Friday, November 7, 2014

0 Hire-it-Done - Crushed Asphalt Driveway

This is not a DIY post, nor is this an ad. This is just us being ecstatic to have a functioning driveway that doesn't flood dirt into the garage every time it rains. To have a driveway you can enter from the street without feeling like your car is going to break in half. To have a driveway that I don't have to mow parts of. It's an amazing feeling, and we owe it all to Gravel Graders.

I don't have a lot of "before" pictures of the driveway, cause what kind of weirdo stands around taking pictures of his crappy driveway? But that's what Google Street View is for. So our driveway, after two years of living here, had become mostly sand, and it had eroded from the road down toward the house in such spectacular volume that we discovered drain pipes that came from the road and ran down to connect to the drains in the south side cement pad and in front of the garage. Also at some point, the city had built up a curb on the side of the road, so that when you entered our driveway, there was at least a 3" drop, which might not sound like a lot, but when you turned in, you definitely knew it.  On top of that, the grass had started to take over the entire section in front of the garage, and it's weird mowing your driveway.

After last winter, we knew we had to do something to correct this issue. So we called up a couple gravel companies to get quotes on crushed concrete. The first one we got back actually quoted us for paved asphalt. At $11,000. So we knew what we WEREN'T going to do.

Then I talked to someone at our Home & Garden Show, a landscaper who told me he'd buzz in there and spread some crushed concrete as a favor, get it done in a day and only charge me for materials and a little bit for his time, all in all costing about $1,600. But days turned into weeks, into months, and our back and forth phone calls had me worried he was too busy to get it done. I got a phone call that it was happening the following day and it didn't. When I called, he said he'd be back the next week. That was the last I heard from him. Because it was a favor, I understand, but I just wish it had been communicated - just as simple as "I know I said I could, but I'm busier than I thought I'd be, so you shouldn't wait on me to do it." But alas, nothing.

So at this point it's October, and we're feeling the pressure to get this thing done. We get two new quotes, one from a company that does crushed concrete and another, Gravel Graders, that does crushed asphalt. The photos and testimonials from the crushed asphalt had me really intrigued, and at just over $3k for either option, it was hard to decide. I looked at the testimonials page for Gravel Graders, and there was a company name along with one of the names, so I looked that up and called the guy. He said it'd been two years since they did it, it has held up really well, and although it got pitted in some spots, Gravel Graders came out and fixed it for free. The other thing that sold me was how personable the owner of Gravel Graders, Jim, was, and how responsive he was. It became clear that it was his business, he did the work himself, and he really knew what he was doing. When I called, I spoke to Jim. When I emailed, it was Jim responding. I was sold. We put half down and booked our time.

On Wednesday, November 5 at 7am, Jim pulled in the driveway with his equipment and we went over the plan. Get rid of all the sod, square up the ends so that it lines up with a couple of pads on the north and south ends of the house, and fix the grading. I had no worries.

When I arrived home that night, I found a perfectly dug out, refilled and graded driveway ready for a top layer of crushed asphalt. It was smooth and shaped. Even just seeing this stage was great - it was so clean.

On Thursday morning, Jim was back, this time with his dad, and they got to work spreading the asphalt. Becky said they were very meticulous, dropping piles, moving it, taking some back out, dumping again - it was clear they were taking great care in making sure it was done right.

Pulling in the driveway that night, I was amazed at how smooth the transition from the road was, and how defined and smooth the driveway was. Walking on it, although it's loose, it's much different from crushed concrete - softer and more compacted for a really nice finish. The edges are clean, not unclear or messy. 16 year old me would be pissed at how excited I am about a driveway.

In other news, that truck up there is my new ride. It's a 2009 Chevrolet Colorado, and it's fantastic. Becky hates the topper, but when you have a guitar player that decides to drive a sedan that doesn't fit any cabs, sometimes you gotta be band dad and buy a sensible automobile.


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