Driveway Considerations

How to Design a Driveway for a New Home

During the design of a new home, the placement of the driveway is a primary design element that must be carefully considered. The improvement of an existing driveway with the appropriate positioning and elevations, is an improvement to an existing situation, that will offer a very positive selling point, upon resale, and will enhance the use of the driveway for the resident.

What are a few considerations when either planning a new driveway, or considering the alternatives for an existing driveway?

Placement and elevation of the driveway

  1. The shortest path between two points is a straight line. Therefore based upon this premise, the shortest driveway from street to garage or parking area is a straight line, therefore the most economical, but also the most boring.
  2. If a straight line is not aesthetically pleasing, gentle curves that are level are recommended. Any hard curves that are on an elevation could cause accidents or consistent overrunning of the driveway on either side. Severe curves are not recommended due to the fact that the maintenance on either side of this type of drive will become intensive.
  3. The ability to create a driveway that is either level, or has a very limited elevation change is highly recommended. This will enable a more easily maintained driveway as well as ease in plowing, if the driveway is located in a region that involves snow.
  4. If elevation is required, then the recommended elevation is uphill towards the home and not uphill towards the roadway. It is a much easier and more comfortable driveway if the drive is sloped from the roadway up to the home and not the other way.
  5. The driveway can be placed in a manner that will allow vehicles to enter and exit as a circular driveway that allows the flow of traffic into the drive and out to occur without any interference. This type of driveway, if the property allows, is always a good layout. In many instances this type of drive identifies an elegance to the front of the home that a straight in and out driveway does not produce.

Curb cut location and placement

What is “curb cut”? Curb cut is the area of the drive that intersects with the roadway.

  1. Position the curb cut at a position on the roadway that is the safest. What is meant by safe in regard to the location of the curb cut, is the amount of sight line that is afforded as a vehicle exits the driveway and enters the roadway. The maximum possible is the goal. Obviously, it is much safer to enter a highway with plenty of notice that another vehicle is on the road. Sight is the primary concern.
  2. Position the curb cut in a location that is at the top of any grade in the roadway and not at the bottom. In most instances the top of the grade will have the slowest travel velocity of traffic, the bottom would have the greatest. Entering the roadway when the traffic is at its slowest is the safest manner of entry.
  3. Position the curb cut in such a manner to allow a comfortable approach, to and from the driveway, from both directions in the street. If at all possible position the curb cut to allow a relatively rapid flow for roadway to driveway, to minimize time on the highway.
  4. Surface drainage from the roadway should not be allowed to flow into the driveway. This is important to eliminate wash out and icing problems, on the driveway. In addition, if the driveway leads directly to the garage or the home if possible the slope must be down from the garage to the roadway. The proper elimination of water entering the driveway from the roadway is very important and if any does enter it must flow off the sides of the driveway and not puddle on the driveway surface.

Garage entry

  1. The positioning of the driveway is important in regard to entry into the garage or parking areas. The proper location of the driveway is extremely important to the comfort and safety of the residents and must be located in such a manner as to allow enough swing room to enter a garage or park in the parking area.
  2. The driveway must pitch away from the entry to the garage. It is very important that any surface water not be allowed to flow down into the garage entrance, the home or even fill the parking area with water and ice.
  3. The elevation of the driveway as it intersects with the garage slab, should either be slightly low, or exactly even with the elevation of the garage slab. The entire goal of properly setting the elevation of the driveway at this point, is not to allow the water to enter the structure.

Driveway construction

  1. Asphalt pavement is the commonly accepted product for a driveway. What is important in terms of the proper application of any asphalt pavement is the sub-base preparation and material. The sub-base is the layer of gravel or process that is installed under the asphalt. Proper preparation and installation of the sub-base will properly support the asphalt surface of the driveway, and not allow rutting or deterioration to occur.
  2. In some instances the use of properly placed and compacted gravel as a surface, is beneficial to the functioning of the driveway, and its ability to absorb water and minimize runoff. A porous stone driveway will absorb water and reduce any surface runoff that may occur.
  3. If the driveway has a steep pitch, the proper side to side grading of the driveway is important to reduce the amount of erosion that will occur down the driveway. In many instances, the use of a gravel driveway down a slope, is incorporated to increase traction and reduce ice during the winter. However, a gravel driveway will erode quickly if the grading is not professionally performed. The water must shed off the side of the driveway, and not be allowed to create a linear rivlet, which will generate a larger crevice and eventually a deep trench. What will eventually occur will be the erosion of the entire surface of the driveway if the linear flow is allowed to continue.
  4. Of course there is always the option of using a much more exotic type material for your driveway, such as poured concrete, granite pavers, belgium block, brick or any other masonry flat material that can be installed in a random or engineered pattern to create a satisfactory travel surface.

The driveway to your home is the first element of construction that anyone entering the property will see. Based on this initial impression, the proper placement and construction of your driveway is important to the overall feeling generated by the home.

One thought on “Driveway Considerations

  1. Wow, I never knew so much needed to be accounted for when making a driveway for a house property that has slopes. I figured I would need to plan things out a lot more carefully for my own house property since the garage is set on top of a part of the house that slopes downward ever so slightly. Your article has given me a better way of looking at this, so I’ll keep it in mind when I find a paving contractor I can hire and have them install a driveway properly.

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