aj mccormack and son

Other Pavings - Page 06
The Brew Cabin
other pavings


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Forum Question Illegal gravel drive - Rachel Benson - Jul 21st 2003
I have just had a contractor around to quote me for a new drive. I was after a gravel one, but he informed me of a new law that does not allow a new gravel drive to come within 9 metres (I think) of the pavement in case someone slips on any gravel that spills over.

Is this true of was he just trying to sell me a more expensive option?

forum answer Tony McCormack - Jul 22nd 2003
He's been shovelling large dollops of bovine excrement in your direction, Rachel. Avoid him like the plague!
Rachel Benson
Jul 24th 2003
Thanks, I thought I had made a reasonable selection from the Yellow Pages, but obviously not. This chap seemed to run a sucessfull business, not available till November, lots of local authority work and a business premises. It is hard to know who to trust. Of the four firms I have contacted he is the only one to have bothered to turn up.

Can anyone reading recomend a contractor in South Stafford ?

Forum Question Exposed Aggregate Patio - A DIYer Project? - SA Smith - Aug 26th 2003
I'd like to know if laying a patio using approx 3.5 cubic meters of concrete then using a wash down method to expose the aggregate is beyond an experienced DIYer. The theory, from what I've read really doesn't look at all hard, and I've had experience laying a standard slab before. Obviously the retardant is new to me so any advice and hints tips would be much appreciated.

I'd love to pay someone to do this for me but the cost ($1500 NZD) is prohibitive and I really think is a little excessive considering I've done all the donkey work already.

Too float or not too float - that is the question. I noticed in your case study, that after laying and tamping the test panel, you mentioned arrising the edge, but you didn't make mention of actully floating the panel at all. Is this correct?

I've been reading other articles in which they say to float after the tamping etc. so I'm a little confused as to whether I float or not.

I guess it would make sense to not float or keep the floating to the bare minimum so as to not push the aggregate too far below the surface - is this a correct assumption?

Just a note on the Rugasol - am I right in thinking that the application would be fine with a domestic pressurised spray unit, as is typically used for herbicide application? Obviously, with not trace of herbicide present! Is that right?

Cheers - Sean

forum answer Tony McCormack - Sep 2nd 2003
Although we arrissed the edges on the test panel, this was purely for presentational purposes - it didn't show up terribly well on the completed panel.

When it comes to float finishing, again, we did this on the test panels, but the contractors found that floating brought too much finer material to the surface, depressing the larger aggregate, which spoiled the finished (exposed) appearance. By using a relatively high slump concrete (75mm - sloppy, in non-trade parlance) they found that a light tamp to level the concrete and then one pass of a lightweight aluminium vibrating screed was ample to accurately level the concrete without losing the larger aggregate.

Once the Rugasol had been sprayed on using a standard hand-worked Garden Sprayer (from what I saw of them) it was left for 4-6 hours and then washed off using a power-washer on a lower-than-normal pressure setting. They found that the usual power setting was blasting out too much of the aggregate, and so they 'tweaked' the lance, somehow, to get a wider spray pattern at a lower pressure.

SA Smith
Sep 2nd 2003
Cheers Tony - I'll perform a couple of small test panels to see how it turns out. I'm armed with the theory - now for the practice. I'll let you know how it all turns out. Thanks again.
Forum Question Gravel over old Concrete - Vince W - Jul 24th 2003
I've read with interest other posts on this subject and it looks like I'm going to have to dig up the concrete before laying the gravel. The area is 10 x 14 meters, flat with a 10 degree slope 3 meters from road. I'm hoping to lay down 20mm gravel.

The question I have is that this new gravel drive will have to stand the wife's pride and joy 4X4. The old concrete is already shown some of tyre wear.

I need the specification of some sort of kerb that I can build at the road boundary and that will take the heavy load. Price is an issue - cheap as possible! What sort of cement mix will take this sort of punishment?

forum answer Tony McCormack - Jul 28th 2003
Gravel can be laid over concrete, but it's never a great success. Adding plenty of fines, whether this is a 3mm grit of a grit sand (3mm down) will help bind the gravel and keep exposure of the underlying concrete base to a minimum, but it's never 100% successful, and, on the ramped area, it will be even less so.

Have you considered using a resin-bound system over the concrete? It's not frighteningly expensive (if you use a scattercoat system) and would give you the look you like without risking problems or exposed base concrete.

As for a kerb - use whatever you want. The chepest would be a plain concrete road kerb of some type laid and haunched on a C20 concrete bed. However, for a decent-looking driveway, perhaps one of the coloured block paving kerbs would be more attractive?

Fen Ram
Jul 29th 2003
Would laying stone over tarmac which already has stone rolled into it be more successful? The tarmac with the exposed stone looks like it would hold on to the new stone better than concrete - less likely to roll around maybe?

Or is this just wishful thinking, Tony ?

Cheers - Fen Ram

Tony McCormack
Jul 30th 2003
"Tarmac with stone rolled into it"??? Do you mean 'chippings', as are rolled into asphalt surfacing on roadways, or the nasty white limestone chippings beloved of the itinerant tarmac gangs?

I can't see how that would be any better than the concrete base, to be honest. It's a rigid base, with no give, so the added gravel has no chance of 'bedding itself in' and thereby reducing the risk of scuffing and exposure.

Again, if you have a decent tarmac base (or concrete) one of the Resin Bound systems might be worth considering.

Fen Ram
Jul 30th 2003
Not chippings - best way to describe it is a tarmac base with approx 8 -10 mm stone in it - half the stone sits proud from the tarmac, while the other half of the stone is imbedded into the tarmac. I started to powerwash it the other day until I realised I was 'blowing' the stone out of the tarmac.

With the stone sitting proud of the tarmac I hoped maybe fresh stone would not travel around as much as it would on say concrete.

With the Ronadeck, can you buy just the adhesive then use your own aggregate or do you have to buy a special aggregate from them? I have around 80 square metres of drive to cover - what sort of price does the Ronadeck work out at per square meter?

Thanks for all the help

Fen Ram

Tony McCormack
Jul 31st 2003
What you have sounds like a bitumen-bound gravel dressing. This technique is still used, most notably on public highways, but is becoming less popular as modified bitumen and epoxy resin technology advances. Basically, the underlying bitmac base is coated with a bitumen slurry and then scatter-coated with a decorative gravel that is rolled into the surface. It has had varying degrees of success - some jobs last for umpteen years with no problems while other jobs become 'bald' after just a couple of seasons. The resons for this are manifold, and not really pertinent to your topic.

Anyway, laying gravel over such a surface would be slightly more successful than laying it over a plain bitmac or concrete base, but not dramatically so. You still have the core problem of persuading a loose material to stay put on a hard, monolithic surface, so, as mentioned earlier, the use of additional 'fines' would definitely be beneficial, but don't expect miracles.

Turning to the Ronadeck Fast Grip, as far as I know, and Simeon will correct me if I'm wrong, you can buy just the resin and select your own aggregate (following advice from the excellent folk on the Ronadeck Tech Help Desk). I'm not sure about the price, as the guide info I have includes the aggregate and I don't have a separate figure for resin-only, for some reason. I'm sure Simeon will help....   smile

Fen Ram
Aug 1st 2003
Your description is spot on Tony, If the worst happens and the stone is not a success that's not too much of a problem, I have plenty of areas to use the excess stone.

What are 'fines'? I noticed you mentioned a 3mm layer of grit sand accross the drive before putting down the stone, is that just sharp sand or is it something else? Is this what you mean by fines?

