Without a doubt, hiring a contractor is the part of home remodeling that causes more fear and anxiety than any other phase. How do you know you've got a good contractor, someone you can trust to do a good job for a fair price and stand behind his or her work? Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. But if you do your homework, you improve the odds of getting a contractor you will be happy with.
1) First they need to be insured . To work in any state a contractor need to be insured before do anything else and how you will be sure that the company that you are going to hired is real cover by a insurance agency? simple, every serious company will be register in the contractor board of the state that he work and to be register the first document that you need is proof of insurance for example for Rhode Island residence go to http://www.crb.state.ri.us/search.php search the contractor name and you will see if is register and insured, plus you will see if the company has complains.
2) Check if they have a website, search their company name in Google ,you will find more info about them, I saw lot of small companies changing their names every time they have a complain making harder for the consumer find information about them.
3)Write down all the questions that you have for them for example:
What asphalt mix design are they going to use?
There is a dozen of asphalt types; base binder with 3/4" stone or 1/2" stone , for surface top with 1/2" or 3/8" stone , for the base, process gravel etc, ask for a copy of the mix design they are going to use that way you will know if they have a clue about asphalt.There is no such as left over mix from another job, asphalt is made at 300 to 325 degrees and that temp will go down in three to four hours so if you have mix from another job very positive that will be cold and you don't want your driveway made with cold asphalt believe me.
How long will take to do the job?
Normally in a good weather conditions one day should be plenty time to do a driveway.
Ask them how many tons of asphalt your driveway need , why? Let me explain to you ; your driveway will need a minimum of 3" of process gravel base , 2" of base course asphalt mix and 1" of surface top . Will be hard for the customer difference between 3" of asphalt or 2" , that inch of asphalt will be replace with the cheapest material that will be the process gravel and to be sure that he use the correct amount ask them for a copy of the receipt. Asphalt is made in a production plant and every time the contractor buy asphalt will have a receipt ; there is an example how you can calculate your driveway need go to http://www.asphaltpavement.org/images/stories/paving_area_calc.xls