May 18, 2018

The Snowball Effect: Repaving My Driveway

Sometimes homeownership can feel like a gigantic snowball, barreling down a hill and collecting everything in its path. You have a spark of an idea, a seemingly small change, and it leads to 13 other things that should/could/must be done before/prior to/during said upgrade. Actually, that sounds more like an avalanche.

Take my tragic driveway for example. Please.

Unfortunately, this picture makes it appear a lot better than it looks in reality.

The driveway was never pretty. Since the day we moved in we knew it needed to be replaced… but the beast is 120 feet long and every inch of demolition and curbing and asphalt adds up to a big chunk of change. Because of this, the task kept getting pushed further down the master list of home improvements. That is, until just a few weeks ago.

It all started with an innocent conversation about the leggy bushes in front of Oakview. I have always hated them, and back in April (in between snow storms) I was feeling  the itch to rip them all out. I hesitated because I didn’t want to remove them without knowing what the next steps would be… and this is where it gets complicated. I’ll try to keep it simple.

I began exploring the idea of replacing the foundation planting with more interesting plants. This led to the idea of getting rid of the grass completely and planting out the entire front yard with various plants. This morphed to the topic of what planting should go on the bank of the driveway to help prevent the hill from crumbling onto the driveway. This, of course, brought us to the hot topic of what curbing to put in and the curbing conversation brought us to the war zone that is our driveway. It seemed like everything we want to do in relation to landscaping hinged on its replacement.

Are you still with me? Good, because I’m just getting started.

Lumpy, bumpy and pitted, this gem would squish when walked upon after a big rainstorm or spring thaw. Chunks were constantly popping out, there were no real edges, making landscaping a challenge. It has been on the “to do” list since the day we moved in but, well, it never seemed like the highest priority.

Once we determined that the time had come to replace the driveway we realized that it would be the perfect time to address the drainage situation in the front of the house. Since we were already laying pipe for drainage, we might as well bite the bullet and lay the conduit needed in order to bring electric from the house to the garage. Since we were bringing electric to the garage we might as well add an exterior light so that we could see when pulling into the driveway after dark. Its funny what you get used to.

I did a little research on SOMA Lounge, made some phone calls, and ended up with 5 estimates. These estimates included: the removal of the crumbling, 120 foot long driveway; proper grading; removing, widening and re-pouring the apron; and laying Belgian block curbing on one side. Two of the five estimates included laying drainage pipe from the front downspout to the street. Nothing fancy, and trust me, I had some big dreams right out of the gate. The estimates I got ranged from 9-13 thousand dollars. Gulp!

After weighing the options, I ended up working with Michael Giordano. His estimate was on the lower side, but honestly that’s not why I chose him. I got a good feeling from him, and he seemed honest and personable. He felt like the right person for the job.

The process wasn’t a quick one. It took about 2 weeks in total, but Mike was very communicative and explained every step to me. I actually came out of the experience understanding my driveway – why it was such a disaster, and why my life will be better now that it is new and beautiful. And beautiful it is…

Just try to look beyond the dirt pile.

So here we are… we’ve come full circle. This weekend I will get back to the initial issue… what on earth are we going to plant in place of the bushes I so rashly ripped out? Ugh, homeownership is a beast.

Have you recently lived through a similar avalanche? What was it that started the slide? We’d love to hear all about it on our Facebook page!

In the mood to read more? Check out these related posts: Get Outside: A Simple Brick BorderA Simple Backyard FortOur Favorite Snow ShovelsWhy Our Sump Pumps Recently Failed