Most property owners take for granted that they have a road to provide access to their home or business. But if you're in a newly built area or a rural location, you may find yourself having to take on some or all of the responsibility for the road that leads home.
If you're in this situation, here are a few tips to make the best choices and keep costs in check.
1. Consult Professionals
You might think that just putting a road into an open area of land is easy. But if that land has not already been prepared with existing groundwork, you have a lot more to do. Between clearing the land, removing natural obstacles, working with slopes or dips, and laying both base layers and road materials, the process adds up quickly.
If you need to put in any section of road yourself, you would do well to consult with a civil engineer as soon as possible - especially before you sign any contracts. You may be able to negotiate some financial help during the sale. Even if you can't, you need to know what kind of budget to expect so you can make a construction plan.
2. Assess Options
The good news is that you have choices that can help mitigate the costs of building and maintaining your private lane. For example, while construction of a paved road can easily exceed $1 million per mile, an asphalt or gravel road may cost just a fraction of that. These materials will also be less expensive to maintain, although they wear out ten years earlier or even sooner.
In addition to materials choice, a civil engineer may also be able to recommend changes that can lower the overall cost, such as avoiding certain natural barriers (like water flows or hills), shortening the road, or using land that's already been partially prepared with prior construction work.
3. Make an Agreement
If you aren't the only home or business that will use the road, you may be able to save hundreds or thousands of dollars each year by sharing the costs. Talk with your neighbors about signing a mutual road maintenance agreement. This document spells out each party's rights to use the road and responsibility for the upkeep and upgrades. It should discuss how to resolve disputes and set up timetables for maintenance tasks, as well as how each owner will contribute. A signed agreement is the best way to avoid problems with your neighbors later.
Depending on the road and the layout of adjoining parcels, you may be able to split the cost of maintenance equally. Or, if some parties won't use the road as much as others, they may agree to fund a percentage of the costs in line with that use.
4. Perform Maintenance
No one likes to have to pay for road maintenance, but you need to to keep your road in usable condition all year round. Putting off maintenance can cause potholes, settling, weather destruction, and even vehicle damage. And it will probably be more expensive to fix later.
Work with a local road maintenance service that specializes in your type of paving materials. Come up with a schedule of regular annual or seasonal maintenance tasks. Clear the road regularly during the winter and after storms. And avoid letting plants and wildlife overrun the road and cause their own damage.
Get started with your private road construction by consulting with the professional surveyors and engineers at John E. Sirine & Associates, LTD, today. We'll put our years of experience in the Virginia area to work helping make your road as effective and efficient as possible.