As always Tony - excellent site and thanks for the help

Fen Ram

Tony McCormack
Aug 1st 2003
Fines is the technical name for particles less than 1mm. In this context, a grit sand (which is more or less the same as a sharp sand/coarse sand) can be though of as 'fines' when compared to the gravel. The idea is that the 'fines' find their way into the gaps between the individual pebbles of gravel (known as 'interstices') and help persuade said gravel to stay put. It's not 100% successful, but it's better than nowt, as they say.
Simeon @ Ronacrete
Aug 5th 2003
Hello, it's the Fast Grip man. Just read your story and I believe we can help.

Yes, you can buy just the Ronadeck Fast Grip resin and use your own aggregate. Resin cost is £7 per kg; coverage is 1kg per m² to 1.8kg per m². The bigger the aggregate the more resin you need. For a relatively non-demanding private driveway you can opt for the smaller sized aggregate, about 0.9mm to 1.4mm in size. This is typically a Chinese Bauxite aggregate. This means you need about £7 of resin per m² (based on a flat, non porous surface). We can assist you in where to source the aggregate if you wish. However there are benefits in getting it from us.

If you got someone in to lay it for you reckon on supply and apply of around £20 per m². Add to this any surface prep. that may be needed.

Hope this helps.


p.s. Tony, delighted to hear you've tried our Technical Department and they've looked after you.

Forum Question Pic Workmanship - Stewart - Jul 25th 2003
This is a long ongoing legal prob, for a client who had PIC drive installed by a contractor.

The drive has cracked in number of places, and he is saying that the surface water drains are the cause of this, the surface water drains are approx, 1.650mm below grade. We did a CCTV survey of the drains and found some radial cracking, and slight to medium sized displaced joints, there was no sagging in the line and it was heavly silted.

The contractor had a engineer with a lot of letters after his name take some samples of the PIC base and found that, in places, it ranged in thickness of 3in to 4in, and he admits that it is in places it was not thick enough.

He is saying that it is the surface water drains that has caused the the surface to crack.

I say that if the drains are to blame, then when the orginal drive was removed, the ground that was affected by the drains would be very wet, and that the contractor should have noticed it, and said something to the client. The new drive has only been laid for 5 months, and if there was a problem with the drains it would have been clear by the ground area.

The drains run within 1 meter of the house, and for the drains to be a problem it must have been going on for years, but the is no indcation of cracking or movement to the house.

I still say that the drains are not at fault, and it is bad workmanship. Also, the client thinks that there was no membrane put down between the sub-base and the PIC base. I told the client that he needs to have core samples taken, to prove this.

We don't lay drives, but I do know my drains, and they are not at fault.

Thanks, great site for info.


forum answer Tony McCormack - Jul 28th 2003
I can't see how a drain at 1.65m below FPL can be held responsible for failure of a PIC driveway that is of inconsistent thickness and has no damp proof membrane.

If there was an issue with the drains, it should have been apparent when the PIC contract undertook the preparatory work, in the form of soft ground, or wet spots, and, if such a problem was noticed, the contractor should have pointed this out to the client and priced for remedial work. That the contractor continued with the PIC indicates that their professional (!) opinion was that the ground was suitable to accept a PIC driveway and they have no real grounds to claim otherwise. Either the ground was bad (because of damaged drains) and they chose to disregard this and overlay the problem with PIC, or the ground was not bad and the PIC failed. Either way, it's their problem, as far as I can see.

Are there any control joints in the PIC?

If there is a DPM beneath the concrete, it should be evident at the edges of the PIC, as, ideally, the DPM extends beyond the area of the concrete and/or is brought up the sides of the slab. This could save the client the cost of core sampling and should earn you a free pint in the alehouse!   smile

Jul 30th 2003
Thanks for your reply...

The control joints where added at a later time as is the for the DPM..there is none, here is the letter that I'm send to the contractor's rep.( the one with all the letters after his name)

We at A1 Cleveland Drainage Services give a truthful and unbiased opinion, on all projects we are contracted to do. Every body is entitled to an option, and in my option the surface water drains are not at fault for the cracking to the new PIC drive way.

In answer to some of the remarks from you conveyed to my client.

  1. - If the drains are at fault, the contractor should have been aware by the condition of the ground in the area of the work that he was doing, and some remark should have been made about this to the client.
  2. - There is NO Geo-Membrane inserted between the sub-grade and sub-base as this acts as a reinforcement, and stops and also to inhibit reflective cracking. So common sense must prevail as to the cause of the cracking.
  3. - The sub-base should have been increased and some form of reinforcement added to the PIC base to compensate for the bad ground.
  4. - For the drains to be the cause of the movement in the PIC drive way it is far to soon for the length of time that the drive has been laid, for movement to happen as quick as this. The drains would show a far greater percentage of larger and also open joints, and larger amount of cracking than is showed on the survey.
  5. - The vast majority of problems with the surface water drains is the ingress of concrete that is adhered to all lines. If a mandrel test was done it would fail, concrete will not go upstream, but will if pushed. The way the concrete has been smeared to the side of the runs upstream is, in my option, is indicating this has been done on the upstream runs.
  6. - The 2 inverts that you refer to, short leg to the front gully. This section is going from an invert level of 1.450 meters to the gully that is less than 2 meters away. This puts a tight bend on this leg, and the camera head will not go through this bend, as you risk getting the camera head jammed. The only way to do this is by removing or cutting into the line adjunct to the gully. On instruction from the client I was told not to.
  7. - The section to the rear of the manhole upstream: there is no indication that any surface water gullies are connected to this run, as all rain water is routed to the front of the property, and this line is dead, so it was not surveyed.
  8. - The displaced joints on all sections: In drainage terms you have large, medium and slight. A good example was the joint in the road downstream to the mains, that is LARGE and OPEN. So in my option the majority of displaced joints were slight.
  9. - When lines are blocked over a long period of time, you get some form of staining. There is very little staining. There was some silt build-up in the lines, but unlike foul drains on a spilt system, the amount of water is governed by rainfall, and you will always get silt debris build-up.
  10. - With regards to the line needing to be relined: If you say this survey is not a true refection on the condition of the surface water drains, then in your option, over 60% of properties between 1967 to 1975 need to have their surface water drains relined. On a scale of 1 to 10, this property comes out as 6, so it's about average.
  11. - You have agreed that some of the concrete is not as it should be in thickness, and that the manhole chamber frame needs to have the wooden packing removed and be re-pointed. Looking at the quality of workmanship on this alone, in my option, I would doubt the workmanships on the rest of the PIC driveway. Was the right type of membrane used for the type of ground conditions? And by not adhering by the codes of practice.

In closing I still find in my option that the drains are not the cause, and have instructed my client to have core samples taken in vicinity of the cracking to ascertain the materials used and the depth of sub-base, and strength of concrete.

I rest my case...

Sorry it is a bit long.

Great site..


Tony McCormack
Jul 31st 2003
I think you've covered all of the concerns, there, Stewart, but I think you mean "opinion" when you've actually written "option".

Let me know how you get on.

Aug 9th 2003
Sorted out spelling...thanks for your imput..I will let you no the outcome...

Great site bro!!

Forum Question Concerns about a Gravel Driveway - Dave K - Jul 26th 2003
I have a large concrete driveway (approx 200 sq m) which is badly cracked and broken, and looks awful.

I have had various quotes for block paving but because of the large area, the total cost has always frightened me off.

Removing the concrete and laying a gravel drive seems to be the least expensive option but I have a few concerns about using gravel...

  1. - Are gravel drives difficult to maintain (e.g. removing leaves, keeping them clean, etc.)
  2. - How do I prevent the gravel from moving around.
  3. - What is the best size of gravel to use?
  4. - What is the best type of gravel for a drive. I particularly like Coxwell red self binding path gravel, but I am not sure if this is suitable for a driveway.

