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How To: Plan a Driveway

November 10, 2009

In most cases, a homeowner's driveway runs straight from his garage to the street, and the contractor/homebuilder provides the driveway. But, in other cases, a homeowner is responsible for the driveway, and while he may have the perfect material in mind for his driveway in terms of aesthetics, he needs to plan and keep practical considerations in mind. A homeowner needs to make sure the materials meet his needs and his abilities to deal with them.

The homeowner should first consider the activities he has in mind for the driveway.

He should choose the type of material for the driveway, keeping in mind the size of the driveway and the overall curb appeal of the home or building. The reason concrete drives are so common is that a concrete finisher can prep, pour, and finish a drive rather easily.

If the driveway is long, however, asphalt is common and the most costeffective.

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If the home is historic, pavers or brick may be preferred. However, pavers and brick are the most expensive options.

Finalize the size and style of the driveway. Do you want just a straight driveway from the garage to the street? Because of traffic, you may need a half circle drive or a turn-around to back into. A triple-wide drive may be desired for parking an extra vehicle without shuffling other cars to get out of the driveway. Another common option is an S-shaped drive to add to the curb appeal.

It never hurts to price shop. It is always a good idea to prepare a sketch of the driveway you have in mind with measurements. Specify the grade of the site. Grade can increase the cost of a driveway.

Visit subdivisions in your area and ask who did the work on driveways you admire. Get a few estimates and compare prices and the reputation of the contractors.

Choose a material that has some relationship to the other materials that will be near it. Paving that appears to be a natural variation of the building nearby creates a sense of harmony.

Tips for choosing a paving contractor

  • Licensed and Bonded: Make sure your contractor is licensed and bonded in your state. In Maryland, you can research the Maryland Home Improvement Commission for this information at www.dllr.state.md.us/pq/
  • Free Estimates: Your contractor should offer free estimates and try to obtain at least three estimates for comparison.
  • Do Your Homework: Research references and previous jobs completed by the contractor. Contractors may ask for partial payment up front but should not ask for the full payment up front.


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