, I make checks payable to the blacktop supplier and the blacktop contractor so that the suppliers has to sign off and can’t lien my property later. it would be worth the lawyers bill to escrow the money and let the contractors lawyer and your lawyer handle that part. It would not be the 1st contractor to skip with a down payment… or the last


As I learned the hard way, make sure the contractor is not only insured, but also bonded.

That would be highly unusual in the NW. But only the %. We often pay 10-15% to busy trades in the summer to tie down their calendar. You are probably fighting the fact that everyone is so busy they feel they can ask for this. The fact you only got one bid says a lot about the tightness of the contractor supply where you are.


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Entire issue resolved. I paid the asphalt batch plant directly for the material (approx 50% of the job) and just paid the final check to the paving crew. It turned out beautifully and numerous residents have called with thanks.


Don’t. We have had nothing but problems any time we gave money up front. Some of these contractors seem to live on advances… I wouldn’t pay a dime up front. Better to not have the job done than lose the “deposit” and be chasing them for months. I learned this with plumbers, roofers and sign guys. Be strong. No money up front. Do the job and you get paid. Period.

Do not do it. It’s a scam.