Any thoughts on this subject would be much appreciated.

forum answer Tony McCormack - Jul 28th 2003
Using gravel could be a good option, as, if a sub-base is laid, it can be re-used in a few years time when your wallet hads recovered, and significatly reduce the cost of having block paving or even bitmac laid over it.

Anyway, to you Qs...

  1. - Yes. They can't be power-washed, but a garden-vac in reverse is handy for re-distributing litter and leaves. Moss and vegetation accumulate in the less trafficked areas.
  2. - You can't, unless you use a binding system such as Resin or bitumen (which turns gravel into a bitmac)
  3. - 5-14mm, IMHO.
  4. - You'd travel many a mile and still find nowt better.
Simeon @ Ronacrete
Aug 5th 2003

To add to Tony's suggestion of a Resin Bonded Aggregate system, Ronadeck Fast Grip is a fast cure resin which is spread by roller, squeegee or trowel and then blinded with a suitable size aggregate. The idea is to glue the aggregate to the concrete with the resin, the resin is hidden by the aggregate and you have a gravel drive with none of the "loose gravel" problems.


  • very quick, 2 hours from laying it to using it.
  • one coat plus aggregate, no primer needed
  • can be applied to a damp surface so no long waiting times if it's just rained
  • you could do it yourself (with a couple of friends and a mixer) or we could get someone to quote
  • laid cost around £20'ish per m² (give or take); add a bit for repairs to concrete before you start

If you want more info give me or one of our Tech guys a ring on 020 8593 7621.

For your info, Mercedes had it laid on their showgardens at 2 recent flower shows, Hampton Court and Tatton Park. There's a reference if you need one!

Good luck - Simeon

Tony McCormack
Aug 5th 2003
I thought it was Fast Grip they'd used at Tatton a couple of weeks back, Simeon. I even took a load of photos, just for reference. However, we went to the show on the day it never stopped bloody raining (the Friday) and I think the damp upset my digicam, because it's never worked since and I've had to send it back to Nikon for Open Lens surgery. Meanwhile, I've no way of downloading all the photies I took, so I can't share them with you just yet.
Simeon @ Ronacrete
Jul 20th 2003
Sounds like you need a waterproof housing for your camera, or an umbrella, or one of those sandwich polythene bags to stick your camera in.

I just bought a Canon Ixus II digi-camera. Wow, it's brilliant. Always been a Canon man (although I am partial to thigh as well) and hope one day to go to full digital SLR.

Anyway, yes Tatton Park was Ronadeck Fast Grip, laid by one of our approved applicators who also did Hampton Court. I rate these 2 jobs highly, excellent exposure and leads from the public coming in to our web site. The designer/contractor picked up awards as well.

Dave K
Aug 5th 2003

I had a look at the Ronacrete web site and the Ronadeck Fast Grip product looks very good.

A few questions...

Could Fast Grip be laid on top of my existing concrete driveway? The existing driveway consists of a number of slabs of different shapes and sizes that have been laid at different times over the years (not by me). The slab sizes range from 30m² down to a few m². There is typically a gap of approx 1-2 cm between each slab, and the levels vary a bit (1-2cm). There is also an area where an old garage was demolished which is quite badly cracked and broken up.

Do you have a list of approved local contractors who lay your products, who could give me a quote?

Does the £20 per m² price you gave include laying a concrete base, or is that just for the Fast Grip on an existing base?

Regards - Dave K

Simeon @ Ronacrete
Aug 18th 2003
Dave asked,

"Could Fast Grip be laid on top of my existing concrete driveway?"

Yes, the substrate must be sound, clean, stable and not moving.

"There is typically a gap of approx 1-2 cm between each slab, and the levels vary a bit (1-2cm)."

Joints can be mirrored through, ie, stop the Fast Grip at either side of the joint then fill with a flexible sealant. If the joints are covered with the Fast Grip, and they later expand or crack, then the Fast Grip will crack (as would any other coating/covering)

"There is also an area where an old garage was demolished which is quite badly cracked and broken up."

Some surface preparation or re-surfacing may be needed where it is particularly bad, weak, friable or unsuitable.

"Do you have a list of approved local contractors?"

Yes - whereabouts are you?

"Does the £20 per m² price you gave include laying a concrete base, or is that just for the Fast Grip on an existing base?"

This is a "Guesstimate" of the cost to suppply and apply the Fast Grip and chosen aggregate onto a sound base, and does not include surface preparation.

I hope these answers suffice; please ring me on 020 8593 7621 if needed.

Regards - Simeon

Forum Question Coloured exposed aggregate concrete - Jeremy JT Thompson - Aug 31st 2003
I have just returned from a town in south west france where they are laying a lot of pavements using exposed agregate on top of a concrete base. What makes their paving impressive is the colour. It is a rich golden colour. The colour is in part from the exposed agregates - it looks very flinty - but also from the concrete itself which is not at all like the dull gray stuff I am used to. How do I produce this golden concrete? Any ideas gratefully appreciated.
forum answer Tony McCormack - Sep 1st 2003
Them continental types are light years ahead of us when it comes to decorative paving, and the exposed aggregate pavements are, as you say, impressive. Creating these concretes is a bit of science in itself, but, the key components are the decorative agg used on the top surface, and the use of a high-strength, strongly coloured matrix which holds the aggregate in place.

To produce such a concrete yourself, the 'basics' are covered on the Exposed aggregate Concrete page. However, you may be interested to learn that I'm advising on the import of an exposed aggregate block paver from the leading European manufacturer, and they produce their pavers in a range of 10 colours, including a golden buff and an intriguing red-gold colour they sell as 'Blossom'. These allow you to have the look of exposed aggregates, with all the hard work done for you - all you have to do is lay them in exactly the same way as you would with standard pavers.

If you want some more info on these Rockstone pavers (as they are called), let me know and I'll send you a leaflet. But if you want to knock up your own concrete, you first need to source your deco gravel. Is there anything you've seen in your area that you think would do the job?

Jeremy JT Thompson
Sep 1st 2003
Thanks for the prompt response.

As yet I havn't looked for anything that would look similar having only got back to GB on saturday afternoon. However I shall now put my mind to it and if I spot anything I shall post some details.

Simeon @ Ronacrete
Sep 9th 2003
You can of course lay ordinary concrete and overlay it with a resin bonded aggregate. This is a mix it up, roll or squeegee it on resin which you instantly blind with your chosen aggregate (from our range) and leave it cure for 2 hours. Sweep off the excess stones and your done.

If you are interested see our web site or call us, 020 8593 7621.

Sorry Tony for competing with your flagstones.


Steve Walton
Sep 16th 2003
This type of paving is very popular in Europe with approx. 5 million m² laid each year. RMC introduced a system called "Profile Paving" some years ago but dropped the product in 2001. One of the problems is that if you want a special aggregate, local readymix suppliers are reluctant to stock it as their main business is 'grey' concrete. The materials that are used in France to produce the coloured concrete, exposed aggregate finish and the sealers are readily available in this country and we have supplied numerous projects in the UK.

Our website gives a bit of information but, if I can be of assistance please get in touch.

Steve Walton, Grace Construction Products, 07887 653234

Tony McCormack
Sep 17th 2003
Hello Steve - it's good to see you found your way to the Brew Cabin at long last!

I know what you mean about the problem getting local ready-mix suppliers to consider using anything 'out of the ordinary'. We had hell of a job getting a supplier for the slate-based concrete I designed for the National Trust's property in Beddgelert last year, and found that a small local company was much more amenable and co-operative than any of the 'nationals'.

