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.