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Martin's Blog 11/07/11 - Drivetime
If there’s one aspect of building work that always seems to be linked to cowboys, its driveways. There are of course, many professional firms who will resurface your driveway properly, but if you’re up to hard graft, it is a project that a keen DIYer could undertake.
Check if the drive will interfere with existing drainage channels. The Government’s Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) means you must effectively manage any surface water run-off. Get plastic gullies and channels designed to take water away from driveways and incorporate into the project. If your driveway is long, it should be cambered (higher in the centre than the edges) like a road.
Your driveway will have your car(s) parked on it for long periods so having good foundations is vital. The first thing to suss out is how firm the ground is underfoot. Dig a hole and drive a 50mm x 50mm square peg into the ground with a mallet to see how firm the ground is.
If the driveway is going to be at the same level
as the existing ground, then at least 150-300mm of earth must be removed. A
common trait of cowboy practices is that the foundations are inadequate and the
drive doesn’t last. If you are doing it yourself, you should hire a mini-digger
and a skip to take away the soil you dig up.
If you find areas that seem softer than the rest, dig them out or you may end up with unwanted dips in your drive.
If the driveway is going to be higher than the existing ground then the edges need to be contained. These will be the weakest area so make the foundations wider than the actual drive surface.
Apply weedkiller then use a Weed Membrane or a Geotextile layer such as ‘Weedblock’ laid on the ground surface to prevent weeds popping up in your new drive. It will also prevent the subsoil mixing with the hard core base.
Now comes the base. Scalping stone (quarry scrap) is cheaper and easier to lay and level than the old traditional broken brick hardcore. Its recommended that between 150-200mm (6-8”) of hardcore is laid. The company supplying your aggregate will be able to tell you how many tonnes you need given the size of your drive.
Hire a Compaction plate to compact down the stone base. This should mean that the drive has a firm base and there are no soft spots. If there are, they need to be dug out and replaced with more hardcore which is compacted again.
If the finished drive is to have block paving, then a layer of coarse grit sand needs to cover the hardcore base. This is also leveled and compacted down.
On the Surface
Once you have a good base, there are several
surfaces that you can use for your driveway:
Gravel: Is cost effective and comes in different sizes and colours. Allows water to percolate to reach roots of surrounding plants. Needs to be topped up periodically.
Tar & Gravel: Looks like gravel but has a layer of tar underneath to hold gravel in place. Over time, gravel gets pushed into the tar so may need more every 7-10 years.
Asphalt: is a smooth dark black surface. It needs to be sealed to stop water getting into cracks and freezing.
Concrete: the colour can be altered by adding different aggregates to the concrete.
Permeable Block Paving: Blocks come in a range of colours and can be laid to create a pattern. Laying of paving should be done by a professional.
Impermeable Block Paving: Where ground conditions aren’t suitable for permeable blocks. You’ll need to use a drainage system to take water to a soakaway within your property boundary.
Resin Bound: A range of materials including gravel, crushed rock and recycled materials are treated with a resin for a permeable surface that comes in many different colours.
Environmentally friendly or not, many people apply to lower the kerb outside their house and pave over the front garden. It can add a premium to your house if parking is limited.
Most councils have a standard application process and will do the work themselves or have approved contractors do it. If someone in your household has a severe and permanent disability then you may get a discount. You’ll need planning permission if the dropped kerb:
• is on a main road or service road off it
• is to a building divided into several properties, e.g. flats
for offices, shops, health centres etc
You will also need approval if the dropped kerb:
• is in a conservation area
• is to a listed building
• will cross over land belonging to someone else
If your new drive is more than 5m2 and is surfaced with impermeable material that will not control rainwater running off into roads you’ll need planning permission.
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