Driveways - the new front door

Kerb appeal is the traditional watchword for homeowners who want to sell their properties - and that means that your front entrance should be welcoming and appealing.

But these days, notes Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, increasing numbers of homes are hidden behind six-foot walls so any visitor's first glimpse of your home is the entrance gates and driveway instead of the front door.

"And for many sellers that could be a problem. While developers nowadays pay more attention to driveways, especially in high-density complexes where they form part of the hard landscaping, older properties often have ill-defined examples.

"Sometimes they are little more than two dusty tracks with an unruly 'middelmannetjie' or a dull expanse of concrete with weeds growing in the cracks."

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, he offers the following ideas to upgrade your driveway if you want to increase the value of your property or make it more appealing to buyers:

A layer of gravel is probably the cheapest option and can look neat if edged by bricks or concrete to contain the stones. It needs a fair degree of maintenance.

Tar and concrete may be visually unappealing, but both are durable and can be enhanced by creating an "avenue" of large shrubs or small trees along the verges. Strategically placed pots with bright annuals are also a quick fix to make a dreary stretch of concrete or tar look more inviting.

Crazy paving is not beyond the scope of the average handyman and is a cost-effective option if you can lay your hands on a sufficient supply of broken bricks.

More expensive options include neatly laid bricks, pavers and decorative surfaces laid by contractors specialising in hard landscaping.

"But whatever you choose," says Everitt, "remember that it pays to match the style of the driveway to the style of your house and that all surfaces require a measure of maintenance, even if it is just an occasional sweep."
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