Solutions for a Sinking Driveway
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rick in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with a sinking driveway. Tell us what’s going on.
RICK: It’s starting to drop down. The house is a townhouse, actually, and it’s only about eight years old. What’s happening is my driveway is sinking down about an inch-and-a-half from my garage floor and I don’t know for sure how to cure this. It’s starting to crack down. I’ve got a crack about, oh, probably 6 foot going down from the garage.
TOM: So tell me something, Rick. Because it’s a townhouse, are you responsible for the driveway?
RICK: Yes, I am.
TOM: OK. Hmm. Well, unfortunately, the reason it happens is – and especially in a newer townhouse like this – is it’s obviously the last thing that’s installed. And all of the soil that was excavated to build that townhouse settles and it settles a lot in the first decade that the home is up. And the driveway, they probably didn’t do a very good job tamping down that soil and properly preparing the base, so that’s kind of what you’re stuck with.
So your options are to put an additional layer on the driveway or to tear it up and build it anew from scratch and kind of do it right. I would be tempted, since it’s down an inch-and-a-half, to put another layer on that because the settlement on it is probably fairly slow. And I think you could probably get away with putting another layer on and get away with it for several years. And at that point, if it settles any further, you can go ahead and tear it up.
But you might want to get prices both ways. Because if you tear it up and you put in a proper stone base and it’s tamped correctly, the driveway doesn’t have to ever crack. But the standards, in terms of what makes a good driveway, have to be kind of established.
You know, a driveway is a light-duty version of a road and you don’t see roads sink and crack that readily but you see that more with driveways because the contractors don’t put the stone depth into it, they don’t compact it like you do a road. And you can do all that and have a driveway be permanent.
But I think I would also think about how long I’m going to be in the townhouse. If it’s a really long-term home for me, then I’m more likely to make a deeper investment than if it’s a short-term home.