We finished the first part of the driveway on the farm yesterday.
We choose to make a crushed concrete driveway because it’s much much cheaper than what we would have paid for the common gravel driveway.
Our search for a cheaper way to pave a driveway started right after we spent more than a $1000 for 50ft of the conventional gravel driveway. One of the reasons we bought our land was because it’s off of a main country road that connects two small towns. We were thinking about building a farm stand in the future, so we can sell produce right from the farm. But we never intended to live close to the road. Our land is rectangular and hilly, so we can go as far back as we would like to and not hear or see the road. Or so we thought…
When we set out to build a driveway (there wasn’t any access road to the land), we were shocked to find out how expensive it is to pave what we thought was a ‘simple’ gravel driveway.
We spent over a $1000 for 50 ft of a driveway! At this point, we knew that if we wanted to build our house 2000 or 3000 ft from the road, we would have to come up with a serious amount of money.
So the search for a cheaper alternative began. And since then, we became very familiar with the world of driveways and even ended up building affordable driveways on the side for others in the area.
From my previous driveway post, you know that, at first, we were looking for dump truck drivers who pick up milled asphalt from paving jobs around the city to dump the material at our place. This was easy when we redid the driveway at our house in town, it proved to be much harder to find a willing driver to dump on our land since it’s deep in the country. Not so close to job sites anymore.
We started searching and found out that there are a few places around town who recycle materials and resell them to the public. Paving companies will bring their waste — large blocks of concrete or asphalt — to those yards, the crusher will crush and mill the big blocks, and resell it as paving or filling material.
We learned that prices change all the time. A crusher can sell asphalt for $12 a ton one week and $9 the next because there might have been a large paving job around town, and they are now dealing with a huge amount of material that they need to get rid of. Some concrete plants might even give you their waste for free when they clean the plant.
So when the price went down to $6 a ton for crushed concrete (compared at $18 a ton for gravel) we bought 100 tons.
We didn’t pick it all up right away, most of it is still waiting for us at the crusher’s yard. But in the past few weeks the kids and I have been hauling two or three loads of crushed concrete to the farm every week.
We have a dump truck, and although this baby is as pretty as a dump truck can be (in my opinion…), it’s not comfortable at all. Luckily, the truck has a back bench, which is pretty much the reason we bought it, so I buckle the kids in their car seats, and off we go.
I used to drive an eighteen wheeler. I thought the looks I got back then every time I’d get off the truck were funny… It is nothing compared to the looks I get when I climb off the dump truck. They look at me like they are not exactly sure what is going on. I see them trying to figure out why I just climbed down the driver side… Then they figure out that I have kids strapped in the back seat, and they are thrown off completely.
“You lady drive this thing?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Oh…” Pause. “You have a kid in there?”
“I have three.”
Now can you turn on the damn diesel pump? I don’t have all day, and there is no AC in this thing, so my kids are frying! I don’t say that out load.
I just want to note here that the kids LOVE to ride the truck. They get a real kick out of being so high.
Anyway, before we started delivering the driveway material, my husband scraped about 3 inches of the top soil from where the driveway is going to be. I dump one load after another on the path he made, and when he has a day off, we drive the tractor to the farm to spread the crushed concrete with the box blade.
I am estimating the total length of the driveway is going to be about 2500 ft or so. It’s curvy and is going to go up and down the hill on which the house is going to be located. We are done with the easy half; the second half is going to be much more challenging because it is downhill, then uphill, through a drainage area, and on uncleared land. We are going to have a bulldozer open a road for us. Then we will have to install a pipe to get the water to flow under the driveway, and then get more material, and spread it. Stay tuned, it’s going to get interesting around here.
This first section (approximately a 1000 ft and 11 or 12 ft wide) is made out of 64 tons of crushed concrete. At a rate of $6 a ton, we paid $384 for the materials so far. Compare it to $18 a ton for gravel that is $1152 and we are talking serious saving here. Of course, you have to calculate fuel as well, and I suspect we will end up adding another layer down the road, but for now it’s good enough.
The crushed concrete packs very well. It doesn’t get muddy when it rains (we had a few monsoons here lately), however, if we have a dry spell, it can get a bit dusty. We are thinking about spreading a thin layer of asphalt milling on top of it in the future to eliminate the dust.
If you are interested in using recycled material for your driveway, look on Craigslist for crushed asphalt or concrete. Call concrete plants and crushers in your area and compare their prices. Call paving companies and ask if they need a place to dump. Don’t be shy, if you see a paving job in progress, walk up to the dump truck driver and ask if he wants to dump at your location for a small fee. Just make sure you have a way to spread it (a rake isn’t going to do it…) so you don’t end up with a pile of crushed something blocking your driveway. If you need to find someone to haul material for you, look in the Farm and Garden Services section of Craigslist for a dump truck for hire.
There is a more affordable way to build a driveway… If you are willing to put some work into it.
Lady Lee is a single mother of four, she was born in Israel and raised in an agricultural commune called a Kibbutz. From a very young age, she was very interested in agriculture and farming.
She is a former IDF fitness trainer and is passionate about simple, natural living. She now lives in NC with her four kids, dog, cat, goats, ducks, and chickens.