While a driveway isn’t the most important aspect of the home for most homeowners, it plays a key role in the appearance and functionality of a property. Along with being a place to park any vehicle you own, your driveway also facilitates easy access to your yard. You might find that your existing driveway isn’t large or wide enough to fully accommodate your needs.
In this scenario, you should consider widening your driveway, which would improve your home value as well as the aesthetic appearance of your property. If you decide to widen your driveway, you’ll likely wonder if it’s possible to complete this project without first obtaining a permit. For anyone who lives in Los Angeles, this question comes with multiple answers. While a permit is oftentimes necessary for this type of project, there are times when it isn’t needed.
Along with making sure that you have the right permits, it’s also important that you use the right materials. Your driveway might require the use of more porous materials to ensure that water flows through it. In the event that you want to alter your fence line or lower the surrounding curb, you may be tasked with getting permission from your neighbor alongside the permit you obtain. This guide tells you everything you need to know about widening your driveway and if a permit is needed.
Why Should I Widen My Driveway?
Driveways are oftentimes overlooked by homeowners until they become an inconvenience. If your driveway is too narrow, you might have issues with parking multiple vehicles, which means that the street may need to be used for parking. Another issue with narrow driveways is that access to the rest of your property could be limited.
Extra Car Space
If your driveway is too narrow to park more than one vehicle side by side, it may be a good idea to widen the driveway. Along with improving the convenience of your driveway, this type of renovation can add value to your home.
Building a Garage
Another reason why you might want to widen your driveway is to build a garage. If your existing driveway is too narrow, your options for garage style and type will be limited. However, widening your driveway allows you to construct the type of garage you prefer.
Things to Consider When Widening a Driveway
When you decide to widen your driveway, there are several things to consider, which include everything from where your property is located to the costs associated with this type of project. Being aware of your immediate surrounding as well as the rules in your neighborhood can help you avoid issues with your neighbors and the city.
Am I In a City or a Rural Community?
In most cases, cities have more stringent regulations for anyone who wants to widen or extend their driveway, which makes it more likely that you will need to obtain a permit before you’re allowed to complete the project in question. Exact specifications might also need to be followed. If you live in a rural community, there are usually less regulations surrounding the widening of a driveway.
Will the Driveway Be Gravel or Paved?
Another consideration is if the driveway will be gravel or paved. Gravel driveways are highly affordable, easy to maintain, and easy to install. Laying down a gravel driveway and giving it time to settle only takes around one week or less. The main issues with gravel driveways include the potential for the gravel to be disturbed during inclement weather and the possibility that sinkholes will form. These driveways also don’t add as much value to a home.
As for concrete and other paved materials, these materials are oftentimes more expensive than gravel but are able to provide your driveway with a cleaner and more professional appearance. A concrete driveway will hold up well under inclement weather. The primary issue with a paved driveway is that the pavement can crack over time, which can substantially worsen the appearance of your driveway. It’s also easy for concrete to stain as a result of its lighter color.
How Far Am I Extending the Driveway?
It’s important to ascertain how far you’re going to extend your driveway. The exact amount of materials you obtain for the project will be determined by how far you want to extend or widen your existing driveway.
A substantial extension means that more materials will be needed for the project at hand. More materials equals a higher project cost. You can reduce costs by lowering the amount of extension that’s set to be performed or by selecting more affordable materials.
Will Neighboring Properties Cause Setbacks?
When you’re widening your existing driveway, it’s essential that you take neighboring properties into account. When building a home or extending a driveway in Los Angeles, the local building codes require property owners to follow specific guidelines on where driveways can be positioned.
In most cases, the setback around a driveway must be at least five feet on every side. You aren’t allowed to build the driveway directly on your property line. Make sure that you recheck your property lines before you begin this project.
What Is the Cost?
Estimating the cost of your project is essential if you want to make sure that widening your driveway is feasible when taking your budget into account. First of all, a professional will almost certainly need to be hired to perform the extension. Whether you’re adding several inches or several feet to your existing driveway, costs can be high. Along with laying down the materials for the extension, the area will still need to be excavated.
Different professionals will also have different costs. Hiring an experienced and reputable professionals will likely be more expensive than hiring someone without experience. In general, you can expect this type of project to cost anywhere from $2-$15 per square foot. Keep in mind that the total project costs depends on the materials that are using and the overall condition of the land. If you’re set to add around 200 square feet to your driveway, the costs for this project can be anywhere from $400-$3,000.
What Materials Do I Need?
It’s highly recommended that you settle on the exact materials you need for this project before work begins. While there are different materials that can be used when widening a driveway, make sure that you don’t skimp on materials. While doing so can reduce overall project costs, it will also worsen the quality of the driveway and make make the area more prone to shifting and cracking issues.
Who Should I Hire?
The next step involves hiring the right concrete or driveway contractor for the job. Make sure that the person you hire specializes in widening driveways for residential homes. Consider looking at the contractor’s website to gain a better understanding of who you’ll be working with.
Read as many reviews as possible to determine if the contractor’s reputation is legitimate. Don’t hesitate to ask any project-specific question you have, which should allow you to identify if the professional’s experience level is high enough for your project. You should also obtain multiple quotes, which you can then compare before making your final hire.
Does It Make Sense?
Widening a driveway doesn’t make sense for everyone. Since the costs for this project can be relatively high, it shouldn’t be done without careful consideration about the effects of the project. Make sure that you don’t attempt to perform this project on your own in an endeavor to reduce costs.
There are numerous things that may go wrong when trying to DIY a driveway extension. Keep in mind that there are several benefits associated with widening a driveway. Along with providing improved parking accommodations, this project may also allow you to build a garage or gain easier access to your yard.
Can You Widen Your Driveway Without a Permit?
If you’re wondering about the possibility of widening your driveway without a permit, make sure that you check with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety beforehand. They might not allow the project to occur in the event that structural changes are set to be made.
When Do I Need a Permit?
In most cases, a permit is needed to widen your driveway if you’re going to be making alterations to the property lines or lowering/raising the curb. In these scenarios, a permit is almost certainly necessary. If the project is affecting property lines, your neighbor must also provide approval before the project can begin.
When Do I Not Need a Permit?
In the event that you want to widen your driveway but aren’t expected to impact the curb or property lines, you should be able to complete the project without getting a permit.
Widening your driveway is a great option if you want to add to the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your home. However, performing this extension might only be possible if you first obtain a permit with the LADBS.
Jason Somers, President & Founder of Crest Real Estate
With over 15 years of professional experience in the Los Angeles luxury real estate market, Jason Somers has the background, judgement and track record to provide an unparalleled level of real estate services. His widespread knowledge helps clients identify and acquire income producing properties and value-ad development opportunities.