I have been meaning to contact you regarding your NMP retarder, as this is something I'd like to cover in more detail on the website. Perhaps you can call in for a brew the next time you're hurtling through the village?

Forum Question Self-binding gravel on sloping drive - Ged - Sep 16th 2003
We have a long shared driveway (approx. 30m long by 10m wide). It has a gentle slope downwards towards the houses and a blocked drainage grid at the bottom (due to the grit from the drive). The current surface is a mixture of old tarmac, gravel and grit - any old rubbish the builder could infill with. Cost is very important due to the size of the drive, therefore we are considering self-binding gravel (such as redpave) rather than loose gravel, which will slide.

  • Some questions; would we be able to directly lay on top of this surface?
  • What are your opinions of self-binding gravel?
  • Can you recommend a good contractor within the Oldham/Manchester area that could take a look and advise us?
forum answer Tony McCormack - Sep 17th 2003
It's hard for me to say whether a SBG would do the job for you on your driveway without actually seeing it. Generally speaking, for a SBG to work well, it needs a decent sub-base, and what you describe doesn't sound much like a decent sub-base. It might be necessary to scutch off the rubbish, and lay a regulating course of decent granular material and then top-dress that with your chosen SBG.

I don't have a problem in recommending SBG on relatively flat driveways. It still migrates downhill, although not as noticeably as loose gravel, and if there's a lot of traffic (relatively speaking) than it can develop potholes and bald spots quite quickly, but these are easy enough to fix.

As for a contractor....mmm. I know a couple of gangs that do driveways in that area, but they really do specialise in block paving rather than general groundworks, so I'm not sure if they'd be interested. Still, send me an email to the usual address, and I'll pass on some details.

Forum Question Open textured wearing course - T James - Sep 17th 2003
I've recently had a driveway completed with 200mm type 1 sub base, 60mm DBM base course and 30mm wearing course. Generally I'm quite satisifed with it, me the wearing course has quite an "open texture" in places.

As I understand it, a dense bitumen macadan is a close graded material which should be impervious whereas the open graded material is cheaper and less durable.

Judging the closeness/openness seems quite subjective - are there any tests that can be done to confirm whether the surface texture conforms to a DBM?

Assuming that the correct grading of material was used, could the open texture have been caused by inadequate compaction? I wasn't there when it was laid but I think it was machine laid - 100m² area.

What are the options for remedial work? Are there surface treatments that are suitable for this?

I'd be grateful for your feedback.

forum answer Tony McCormack - Sep 17th 2003
Dense bitmac is much more close graded than open textured bitmac (obviously so, some might say) but the finish achieved is somewhat variable. Off the top of my head, I don't know if there are tests that can be carried out on the finished surface that would confirm the type of material used: there is a test (the sand patch test) that assesses the surface texture, and there's a gizmo called a Texture Meter which does more or less the same thing auto-magically, but these are normally used on highways, and you'd need to employ a highways engineer to carry out the test(s). Even then, I'm not sure that the test results would confirm that the surface texture is that which would be expected from a DBM.

A more-open-than-expected texture could result from inadequte compaction or using a material that has cooled too much, or a poorly graded material, but again, you'd need to employ a professional laboratory to assess the condition, and it could cost as much for the lab testing as it did for the original driveway. And, bear in mind, testing of bitmac is generally a destructive process - you end up with a damaged surface!

Remedial options include an overlay, or a resin-bound surface dressing, or even a sealing grit, but I would recommend that you speak to your original contractor and get them to provide copies of delivery notes, so that you can verify what materials were laid, and then seek their advice on how they think it would be best to proceed. Remember that the open texture will gradually fill up with detritus and all sorts of crud and, in 12-18 months time, you probably won't even notice the texture.

T James
Sep 18th 2003
You seem to be suggesting that some variation in surface texture is not really a problem. Is that right?
Tony McCormack
Sep 18th 2003
It depends on how you define "some" and "problem".

If you've specified a close-textured finish, then how have you quantified 'close textured'? If, however, you've specc'ed a DBM surface course, then you more or less get what what you're given.

If there was a distinct variation in texture throughout the pavement, then that could be a legitimate cause for concern, but unless a surface texture has been precisely specified (with tolerances), then deciding whether an area of surfacing is close-textured enough becomes a subjective exercise. What you define a 'some' variation another observer might define as 'minor' or 'insignificant'.

Similarly, where a diff in surface texture genuinely could be a 'problem' (defined as a potential hazard or failure) on a public highway, it is unlikely to be a 'problem' (same definition) on a residential driveway. Aesthetically, it could be a "problem", but structurally, it's unlikely.

This is all getting to be terribly semantic - have you discussed this with your contractor? They have the advantage of being able to see the 'problem' and, if necessary, quantify it using an appropriate test method, whereas I'm working blind!

Forum Question Reclaimed Terracotta Pamments - Marcus Woods - Sep 18th 2003
I have just bought several pallets of reclaimed Terracotta Pamments (described in the auction as quarry tiles), 9 inch by 9 inch and varying from 1.25 to 2 inches in depth. I want to lay them as a patio next to my house on an area that is currently lawn (well, weeds mainly!).

From answers to the few previous questions on laying similar but smaller terracotta tiles, I have gleaned that I need to put these down onto a 100mm concrete base and bedded in type II mortar.

What is the likelihood of serious frost damage on these tiles? Has anyone used similar for an outdoor patio? Also, what is the best stuff to grout them with?

Thanks for your help.

forum answer Tony McCormack - Sep 18th 2003
They should be frost-resistant. They were normally made for outdoor use, so frost, or at least the light touch of frost we get in these islands, should be no great threat to them.

I've always found that laying these things (you call them Pamments, but we call them Tiles or Pavers) it's best to use a semi-dry bed rather than a fully wet mortar. Use 6 parts grit sand to 1 part cement, and add just enough water to bind the lot together. The usual test is to squeeze a handful of the mixed product in your hand and check that there is no water dripping out. This consistency makes laying much easier, while ensuring a firm bed for the Pamments, and it makes an ideal base for the mortar jointing - see the Pointing Case Study page for a guide to the simplest, reliable pointing method.

Forum Question Temporary access road - GillZean - Sep 25th 2003
Now then Tony, cracking website which I found through the Mark Brinkley Bible - he was right to speak highly of it! Anyway, enough sycophancy..

I am about to buy a site in the wilds of North Yorkshire and need to construct a driveway to enable acces for the merchant's lorries down to our site. At the minute we have what could be described as a track (seemingly covered in hardcore and a light smattering of concrete) which badly needs upgrading, unless I want a Jewson wagon as a design feature for the winter months! My father in law reckons we could get away with laying 6" of concrete directly over the length of it (approx 100m). Does this seem like a decent solution (once the build is finished the traffic to the site will be very minmal) as the roadway would then be 6" proud of the land level? Also as the site is sloping, are there any ways of dissuading the concrete from slipping down the hill as it cures?
All the best, thanks in advance,

forum answer Tony McCormack - Sep 26th 2003
Mark Brinkley...Mark Brinkley....where do I know that name from?? Is he one of the self-build crowd?

Anyway, to your site access road. The simplest solution is to lay a geo-fabric of one kind or another, and then put 150mm of DTp2 or Crusher Run over the top of it. If you use a meshed geo-fabric, like one of the Tenax grids, then wagons would have no trouble tracking over it, and, at the end of the job, the stone can be scraped off, the geo-grid recovered, and used again on other projects.

Putting down 100m of concrete, assuming it to be around 3m wide and 150mm thick, cubes up to 45m³, and even if you can get it supplied to site and laid for around 90 quid per cube, you're looking at just over 4K to put in the road, and then you've the fun of trying to get rid of it again at the end of the job!

