Beyond the Drive: Understanding Hidden Driveway Costs

Beyond the Drive: Understanding Hidden Driveway Costs

Beyond the Drive: Understanding Hidden Driveway Costs

Don’t you hate it when you plan a project, and then get hit with some astronomical charges that you didn’t calculate into your budget? Driveways can often be a home improvement project like this, where expenses that you weren’t aware of seem to crop up out of nowhere.

Why, just installing the driveway can be a hidden cost. In other words, many contractors will not include the cost of adding a driveway to your home in the overall cost of construction. If you want this addition, you’ll have to pay extra. Even if they are up front about this, there are several other charges you might not have known about.

The typical driveway, whether it’s an asphalt driveway, cement driveway, concrete, gravel, or pavers, can run you anywhere between $3,500-$7,000 (approximately $4,681 - $9,363 CAD). Preparing the ground can cost extra if this is the first time a driveway is being laid on the area. On the other hand, tearing up an existing driveway to replace it will also increase the cost.

Take a look at what else you can expect to pay for when planning your driveway budget:
  1.     Permits

Find out who is footing the bill for the permits required to put down the driveway. Many contractors include this in their fee. If they’re asking you to pull the permit, it’s already an indication that this company is trying to cut corners or that they are not a legitimate company.

  1.     Hourly Surcharges

Discuss from the start whether this project will have a flat fee or an hourly rate. Some contractors like to convince you that an hourly rate is more advantageous, but any timely work such as excavation, clearing, preparing, and clean up will quickly add up for an outstanding bill that will be hard to swallow.

  1.     Delivery

Don’t think you’re getting a free ride just because you’re paying good money for your driveway installation. Delivering the materials to your door will also cost you. You can expect to pay at least $25 per square foot (approximately $360 CAD per square meter) of concrete delivered.

  1.     Excavation

Often an excavation crew is needed to remove obstructions such as roots, large boulders, or old piping that is no longer in use. At times the contractor may hire out the excavation job to a subcontractor. While this is not an unusual practice, it should be discussed up front to determine any additional fees that will be incurred.

  1.     Drainage

If the area is problematic and in danger of flooding or pooling, adding proper drainage solutions is a necessary step that can add to the overall cost of the project. Costs will vary depending on your situation.

  1.     Dump Fees

There’s a lot of garbage that accumulates over the course of a driveway installation. As such, there are going to be massive trips to the dump to clear away all the rubbish. This may or may not be included in your estimate, so check with the contractor beforehand just to be safe.

Cost Per Square Foot

Here’s a quick comparison chart of the main driveway pavement materials.





$0.50 - $2.00

$7.20 - $21.52


$1.00 - $5.00

$14.39 - $71.96


$3.00 - $10.00

$43.18 - $143.93

Pavers or Bricks

$10.00 - $50.00

$143.93 - $719.64


Bear in mind that these are just the prices for materials and do not include labor, preparation, or additional fees.

After the Fact

Above are the hidden costs that come along with the initial installation of a driveway. Once installed, there are still a few maintenance costs that you should factor in. Refilling the cracks, fixing warped sections, evening out bubbled areas, refilling lost gravel, and resealing the driveway periodically will be additional costs that crop up periodically.

These additional costs shouldn’t affect your decision – the amounts aren't too high (as long as you don't abuse your driveway!), but it’s nice to know what they are. For example, resealing an asphalt driveway will run you approximately $300-$350 (approximately $401.29 - $468.17 CAD) every five years. Concrete driveways will cost even less to reseal.

Knowing how much a project costs doesn’t make footing the bill any easier but it will ensure that you aren’t left in debt after some expensive surprises come your way. Homeowners should weigh their options and carefully consider their budget before finalizing their decisions so the end result will be something everyone can be happy with for many years to come.

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