How Narrow Can My Driveway Design Be?


(New York)

You say in your website that driveway width should be 9-12 feet. Is there any reason a driveway could not be any narrower, say 8 3/4 feet, or is that getting too narrow? What kind of issues are you creating if the driveway is too narrow even if the cars can pass through?


Our driveway is 8 3/4 feet at the very back of the house but is about 10 feet further down. Would there still be adequate rooms for cars to get through if most of the driveway were 8 3/4 feet? We're considering repaving and relandscaping.
Thank you.

ANSWER

Sure, 8 3/4' would be fine. You are only talking about a 3 inch difference. To help you visualize the space better, a standard parking space (as at a mall, Doctor's office, etc.) is 9' wide by 18' long. So by making your driveway 8 3/4' wide you are only taking off 1 1/2" on either side.

In addition, those parking spaces are made to allow for cars parking right next to each other. If you have open space on either side, such as lawn or low plantings, it won't make any difference at all. Good luck!

Thanks for visiting my website.

Regards,
Susan

Response

Thanks Susan for your thoughts. What if there was a fence on one side. Are
you potentially creating problems as to narrowness with a 8 3/4' width of
driveway?

ANSWER

This should still be ok. The fence should not be up against the driveway anyway...it should be set back a bit for some breathing room. Is the driveway up against your property line and the fence exactly at the driveway edge, or do you have room to set the fence back at least a foot or two?

Susan

Response

Yes, the driveway is on the property line. I am not proposing to put up the fence but my neighbor is. They are asking that I narrow my driveway because they say that it is partially on their property.

There is a hedge right along the property line now and they are saying that they plan to remove the hedge and put up a fence. There is definitely not room to set the fence back
a foot or two on my property. For sufficient room for car doors and other issues, do you think that the fence really should be set back a foot or two away from the edge of the driveway?

I would like to convince them that it will not work for me if they put up a fence right on the property line that it seems will box me in to a great extent.
Thanks.

ANSWER

I think it might feel a little squeezed. Also, I never like any type of hard structure right at the driveway edge. It's a very hard look. And it might be difficult for passenger to get out of the car on the fence side without the car door hitting the fence.

How long has the driveway been like this for? I don't know where you live but in certain states, if it is after so many years (I think seven), you have the right to keep it there.

I once bought a house and when the survey was done, it showed that my neighbor had widened his driveway onto my property. They did not do it on purpose, it is just that the property line angled. My lawyer stipulated that this would never revert to being their property. This was in NY state. In your case it is opposite. Do you know how long it's been there for and what the legalities are?

Susan


Response

I agree. We didn't make any of the changes to the driveway, our predecessor owner did (probably because she thought it was a little too squeezed to begin with or maybe she didn't even do it on purpose). We're right under the 10 year mark which in NY I believe is the relevant period.

You mentioned seven years but I'm not aware that it was ever 7 in NY. I see that you were in NY as well. Stipulating that it will never revert to being their property isn't a bad idea, but then can't a later owner on your neighbor's property bring a lawsuit against you, and doesn't that create concerns in terms of uncertainty and the value of your property?


ANSWER

I might very well be mistaken about the seven years. It was a very long time ago.

It would probably be best to consult an attorney. This is important. You need to know if you are required to do as they ask, if you can make the stipulation I mentioned (I assume that depends on the time frame), and also what kind of paperwork can the attorney provide so that it would satisfy any potential home buyers down the road.

That's what I
would do.

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
Helen, Ontario-Canada 

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