Your driveway is the first things you see when you approach your home. Not only does the look of your drive boost the curb appeal of your property, but it serves a practical purpose by giving you somewhere to park your cars.
For many of us though, the humble driveway is an oft-neglected part of our homes and we allow them to become weed-strewn, pothole-filled patches of dirt that look ugly and damage our cars.
If your driveway has fallen into disrepair, then we are here to tell you that you need to do something about it. Fixing or installing a new driveway is a fantastic way to increase the look of your home while giving you good access to your property and keeping your car problem-free.
In this article we are going to look at why you need to look after your driveway, the regulations you need to follow if you do have a new driveway fitted, and how you can find a good driveway contractor in Oxford when the time comes to replace it.
There are several issues that driveways can develop over time, including:
Potholes are where the tarmac cracks and eventually disintegrates leaving a deep hole. Weather is the primary cause of potholes and if left, they can become larger over time. Potholes are one of the most common road conditions for damaging cars.
Subsidence happens when the upper layer of a driveway has been laid improperly without the required foundations (or where the foundations have eroded away due to poor drainage, etc.). This can leave the driveway with dents, divots, and holes.
If a driveway has been fitted without adequate drainage, it can become waterlogged when it rains. All driveways should have some form of drainage, whether it’s a trench, runoff slope, or access to a drain.
Over time, driveways can become a magnet for weeds, plants, and even trees. Seeds from plant life can fall into cracks and will eventually begin to grow. An overgrown driveway may still be usable but will be an unsightly addition to your home.
The rules and regulations you need to follow for a new driveway
If you’ve decided that a new driveway is what your home needs, you may be wondering whether there are any rules and regulations that you need to follow: for example, do you need planning permission and do building regulations apply? Let’s discuss:
What are building regulations?
Building regulations are a set of design and building specifications that most structures have to adhere to. They are there to protect the health and safety of everyone in and around the property. They also dictate things like disabled access and energy efficiency.
Do building regulations apply to driveways?
Normally building regulations do not apply to straight-up driveway replacements, meaning that you are not required to apply for building regulation approval before undertaking work.
If you are planning to change the access arrangement to your property, for example, moving the entrance of the drive, then the story is a little different. Any change made to the design, route, and entrance to the driveway must not have a negative impact on the access to your home, including disabled access. In these cases, building regulations approval would need to be sought. Full building regulation rules can be found here.
What about planning permission?
Again, planning permission is not normally required for driveway replacements. The main planning permission rule that applies to driveways is to do with drainage. If the drive is at the front of your property and you think there is unlikely to be adequate drainage, you will need to apply for planning permission before starting work. This way a solution can be sought with the planning department. Full details of planning permission rules can be found here.
There are a few other specific areas of driveway work that affect whether you need planning (or other) permissions, including:
- Listed buildings will require listed building consent ahead of any significant driveway work.
- Planning permission will be required if your property is in a national park or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Planning permission will be required if your property is in a conservation area or on a World Heritage Site.
For more information about the rules for driveways in Oxford, contact the Oxford planning department by following this link.
Things to consider when installing a new driveway in Oxford
There are many things to consider when installing a new driveway at your home, including:
A new driveway can be incredibly expensive and run into thousands of pounds, especially if it is long. Always make sure you understand exactly how much you have to spend before hiring workmen, and always check that any quote given is a full and final one that includes all costs (including materials, labour, and taxes).
It’s also important to understand that your budget will limit the type of driveway you’ll be able to buy. Expensive block paving solutions may have to be sacrificed in favour of good old-fashioned tarmac or gravel if cash is tight (although fake block paving slabs are often a cheaper alternative).
Drainage is the only part of a new driveway that can cause issues with the local planning department. Look at the current drainage solutions and make sure you either keep this in place or enhance it. Not only is a water-logged driveway impractical, but it may also see you getting fined by your local council. If you are thinking about altering the way water drains from the drive, then you must apply for planning permission before undertaking any work.
Think wear and tear (as well as use)
How you use your driveway will have a big impact on its design and the materials used. If you plan to live in your car, then a durable design with materials like tarmac or concrete may be prudent. If you don’t plan on using it too often but want it to look good, then something like block paving or resin may be for you.
Types of driveway in Oxford
Driveways in Oxford come in a variety of different materials, including:
Resin-bonded driveways are a relatively new type of driveway that’s becoming increasingly popular. They come in a variety of designs and colours giving a unique look to your home. Resin-bound driveways are water-permeable allowing easy drainage but they can suffer from cracking if not laid correctly and the top surface can lift off over time.
Block paving has been popular for many years due to its good looks and durability. As a block paving driveway is made of individual slabs, water drainage is often good. They can, however, be expensive to install due to the intricate way slabs are laid and they have a tendency to attract moss and weeds easily.
Stone and gravel
Let’s be honest, stone and gravel driveways look pretty bad. They age poorly and weeds and moss love to grow in the many cracks they provide. But a stone and gravel driveway is incredibly cheap to install and drainage is excellent. They are also easy to maintain by adding a new layer of gravel bought from your local DIY or garden centre.
Tarmac driveways (or asphalt as our American cousins call them) are another cheap option (although generally much more expensive than gravel and stone) and provide a good looking and smooth surface for parking vehicles on. Tarmac is less permeable than other solutions, meaning drainage can be an issue and they will wear over time, especially in areas with variable weather.
How to choose the right driveway company in Oxford
As with any work on your home, hiring the right tradesmen to complete the job is important if you want a stress-free experience. Choosing a driveway contractor in Oxford means doing a little bit of homework. Here are a few things to consider:
- Look for a contractor with a recognized qualification – There are no requirements for a driveway contractor to have qualifications in the UK, but if they have one it is often a sign of quality. Look for a tradesman with an NVQ or City & Guilds certificate (details of both can be found by visiting the City & Guild website here).
- Look for a contractor who is a member of a trade association – Again, there is no requirement for a driveway contractor to be a member of trade associations but if they are, it can also be a sign of quality. The biggest trade associations for driveways contractors are Interlay (website here) and FeRFA (for resin driveways – website here).
- Make sure your driveway contractor is insured – All quality tradesmen will have a valid insurance certificate to cover their work. Our advice is to ask to see the insurance certificate before letting any tradesman loose on your building project, otherwise, you may find yourself left in the lurch.
Getting a new driveway fitted is no small feat and can cost a lot of money. We hope that with a little help from our guide, the next time you want to spruce up your drive, you’ll have all the information you need to get the job done.