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Question DetailsAsked on 6/17/2017

I had a contractor pave a driveway for me. It has over 20 Segregation spots and he says thats normal. Is that right

he did say that grading was included in his price, but not compaction. says I needed to be very specific about what was included. To shut me up, he seal coated the drive after 9 wks. Was this too soon?

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Assuming you mean an asphalt paving job (obviously concrete is a whole nother story), though segregation spots can occur in concrete that is hand worked excessively, or where they tried to "stretch" the paving out at edges or a street intersection because they were running out of material. Segregation areas might be normal for him, but not for a professional - the only place they are common (though with proper paving machine operation should not be significantly noticeable even there) is at the bonding line between paver lanes - where the paving machine had to make another pass to get the desired width. On a good job you should have to look closely to see where the paving lane edges are, and intersections with concrete or street or such should be evident only by the difference in color - not by a segregated zone.Sounds like a fly-by-night operator who tailgates a load or two of asphalt out of the truck and then hand-rakes it out, rather than using a paving machine as a proper job would be done with - that kind of hand raking will commonly cause segregation patches and seams.

Saying compaction was not included - that is just plain a ripoff - asphalt paving is NOT designed or intended to to be used without good compaction - typically 3-4 passes with a self-propelled roller, or several passes on thin (1 - 1-1/2 inch thick lifts) with a plate compactor if not accesible to a roller. NOT compacting it is just plain lazy or incompetent or both.

Basically the only time asphalt is not compacted (though for best results it should be) is for minor patches like in active roadways where they put the patch down (like for potholes) and let the traffic pack it down - though that commonly results in a poor patch which is why most potholes pop up again so soon - lack of digging out substandard material and putting proper new base before the patch, and not compacting it). But that is sometimes done anyway to minimize the traffic interference, even though it is not cost-effective in the long run because of rapid pothoile reappearance.

Occasionally a rarely used road or private road or drive will have the asphalt put down and not rolled by the installer to save on cost, counting on the traffic to compact it (though that does not give as good a result by far) but for that to work it has to be cold-mix [aka cold patch] asphalt - which is generally only available at the end of the paving season in many areas though sometimes available year-around in warmer climates like much of the pacific southwest, to road maintenance departments out of their own stockpiles, or in remote areas too far from the nearest asphalt plant (typically more than about 30-40 minutes driving for a dump truck - more with specially heated beds) to use hot mix because it would cool too much for proper placement. "Cold mix" comes out of the plant typically at around 140-180 degrees temp and can be workable out of a stockpile at about 50-60 degrees or warmer for as much as a couple of months, whereas hot mix is made at about 275-425 degrees and generally has to go down at about 225-300 degrees depending on spec (never below about 185), so its workability time is only about 1/4-1/2 hour after coming out of the truck, and maybe up to normally a maximum or about an hour in the truck in transit and wait time.

While a true asphalt/coal tar sealant (hot applied at around 350-400 degrees) will largely seal segregation areas to limit the influx of water through the aggregate (which is fairly pervious in those areas), normal water-emulsion sealer (commonly labelled asphalt or tar but usuallyi just refinery oil bottoms and mostly water) like you see at box stores and such and is applied cold to maybe around 200 degrees max is NOT a suitable remedy for segregation by any stretch of the imagination. Sealing 9 weeks after placement might or might not be too soon depending on the amount of hot weather and rain it has seen but is certainly at the short end - around 2-3 months is the normal minimum time before sealing, and generally more like 6-12 months per the Asphalt Institute recommendations (and that 6-12 months should include a summer). The asphalt is still bleeding out oils up to that point and will cause bubbling and poor adhesion of the sealant. More info on that in a previous questions with answers here -

Unfortunately, he has gotten away with the non-compaction and now covered his placement flaws with the sealer, so getting recourse after this much time will be tough - you would have to get density tests by a civil engineering test firm to prove it was excessively low density and an engineer to be ready to testify his procedure was flawed, then you MIGHT be able to convince his Bonding company to redo the job right by calling his bond, but I would not hold out great hopes. Especially poor odds of winning if you have paid him in full - though if you have on written record your complaints about his work quality that would help a lot. If I was doing an evaluation for a Bonding company as an independent expert, if I heard he did not compact a paving job I would recommend the bonding company bite the bullet and pay for a remedy - normally try to negotiate an inch to inch and a half topping coat overlay of asphalt first, otherwise totally repave if that could not be negotiated. (Assuming an overlay will match up properly to adjacent streets/concrete slabs etc.

It is also possible (especially if you can somehow get in writing/text from him via an eMail or Text or such that he did not compact it, that IF your area requires building code compliance and inspection for paving (usually not the case), you MIGHT get a building inspector to fail the job and require that it be redone right - not that I would trust that guy to do it right. But tht is a real long shot.

Ditto to a fraud charge - even though what he did is very poor workmanship, probably not criminal - would require a court case (small claims or a suit) to try to recover from him - and the time to address the lack of compaction would have been the day it was done or the day after, though granted you may not have known that was needed at the time - not something a normal homeowner would be expected to know.

A nastygram letter from an attorney might have the desired effect - especially if a copy is sent ot his bonding company - stating the inadequacy of the job and that you want X done to remedy it - though the chance of him doing it right without a civil engineer watching his every move is probably pretty minimal.

Of course, an appropriate Review on Angies List sounds like it would be in order so other people don't get burned by this guy.

Answered 6 days ago by LCD

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