You could probably get 60-75mm of base course bitmac for less, if the existing base is good enough to lay over, and that would also mean less stuff to get shut of when your build is finished.

As for concrete running downhill when placed, if you get a stiff slump, anything under 50mm, then it doesn't travel all that far. Use shuttering or RoadForm to contain the edges, and just run over it once or twice with the vibrating beam screed, and it should be fine. Don't forget to allow for control joints every 6m or so, or you'll end up with a knackered concrete drive after your first delivery.

Will this track form the main access to your home once all the building work is done? If so, the crushed stone over a geo-grid notion is by far the best option.

Sep 29th 2003
He is indeed one of the Self Build crowd, he wrote the Housebuilders Bible, now in it's 5th edition.

Yes the access track will form the main access to the home when the building work is completed, so I won't be disposing of anything afterwards (other than my soul and any income I once thought of as mine!).

At present the upper part of the track (ie a proper roadway) is concreted, so that is why I was thinking of carrying on in that vein, and the father in law reckons that if I put my name down on various lists with  the local concrete firms they will come and dump their excesses down our drive, rather than leaving it in their mixers overnight -seems quite canny to me!! (this could take a long while though!!)

I was also thinking that stone would also be more likely to spill off the side of the roadway once it starts to be used and that could be a problem as there is a lawn to one side of where the roadway will go. Hmm.

Ta for your guidance!

Tony McCormack
Sep 29th 2003
Getting local concrete wagons to wash-out on your access road can backfire - some of their waste/surplus will be incredibly weak stuff with a very high w/c ratio, and most surpluses are half-a-metre or so, not 3 or 4 cubic metres at a time. Still, there's no harm in mentioning it to the batch plant managers.

Stone isn't really "pushed off at the sides" - you do get some 'spread', but it's usally 300mm or so, not much more, and using a geo-grid helps minimise wastage.

Whichever option you go with, let me know how it works out.

Sep 29th 2003
Cheers gadge, will do and thanks for all your help so far, if I ever work out how to post pictures you can have a gawp, unless you are ever over here for the races or a £4.50 trip to the Minster wink

Regards - Paul

Forum Question Gravel over tarmac? - JHowell - Oct 1st 2003
We are looking at possibilities for a new driveway. We currently have part tarmac, old and oily, together with an area that has been compacted and covered in limestone as a temporary measure. We intend to have the new surface in gravel - would we need to dig up the existing material, or is there something which can be laid on top of the existing?
forum answer Tony McCormack - Oct 2nd 2003
I think you ned to get shut of the old bitmac - putting gravel over a hard surface, such as bitmac or concrete, is asking for trouble, as each of the 'pebbles' acts like a ball-bearing, hell-bent on sending someone to A&E.

You could lay unbound gravel over the area of limestone, and, once you've got rid of the bitmac, there should be a reasonable sub-base underneath that can be covered with gravel after a bit of tittivating and regulating.

If you want to overlay the existing, then bitmac is your only real option. You could then use a bound dressing, such as one of the resin-based products, on the surface of the new bitmac, which means no loose gravel to cause accidents, or you could leave it as plain, ordinary bitmac.

Forum Question Tarmac drive problems - Beckster - Oct 2nd 2003
I had a new driveway laid In June of this year - within 2 weeks of paying for it, weeds appeared. The contractor eventually, after a phone call, when he wasn't really interested, came and spent all of 5 minutes spraying something on the weeds and removing them. Within no time they were back.

Also, once rain came I realised how uneven the whole driveway is - I am limited as to where I can park because of huge puddles.

Also, I let no cars on the driveway for 4 days, as he advised, but once on, scuffs and damage occurred. There are holes where the chippings have come loose, and also bigger holes where it just seems to be breaking up.

I could go on, but can you just give me your opinion please?

I have written to him, on the advice of Trading Standards, and eventually received a reply, offering to get rid of the weeds..........but he's already done that, and I believe that if I accept his offer - he's making excuses for all the other faults - then I can't pursue it any more.

Wish I'd discovered you before June!

forum answer Tony McCormack - Oct 2nd 2003
Cowboy Alert! Cowboy Alert!! frown

There is so much of what you say that really should trigger the alarm bells...

  1. - weeds growing through bitmac - this only happens when there is an unacceptably thin layer of bitmac laid over a sub-grade, with no proper preparation, no sub-base, and probably no base course. Weeds simply will not grow through a properly constructed bitamc driveway. If they do, then it ain't been properly constructed.
  2. - Staying off the surface for 4 days - a quality bitmac surface can be trafficked in 4 hours, not 4 bloody days!! Another classic indicator of the cowboy operator - "Don't drive on it until the cheque clears"
  3. - Puddles - poor workmanship, but probably due to non-existent sub-base and/or base layer.
  4. - Offer to pull out weeds - how will this improve the integrity or life-span of the surfacing? It's purely cosmetic. If there're weeds there now, then there'll be even more next year, and more the year after that and...

You need a detailed report on all the problems with the drive, and then request that the original contractor comes back, removes the crap they've dumped on you, and installs a new driveway, constructed to agreed standards, including edging kerbs, sub-base, base etc. Give them a time limit of not more than 4 weeks and inform them that, if they are unable or unwilling to do this, then you will bring in another contractor to carry out the works and pass on the bill, plus inconvenience and administration charges from yourself, to the original contractor.

CC to Trading Standards and your solicitor.

I wish I could offer you some hope, but I doubt you'll get anywhere, and, even if you take court action, it'll be 3-4 years before you get a non-enforcable ruling in your favour.   frown

Oct 2nd 2003
Thank you so much Tony!

I can't believe I've been conned like this - I got the 3 quotes, etc, after finding them in the phone book - couldn't find anyone at the time to recommend someone. Who on earth can you trust?

Should I give you the name of the 'specialist' to warn others?

I will get back in touch with Trading Standards and see what they say but as you've warned, don't hold out much hope. Sorry to keep on, but do you know of anyone in my area - Ashford, Middlesex, (near Heathrow Airport) who would be able to inspect and give a report?

Would it be out of order to go to the papers with this, or BBC Watchdog or something? Or am I over-reacting now!!!

Thanks again

Tony McCormack
Oct 2nd 2003
You can send the name to me, so that if anyone else in your area asks for a recommendation, I know not to mention them, but, at this stage, it's best not to publicise their name on this forum in case it jeopardises any future legal action you or TS might take.

I can't think of anyone in the Middx area that does driveway reports on bitmac surfacing. If you contacted the Institute of Asphalt Technology in Surreyshire (01306 742792) they might be able to suggest someone, but it won't be cheap. The trouble with bitmac is that it's more commonly used for civil and commercial projects, rather than driveways, and so it's hard to get someone willing to visit a small project such as yours. I could take a look the next time I'm down in the wilds of Middlesexshire, but that could be a month away.

I don't think Watchdog or Rogue Traders will be all that interested, as they recently did a prog on the Tarmac Tinkers, but your local paper might be interested as it's a local story and would be a valuable warning to other Ashfordians. Bear in mind, though, that if you publicly slag off this company, it makes legal action that much more complex. Do the threatening letter first, and then see what response you get, if any.

Oct 16th 2003
Hello Tony,

Taken your advice and Trading Standards have been very helpful and said that Cowboy Ted is indeed in breech of contract! Next step is to write to him quoting legal acts etc. Some advice from you first though if you don't mind.

Not sure if I mentioned that down the middle of the driveway is an unsightly line, where he did it in 2 sections - one side is a different shade to the other and the line is awful. Was it necessary to do that? Our previous tarmac drive had no line at all!

