The design of your driveway may be something that you’ve not given much thought during the early stages of a self-build or refurbishment project. However, the external area can make a big difference to both the impact and practicality of your finished project and will often add to the value and attractiveness for potential buyers.
Here are some pointers to think about as you finalise the design of your driveway.
- How many cars do you need to park? It sounds basic, but if you have space for more cars than your own family needs, is the space better given to parking for visitors, or to make the entrance look more attractive? For ‘occasional spaces’, some people like to use pavers or a that allow grass to grow through them (grass pavers), to reach a visual vs practical compromise.
How does your drive work with the pavement and road? In rural areas, often there will be no pavement but you still need to consider people walking past. Do you want passers-by to be able to access your drive directly or do you want fences or gates? Do you have room for gates to open properly? Gates add an element of safety but can also add real impact, depending on their design. Do you need to have easy access for people who have limited mobility?
Depending on the arrangement with the road and pavements and what you want to achieve, you may need permission from your local authority for aspects of the design. For example, installation of a new ‘dropped kerb’ in place of a stepped pavement will usually need permission. Even if you are not required to get permission, you will want to think about the material you use – shingle and gravel will inevitably spill out onto the public highway if it is not contained.
- Visibility onto the public highway. Consider your design in relation to what’s adjacent to the opening onto the road – do you have lots of parked cars to see past at certain times of the day or are you on a bend? Could you move your exit/entrance to make your life easier or safer?
- If you have children or are looking to appeal to a family market for resale, the ability to get young children in and out of the car in a secured area or have your front door open whilst you unload the shopping as they scoot about the front garden and drive is well worth considering.
- What is under the ground? Services? Tree roots? Pets? On new build projects, you may have the luxury of planning your services so that you can consider them when designing your external works – so there are no manholes in the middle of your lawn and you can position bin stores or oil tanks conveniently whilst being out of sight. On existing buildings, you will need to think about what you have in the ground already and what you are prepared to move to achieve what you want. If your beloved Fido or Kitty is under your special rose bush, you will need to make a decision as to how you deal with this if you think they may be disturbed.
- Materials make a big difference to the look and the cost, as well as the time to complete the works. We lay everything from tarmac and loose chippings, through to York Stone and Herringbone blocks. These days, more attention is being paid to surface water run off – if you are replacing a porous surface such as grass or gravel with a less permeable material, think about where your surface water will go – you may want to consider the more ‘sustainable’ option of permeable block pavers or other permeable materials.
- ‘Kerb appeal’ is a common phrase these days and the ‘look’ you chose is also important to consider – some finished driveways can uplift a house, whilst others can definitely detract from it. A little time spent choosing the right materials (reclaimed, new, modern, traditional) as well as the balance between hard landscaping and planting, can really add to the attractiveness of your finished project.
- Making best use of what you have. Not all of us will have the luxury of space for an ‘in-out’ driveway where there is enough space for a turning area within the drive itself. You can make the most of what you have by thinking about how you might arrange parking spaces (e.g. at an angle) so that one car does not need to be moved to let another out on a two-car driveway. Retaining walls are often useful to consider to create space on a sloping site.
- Maintenance. How much time and/or money are you willing to spend looking after the external areas? If you consider this, it will inevitably lead you to selecting a design and materials that suit. Grass, although always popular, is comparatively high maintenance when considered against pavers or decking made from composite materials (wood/plastic). Remember that chippings do crush over time and need to be replenished and pavers need cleaning.
We’ve built hundreds of driveways in the North West and Wales during our 25 years in business, so for help and advice to get the best from your external space, please do call us for a no-obligation quote on 01352 700077.