Before and After | My Crappy Driveway

Let Someone Else DIY for a Change

This is my favorite kind of post. The kind where I get to tell you about a major improvement to My Crappy House that I didn’t have to do myself. Because who even DIYs a freaking driveway anyway? The answer is crazy people and pretentious show-offs. Admittedly, I do usually fall into the latter category (yeah, OK, the former too), and, you’re right, this is a DIY blog, but even I have my limits.

Besides, my steamroller was in the shop…

May the Driveway Rise Up to Meet You

A couple of months ago, on a chilly Sunday afternoon, a stranger knocked at my door. He told me my crappy driveway looked… well, crappy… and he could make me a new, awesome driveway for very little money with the leftover asphalt he had from the end of the paving season. He had no work truck (it was in the shop) and he had no business cards (forgot ’em), but he did have a lovely, lilting Irish brogue, so I was like… SURE!

(With an accent like that, he could’ve asked for my kidney and I’d’ve given it to him.)

Gray house white trim with a very crappy driveway of cracked asphalt and rocks

It’s been ten long years with this crappy driveway. Ten summers of killing driveway weeds. Ten winters of snowblowing projectile driveway gravel. Ten birthdays… Ten Christmases… Ten disappointing years of not finding a new driveway under my tree.

Thanks for nothing, Santa.

View from street of dingy white ranch house with a gravel and broken asphalt driveway

Yes, I realize that picture is from 2012, but Google Earth doesn’t have any from 2011 when I moved in, and I didn’t take any myself.

I know. I really dropped the ball on that.

Or…

Google really dropped the ball on that. Yes, that’s much better. It’s Google’s fault and I’m still awesome.

Gray ranch house with Tiffany blue door and crappy gravel driveway

Ten freaking years is a long ass time to suffer the embarrassment (and the mailman’s judginess) at having such a crappy driveway, so when a complete stranger with a sexy Irish brogue offers you a ridiculously shady sounding deal, you don’t think about it. You just say yes.

(And be grateful he didn’t say kidney…)

The Best Driveway Type for a Busy Road

I live on a very busy road. The kind where the people behind you actually get mad and aggressively honk and rudely gesture at you for slowing down to turn into your own driveway.

(The people behind you…)

Because, apparently, when you live on a busy road, you’re supposed to ignore the speed limit and drive wicked fast until you’re in front of your house, then engage the emergency brake whilst simultaneously cutting the wheel like you’re freaking Mad Max, thus abruptly exiting the (Fury) road without impacting your fellow motorists.

Because God forbid they have to tap the brakes to let you make a turn…

View from street of crappy gravel driveway with black car parked in front of half painted gray house

Meanwhile, I’m just trying to go home, jerks.

Now imagine trying to back out of your driveway onto this same road. There’s no maneuver for that. You think those jerks on the road are going to slow down to let you out? Fat chance. I need to be able to go from zero to sixty in 1.2 seconds to instantly blend in with traffic or risk certain potential death.

That’s why I have an “in and out” driveway. You know, like the drive thru at McDonald’sin the entrance and out the exit. (Unlike McDonald’s, there’s no delicious food with zero nutritional value available at My Crappy House…)

(For purchase, I mean. Delicious food with zero nutritional value is pretty much all I have in my (formerly) crappy kitchen.)

My Crappy Driveway Before

So, while my driveway has always been crappy, it’s at least been functional. This is what I’ve had for the last ten years.

Here, I made you this drawing. You can pretend you’re a bird…

Birds eye view of house showing the layout of old crappy driveway with two cars parked in it

The lighter part where the cars are was a mixture of dirt, gravel, weeds, garbage, landscaping plastic and roofing shingles. (The last two items were presumably an attempt by the previous owners to deter the weeds. It did not work.)

Gravel driveway with weeds in front of dark gray shingled house

The darker part in front of the garage was very old, very cracked asphalt that dipped down sharply to the left and ran along side the house all the way to the back yard. Why, you ask? That’s an excellent question. The answer is: I have no freaking idea.

Broken asphalt driveway that goes along side a gray house

The walkway was just plain dangerous. An undulating, broken, pain in the asphalt lawsuit waiting to happen. Thankfully, our delivery people are sure-footed because they’re here several times a day delivering our impulse Amazon purchases.

Gray ranch house with Tiffany blue door, wooden front steps, and uneven old asphalt walkway with Belgian block edges

Incidentally, Schmoopy is the only one who’s ever fallen down on this walkway and it wasn’t in his best interests to sue me because we’re married now. Sucks for him!

(That he fell, not that he’s married to me. I’m a freaking catch.)

Removing the Crappy Driveway

Poor Egor was not a fan of the crappy driveway removal process. It was so noisy! I found him hiding in the closet. My nervous boy…

Cat hiding in closet under shelf surrounded by shoes

Fortunately, the noise didn’t last long. They had most of the old driveway mess gone in a couple of hours leaving this new and improved mess, just bursting with awesome driveway potential.