The driveway measures approx 84 sq metres.

Also so that I am armed with all the technical details - could you give me details of the type of tarmac, sub base etc. In other words, could you possibly tell me how you would do it and what you would use etc, so that I know all my facts?

Thanks - by the way, you said before you would be up this way in about a month? If so would love to meet you..........but please don't drive your car into the's a bit fragile and I don't want to damage the plant growth in it, which is looking quite pretty now! If it's been raining, welly boots are recommended, because of the lake effect! wink

Tony McCormack
Oct 26th 2003
Sorry for the long delayed response, Beckster, but I've been in Ireland for a couple of weeks and have had trouble keeping up with posts to The Brew Cabin while I've been there.

Anyway, on with your questions...

The 'line' down the centre is probably a day joint. These are formed when a wide area of bitmac is being laid, so that the area is broken up into more manageable 'chunks'. You can see them on almost any main road or motorway, as they are formed at the outer edge of the screed of the paver machine.

However, for a driveway, they are unusual, unless, as I said, there is a particularly wide area. As a rough rule, I wouldn't expect a day joint in hand-laid bitmac unless the width was in excess of 6m.

As for the spec - there's a standard spec for a residential bitmac driveway on the Specifications page, but there are so many different macadams on the market that giving an absolute spec is well nigh impossible.

It might be best to give me a call to discuss this further. 01925 762034 from around 11am (the tablets are working by then) up until 4pm (when The Reichskinder return from school) is the best time to catch me. I may be in/around London village this coming week, but I'm not sure just yet. I have over 1,000 emails to plough through, and a tower of unopened mail that is currently defying the laws of gravity by tottering and swaying on top of the kitchen table, so I'm not sure when (or even IF) I'll ever get out of here again!   wink

Oct 27th 2003
Many thanks Tony - do hope you can plough through all the mail successfully.   smile

Latest is that a recorded delivery letter has now been sent to Cowboy Ted - and he has 10 days to respond - TS have been really helpful - they've currently got a big clampdown going on about cowboys so are eager to help. Just wait and see what his response is I suppose, although, as you said before, I don't hold out much hope. I'll keep on though and next step will be court with TS help. Now armed with even more knowledge on the joints etc, so perhaps he'll realise he's not dealing with a totally dumb female!

All the best and thanks again.

Tony McCormack
Oct 27th 2003
Let me know how it goes - it's good to hear that TS are actually earning their keep, because, in other parts of the country, they can be reluctant to get involved.

One local authority in the north of England has implemented a great scheme to combat the tarmac cowboys - none of the batch plants in/around the city are allowed to sell bitmac to unlicensed casual callers. This has resulted in the cowboys being more or less excluded from their source of materials and has reduced the number of complaints to the local TS. If only I can convince other Local Authorities to follow their example!

Forum Question Tarmac drive - am I being 'conned'? - Robin - Oct 3rd 2003
Firstly thank you for a very informative and helpful site

I own a driveway which is shared by four other households, the other householders are obliged to share in the maintenance costs, and recently we agreed to have the driveway tarmacked.

We had several quotes and had various opinions about what specification we should go for. They ranged from "put down a 60mm base coat now and have a top coat in two or three years", through "30mm base and 20mm topcoat" and "60mm basecoat with 30mm topcoat".

I looked into this in some detail and decided that it was better to go for a 'good' job, have it done once and be able to forget about it for years to come. I persuaded the other householders of this and we plummed for the most expensive option of 60mm base and 30mm top (the drive does get a lot of wear).

The contractors arrived yesterday to 'scrape down' and put edging kerbs in where necessary. They are returning on Monday to lay the tarmac.

The base is a consolidation of 20 years of limestone chippings, we had dropped probably twice a year. It is well packed down and seems to me to be a good foundation.

My problem is, after the contractors had gone yesterday It appeared to me that they had not scraped very much off to allow for the 90mm new surface. I have measured where the prepared surface meets the kerbs and to me it appears that the maximum new surface could only be 70mm before it would be higher than the kerb level????

I don't want to query the contractor without being a little prepared and sure of my facts. Clearly it is difficult for me to know how much tarmac could be layed down the centre of the drive; it's not easy to measure and I have no idea how much the camber will 'raise' the centre section. So I suppose it is feasible that the centre could be 90mm, with the edges going down to 70mm thick?

Is there anyone who can help me with this, so that I am armed with some 'facts' or knowledge when I discuss it with the contractor over the weekend????

Much appreciated

Regards - Robin Gibson

forum answer Tony McCormack - Oct 6th 2003
You could be right that a camber will be incorporated into the driveway and this will give you a full 90mm construction in the centre, and it may be that the contractor is planning to keep the surfacing higher at the edges, possibly 10mm or so above the edgings, but, if they've quoted you for 90mm, then it is up to them to explain how the will get 90mm of bitmac at the edges.

90mm is more than enough for a domestic driveway. We mnormally recommend 50+25, so, even if you do get only 70mm at the edges, it's not all that bad, but, as I said, if you're paying for 90mm, you should get 90mm.

I didn't check the Brew Cabin over the last 3 days as I was away at the funeral of a friend, so I hope you've managed to get some sort of resolution by now, but please let us know how you got on.

Oct 6th 2003
Thank you Tony... the actual surfacing was postponed till Tuesday (for other reasons by the contractor). I have aired my concerns with them and the boss is meeting me late this afternoon to discuss prior to laying tomorrow. I will let you know how I get on.

He has said over the telephone that his men were pleased with the good foundation when they began to scrape back...... and he sees no sense in taking away good ground to simply replace it. My feeling is that should be our 'bonus' if he now feels that a slightly lesser specification will be acceptable (eg 45+25). I have no idea the value of the materials saving there might be, but I don't think I am unreasonable if I expect that to be passed on to us if we do have the good fortune to have a better sub-base than had been anticipated.

The quotation had allowed for 8 Tonnes of MOT to be layed and rolled (presumaby to make up and consolidate the sub-base as necessary) ... there has been no need for that so the contractor is already making some savings. It is not a case of penny pinching, and if he had ended up having to lay 12 tonnes of MOT to consolidate I don't suppose I would have been impressed with a supplementary bill!! However, if the overall specification of the main material is downgraded I do expect that saving to be passed on.

I will let you know

thanks again

Tony McCormack
Oct 6th 2003
The Contractor is right that, if the sub-base is sound, there's no sense in digging it out to replace it with new material that will take years to compact as thoroughly as the original will be, but I also agree with you that, if they are to use less surfacing, and less regulating sub-base material, then you should be charged less.

However, if you're on a 'fixed price' deal, then the contractor may have you by the short and curlies and might expect you to pay the agreed price regardless of their input, materialwise.

Get it agreed with them before they start work. If they are going to be charging the same price, then insist they supply the full 60+30 spec...that should encourage them to offer a reduced price.   smile

Oct 14th 2003
Hi Tony

just thought I would come back and give you the final outcome.

Had meeting with contractor, and aired my concerns.. he agreed to scrape a little more back, without 'eating' into the good foundation too much.

He layed the tarmac same day and I was there some of the time and could verify the thickness was give or take to the specification we had been quoted.

I have to say, the finished job is nothing short of excellent... and in the final analysis I am very pleased with the outcome and completely satisfied that we got what we paid for and to a very high standard.

Several people have commented on the good finish, including a relative of one of the householders who has worked over 25 years as a site manager for Wrekin Construction (large local firm of road and civil builders).

If anyone needs a tarmac firm in Telford/South Shropshire areas I would have no hesitation in recommending.

Thanks for your help and advice and for an extremely informative site.

