One of the last construction aspects for the exterior of a custom home is installing the driveway.
One thing many people don’t know about driveways is the special consideration given to the section of drive that abuts the city street. This 10- or 11-foot section of your driveway is known as the approach. Since the approach is located in an easement, the local municipality is responsible for it once it is initially installed. As such, they impose certain requirements on the characteristics of the approach. They require that no steel be used in the approach because if they ever have to perform street maintenance that requires cutting into your approach, they do not want to have to cut through steel. As a result of no steel, they require that the approach be 6 inches thick rather than the 4-inch thickness of the rest of the drive. They also require the use of a higher-quality granite aggregate in the concrete mix to reduce the chance of spalding or flaking of the concrete. In the harsh freeze/thaw climate in the Kansas City area, any moisture remaining in concrete expands and contracts with the freeze/thaw cycle, causing the spalding. Higher-quality granite aggregates have less moisture content and therefore reduce the chance of spalding.
Given the Outdoor Living Show Home is on a 3.5-acre estate lot and given we located the home near the lake, away from the street, the driveway is about 500 feet long. The footprint of the drive is laid out for us based on the landscape designer’s plan.
Typically on long driveways, we make the drives 12 feet wide and then add “teardrops” that are wider so if two cars meet along the drive, they can pass each other. And, different from the original plan, the Smiths decided to split the drive up near the house, resulting in a circle drive of sorts.
The Smiths had originally wanted a majority of the driveway to be asphalt due to the difference in cost between asphalt and concrete. But as we got to the point in the project where it was time to install the driveway, asphalt, which is a petroleum-based product, had crept up enough in price to the point that the benefits of concrete overcame any cost savings. Concrete is more durable and requires less maintenance, whereas asphalt has to be sealed regularly.
These were the steps involved in installing the driveway:
- Based on the driveway footprint from the landscape plan, the flatworker, Towner Inc., laid out the proper forms.
- A gravel substrate was put down and then compacted with a large vibrator (this compaction step isn’t done by many flatworkers, but helps ensure a solid surface for your driveway to sit on).
- Steel rebar was placed on 2-foot centers.
- Concrete was poured to a depth of 4 inches.
- While the concrete was setting up, edges were put on it, and the drive was given a brushed texture.
- Finally, crack-control joints were placed every 10 feet or so.
Of course, once the drive was poured, we prohibited traffic, especially construction traffic, on it.