Making an accurate driveway cost estimate involves several measurements, phone calls and a fair amount of math. To make the estimate as accurate as possible, you’ll need to determine the cost of excavation; the amount of stone, concrete or asphalt needed; and the cost of labor. The first step is measuring your driveway and determining what kind of traffic you expect on it.
The most common materials used for driveways are asphalt and concrete. With an asphalt driveway, light traffic will require 100 pounds of asphalt per square foot (15 kilograms per square meter). Heavier traffic, such as RVs or large work trucks, will require 220 pounds of asphalt per square foot (33 kilograms per square meter). If you decide on concrete, the driveway will need to be 4 inches (10 cm) thick for light traffic and 6 inches (15 cm) thick for heavier traffic.
Once you’ve decided on the material you wish to use, the next step is to measure the area of the driveway you wish to create or replace. The easiest way to do this is to measure from the two longest and two widest points of the driveway and then multiply those two numbers. For example, if your driveway is 20 feet (6 m) long by 40 feet (12 m) wide, you will multiply 20x40 (6x12), which comes out to 800 square feet (72 square meters). If using concrete, determine the cubic yards by multiplying the square feet (square meters) by the thickness needed, either 4 inches (10 cm) or 6 inches (15 cm) and then dividing that number by 27. If using asphalt, find the square yards by dividing the square feet (square meters) by 9 and then multiply that number by either 100 pounds or 220 pounds (15 kg or 33 kg) to determine how much asphalt you will need.
Once you have determined how much concrete or asphalt you will need, the next part of your driveway cost estimate is finding the best price for these materials. Call your local concrete or asphalt retailers and ask them for pricing on these materials, as well as their pricing on crushed stone, which needs to be placed under the asphalt or concrete. The amount of stone you will need may vary, but typically 1 inch (2.5 cm) in thickness will be needed.
After you have a price on materials, it’s time to determine the cost of labor, unless you plan to install the driveway yourself. A driveway cost estimate will need to factor in the cost of excavation per cubic foot (cubic meter) and the cost of profit and labor. The rate of excavation work varies by location, but profit and labor is typically 15 percent of the overall cost of material and excavation work. If you’ve done the material estimates by exact measurements, it’s also important to factor in at least 10 percent in extra materials to allow for unforeseen circumstances. Doing this will give you the most accurate driveway cost estimate possible.