Dirt in front of gray house from removed driveway with pile of Belgian block next to old asphalt walkway

We decided to leave the weird asphalt on the side of the house intact because it was in relatively decent shape, wasn’t bothering anyone, and was very low maintenance, as it never needed mowing. But during the demo, The Irishman called Schmoopy to suggest that it would be much smarter to include it in the job.

He said he could give us a good deal to pave that area and did his best to convince us that we would regret not doing it. Luckily, Schmoopy is not vulnerable to the sexy accent like I am, so he held firm. There was no need to spend more money on an area that wasn’t a problem for us.

Dirt and rocks next to gray house with shed in background

That’s when we learned that an overzealous machine operator had already ripped that whole area out and Shady McPaver was trying to make money off of the error. If anything, he should have offered to repave it for free because it was their mistake, but we decided to let it go. It never made sense that it was paved in the first place so it wasn’t worth a fight.

But nice try, Irish guy…

Installing the New Driveway

We told McPaver that we basically wanted the same thing we had before, only pretty. To save you from scrolling (you’re welcome), here’s a reminder of what we had before…

Birds eye view of house showing the layout of old crappy driveway with two cars parked in it

There was plenty of room for our two cars to park side by side. We definitely wanted to still be able to do that, but we also didn’t want our whole front yard to look like a parking lot. I figured the layout would basically stay the same.

I was wrong.

If you’re a regular reader, then you know I take an obnoxious amount of time to make decisions. I agonize over them because things that are undecided can’t be “wrong” yet. I don’t move forward with projects until I am one hundred percent SURE about what I want. And the more expensive something is, the more sure I need to be.

Driveway being installed with pavers around edge in front of gray house
Driveway being installed with pavers around edge in front of gray house
Driveway being installed with pavers around edge in front of gray house
Driveway being installed with pavers around edge in front of gray house
Man steamrolling asphalt on partially installed driveway. Several men raking asphalt.

Would you believe the paving guys didn’t give me anything to decide on? They just went ahead and did their own design, like they had free reign. Like they were totally sure that I would love what they did without my input. Like they had absolutely zero instinct for self-preservation.

Bloody fools.

The Luck of the Irish

Bloody lucky Irish fools. In a shocking plot twist, I actually love how this turned out. I know, right? It’s a freaking miracle!

Birds eye view of house with asymmetrical asphalt in and out driveway. Two cars parked.

I mean, I could be upset that there really isn’t room for two cars to park comfortably side by side, but I really dig the asymmetric design and we did gain a nice area by the street to add a little bit of landscaping.

After some experimental parking choreography, we’ve settled on the arrangement you see above. Schmoopy is able to pass his truck by my car, then back in along the far left side. When we have company, I can back in next to Schmoo and let our guests fight over the remaining real estate. I bet we could get about eight cars uncomfortably parked if we need to.

Our Fancy New Driveway

I’ll shut up now so you can enjoy these pictures of our fancy new driveway.

Asphalt driveway with flush pavers edging in front of gray house
Asphalt driveway with flush pavers edging in front of gray house
Asphalt driveway with flush pavers edging in front of gray house

And I’m back. Did you miss me?

Hey, remember this health hazard? Not only is this walkway pretty now, but they changed the direction to be straight towards the street.

Broken uneven asphalt walkway curving towards garage in front of white house
Straight asphalt walkway with flush recessed pavers leading to driveway in front of gray house
Straight asphalt walkway with recessed flush pavers leading out to driveway with street in background

And I love that too! I know, right? Who am I?

I doubt McPaver has any inkling of the nightmare he avoided. (The nightmare that is me.) How amazing it is that I love a project that was totally out of my control. This never happens. Luck o’ the Irish, indeed!

Of course, I never have the money to pay anyone to do the work, so there’s that. And now that I’ve gone and spent everything we had on this driveway, I guess I’ll have to take back the wheel and drive the DIY bus myself again.

I’m both relieved and a little sad. Relieved to be in control again, sad that I can’t afford not to be.

My Crappy Driveway | Before & After

This picture isn’t quite as “before” as before gets, but it’s close. (A more beforer “before” is in this post.) Notice the severe lack of curb appeal. Not only with the driveway, but with the windows, trim and paint.

(Yes, the landscaping sucks too, but I haven’t fixed that yet so there’s nothing to link for you. Thanks for pointing it out though.)

White house with old windows and gravel unfinished driveway

Here’s what My Crappy House looks like now. Much more appealing from the curb, wouldn’t you say? And how about that front door color. Super cute, right? Click here to see how I did that. (Spoiler alert: I used paint.)

Gray house with Tiffany blue door and asphalt driveway with recessed flush pavers edging

Guys, we have a freaking awesome driveway now! We took a gamble on a shady proposition from a complete and total stranger with a magically delicious voice and it paid off.

At least we hope so… I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the driveway holds up to know for sure. If you subscribe, I promise I’ll keep you updated.

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20 Comments

  • Katherine Davies

    This entire post had me laughing my head off in recognition. We lived in Ireland for 11 years and the crazy pavers (often from the Travelling Community) used to come round now and again even though we clearly had a freshly paved driveway and lived in a rural area where no other paving had recently been done. The “we have some tarmac left over from another job” is….ummm, well…..sketchy. But they did a beautiful job on your drive and I hope for your sake it lasts for many years. And thanks for the post because it was laugh-out-loud funny and I needed that today!

