News

What You Can’t See, Can Hurt You

By Liz Williams

The asphalt in a homeowners association is something often overlooked or ignored until it’s too late. The streets are almost always the largest asset and almost always the most expensive to replace. However, the streets are your welcome mat and their condition makes a statement.

Asphalt is a strong durable product that can last 25 to 30 years if properly maintained. There are many natural elements that will shorten the life of your asphalt.

Improper irrigation or ponding water. Water washes away the oils that hold together the components that are combined to make asphalt. When water penetrates the asphalt, the base material gets wet and tends to shift and break up.

The temperatures in the desert have such drastic swings between hot and cold, asphalt does not have elasticity and cannot expand and contract to that extreme. As concrete has expansion joints to allow for those shifts, asphalt does not and forms its own “expansion joint” by cracking.

California’s San Andreas Fault runs directly through the Coachella Valley. When the earth moves, the asphalt moves with it. Again, creating its own breaking point.

Just by virtue of where we live, we face challenges that other regions of the state do not.

It is important to mention that most reserve studies calculate the life span of the asphalt to be 20 to 30 years and they are based on the assumption that proper maintenance will be completed until that time.

The importance of proper maintenance cannot be stressed enough. The Asphalt Institute recognizes the application of a seal coat as the best form of preventative maintenance. By applying one to two coats of seal, depending on the condition of the asphalt, every few years will help prolong the life of your pavement for many, many years. Seal puts the oils and the fine aggregates back into the dry eroded asphalt and restores and rejuvenates it into a smooth, deep black finish.

When asphalt does fail, many types of repairs can be done. You can skin patch minor damage, remove and replace certain areas and even install an asphalt overlay before you have to make the decision to completely remove and replace the asphalt in your community. HOAs have begun to use phasing plans to establish an annual budget to allow for a gradual replacement of the existing streets and parking lots.

When working with a contractor there are questions to ask:

  • How many years have they been in business?
  • Do they specialize in the type of work being specified?
  • Are they properly licensed to do the work?
  • Do they have experience working in the Coachella Valley?
  • Can they provide you with local references, so you and the board can look at completed projects?
  • Do they have Worker’s Compensation and General Liability insurance?

You can also check out any California contractor by logging in to the California State License Board (CSLB) website. The selection of the paving company to use is one of the most vital decisions that you will make.

Featured in QUORUM February, 2019


Liz Williams is the Vice President of AMS Paving; she works with her Husband, Bill Hawkins, who founded the company in 1981. Liz has been an active member of CAI for over 25 years having a multi-chapter membership. Liz completed the Business Partner Essentials course in 2017 and is proud to be an Educated Business Partner. She can be reached at (760) 327-0800 or by email at liz@amspaving.com.

To Mill and Fill or Begin Again

Asphalt has a life span of 25 years, give or take, that’s a thing you now know. The give or take depends on the maintenance that it has received over the years. When its day has come the process of milling comes to play.

A milling machine is used to grind the asphalt, move it up a conveyer belt and then load it directly into a truck to be taken to an asphalt plant to be recycled. The same process is used to either completely remove it or only take off a portion of the top surface.

The process of milling only the top surface is in preparation for applying an asphalt overlay, which is generally 1 ½” thick. In the industry it’s called a “mill and fill”, for obvious reasons. While it looks pretty for a while an overlay is still considered a band aid. Asphalt cracks come from the foundation under the asphalt so covering them up doesn’t change the fact that it’s still failing; it just bides a little time.

When the patches, overlay, creak seal, layers and layers of seal coat won’t hold your asphalt together anymore you must accept the truth and move on; it’s time. Now’s when the fun starts. The milling machine, the trucks, the rollers, the skip loaders, etc. All kinds of big toys. Milling is widely used for pavement recycling today, where the asphalt is removed and ground up to be used as an aggregate in new pavement; reducing the impact on the environment. In many cases some of the excess grindings are used as a base material for the new road surface.

When you do get to do a replacement project you must go watch. It is fascinating to see the process and incredible to see how quickly something you’ve looked at and driven on for years and years becomes brand new. Commit to a proper maintenance program and you’ve made a 25-year investment.

My suggestion, when you contract for these types of projects be certain to use paving contractors that are accustomed to working with HOA’s. We all know that when you’re working in someone else’s home territory it can get tricky. At the end of the day, your Board and the homeowners will be happy, and you’ll be the hero.

Featured in San Diego Community Insider – July 2018

CAI-CV Quorum Platinum Sponsor Introduction

AMS Paving has been a Multiple Chapter Member of CAI for over 20 years and it has been our privilege to serve the homeowners, board members and managers of the Coachella Valley during that time. As we proudly celebrate our 35th year of service, we attribute our success to each of our clients, and to our employees dedication to the pursuit of our guiding values of honesty, integrity and quality in every project we perform.

Our core services include:

  • Asphalt Repair & Paving
  • Pavement Replacement & New Paving
  • Sealcoat & Striping
  • ADA Compliance
  • Asphalt Education for Managers

AMS Paving, Inc. was founded in 1981 by Bill Hawkins. Prior to that date, he enjoyed success in his first asphalt maintenance venture, Asphalt Sealing Systems. With that experience he recognized the need to offer his customers a wider array of asphalt paving and maintenance services that were not just limited to sealcoat and striping. Bill proceeded to get his C-32 License, in addition to his C-12, making him an Earthwork and Paving Contractor as well. Today, AMS Paving is not only the premier sealcoat applicator in Southern California, but also the forerunner in asphalt paving and maintenance.

The success of any venture starts with the people it serves as well as those it employs. Our clients have responded to our commitment to quality by graciously rewarding us with their loyalty and years of repeat business. In addition, our success has allowed us to be selective in the quality of people we employ. AMS is proud to offer our clients, at every point of contact, the services of the most professional and knowledgeable staff in the industry.

In 2002, Liz Williams, V.P. of Business Development, was added to the AMS team after 20 years of success in the property management industry. Together with her husband, Bill Hawkins, they have been the force behind AMS’s growth and increased capacity to respond to the needs of our clients. Liz has also been a committed and influential leader in CAI where she has served in various capacities from Vice President of the Board of Greater Riverside Inland Empire (GRIE) and has served on multiple committees, for multiple chapters, over many years.

We recognized early on that the Coachella Valley was a unique market opportunity and that success there would require a dedicated and embedded staff. AMS Paving is proud to be affiliated with CAI-CV and is committed to its success in the attainment of its goals to improve the quality of life for the communities it serves. It has proven to be a rewarding relationship whose benefits have included and superseded the growth of our business.