Almost invariably, planning permission for new homes requires provision for off-road car parking (if increasingly for less parking than you would actually like) and this means that some attention has to be paid to both where and how this is to be sited. So whilst a garage is arguably a luxury you could dispense with (or postpone), driveways and hardstandings must be accommodated within the initial design.


Whatever drive finish you decide on, the base you lay should essentially be the same: ideally 100-150mm of hardcore. The most efficient method is to use machines to spread and tamp hardcore — digger buckets are particularly effective tampers. It is very useful to have hardcore laid as early as possible on a building job as it aids access and stops the site becoming a quagmire, but drain-laying timetables do not always allow this use of machinery, and whether it is worth getting machinery in later just to lay hardcore depends on the driveway’s size.

Surface Options

Block paving: Best laid dry (without any cement) on a 50mm bed of sharp sand, and finished with jointing sand brushed over them and whacked with a compactor plate. Dry laying is cheaper than wet and this makes block paving a cheap and attractive option for patios and paths as well as drives.

Costs vary significantly depending on the style and materials used. At the cheaper end lie concrete pavers, but there are many types of natural materials which can be used, though these would more commonly feature on patio areas, rather than driveways. Whereas concrete pavings are available at under £10/m², you can pay as much as £50/m² for granite setts or Yorkstone.

Note that some planners now request permeable paving, and planning permission is required for non-permeable surfaces — see Rainwater Drainage for more.

Tarmac/concrete: The basic finishes are a little cheaper than pavings, but these poured surfaces are now rarely used by self-builders.

In contrast, a number of specialist operators now offer patterned concrete paving or resin-bonded driveways. They can look highly attractive but are very expensive, if applied to a large area.

Shingle and gravel: This is the cheapest option and, in many rural situations, the most attractive. However, note that the better gravel driveways are actually labour intensive as they involve laying three or four layers of stones, each rolled and then left for a day or two between coats. Edgings need to be placed – treated timber strips are adequate – and the success of the drive overall depends on good hardcore beneath.

Design-Driven Drives

Enhance your home’s approach with our top driveway ideas

ABOVE: 1. The Classico fan pattern from Brett Landscaping; 2. Random-sized Pavilion Paviors from Stonemarket; 3. Ready-aged pavers from Brett Landscaping; 4. If you have limited turning space, install a driveway turntable such as this from Nationwide Ltd; 5. Black Mountain Quarries’ sleek slate.

Paving Patterns

For creating the perfect finish

ABOVE: 1. The simple but popular running bond; 2. The decorative basket weave; 3. Dutch herringbone weave; 4. A highly ornate fan pattern; 5. The diagonal herringbone

Garages & Outbuildings

Garages: There is no requirement for a house to have a garage, but it’s still seen as a pretty desirable feature, even if you never plan to park cars in it. In fact, so much new housing is short of storage space that a garage acts as a really useful annexe. The key decisions here are:

  • single, double or triple?
  • integral, attached or detached?
  • just storage or multi-purpose?
  • claddings in keeping or in contrast with the house?

Here we are back to the design brief and the garage is something which should be looked at early on, especially as it almost invariably forms part of the planning application. Many people want their garages to double up as workspaces or to have an extra bedroom incorporated above. Some self-builders have even been known to live in their garages whilst the house is under construction.

If the garage is just being used for storage, the construction is a little simpler than for a house. You don’t need to insulate and you don’t need elaborate waterproofing details such as cavities. Nevertheless, a single garage can be expected to cost upwards of £6,000; a double upwards of £10,000.

The Best Home Car Parks

A good garage should complement the design of your home

ABOVE: 1. Cottage style for traditional homes; 2. Install a study above, like this garage from English Heritage Buildings; 3. Consider an ultra-sleek car port; 4. Contemporary design by Hörmann (UK) Ltd

This article is sponsored by Hörmann (UK) Limited

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