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Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find questions frequently asked.
If you still have a question feel free to contact us

About the Company

Do I receive everything in writing?

Always ask for everything in writing before work starts. Yes. No work would ever be started on any property without all aspects of the job, what the job entails full and final prices all agreed by both parties. This will firstly be put in writing as a free quote and then if the job is to be booked in it will all be transferred to an order form.

This is to protect you the customer.

In 2010 we came across a case (not the first time) where a customer refused our quotation in favour of a competitor’s verbal quotation. Our Price for the new driveway was £2500 inclusive of everything. There price was around 1800 the customer informs us. Six months later we learnt that, that was only labour and materials. Skips and VAT were not added and the final price was £3225.

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How long does it take to receive a free estimate?

Not long at all is the answer!. We don’t employ salesmen so it’s in our interest to work out the price as quickly and professionally as we can. Measuring up will take the time, plus five minutes to work it out.

The average estimate takes approximately 15 minutes.

Because all our estimators are salaried and NOT on commission feel free and take your time to ask all the questions you like.

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Do you use salesmen?

NO. We don’t employ any salesmen what so ever. All our staff are trades people or office workers and are all on annual salaries. We use some of the staff to double as fitters and estimators, this way giving you unique insight to how the job will be done.

Watch out for salesman, anybody saying they can ring their boss for a better a price, or sitting in your home for hours and hours. These are high pressure sales people usually on huge commissions.

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Do you have insurances?

Total Driveways Ltd are currently insured by Direct Line for up to £5000,000 on public and employers liabilities.

Employers and public Liabilities Insurance is a must for any company working on a customer’s property, by allowing a workman to start work in any capacity on your property without the relevant insurances, you are therefore making yourself liable to anything that should go wrong. Your home insurance will be no use to you if the contractor should say have an accident or hit a gas pipe while doing foundations. All costs would come back to you and this can easily run into thousands of pounds. So don’t take a gamble ask to see the correct insurances.

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How to spot a cowboy?

By far the best way to avoid a botched job on your home is to identify a cowboy builder before they even begin their "work". Being cautious at this point will save days, weeks, maybe even years of distress and misery in the future.

"I was working in the area and I noticed you’ve got a few loose tiles on your roof," is a classic opening line.

By following these simple steps you should be able to protect yourself from the cowboy traders.

  • Be specific and set out a detailed, clear brief when requesting quotes
  • Any reputable tradesman will provide clear estimations and costs, as well as a time frame, for each stage of the project. Cowboy builders will usually come up with an estimate from the top of their head and not be able to provide a specific breakdown of the figure
  • Don’t just go with the cheapest option; consider your ability to communicate with the firm and the quality of their work
  • Cowboy builders will commonly make a cheap quote but then charge extra for other vital work such as electrics, plastering, doors etc
  • Ensure that a written contract is signed by both parties. This will give you legal protection if anything goes wrong. Without one you won’t have much of a leg to stand on legally
  • Agree in writing any changes to the agreed contract value and ensure these are agreed in writing before the work is done
  • Be very wary of doorstep selling click on the link to see what South Tyneside Council suggest
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Can you give prices over the phone?

The true answer is not really. We really need to see the project to give you an estimate that is not only competitive but is also not going to change once the job starts. Although we do have prices per meter for most products, it can be be very different pricing a patio with bad drainage and split levels as opposed to a normal patio etc.

So the best thing is to not do too much guessing and let us take a look. You never know you might get some good ideas from us!

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Learn the difference between a drive clean and a professional drive clean. Its huge.

In the last ten years the UK has seen a huge boom in the sale of pressure washes on two separate fronts.

  1. Firstly the small household pressure washers that are sold at all the big DIY outlets were the first the start the boom. Suddenly everyone had one and everyone was cleaning their cars and decking etc. All of this is OK until it comes to cleaning paving.
  2. With the huge boom in power wash sales came the emergence of a drive cleaning business around every corner. Anyone with a van suddenly rushed out and bought a power wash and called themselves Professional Paving Cleaners!
  3. There are even websites that you can go on and within days buy a franchise and be out doing damage to paving yourself!. NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED!


