Double Glazing, Garage Doors and DIY Information

15 March 2007

Buying a Driveway: Important Tips and Tricks to Remember

Constructing or replacing a driveway is normally an arduous and expensive undertaking, but it is a great way to add character to your home. Still, because of the economic and time commitment involved, be sure to read through the following tips and tricks to help you when constructing or replacing a driveway, to help make the process as easy as possible and to help insure that you are satisfied with the finished product.

The first thing you should do is to always ask a driveway contractor to visit, survey and measure the site so that they can give you an accurate and detailed quote with information on what the work entails and what the price will be for each task. Be sure to shop around and compare prices or do research on the Internet to see what average industry rates are. Also, you should always ask a builder/contractor to see previous work and talk to previous clients about their level of satisfaction with the product and the company to help you in your decision making process as in many cases, price is not everything. You may also want to ask about the employees. Good questions include:

  • How did they behave around the home.

  • Did they show respect and consideration for others including the neighbors?

  • Did they clean up at the end of each day?
A contractor should dig out and remove soil, roots and other waste and treat this area with a weed killer. This area will serve as a place for water to run off when it rains, so make sure that your contractor finds a way to remove a lot of the rainwater that will hit your driveway, before you select a contractor for the job. You should also help to insure that the final surface will not cover any airbricks or water tap / meter traps and that the surface will be at least 6" below the Damp Course so that it does not interfere with any garage doors or gates that you may have.

When asphalt is being used to build the driveway, check that it will be laid hot. Sometimes the builder will try to use "fluxed", "cut-back" or "deferred" methods, however these techniques use an oil to soften the asphalt to make it easier to lay, but often results in a soft surface that can be easily damaged, particularly in warm weather.
After you get each quote, make sure that they all include the falling information:

  • Details about how any earth or soft ground will be removed before the construction materials are laid.

  • An accurate description of the thickness and other features of the materials used.

  • Full price is quoted for construction and the removal of waste. (Removing waste/soil yourself can be very expensive)

  • Time needed to complete task
Typical Construction Materials Used

Asphalt is the most popular material used to build driveways and is the industry standard term for hot-mixed mixtures of aggregate (stone) and bitumen (the binding agent). Asphalt may also be referred to as tarmac, bitmac, blacktop, and bitumen macadam. The Asphalt driveway features 150mm thickness of sound well compacted granular sub-base/hardcore, 60mm compacted thickness of 20mm dense or open graded binder course (base course), and mixtures specified in British Standard 4987 "Coated macadam (Asphalt concrete) for roads and other paved areas.

Block Paving
Block paving or pavors is a less popular but still quite commonly-used paving technique. Here, small rectangular bricks that are often times made of concrete are placed onto a level sand bed. These blocks will be placed in a set pattern to form the surface.
Block paving features 100mm of sound well compacted granular sub-base/hardcore and 35/50mm grit sand for bedding the block paving, and when used for domestic purposes, is usually 50-60mm thick house. Make sure engineering bricks are not being used, as they are not suitable for use in block paving. Fine silica is perfect to fill in spaces between gaps.
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