    • My Crappy House

      Right? Super sketchy! It was all very strange. I didn’t even write about a lot of it. The guy that knocked was the brother of the owner. The owner told me their website, so I brought it up on my phone right then and called the number – his phone rang, so that was legit. I told him I’d discuss with my husband. A different guy came back to talk to Schmoopy. Brothers, cousins, nephews and sons, all fighting with each other whilst they installed our driveway. They had a few reviews and did the job without any deposit. We paid after it was all done. That’s the only reason I said yes. (Besides the brogue…) I watched them do a lot of it and it SEEMS like they knew what they were doing. The paver edging looks great. Time will tell if we were scammed, I guess…

  • Barbara H.

    It looks beautiful and I hope it stays that way. I said to myself “Oh no….” at the mention of left over asphalt and prepared myself for a sad tale, very glad that I said “No” when approached with the same story but there was no lovely lilting Irish brogue involved. So today you have a beautiful driveway (and hopefully tomorrow, too) and I have a very uneven, back down to the earth in spots, driveway that the grass is trying to take over. I’m so impressed with the edging that they installed. It looks great.

    • My Crappy House

      I knew the leftover asphalt was BS, but Schmoo negotiated a good price, so we just went for it. Probably not the smartest decision, but they didn’t want any money up front, so we couldn’t figure out what angle they could scam us from. I’m so happy that it turned out well. So far…

  • Julia

    My first reaction after hearing the sales pitch was an “uh oh…”. That line about the leftover asphalt has been passed down through generations. You must have a lucky charm because it really does look great but I’d start saving up for a steamroller just in case it needs a repair down the road. 🍀 🌈

    • My Crappy House

      Haha yes, the leftover asphalt is totally a line. If not for the fact that they didn’t want any money up front, we would have said no. It was all very strange. The owner kept saying the whole time that he wasn’t making any money on the job, as if I would offer to give him more. I’m not sure what the purpose of that was, unless he just wanted us to feel like we got the deal of the century.

    • My Crappy House

      Totally. We still have a lot of work to do with the landscaping. I have a black thumb, so I’m a little scared. Bushes cost a freaking fortune!

  • Debbie

    Good job on having the good luck! Your driveway looks incredible, and I hope you have a party so you can prove the 8 car parking theory!

    As far as your landscaping goes, I have a few thousand TigerLily bulbs I would be happy to give you. The orange would look great with the fabulously painted door! The only problem is that I have a black thumb, so the survival rate of the bulbs from my ground to your house might sketchy.

    Maybe you should go with my second idea: make a few dozen bottle tree bushes to go in the halfround space by the road. People would slow down to gawk at them, giving you an opportunity to pull out of your wonderful new driveway. Plus, think of the fun in DIYing decorating wine bottles! Not to mention the fun involved in emptying wine bottles in the first place…..

    • My Crappy House

      Lucky, indeed! I did a photoshop arrangement with 8 cars and it fit. I’m not sure I want to have that many people over!

      I have a black thumb, too. I’m planning some evergreen bushes for the front. Low maintenance. I hate gardening, I don’t mind giving bushes haircuts. Branchcuts?

      I hadn’t thought of a traffic stopping spectacle! That’s actually a great idea. Slow those jerks down with something rubberneck worthy…

  • Joan

    I was cringing, afraid of how things were going to turn out, based on that “sales pitch”, but it does look amazing! It is rather odd they did the asymmetic thing, but the walkway looks much better now! Poor Egor and noise. Hope he relaxed soon after the noise stopped! (I can’t remember if you said it in the post, and I’m too lazy to scroll up to see!)

    • My Crappy House

      Believe me, I was cringing too… But they seemed to have done a good job. We really love it so far.

      Once the noise was over, Egor was back to normal. Zero couldn’t have cared less. Zero has actually let me vacuum his fur, so he has no fear. Egor would NEVER let me do that. He’s such a chicken!

  • Em Dirr

    Bless the leftover ashfault guys! We benefited from a drive by guy and a freebie fix last year of the driveway apron (that previously sent me into an embarrassing Frodo fall and made my neighbors question my drinking habits). Thus, the dudes with will be returning this year to do the whole thing for $$ (with a Buffalo A instead of a brogue).

    YOUR driveway looks incredible! That edging! The semicircular hell strip (a great way to do that!!) The tidiness of it all… The amazing freaking luck that the driveway fairy came and made you a dress for the ball that … er…a beautifully designed driveway.

    Your spectacular retelling, of course, is magically delicious! So freaking funny! You have a gift!

    • My Crappy House

      Haha, yes, the “leftover” asphalt. I’m pretty sure that’s a line to hook a new, unsuspecting fish customer, but we feel we got a good deal, so all’s well that ends well.
      *Hopefully*
      I won’t feel like this ended well unless our driveway is still awesome at, say, five years out. THEN I’ll call this gamble a win and celebrate with a bowl of Lucky Charms

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