When Wanda and Carlos Castillo bought their Colonial in Roslyn three years ago they liked the house too much to let cracked pavement in the six-car driveway bother them, and placed fixing it on their to-do list.

“The driveway wasn't in such terrible condition that somebody was going to fall," said Wanda, 52, a bookkeeper. "I was more focused on the kitchen and bathrooms, which are more expensive to update.”

Once they moved in, the couple decided to work from the outside in, hiring a contractor in 2020 to gut the driveway and lay a coat of fresh asphalt. Carlos, 56, a supermarket owner, wanted to add a Belgian block apron and edging to match other neighborhood homes. The final cost was $15,000.
“I wasn’t excited about it because it’s not like a new kitchen, but it needed to be done,” Wanda said. “It turned out to be beautiful. We don't regret it.”

Wanda Castillo added Belgian block to the driveway of her Roslyn home.

Wanda Castillo added Belgian block to the driveway of her Roslyn home. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Leslie and Roger Ramme's Northport driveway in the process of being redone. Credit: Liza N. Burby

When Leslie and Roger Ramme bought their four-square-style Northport home 40 years ago, they replaced pebbles with blacktop on their driveway and have since resealed it a few times. But this year, when the couple saw parts of the asphalt were lifting and other areas were crumbling, they had the driveway redone, widening the area to accommodate their larger cars. They, too, added Belgian blocks as an apron and trim, at a cost of $3,500 with the total coming to $10,000, to make their home match neighbors’. “If we're competing with other properties on sale in the area down the line, then we should probably have a driveway that looks pretty,” said Roger, 74, an attorney.

The Belgian block apron on the Rammes' driveway.

The Belgian block apron on the Rammes' driveway. Credit: Morgan Campbell

“It’s not like a new kitchen or new landscaping,” said Leslie, 73, executive director of the Harry Chapin Foundation. “But you need to do it.” 

Long Island real estate agents say that the Castillos’ and Rammes’ decisions are common: Unless a driveway is in poor condition, most potential homebuyers will look past it because they are more interested in the kitchen and bathrooms. A potential homebuyer is not going to grasp the value of the money that was sunk into gussying up or repairing a driveway.

“The issue of having a driveway versus not having a driveway matters, but the condition doesn't,” said Heidi Karagianis, an agent with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Port Washington. “Unless your driveway is really unsightly and dangerous, I don’t think it’s worth the money to fix it if you’re putting your house on the market. People don't really understand how much a driveway costs, so it doesn’t make sense for you to put $20,000 into making it look good.”

Roger and Leslie Ramme on their finished driveway.

Roger and Leslie Ramme on their finished driveway. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Start planning now

Regardless of where the driveway ranks in your home repair priorities, now is a good time to get free estimates and budget for work to be done next year. The season starts in March and goes until the ground freezes, said Sal Karim, 37, manager of Stasi Brothers Asphalt & Masonry in Westbury.

If you're only repaving, then a driveway contractor is the one for the job, and you can start with recommendations from other homeowners.

If the job is more elaborate, where you might be reconfiguring the driveway's layout, start with a landscaper, said Jeff Lindley, 60, chief estimator and project manager for Lindley Bros Asphalt Paving in Northport.

Here are factors to consider when redoing or installing a driveway.

Define the upgrade

Start by evaluating your parking needs, said Anthony Aureliano, 55, an owner of Paul’s Nursery-Aureliano Gardens in Old Brookville. “When clients come to us with a wish list for a driveway for a new home or for just reinventing the existing driveway, we ask about the access to the front door and garage and how much entertaining they tend to do for guest parking,” he said. “The decisions depend on how challenging your site is — like is it level or steep — and how many cars you have.”

Another issue that could create a bigger project is drainage. Lindley said if your driveway seems to be collecting water, either get the existing drainage system cleaned or be prepared to spend around $3,000 to $4,000 to have one installed.

Inadequate access and limited parking were key factors in the driveway overhaul undertaken this year by Jen Tytel and Phil Wolk. They moved into their Locust Valley Colonial in January knowing that the driveway needed to be a priority and worked that repair into their budget. Their new asphalt driveway with a Belgian block apron and inlay design is 100 feet long and splits to a courtyard with parking for four cars and another four spots by the garage.

Before Jen Tytel and Phil Wolk added a 100-foot-long asphalt driveway...

