About 5 years ago, we had our driveway repaved. The old driveway was removed first.
I did not observe the process.
We have sealed the driveway each year, except this past, because I was told that the sealer we used would last 3 years.
Today though, there was a small bulge in the asphalt next to the curb. It was about 3" round, and 3" high.
When I prodded into the cracked asphalt and removed some chunks, I found mushrooms growing underneath. This is obviously what caused the asphalt to bulge.
I started digging the mushrooms out, and realized that the asphalt was laid on top of mostly soil. There is some gravel, but more dirt than anything.
Isn't asphalt supposed to be laid on gravel? Maybe the contractor who did our driveway just cheaped out. I don't know what the "standard" is, but whenever I have observed professional work on roads, I always see the crushed gravel and then they oil it before paving.
I am going to patch this spot with asphalt from a bag, but I am going to put some sand in the hole first.
Afterwards, I would like to seal the patch, and maybe part of the driveway as well. I don't know if I can still buy driveway sealer this late.
In any case, I will do a full sealing job next spring.
Ideally all roads (including driveways) would be built on gravel or crushed stone base. The base provides drainage and adequate support for the pavement or concrete. However, placing crushed stone or gravel is expensive, since you have to dig out to the depth (6 or 12 inches is pretty common), dispose of the excavated soil, place and compact the base, then place the asphalt or concrete.
I assume that when you took bids for the driveway, there was some sort of discussion between you and the bidders as to what work they were going to perform. If your deal (presumably it was written into your contract) was to place a gravel base, and the contractor failed to do so, then you have every right to call him back to remove the asphalt, place base, and repave.
If your contract called for placing the asphalt directly over existing soil, then I would say you have no recourse against the contractor. If the driveway is placed directly on soil, and the soil is not sandy gravel (you described the soil as dirt), you may encounter a variety of problems down the road, including cracked asphalt, heaving, or settlement. If you decide to get the driveway repaved, you should discuss with the selected contractor how much subbase they plan to install, how they will compact it, and what type of material it will be. Get it in your contract, then hold them to it.
Thanks for the info / advice.
I don't know what the contract stated. I wasn't living here when it was done. It is my parents' house, and I recently moved back home.
We probably have the contract around somewhere, but considering what you said about gravel being expensive, it is most likely we did not get much stone/gravel, as we were trying to save money.
I will see if I can find the contract though. I'm curious.
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