Build Over or Excavate for Driveways and Sheds

Author: Touré Foster

Posted in: Excavation | Landscape Construction

Build Over or Excavate for Driveways and Sheds

When making home or grounds improvements, those solutions that sound less expensive and easy can be very appealing. People think they can save money and time by plopping down sheds on good “solid” ground or simply paving over the old cracked driveway with a new one.

When you think you have the option to build over instead of tearing down existing structures and excavate to prepare the land properly, as experts in paving, hardscaping, and foundations, we’re here to tell you why you should almost never do this.

Driveways: Glossing Over the Problem

Installing a driveway looks easy. It’s only a flat stretch of asphalt – how hard could it be? However, installing a driveway properly is costly because you first need to lay a proper foundation. But homeowners have other things to spend their money on so they usually shy away from a complete replacement and opt for patching or repairing.

If your driveway is 20 years old and in tough shape, you should replace it. Do not just pave over it. This is at best a band-aid on the issue at hand. Even if this is just a bitumen touch-up coat, the paving below is still cracking and shifting. Placing a new layer above it only worsens the situation, and when that sub-layer cracks, so will the paved-over layer.

Building on a broken foundation results in a broken layer, and as the bottom layer further breaks down, so does the layer above it. This is why we only pave our properly prepared driveway surfaces. This doesn’t mean you can’t repair cracks or fill potholes, but you can’t fix a damaged driveway with a build over and expect it to last any length of time.

At some point, you will need to excavate out the old, install the proper stone and gravel base, compact it to ensure stability and grade and finish the asphalt surface. Remember that your driveway completes the look of your house and can be important if you are looking to sell.

Sheds: Protection for Your Storage

Shed Installation Foundation

Sheds are a wonderful addition to your yard to increase storage and keep your gardening tools in one location for easy access. Should you have a shed built on a solid foundation or invest in a pre-made shed? Which is the right solution for you?

Building a shed from scratch is a bigger project. If done right, it can be as solid as your home and can have many amenities such as cabinets, shelves and other items that help you organize your equipment.

A pre-made shed can be a less expensive alternative which will work for most situations. However many homeowners do invest in pre-made sheds which they simply plop down on their lawns or cleared ground. This has some unintended side effects:

  • Most sheds have no bottom, and so any items placed within will be in contact with the turf or dirt, making it unappealing to store many items you don’t want to soil.
  • Exposure to the ground also means exposure to many of the elements. Water will seep and even flow under the shed, meaning that both the shed and the item within will corrode and rot from water damage and moisture.
  • Having no foundation makes the shed very unstable. Not only can it start to sink or lean, but significant force (such as during a windstorm) will see your shed shift, topple, or crash through your backyard fence, scattering you possessions to the wind.

What you need – and is recommended by most manufacturers – is a solid foundation to anchor the shed. It gets it off the ground and eliminates the potential of water damage. We recommend a concrete slab with connection points for the shed, but gravel and pavers are also options as long as it’s dug deep and professionally compacted.

Who to turn to

New England Enterprises are masters of excavation and foundation construction and can consult with you for what your project really needs based on your needs. We’ve got the tools to handle any project from tear-downs to entire home foundations and everything in between. Reach out to us and we’ll let you know what you need to do to have the best results for your project.