Tony McCormack
Oct 26th 2003
It's really good to hear that someone has had a good experience with a paving industry contractor. We hear so many horror stories about the cowboys and the itinerants that it's easy to forget that there are a lot of good, honest, hardworking men and women in this industry that strive every day to provide a first rate service, and all too rarely do they receive the thanks and praise they deserve.

Send me the name of your contractor, Robin, and I'll add them to the little black book I keep.   smile

Forum Question Sinking in Gravel - Adman - Nov 3rd 2003
I've recently had a new gravel driveway installed by a local contractor and ever since I've had problems driving on and off easily. My car seems to dig in to the gravel rather than run along it leaving deep tyre marks where I turn. The contractor tells me to "rake it once a week and it will be fine" it seems I need a personal raker to follow me on and off the drive to make it work.

The whole of the front area of my house was converted from garden to driveway and some of it had to be built up more than a foot to make it level. I'm told by the contractor that he used approx 6 tons of hardcore to do this. On top of the hardcore is a membrane of plastic - fairly thick, smooth black, and slippy! On top of this is the gravel (cotswold buff). At its thickest it must be over 100mm in depth.

The question is, what's causing my wheels to spin and dig in, is it...

  1. - gravel too deep?
  2. - wrong type of membrane?
  3. - should there be mot between the membrane and the gravel?

or is it something else?

forum answer Danensis - Nov 4th 2003
As my grandad used to say "Never have a gravel drive unless you've a gardener to rake it"!
Tony McCormack
Nov 4th 2003
The gravel is way, way too deep! That's not a driveway, it's a gravel trap! You should only have 35mm or so of gravel over the sub-base. Anything more than 35mm is bound to lead to problems, not just with the car, but just walking on it must be a nightmare!

I can't understand why a membrane has been placed on top of the sub-base - if a membrane was necessary, then the place for it would have between the sub-base and the sub-grade. It's doing nowt sitting on top of the sub-base!

The proper construction for your driveway, as shown on the Gravels page would be summat like 100-150mm of DTp1, with an optional Terram 1000 membrane beneath it, and then 20-35mm of your chosen gravel on top of the sub-base.

I'm guessing that your contractor hasn't constructed many gravel driveways in the past, but has adapted the nonsense he's seen on one of the TV gardening programmes and hoped for the best!

Forum Question Brake fluid on tarmac driveway - A Reekie - Nov 7th 2003
I just noticed that my car is leaking brake fluid on my new $1700 tarmac (asphalt) driveway. It is now in three relatively large spots, about 10-12 inches in diameter each.

My question is: Does this pose any kind of problem at all?; will it eat a a hole in my driveway, and; What can I do to fix this, should I flush with water, or will this spread it out and make more damage?

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much in advance.

forum answer Tony McCormack - Nov 10th 2003
The brake fluid will eat away at the bitmac surfacing, dissolving the binder and turning it into a non-bound loose aggregate, and gradually spreading through the surfacing.

Water will not wash it away - it's an oil-based product and oil and water do not mix. Your only option is to cut out the affected area and patch it with new material, much as shown in the Fuel Leak FAQ

Forum Question Is my car park over specified? - John H - Nov 10th 2003
I live in a block of 15 flats and our car park (570 m²) is currently gravel and suffers very bad drainage/ponding etc. We have employed an engineer to draw up plans for installation of drainage and a tarmac surface. The invitation to tender he has drawn up includes plans and specs for the tarmac which look excessive compared to advice I've seen on your site.

  • Sub base 300 mm
  • Base 60 mm
  • Wearing course 30 mm

There are spaces for a maximum of 18 cars and we get weekly visits from the gardeners in their Transit van. Other than that its just domestic comings and goings, all in 1st gear because the site is quite cramped. It's just possible to squeeze something slightly bigger like a Bedford van through the entrance to the car park.

My concern is that the guy in question is a friend of one of the residents and I'm told he used to work for a firm that design aircraft runways! ... and also one of the firms that responded suggested 150 mm sub base would suffice.#

Any thoughts/advice welcome

Thanks in advance - John

forum answer Tony McCormack - Nov 10th 2003
There's no problem with the bitmac layers. A 60/30 construction is a bog-standard choice for light-use car parks.

300mm of sub-base is, however, erring on the side of caution. If there was a known problem with the sub-grade, then I could understand 300mm, but, as imported aggregates and exported spoil are now quite costly items, reducing that to, say 200mm of sub-base with a separation membrane might provide better value.

Without examining the site, I'm not in a position to say what would be most suitable, but, if your man is recommending 300mm of sub-base, then he must have a reason for so doing. Have you asked?

Unless you have a top-notch sub-grade, summat with a CBR of around 10 or higher, then I'm not convinced 150mm of sub-base would be adequate. 200mm or 225m would be more usual.

John H
Nov 11th 2003
Tony thanks, we have a meeting with the engineer this week and will discuss it with him then. I'll let you know the outcome.

Cheers JH

Forum Question Pricing a new driveway across a field - Peppercorn - Nov 14th 2003
We are considering putting in a new access road across a paddock. I would guess the total sq meterage is likely to be in the order of 250-300m² assuming a width of 2.5m to 3m. What kind of cost can we expect? Does the price vary between a straight and a curved run (gentle sweep rather than chicane!).

I am not bothered about having the spoil removed from site necessarily if this makes a big impact on price.

Can anyone recommend a local contractor?

By the way, very very impressed with this site. Thank you for providing such high quality and detailed information.

forum answer Tony McCormack - Nov 15th 2003
Costs for a project such as this depend mostly on the type of surface you're going to use. A loose gravel finish is nowhere near the cost of PIC or block paving, and tarmac is somewhere in between. Generally speaking, it's the total area and the linear metreage of kerb/edging that determine the cost, not how straight or curvy a section of pavement might be, although an exceptionally curvy or irregular layout does cost slightly more when paved using machine-laid bitmac, mainly because of all the effing about that has to be done setting the run widths and whathaveyou.

A massive part of the cost is the excavation and cartaway. If you can get rid of all the spoil onsite, you'll save a huge wedge of money, or, if it's a good quality topsoil that's being taken out, then you can actually make a few bob by flogging it off. Sending any surplus spoil to a landfill is horrendously expensive nowadays.

Your next cost is drainage. If your site is free-draining ground, then a simple cambered construction might be enough to deal with any surface water, but, if you're on clay, then you need to allow for a couple of gullies, along with the associated pipework and the essential outfall.

Your sub-base will be more-or-less standard, somewhere around 150-250mm of decent quality granular material. DTp1 is the best, although using a 75mm crusher run might save you a quid or so per tonne. If the ground is squishy or made-up, then a capping layer or a separation membrane could be a wise investment.

And then, finally, you have the surfacing itself. A simple gravel surface dressing can cost as little as 70p per square metre, while a reasonable bitmac, summat like 60/30, would set you back 10-15 quid per square metre, and then an imprinted concrete or blockwork surface would be somewhere around 20-40 quid per square metre, all over and above the excavation/drainage/sub-base and kerbing costs.

The only way to get a realistic costing is to get a few quotes, or to set a budget and see what various surfacing or groundworks companies can come up with.

I don't know any groundworkers in York, although I know that the City Council has cracked down quite hard on the cowboy blacktop gangs that were plaguing the area earlier this year. If you go into a local Builder's Merchant and have a word with them, they are bound to know who, in the area, takes on groundworks of this nature and does a reasonable job. Remember, though, always get at least 3 quotes - don't just go with what the first company tells you.

