Armchair Builder

Driveway Paving

How to Build a Home, Step 51


Driveway paving begins once all of the major work is completed on a new home.  It’s a good idea to get the driveway installed just after carpet installation to prevent any mud from being tracked in and ruining the new carpet.  Yes, everyone should remove their shoes when entering a new home at this late stage but unfortunately, some will forget.  Let’s take a look at the schedule for driveway paving and then dive deep into some of the quality requirements.

Driveway Paving Replacement

Concrete Driveway Paving Replacement

The Schedule

It’s good to hold off the installation of the driveway as long as possible to help with deliveries.  You don’t want to pull a heavy drywall, cabinet or appliance delivery truck up onto a brand new driveway.  Green concrete or newly laid asphalt can easily be damaged.  And when the installation costs five to ten thousand dollars of more, we want to do everything possible to protect it.

But we also can’t create a proper final grade on the lot until the driveway has been installed.  The driveway allows the grading contractor to backfill up to the edges of the concrete or asphalt to provide support.  If a tire gets up close to the edge of a driveway without support at the edges, it can crack or chip.

As mentioned before, want to get the driveway in around the time of carpet installation to prevent mud and dirt from being tracked into the home.  If the trades need to walk through mud to get to the new home, the chances of getting your new carpet dirty go up big time.

It All Starts With The Base

A high quality driveway paving project starts with the proper stone base.  So it’s a good idea to start the driveway prep work as early as possible.  Many builders remove all topsoil and place the initial layer of driveway stone at the time the foundation is backfilled.  This provides a place for suppliers to make deliveries and allows construction traffic to pack down the stone as the house is built. Mother nature’s rainfall also helps to settle out the stone base in the months leading up to the actual driveway paving.

It’s essential that all organic material be removed from the area of the driveway.  Have you seen driveways with cracks or settled areas?  In many cases this is caused by movement in the underlying soil or stone.  Organic material like sticks, stumps, and top soil decay over time.   This decay creates voids that will allow the driveway to settle unevenly.  Uneven settlement will lead to cracks and in the worst case…portions of the driveway may drop.

Driveway Paving Quality Check

There’s no question a new driveway can be very expensive.  Unfortunately, removing a failing driveway and replacing it with a new one costs considerably more.  Costs for removal can run into the thousands for jack hammering, saw cutting, loading, trucking, and dumping.  So you want to be sure your contractor gets it right the first time.  Here are some items that are critical for creating an asphalt driveway that will last.

  • Stone base shall be a minimum of six inches deep and have proper compaction.
  • Driveway slope must match the engineered plot plan and must drain properly.  There should be no standing water on the driveway and no water shall run back toward the garage.
  • All adjacent surfaces shall be protected from damage during installation.  This includes concrete sidewalks, garage doors, garage floor, curbs…etc.
  • Asphalt shall be a minimum of 2 inch thick after compaction.
  • Surface shall be rolled to an even smooth/consistent appearance.
  • Edges shall be hand tamped for strength and appearance.
  • All cleanouts, water valves, and manholes shall be flush with driveway surface.
  • Driveway surface shall be free of foreign and loose materials.
  • Driveway details shall exceed all local municipal requirements including apron thickness, size, and shape.

For information about concrete quality installation, check out our previous article, Creating Concrete That Lasts.

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