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Driveway to Darkness - Part 1



After following others journeys into the self build world for years, it looks like I'm finally about to embark on my own after several soft starts. The first major work is to realign the driveway and I've opted for paved over other styles and to do most of it myself. I got a driver & digger to take up the concrete driveway and grass and pile it up and hired a grab truck to take it all away. Less than two days later I was left with a barren front garden! Since then I've been figuring out a few details and grading the site to prepare for the required level of MoT. There was some damage done during excavation to be repaired which is underway. The current list of problems are:

  • Get Earth Rod reinstated and connect house ground to it - Electrician 
  • Buy another wavin universal gully 110mm as the first was to replace one cracked during digging, this one is to replace the old one which doesn't have a swivel head and its at the wrong angle to the house and will make the paving cuts a lot harder to achieve and look wierd. The new ones let you turn the gully to different angles to run parallel to the house. 
  • Buy adjustable connector for linear drainage channel to connect to inlet of universal gully as they are nearly level but not quite. 
  • Trace broadband cable from house to a point where I can create an access point and run a pipe from there to my site next door (I tried digging to find it on the other side of the site to only find a gas main where it's not meant to be!). To dig this alternative position out tomorrow and see if it's viable.
  • Decide if I'll keep the loose soil in the original broadband excavation hole or remove and replace with hardcore (I've asked this question under the driveways topic on this site)
  • Hire concrete / kango hammer to remove concrete surround of manhole cover and replace with a recessed unit and gain access to drain on other side of house for linear drainage channel over there - the side of this drain has a mass of concrete beside it for an unknown reason. 
  • Dig out holes for more concrete posts to form new front boundary but mind electrical cable heading in same direction
  • Assess how much MoT I'll need to build up 2 x 75mm levels on far side of site which was grass and will take the most vehicular traffic. The old concrete driveway sub base is still there and its nearly at the right level, won't need to do much to it except whack it a few times and it'll be good to go. 


  • We found the water pipe near the far side of the house but I didn't take a photo before covering it back over. Now I can't find it again. The builders dumped a load of concrete beside a drain that I need to plumb a linear drain into and I'm concerned I might hit it. I have to chance breaking that concrete. 
  • Concrete fence post holes vs main electrical cable to house
  • Finding broadband line - it's a 1 inch black cable but so are the electrical and gas lines! I'll have to excavate the whole route of the broadband pipe to ensure I'm looking at the right one. There is tape to show which is which eventually but nearer the house they don't bother with this. Marking on pipe aren't clear what it's for either. 
  • Site Safety: I've Heras fencing up & warning signs and put a temporary post box and wireless doorbell on it to avoid people coming onto site unnecessarily and twisting an ankle. Dust is a big problem. We had some rain last night which helped. 


The new side gate is up and the back is secured again. Today I was replacing the cracked drain gulley and nosing around a few builders providers trying to find what I was after. I'm back to work next week so things will slow down. If I can get that broadband junction sorted out tomorrow that would be great, otherwise I might have to try dig more holes again! 


This is definitely the biggest project I've taken on to date. Bits of civil engineering, drains, electrical, using a digger, compactor, line levels and more skills besides! The head is definitely taking a bit of a beating but I've had some great answers to my questions on this forum which has been a BIG help! At night my brain is going 90 mph though so need to balance things. At least going back to work will be a distraction. I'm past the point of no return but do wonder am I mad and should I have gotten someone else to do this for me!?! But the budget wasn't there and I'm learning a lot. Expect the unexpected. What lurks under the ground level for decades can't be put into words...strange cables with no purpose, concrete and gas lines where they shouldn't be, aching arms and head! 


Would I go it again? Ask me when it's over! Hopefully my next post will be it completed but until then, good luck with all your summer projects and I am VERY sympathetic to anyone taking on a house, I'm aghast at just a driveway!! 





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