Q. We are purchasing a house in a nice new subdivision, but the house is at the lower end of a cul-de-sac. I have a friend who is the friend of a home inspector, and he told me the street could cause problems for the home. He did not elaborate, so I thought maybe you could tell me what problems I could be buying into.
A. What your friend's friend was talking about is "street creep." When a building's driveway is located on the end of a cul-de-sac, on a curve or the end of a T-intersection, normal traffic along with gravity can push against the driveway. The driveway might crack and buckle, or it may push against the garage floor, eventually shoving the garage off its foundation.
Where does all this force come from? First, gravity will cause a street to creep if the street is on an incline toward the home. Second, the normal flow of traffic passing by the home forces the street to creep in the direction of the traffic. The heavier the vehicle, the more it will push on the street, kind of like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube.
The simplest remedy for street creep is to install a buffer zone between the street and the driveway. There are companies that will install additional expansion joints or larger expansion joints to prevent the creep.
In the past I have recommended to clients that they remove the first 4 to 6 feet of the driveway and install concrete or brick pavers set in a bed of sand. The pavers will move as the street moves, and the pavers can be easily removed and reset as needed. The pavers provide an attractive entrance and protect the driveway from damage.
• Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at email@example.com.
Scripps Howard News Service