Before Jen Tytel and Phil Wolk added a 100-foot-long asphalt driveway to their Locust Valley home, guests had to walk up a flight of steps to get to the house. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

“It expanded the parking situation and also made guest parking much easier,” Tytel said. “Before, guests would have to park at the bottom of the hill and walk up a flight of steps to get to the house. Now they can drive right up to the front.”

Tytel, who hired Aureliano, declined to say how much the project cost, but added it was more elaborate than anticipated. “We had to regrade the whole front of the house, put in new dry wells for irrigation and redo the sprinkler system, and of course, all the landscaping work that had to be redone and putting in the bluestone steps,” she said. “And there was a big permitting process as well to change the entry point. But to me it was worth it.”

Choose driveway materials

Whether you’re facing repairs, reconstruction or a new look, deciding which materials to use is the next challenge.

Sealcoating: The easiest and least expensive way to give an asphalt driveway — or blacktop — a face-lift is with a coat of sealant. An asphalt driveway usually lasts about 15 to 20 years, so consider how long ago the work was done when looking for wear and cracks in asphalt. Consider it a patch that can hide cracks and extend the life of the driveway.
 For a standard four-car driveway, about 30 by 20 feet, sealcoating costs between $200 and $400.

Asphalt: Gerard Zohouri, the owner of Homeredi, a Port Washington-based home renovation company, said that asphalt is popular because it’s considered the cheapest option. The job includes digging out the existing material and disposing of it, prepping the driveway with an aggregate, then waiting at least a week for it to settle before placing the blacktop. That typically costs between $6 and $9 a square foot.

Concrete: Concrete is about the same price as blacktop, but may require a little more prep work. It’s a more common choice for homes with short driveways.

Gravel: On Long Island, it’s rare for homeowners to opt for a dirt driveway, but some like oil and stone — gravel with an oil that’s put on the ground to help it stay in place — especially for summer homes in the Hamptons. But gravel travels. When there's snow to plow, the gravel ends up in the grass or the road and tends to wash away in heavy rains. So be prepared to maintain and replace it annually at a cost of about $2 to $4 a square foot.

Belgian blocks/pavers: Belgian blocks — also called cobblestone pavers — are set in cement and come in gray and natural stone. Paver stones are usually set on compacted sand and come in browns, grays and reds. But because of their cost, most homeowners opt to use both sparingly rather than for the entire length and width. Belgian blocks cost $30 to $50 per square foot; pavers are $15 to $25. Both can be used as accents to create an apron — the end of the driveway that leads to the road — as a border to define the lawn from the asphalt or as a design inlay such as an initial.

Driveway upgrades

Radiant heating: A heated driveway system means no shoveling or ice. It can be heated electrically or via hot water in tubes — both keep the temperature at a constant 70 to 75 degrees. It requires a separate boiler zone or its own boiler as well as an outdoor temperature monitor or a manual panel in the basement. The cost is $5,000 to $8,000 for the boiler and $20,000 to $30,000 for materials.

Lighting: Options can include installing lights in trees for down lighting or path lighting with solar and low-voltage LEDs. Solar isn’t considered very reliable, but it’s inexpensive because it only requires buying plastic devices and sticking them in the ground. Low-voltage LED lights are easy to install, don’t go deep underground, can last up to 20 years and can be connected to a timer. They start at $100 each. If you don’t already have electricity running to the area, you’ll have to hire a licensed electrician.

Planning the work

Before you schedule any work, know that there will be a week before paving can begin while the material settles, which means you can’t park on the driveway. But during that time, workers can do the border and apron masonry. Expect the job to take up to six weeks.

Save receipts

While taxes for most homes won’t be impacted by driveway work, they can be considered capital improvements, so Lindley recommends saving the receipts, as “that's one of the things that you write off your taxes when you sell the house.”

Estimated material costs

Here’s what you’ll need to budget for when planning driveway work, not including labor. A completed project might run $10,000 to $100,000, depending on the scope.

Drainage system $3,000 to $4,000

Sealcoating $200 to $400

Asphalt or concrete $6 to $9 a square foot

Gravel $2 to $4 a square foot

Belgian blocks $30 to $50 a square foot

Pavers $15 to $25 a square foot

Boiler for radiant heating $5,000 to $8,000

Materials for radiant heating $20,000 to $30,000

LED path lights $100 each

Solar path lights $27 for a two-pack

— LIZA N. BURBY

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