The Damaging Effects of an Unkempt Driveway

This blog post is written by Annie, a House Hacks Tips writer and lover of old homes, backyard gardening, and cozying up with a good book on her front porch.

As a writer here at House Hacks Tips (HHT), I spend my days immersed in all things homeownership to help my fellow homeowners get the most out of their largest asset – their homes! In turn, I think it goes without saying that I truly love my home. 

But, like most homeowners can probably relate to, there are a few minor – let’s call them inconveniences – that I tolerate, but could definitely do without. It wasn’t until last February, while backing my car down my long and windy driveway, that I finally reached my breaking point for one of those said inconveniences. 

I should preface this with a bit of background on my dear old driveway. We purchased our home about thirty years ago, and, along with the charming old oak tree in the front yard, we inherited the driveway. I’m almost certain it hasn’t been touched since the home’s original build over 50 years ago. It’s rocky, to say the least, with cracks, deep divots, and potholes scattering the surface. I’ve always meant to patch them up, but driveway maintenance seems to keep getting buried deeper and deeper in my home maintenance to-do list (who can relate?). 

Anyways, flash forward to last February (which was particularly icy, even for Milwaukee). While backing my sedan down the driveway, I hit a patch of black ice. Before I could even react to what was happening, my tire met the fate of one of the pavement’s deepest potholes. I cursed myself for not patching it earlier. I preach the importance of ongoing home maintenance – was I being given a taste of my own medicine? 

After a call to the mechanic and the purchase of a new tire, I knew it was time to address the elephant in the room – my dilapidated driveway. But, before I got to patching up or repaving, I wanted to understand the process and value of the investment I was about to make. And, lucky for you, I documented all of my findings, and the steps I took to improve my driveway, to share here today! 

A Bad Driveway is a Major Blow to Home Value

A driveway is made to look inviting, but lately, mine had been looking anything but. And it makes sense – a driveway is one of the most heavily trafficked places on our property – and yours, too! 

Most homeowners use their driveways at least four times a day, going to and from work and the like. And, if you’re like me and my family, you have more than one car. That’s a lot of pounding on your pavement leading to natural wear and tear on your driveway, not to mention the toll on your tires from driving over those cracks and potholes a few times a day. 

Over time, natural wear and tear can cause hairline cracks in your pavement. If neglected, these can grow bigger over time (which explains why my driveway was starting to look more like a sheet of cracked ice instead of a place to park our cars). 

While I knew my eyesore of a driveway was hurting my curb appeal, I didn’t realize how much it was actually impacting my property value until I researched it – around $5,000 to $7,000 in home value! That’s a pretty big blow.

Ready to cash in on this unclaimed equity, I contacted a few local contractors for an estimate to repave. 

The Process to Repave

After getting in touch with my local contractors, I scheduled a few to come out for a site visit to be able to provide a proper quote. Within two weeks, I had a collection of estimates for a freshly repaved driveway, ranging in $3,000 – $10,000 (including labor and materials). 

After comparing the quotes and negotiating, I felt confident in my decision to move forward with a local contractor, who also happened to repave my neighbor’s driveway the summer before. 

Don’t Miss: How to Negotiate Your Contractor’s Estimate

Depending on the condition and material of your current driveway, you can expect the project to run anywhere from two days to two weeks. In my case, we had to fully demolish my existing driveway and pave a new one, which took about two weeks. 

Thankfully, this project immediately paid off in regard to equity, increasing my home’s value and curb appeal by about $5,000. And, as my contractor explained, so long as I stay on top of maintenance to prolong the life of my driveway, this is an investment that will pay off for upwards of 20 years.

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