Whether you want to install a paver patio, stone walkway or a new brick stoop, committing to advanced hardscape planning is vital. Homework before moving dirt saves time, money and stress in any paver projects.
There are many factors to consider in advance of any project in Madison WI and surrounding communities. Hardscape planning includes developing an overall goal, setting a budget, reviewing local building codes and ordinances and, finally, selecting the right materials. Each can be a daunting task without benefit of guidance from an experienced professional.
Step One: Setting Goals. What do you want to accomplish with your paver projects? Will your new walkway, patio or driveway be “just for a better look,” or do you have a more utilitarian goal in mind? Are you looking for something that’s low maintenance? Is this a new installation of an upgrade? What will the long-term impact be on the value of your home – and lifestyle?
Once you know what you want, you have to determine what you can afford.
Step Two: Establishing a Budget. How much are you comfortable spending? Can your paver projects be done in stages to spread out the costs? Don’t overestimate what you can spend during your hardscape planning exercises. Better to have a little in reserve for the inevitable “what if” decisions as the project progresses than to run short at a critical point. Determining a real budget allows your professional designer, contractor to provide you with real options of what can and cannot be accomplished.
Step Three: Set a Realistic Timeline. There are many small details that have to be covered even before the first shovel of dirt moves or and the first paver is in place. If you need the project done for a specific event, let your contractor know immediately. Don’t forget to build in a little extra time for delays – the weather in Madison WI can pose a problem.
Hardscape Planning Requires Experience
Once the first three steps are completed the real “sharp pencil” planning begins. You know what you want, what you can afford to pay and when you want the paver projects completed. Now’s the time to have a professional review the following:
- Leveling the site to correct drainage issues and provide for proper water movement — elevation changes will impact water movement – drainage and runoff can be serious problems (water in basement, etc)
- Determine where the underground utilities are and if they impact the plan
- An engineer may be need to decide if you need supporting walls to accommodate changes in contour
- Review all local and county building codes and regulations — code violations are hard to fix. Example: putting fire pits too close to house the can be no closer than 17 feet from structure in the Madison WI area
- Understand who will draw the required permits and arrange for all inspections, etc.
An additional action that should be handled by the homeowner is to share your plans with neighbors. There may be access issues where your contractor will have to travel on a neighbor’s property and permission must be obtained in advance. Plus, it’s just neighborly to alert them of increased noise and potential dust and dirt before the project is complete.
When the Project is Complete, Your Job Begins
When the last paver is set the project is only partly done. There will be ongoing maintenance for any paver projects. Keep that in mind during the hardscape planning process – select paving materials, plants and other elements that fit our desired level of maintenance.
All landscape projects whether they include plants, hardscape or a combination require a commitment of time to keep them looking their best. Combining attention to details in both green and hardscape planning will provide a much more pleasing, longer lasting and satisfying project. Consider colors, styles, shapes and sizes as your work your plan.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
While magazines and TV shows make installing brick and stone pavers look quick and easy, it’s not. Many do-it-yourselfers make costly mistakes that can be avoided. Before you venture into paver projects of on your own, consider these common mistakes:
- Underestimating the skill it takes to complete a project – overestimating the skill, resources and time you have available (with TIME being the most overlooked component). Craftsmanship is built upon experience plus skill, the right tools and knowing how to combine them.
- Incomplete planning – all the elements referenced here need to be a part of your hardscape planning. Simple design elements like poor balance between hard lines and curves, hard materials and plants all play a role. One mistake with building codes can be a backbreaker.
- Not evaluating a variety of brick and block options before making a decision on a project that will last a long, long time. Does your chosen material look good on a path but won’t stand up to heavy traffic? Better to know ahead of time. Hint: if you can, inspect samples of more than one paver of a given type so you see a larger picture and look at them outdoors in natural light.
- – No matter which type of paver you choose, it won’t last forever. Some wear faster than others. Hint: Protect your investment with a quality sealant. Sealed pavers resist moisture and stains better so they’re easier to clean. Sealing also helps hold the original color longer – some have color enhancement material as well.
Make the Most of Your Paver Projects, Avoid Costly Mistakes
Contact Marvin Martinez at Martin’s Brick Pavers, 608-630-8855 or email us at www.marvinsbrickpavers.com for professional ideas to for creative installations and detailed, trusted hardscape planning in Madison WI and throughout Dane County.