This is not to say it cant be done safely and without long term structural damage to the sub base and the paving itself. But to do the job professionally you need a knowledge of paving and like all of our workers need to have been trained in what to watch out for.

This biggest problem when cleaning without a trained eye is structurally things can need fixed as you go, Blocks can move, flags can rock and come loose, integral pointing and motor can be blasted away and lost. The kiln dried sand should be removed and be replaced completely, on another day when the area is completely dry. A professional can handle easily all of the above and has the skills and tools to do so when required.

We very much doubt that a one man band who has spent £70 on a power wash, also has a compacting whacker plate on the van which can cost 500+. But the truth is it may well be needed. All our vans are fitted with every tool necessary and each team has a least one time served professional paviour.

The UK’s leading paving expert, states its critical when cleaning paving that it’s correctly handled. It also lists endless problems with cleaning paving done wrongly.

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About Driveways and Patio’s

Do i need planning permission?

From 1 October 2008 new rules apply for householders wanting to pave over their front gardens. Please note that the permitted development rights apply only to houses and not to flats. You will NOT need planning permission if a new driveway uses permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.

If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres planning permission will be needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not control rainwater running off onto roads.

The Legislation has been structured to deter homeowners applying for planning permission, causing them to consider alternatives such as permeable or porous paving, or a suitable suds-compliant drainage system rather than go through the rigmarole of paying 150 quid and waiting for up to 8 weeks to see if Planning Permission will be granted to install a pavement that discharges directly to the domestic drains or, in exceptional cases, onto a public highway. This all sounds more complicated than it actually is. Total Driveways will strive to direct all rainwater into professionally installed drainage systems. There for complying with legalisation and saving the hassle and money of planning permission.

Will my patio be affected? - No: the legislation applies only to paving and hard standing installed to the front garden, which legalese defines as being the "land between a wall forming the principal elevation of the dwelling house and a highway", which in everyday language means the area between front of the house and the public highway (footpath or carriageway), so rear garden patios, courtyards and access paving at the side of the house are not affected.

What if I’m only having my existing drive re-paved? - All paving and surfacing, whether it's new work, replacement, or extension, is subject to the new legislation, so even if you're only replacing your existing flags with a bit of block paving, the work will have to be installed in accordance with the new regulations.

I only want a simple path. Will this have to be permeable? - Not necessarily. The legislation only applies to installations of 5m or more, so a simple path that was just 5m long and 900-1000mm wide would be exempt.

Does paving need sealing after being laid down? - Sealing paving will bring about considerable benefits but ultimately it is a matter of preference. Many people find that after sealing, the paving will be protected against oil and other stains. Furthermore the fungicides found in the sealant may actually help prevent the growth of unwanted vegetation.

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What depth do you dig to?

They depths we go down too are different for driveways than they are for patios, below is a small insight into how we do things, please note that every job is different and some are straight forward and some are more complicated, below is just an outline and not exact on each job.?

When digging out a driveway, we always dig until we reach hard ground (clay). On each driveway this can vary but is usually around the 200-250mm mark. We always go a minimum of 200mm but prefer where possible to go to around 250mm which is around 9 - 10 inches. It is imperative that at this stage of the process that the depths and the sub - base are done correctly because if not, this is where sinking will occur. All Total Driveways sub bases are covered by a 5 year written warranty for your piece of mind. Additionally Total Driveways lift more drives per year than any other company in the North East repairing other companies’ faulty workmanship. To see our driveway repair page click here.?

The patio dig out doesn’t have to be as extensive and as deep as the driveway for the simple reason it will be for foot traffic only. This doesn’t mean that corners can be cut. Total Driveways take all their patios down to approximately 6 inches to allow for a suitable sub base to be constructed. Over the years we have seen and repaired some horrendous driveways and patios and the dig out and the sub base is where it has all went wrong. Not achieving the correct depths means not a enough aggregate can go in, where means the core strength in not there. Don’t be fooled by the cowboys, pick a company that will deliver a driveway or patio built to last.?