Forum Question Types Of Gravel For Drive - Searcher - Nov 16th 2003
I have a drive which currently consists of a layer of bricks (my old garage!) covered by a few inches of 2" to dust crusher run wacker-plated down. I've been happily running up and down with my car on this for the last few months and so far so good - the only indentation was from a 10 tonne lorry bringing some more crusher run.

I am considering gravelling the drive now as I don't really like tarmac or concrete. It's quite a big area for me to block pave and I'm expecting gravel to be my cheapest option.

I was recommended Breedon gravel by an architect friend but it seems that it only comes from Derbyshire so am not sure how I would go about getting small amounts if I ever wanted a top up.... plus when I received the sample from Derby in the post it just looked like concreting sand!

I saw Tony recommended Coxwell gravel on your site and will try to source this too. Is this more coarse than Breedon?

I have asked at a local builder's yard and a surfacing contractor who both recommended white limestone chippings which I do not really want. I would prefer a yellower/sandier colour.

And of course I don't really want to be spending a lot of time re-levelling the gravel.....

So at the end of all that I would ideally like a gravel which hopefully can be sourced relatively locally so I can pick up the odd trailer of it at a later date if necessary which will also give me reasonable stability. I have read the site notes and realise that I should not lay it too deep and should wacker plate the gravel down.

Any recommendations (and suppliers as an added bonus!)?

I am based near Blackburn (North West England).


forum answer Tony McCormack - Nov 17th 2003
Although Breedon Gravel does originate in Leicestershire (near the Derbyshire border), it is so popular that it is distributed nationwide. The Coxwell gravel is almost as popular and is also distributed to all corners, but, as with all aggregates, haulage makes up a huge part of their cost, and so the further they travel, the more expensive they become.

In Blackburn, limestone chippings are a popular choice because they are sourced relatively locally, at Ingleton or Carnforth, but what you really want is what is known as a 'Self Binding Gravel'. These are relatively fine gravels (not too dissimilar from concreting sands) with a good proportion of "dust" that form a tight, hard surface when compacted.

SBGs vary from region to region and the one that seems to be used most often in North Lancashire (Preston-Blackburn-Lancaster) is the Grano dust from Ingleton. It's usually a bluey-greeny-turquoisey colour with a grain size of around 6mm to dust and is most commonly used for making a granolithic concrtete, but there's no reason why it can't be used as a SBG.

Your local BM should be able to get you a price on a bulk delivery. 1 tonne covers 12-15m² at 35-40mm thickness.

Forum Question Pattern imprinted concrete recommendations - Bootneck - Nov 17th 2003
For those customers out there who have had a PIC driveway done, can anyone recommend a company they have been satisfied with? We have two quotes so far from Traditional Paving Ltd and Carrisbrook Drives, the latter being more a pressure sales rep than contractor.
forum answer Tony McCormack - Nov 17th 2003
Both of those companies are "Nationwide" contractors. You should also try a local contractor, as they are often cheaper because they don't have big ads in the Sunday Glossies and they don't pay to appear on Google. Also, if owt goes wrong (and things have a habit of going wrong with PIC) it's a lot easier to get a local contractor to come and attempt a repair.

Whereabouts are you?

Nov 17th 2003
I'm in Hornchurch, Essex, and after reading most of your postings on PIC on the site I was very wary of getting a 'local' contractor. I actually thought using a bigger company we would be more likely to get a better job and more chance of sorting probelms if they do go pear-shaped.
Tony McCormack
Nov 18th 2003
Some of the "nationwide" contractors use sub-contract labour. They might be based in, say, Devon, and get a call for a job in Yorkshire, so they get some local crew in, say, Sheffield, to carry out the work, and they take a percentage. Very few of the larger contractors use 'cards-in' labour - the trade is too variable to guarantee continuity of work throughout the year.

So, although you might think that a so-called 'nationwide' contractor would be a better option, it's not always the case. I know of at least a dozen cases in the past 12 months where the job has been unsatisfactory, but the contractor has blamed a sub-contractor and then expected the client to have sympathy for them because the subbie won't return. It becomes a legal minefield because the client doesn't have direct contact with the sub-contractor and has to rely on the contractor to mediate, and, as several folk have found, the contractor will usually do what's in their best interest, which may not be the same as what's in the best interest of the client.

If you get a quote from a local contractor, the odds are that it will be them and/or their employees that do the work, and, because they are local, there is more of an incentive to maintain the reputation locally.

Still, when you've got in all your quotes, you should go with the contractor that inspires most confidence, whether they are local or national. It's just that it would be a mistake to think that, just because some company can afford to splash out x thousand quid on an ad in the Sunday paper, that automatically makes them better craftsmen or that they operate with a greater degree of integrity. T'ain't nesser celery so!

Nov 18th 2003
I do understand what has been said, ironically, Traditional Paving said they had been known to do work for Carrisbrook Drives in the past and that they would reflect that in the price which is what happened. TP quoted 11.5K and CD 17.5K, reduced after the 'phone call' to 14K. Another thing we noticed is TP quoted for an area of 17.2sqm and CD 13.6sqm, so TP comes in at a lower price per square metre on their measurements, but if their measurements are sales ploy, and 13.6sqm is correct, their price per sqm goes up! Funny old game innit?
Tony McCormack
Nov 18th 2003
Have they stated that the price quoted is the price that will be charged, or is it subject to re-measure on completion?

I'd be concerned if there was an under-measure. If they are short on the concrete delivery, you know what will happen - it'll be spread thin, or a few bricks and other undesirables will be lobbed in to 'bulk it up'.

Are you sure about these rates and measures? 14k for 14 (ish) square metres - a grand a metre??? I'll haul meself out of me sick bed and do it for 900 quid a metre!   wink

Nov 19th 2003
I'll have to ask the question on the price and metering, and I think me decimal point is in wrong place! Should read 172sqm and 136sqm.

We're in no hurry - building works are to start in Jan 04 and should imagine the drive will be the last thing done. Our problem will be that apparently we can't traffic the area for 48 hours after final layer has been put on so we think we're house bound waiting for postman with a picket line.

Tony McCormack
Nov 19th 2003
A good contractor will arrange an alternative access for you while the concrete cures. I've seen jobs like this where the paperboy has trudged across the concrete, apparently unaware that they were trashing the surface in the process, even though the surface was sticking to their boots!
Forum Question Price per sq.m for gravel drive - Gary N - Nov 23rd 2003
Dear Tony,
What in your opinion is a fair price to charge per sq.m for a gravel drive?

I've got one to price up for someone. There's no drainage to worry about, pea shingle will be used on a 100mm type 1 sub-base. The drive will be edged with concrete edgers and the overall size is 28 sq.m

Regards - Gary

forum answer Tony McCormack - Nov 24th 2003
Just to supply and lay the the edgings (Type EF 150mm), the sub-base and a 35mm covering of pea-gravel, I reckon it has to be somewhere around 700-1,000 quid +VAT.

On such a relatively small job, there are so many other factors to take into account - you're dealing with small or part loads of aggregates, small quantities of edgings and a lot of organising for a job that could be done in less than half a day, all being well. I'd price it as cost of materials plus cost of labour for a full day plus nominal charge for use of compaction plant (say 40 quid) and then put on a decent profit margin of at least 30%.

Small jobs like this are often more trouble than they're worth, so you want to be sure you're getting a good return. If you're at the mercy of the BM to deliver the aggs, then you could find you've a couple of lads sat on their bums all day, reading some scummy tabloid paper and playing cards, waiting for the delivery which only turns up at 4pm.   frown

Gary N
Nov 24th 2003
Many thanks for your reply Tony. I had thought of pricing it at around 950 pounds inc. so your advice confirms this to be about right.

Regards - Gary


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