I’ve had 2 chinese menus and 4 landscaper ads tucked into my front door this week which means it’s officially springtime again! And it’s time for front yard repair. More to come next week on the actual plan I’ve got in mind for landscaping (DIY style, not by employing any of those companies who market to me by soliciting in my storm door). I tried to get some companies interested in doing asphalt work back in November, but (not surprisingly) it didn’t really work out. (Better yet, of the 5 companies I met with, no one even mailed me a quote, what the heck? Not ONE. I’m actually not contacting any of those guys this time around because I question their ability to follow through even to decline the job. Zing!)
So… let me talk about this driveway a little bit. It’s bad. It’s downright ugly.
And if you own a car (yeah, a normal coupe or economy or mid-size or hatchback car-car) you’re not going to be able to get in or out without leaving me with the entire undercarriage of your little buggy along the section of the driveway between the road and the sidewalk; there’s a major, unavoidable hump. It’s caught far too many bumpers and mufflers to be even “satisfactory” (and I’ve felt plenty guilty about each scrape and bruise too).
My crossover-style Jeep is good, although I’m probably destroying its alignment. Larger trucks and SUVs do fine. And, OK, if you want to deal with me being technical and mathmatical for just a second, if you line your car up almost totally parallel to the end of the driveway and squeeze your little car up at a sharp diagonal and rock the car back to a straight position in the driveway once you’re past the city sidewalk, you’ll probably get in without scratching, but imagine me trying to explain that to people. From my front porch. Shouting. In a snowstorm.
The too-wordy explaination for my crappy driveway is that it has needed major help since long before I bought the house; the previous owners excelled at quickie sealing and patching, and maybe that was the right fix at the time, but given weather and time, the ashphault dips, dives, curves, and looks very much like it was done patchwork-quilt-style. It’s also 3-cars wide, meaning at some point the owners sledged out the curb and widened the base of the driveway and eliminated some of the front yard (amounts to 250 sq. ft!). The City of Rochester has told me that was done “illegally” too, probably meaning that they were owed money to correct the curb instead of allowing it to be sledgehammered by the owners or whoever did the paving. In any case, I don’t want to be charged for someone’s error and yadda yadda yadda, some dude at the city hall thought he was doing me a favor by not ratting my little old driveway in to his superiors, so maybe I’m biding my time and maybe no one would ever know differently until they stumble upon this blog post <deep breath>…
The short story? My driveway blows and I’ve just told people to park on the street to save their precious vehicles.
Anyways, the time has come (the walrus said) to fix that driveway, so I’m in the process of finding qualified companies and obtaining quotes to get it fixed. The biggest change (since I’m planning to stick with asphault again to save some money) is that I’m taking it back down to a 2-car width size. I could probably fit 7 cars in my driveway as it is now (since it does go all the way back to the garage along the side of the house like shown in this next photo), so losing one (illegal) car space to have more grass in my front yard (yeah! 250 sq. ft’s worth!) is totally worth it. Car 7 can just stay on the street. Sorry Car 7.
As this quoting and planning gets underway, I have lots of questions for the companies. Since I had a fail-of-a-test run of quoting back before winter hit, I’m taking the approach to let them tell me the fix/price/details before I ask any of these questions (mostly so I can get and compare their professional opinions):
- Will it require a full tear out or just a seal and full topcoat?
- Is it already too thick?
- What’s it cost to remove the asphalt? Could I do it myself (rawr!)?
- Can the part that extends along the side of the house be re-sealed since it’s not as warped or as patchy?
- Can you do a base underneath the front steps that are being built, or does it have to be removed for the project? (Fact: Haven’t finished them yet because I didn’t want it to get too in the way of the sidewalk. It’s still an awesomely unsafe and unattractive platform from back when we started it at New Years.)
- Can you fix the grade from the road up to the city sidewalk?
- Can you do it tomorrow? (OK, not really.)
I started with Service Magic, and also called on a few companies that I had obtained referrals for. General consensus from those I’ve heard from is that now that it’s spring, everyone’s fricken busy and hard to schedule, so my own progress been going slower than I expected. Hopefully I’ll have made good progress by May 1.
And also — is there anything else that I should be asking when I meet with these companies?