On small areas or on areas that access is restricted the area will be hand dug by the paving team assigned to your project. On medium to large areas a micro digger will be on site to do the majority of the labour. This will be of no extra cost to the customer and the micro digger and driver will be supervised at all times.?

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Sub base and laying

The first stage as the pictures show is taking the area to the correct depths by digging and breaking out the current surface to a depth of approx 250mm, then around 150mm of compacted hardcore is put in and compacted in levels so each section is as strong as the next. Once the hardcore is in and compacted the sharp sand is next and the screed begins to make sure that when the paving is laid there will be no dips or ruts. Finally the 60mm block is laid and whacked. The whole area is whacked when the kiln dried sand is inserted. Please note Total Driveways only use 60mm blocks on any area that a car will stand on, many companies still use 50mm but will feel long term they are not strong enough.?

For patios the depth is around 6 inches with 4 inches for the hardcore, compacted the same way. The flags are laid slightly different and laid on a semi dry screed which will bed them better.? All the joint on our patios are professionally pointed using the gio - fixing system. This system is available in grey or buff.?

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Boot kerbs, pin kerbs and retaining walls

Boot kerbs, pin kerbs and retaining walls are a huge but often overlooked part of driveways and patio construction. They bring core strength to the area and stop the paving sliding or loosening around the edges. In most cases the paving should be installed up to a solid retainer. When paving is laid without any retainers this is usually the part to have problems first.

Total Driveways include in all their quotes the use of adequate and needed kerbs or walls so the paved area is a strong and durable as possible.?

Flat Top Pin Edging

This driveway shows perfectly the benefits of flat top pin kerbs, a lot of installers would leave them out and haunch the side of the drive with concrete, not only is this extremely unsightly but simply not adequate. The concrete would eventually break down and the edge of the drive would start to slide.

Rope Top Kerbs

These rope top curves are essentially the same as the flat top kerbs and installed the same way. The only difference is the rope tops are more decorative and visually more appealing. They come in several different colours including charcoal, buff, and brindle and are often a popular choice around patios.?

High Rise & Low Rise Boot Kerbs

This is the most popular choice of kerbs for driveways, firstly because curved areas can be created and secondly these types of kerbs can be used to create matching features including steps etc. They are also set on concrete providing the strength and visually are designed to compliment any block paved or beamish cobble driveway. They are available in almost every colour and can be laid several ways to tackle most differences in heights.?

Retaining Walls

This Beamish cobble driveway was far too high at one end to allow for anything but a retaining wall, the height difference between the end of the drive and the garden was too much for conventional kerbs. The wall was installed and the driveway was laid much stronger because of it. Retaining walls are usually unnecessary on most projects and mainly used when area is on two or more split levels. To see the full beamish cobble installation and see why it had to be installed click here. Retaining walls can be built in any style using any colour; brick matching to your home or other walls is also available. For more on retaining walls and garden walls click here

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Drainage and Manhole covers

Drainage is arguably the most important aspect of any paving project, what’s the point of a fabulous driveway or patio if it keeps flooding or pooling. Pooling against the house or garden walls can cause expensive and irreversible damage. Due to the new driveway regulations from 2008 you would need to apply for planning permission if your new driveway didn’t have adequate and correct drainage.

Please note not every company are experts in current drainage regulations and some don’t bother at all. This will cause you major headaches and problems with the authorities further down the line.

All driveways should have a slight fall or gradient, however slight and not noticeable by the naked eye, this is required to allow rain water to flow away. If the fall is towards the street the aco storm drains would be installed across the front of the drive to stop water entering the public highway.

If the fall is towards the house or garage the same drains would be installed in front of the garage or the house. This is a must to avoid damage to the garage floor. Aco drains are available in Black plastic or chrome metal.

Metal manhole covers are the ugliest item in anyone’s garden or driveway, a metal drainage entry point but not exactly complimentary to your garden.?

Nowadays we have inset manhole trays so the cast iron covers are removed and replaced and paved with the new modern insets. They are perfectly accessible by utility authorities and can be paved so there hardly noticeable.?

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