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Building a Concrete Driveway: DIY Tips for the Budget Conscious Homeowner

Aug 17, 2007
Building a concrete driveway is one of those rare options that can satisfy most people's practical and aesthetic concerns. Concrete driveways are not only built to last long but are appealing to the eye at the same time. Granted, they may take a bit of time to build properly, because none of your efforts will feel wasted once you view your final product.

What Not to Forget When Building a Concrete Driveway

Building Codes in Your Area - It's possible, especially if you're living in the suburbs, or belong to a certain community, that driveway specifications may be subjected to certain community rules. Your village, for instance, may prefer for all houses to have similar looking driveways, regardless of the material used. Or, it's the choice of material that's subjected to certain restrictions. To avoid wasting time and money, do your homework and see if building a concrete driveway will result to any violation.

Put Your Plans in Paper - Before getting your still-unused carpentry and building tools and donning your DIY uniform, it's best to put your plans on paper and try sketching the dimensions of your proposed concrete driveway. Make sure that you scale your drawing properly to gain accurate results, and most especially if you've decided not to hire an expert to help you out.

If you don't know how to draw, please please please ask someone to do it for you. Don't be stubborn like other homeowners who insist on doing everything themselves, never mind the consequences.

Submit the Necessary Requirements - Once you've become satisfied with the projected appearance of your concrete driveway, make time to submit the necessary requirements in order for the housing committee in your area to grant approval for your concrete driveway plans. It's possible that they'll be concerned with how your neighbors would feel once the noise of construction reaches their ears; to avoid any future altercations with your neighbors, make sure that you politely and nicely inform them of your plans. Gaining written permission from them won't hurt either!

Going Shopping - With the legal stuff done, the next thing to do is what women love to do best: going shopping! If any woman in your household is a genuine shopaholic, she wouldn't mind accompanying you in your buying quest, even if it's just a trip to the local hardware store.

To save on time and money, make a list of the things you have to buy, compare product reviews, and see what brands are of superior quality but affordable at the same time. As for tools and other equipment, consider either buying them second hand, renting, or borrowing from your neighbors or friends.

Excavation and Base Preparation - The pre-construction stage is over, and it's now time to do backbreaking stuff. First in the list is excavation and base preparation. Like most structures, excavating and preparing a base is required to give your concrete driveway a solid foundation. It's best to take your time when doing this because one little mistake related to the foundation can cause the whole thing to collapse.

Building the Driveway - Once you've finished with the foundation, it's now time to build the skeletal part of the driveway itself. Always consult your handmade blueprint while building the driveway to ensure that you've done everything correctly and according to the measurements you've specified.

Sealing it with a Concrete Kiss - Once you're done with the frame, it's now time to apply the concrete and wait for it to harden.

Finishing Touches - Backfill and provide enhancements for the landscape.

Pros and Cons of Using a Concrete Driveway
Benefits - Concrete driveways can be decorated in various ways, making it more easy to use as a complement to the house itself. It is also easier to clean during winter. Concrete driveways can also be sealed right after installation.
Cons - Concrete driveways, however, are more expensive than asphalt driveways and require a higher degree of care and maintenance. Lastly, concrete driveways cannot be relayered.

Choosing to build a concrete driveway is a good decision to make in most cases, but of course, it's what the homeowner feels that counts the most. Just remember that when making a driveway, always choose a material that won't crack under the weight of a ten-wheeler truck but enhance the appearance of your house as well!
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for http://concrete.subjectmonster.com where you can learn more about the wonders of concrete.
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