Driveways are not all created equal, or even made of the same materials. Driveways can be formed from concrete, asphalt, gravel, epoxy stone, pressed concrete, brick or other materials. Driveway length, width or clearance may be a consideration depending on the location of the home, vehicle size and weight. For instance, if a mountain cabin is under consideration in a heavily treed area, is the driveway sufficient for a fire engine to navigate in the event of a forest fire? In colder climates, is the driveway too long to make speedy snow removal feasible? Is it too steep for traction in the rain? When considering a floating home, is the driveway deep enough and wide enough for boat access?
Professional inspectors are knowledgeable about local guidelines, maintenance and safety issues. They work hard to keep current on these issues to provide clients the most up-to-date information available. Photos of many aspects of the home, including heaving, differential settlement, excessive gaps and tripping hazards when found on driveways and sidewalks, are included in the inspection report. This makes it easy to pinpoint the problem and repair what can be a safety issue for pedestrians. In the case of driveways, sidewalks and patios, many of the issues can be fixed relatively easily with a patch, filler, sealant or the replacement of a specific section.
Regular resealing of the surface of a driveway or sidewalk can help prevent moisture from moving under the surface material and causing cracks or heaving. Sealants are available for both concrete and asphalt surfaces.
The important thing to remember about sealing a driveway is the weather forecast. To be effective, the surface must be clean and dry before the sealant is applied and should remain dry long enough to cure completely. Some other tips when it comes to sealing the driveway surface include:
- Make sure to purchase a product appropriate for the type of surface you have.
- Water-based sealants will result in a matte finish because they soak into the surface. Oil-based sealants will result in a shiny surface and sit on top of the asphalt or concrete.
- Fill cracks and make repairs before sealing.
- Sealant can be messy and difficult to clean up. Be sure not to track it into a building on clothes and shoes.
- Repeat every 2-3 years.
Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for specifics. For more information on sealing driveways and maintenance, go to www.doityourself.com.
Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a property owner when it comes to sidewalks and vegetation in the right-of-way is important. The right-of-way refers to property adjacent to a road or other thoroughfare where people have the right to travel. These areas can be roads, sidewalks or alleys and generally connect with residential and commercial properties. They are unmarked except during road repairs. These right-of-ways may be owned by a city, other municipality or part of another tax-levying body, such as an improvement district.
Property owners should contact the appropriate city department when a concern occurs in the right-of-way. This might include cracking and heaving of sidewalks and driveways, or a noticeably diseased tree. Driveway issues may indicate a problem with waterlines or other utilities under the surface. Trees can potentially be treated if a problem is detected in time or removed to prevent the spread of disease.
Being aware of your rights and responsibilities in regards to the right-of-way near your property can be helpful as you prepare to buy or sell. A little time spent researching these issues can allow you to be prepared for maintenance and replacement costs.
Driveway gates may be installed for security or aesthetic reasons. Gates may swing or slide to allow entry or exit. Gates may also be manual or automated and can be accessorized with a variety of security equipment.
Manual swing gates may be the easiest style to install and maintain if the ground around the entry point is level. In order to work properly, the gates must swing clearly open and shut. Uneven or sloping ground may create a challenge. Sliding gates only require level ground across the width of the gate to open and shut. However, the track that the gate slides on must be kept free of debris in order for it to operate properly. Special brushes can be added at the bottom of a sliding gate to help sweep this track when it opens and shuts.
Manual gates are also less expensive. They do require someone to open and close them each time, a need that can be less than desirable in extreme climates.
Automated gates require electrical wiring and a control mechanism to allow the gate to open and shut. The control mechanism can be operated at the gate or from another location, by entering a passcode or by driving over an underground sensor. Cameras mounted on the gate can also be used to provide more information about vehicles or pedestrians entering or exiting a property.
Did You Know?
Water expands 9 percent in volume when it freezes. The force of the increased pressure on sidewalks and driveways can cause cracks and splits. Water that finds its way under sidewalks and driveways can also erode dirt, changing the structural base and causing maintenance issues.