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Regardless of whether a driveway is only a large square upon which vehicles are parked, or if it is a lengthy pathway that covers more than a few hundred feet, it will have to be adequately prepared if it will last and give good service. One of the most common ways to prepare the driveway is to pour a thick layer of gravel over the entire surface. This is not the only step in the process, however, and all projects will begin with the creation of a solid base that will prevent water from being retained and the drive from flooding.
As far as driveways are concerned, however, the creation of a durable gravel drive is usually one of the most cost-effective. For the purpose of this discussion we will consider the costs and requirements for the building of a 600 square foot driveway that is roughly 12'x50' in size.
According to the RSMeans Cost Calculator software a gravel driveway will include:
- Tree removal and grubbing - when the area in which the drive is going to be established requires the removal of trees, brush and boulders this will have a specific set of costs:
- A single acre of cutting and chipping light trees will cost $48 per hour, per worker;
- Removal of stumps averages at $68 each ;
- Chipping of trees larger than 18" in diameter will range from $20 to $40 per hour;
- Tree removal averages between $13 and $20 per hour; and
- Complete site clearing costs between $150 to $400 per hour depending upon the machinery necessary for the job (usually including a large bull dozer);
- Grading - sub-grading the area for a base course is going to cost roughly $28 per square yard for a total of $1876; and
- Gravel - for the pouring of crushed stone the costs would be an average of $1.40 per square foot at a 1" depth, or a total of $420 for a delivery of stones adequate for a single 1" of coverage. Most homeowner, however, prefer a thicker course of gravel, and this would mean that roughly $800 would be required to cover the entire area in a thick layer of stone.
- Curves, slopes, and water - when a driveway must be prepared with any curves or slopes included it will automatically increase labor and material costs simply because of the additional work involved. Should a drive cross a body of water, the insertion of appropriate drainage, ditches, culverts, etc. will also add a great deal to the proverbial "bottom line". Such engineering will also usually need approval from a wetlands or planning commission, and this is going to have to be taken into consideration long before the project begins; and
- Contractor - though it may be tempting to work strictly with an excavation crew to get a rough driveway in place, it is usually best to consult with a qualified engineer when the driveway is somewhat complex and covers a great deal of area.