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Inside Information

Local knowledge makes a big difference

A smooth, strong, and beautiful driveway isn’t as simple as dumping some asphalt and smoothing it out.

Experienced local contractors know there are many factors that need to be considered during the preparation stages, including the natural environment and site-specific conditions, says Niki Pickett, owner of Ital Paving.

She says local experience means understanding the terrain. Frost lines can vary in depth drastically depending on where you live; drainage issues on long or steep driveways will vary according to weather patterns; even understanding what kind of soils you are dealing with makes a difference.

“Frost lines can be one foot or greater depending on your location, and the frost may not break until mid or late spring in some places,” explains Niki. “When planning your paving project, this understanding is critical to the longevity of the project, so that protective measures such as excavation and granular needs can be addressed.”

Niki also notes that some cottages in central Ontario feature long, winding driveways which can have several degrees of slope along the way. Knowing what materials need to be used and where to provide run-off areas is essential for durability, particularly in an area with heavy snows – and heavy spring runoff.

“As well, soils which are high in clay or shale content can be unstable,” says Niki, whose company is 36 years old. “These soils will have extreme expansion and contraction throughout the year and will cause shifting and cracking to occur on your driveway.”

In these cases, the experts at Ital Paving will dig out the unstable material and replace it with appropriate granular.

Support local
Local contractors are well equipped to work in coordination with each other on timing, tasks, and finding solutions to challenges, so the property owner can feel less stressed throughout the process.

Niki has run into several homeowners and cottagers who used “fly by night” companies for a variety of projects and the work wasn’t done right. Checking on certifications, WSIB, and liability insurance are also important pieces of the puzzle.

“It’s costing contractors more money to choose people who aren’t from the area and don’t understand what the work entails,” says Niki. “It’s a big issue in all construction projects where shoddy work was done by people who take the money and run.”

Niki says by now everyone should understand the benefits of supporting local businesses – including restaurants, retail stores, and contractors. They started their businesses to be part of a community and understand that you deserve the best.

“Local business owners are the ones who support local charities, sponsor local sports teams and events, and whose kids go to school with your kids,” says Niki. “The money you spend locally stays in the community. It’s a win all around.”

TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN

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