Cost Effective Driveways

Here are three of the most popular materials used to create cost-effective driveways based on two driveway sizes, small and large.

Material Small 30m2 Large 90m2
Gravel £1,200-£2,400 £3,600-£7,200
Resin £1,500-£2,400 £4,500-£7,200
Block paving £2,100-£3,000 £6,300-£9,000

Ideas for Low Cost Driveways

Driveways can be incredibly expensive. They are always a key focus as space for multiple vehicles is top priority for many homeowners plus, it is the first thing people see when they arrive at your home. Sometimes all the attention is on the price per square metre of different driveway materials, but materials often make up less than half of the overall spend. A cheaper material like block paving can end up costing a fortune as it needs to be laid by hand so labour costs will far outstrip a simpler and quicker surface like poured concrete.

If you choose a cheaper non—permeable material, then you may have to add the cost of additional drainage and a planning application. So, the way to find out which material to use for cost-effective driveways is to look at everything in the round.

Here are some ideas for low cost driveways.

  • A decent driveway doesn’t have to cost the earth so why not just use natural earth? Okay, this is actually earth mixed with aggregate for stability and then compacted with a machine. A central section is raised to encourage water runoff to the side and it is quite simple to install a small drainage channel to divert excess water away. This is simple enough for most householders to have a go at themselves too, but it is a driveway material that requires regular input and maintenance. This look is great for a rural or country property as it is natural and rustic
  • Gravel is another great DIY option, an affordable base product which most householders can manage to install themselves for their cost effective driveways. The base driveway needs to be dug down by a few inches and a geotextile added to stop the incursion of grass and weeds. Add your choice of gravel to the depth that you want, and you will have created a stable, long-term surface that drains well. Gravel needs to be topped up from time to time and does require regular raking to avoid bare patches, potholes and large accumulations or banks which can be hard to walk or drive over
  • Concrete and asphalt can be used if you just want to opt for a resurface. This involves pouring a new layer of material over the existing driveway and saves the expense of removing the old surface and laying a new sub-base. This is a good short-term solution perhaps, if you are just about to put the house on the market. However, it does have a number of drawbacks. The existing driveway which will act as your new base does need to be in very good condition with no cracks or crumbling. You may also need to carry out more regular repairs on your new surface. The level of your new driveway will also be higher than it was originally so this could impact the entrance from the road
  • Brick pavers – this driveway material is not usually associated with low cost because although the materials are moderately priced, they have to be laid by hand, so the labour charge is high. However, they do have a striking visual impact. You can reduce costs by laying the bricks on top of the old driveway surface if it is not cracked and is reasonably level. The bricks may need to be set in concrete rather than sand, but the results can be very visually appealing. There is a risk that the lower base could crack and start lifting or moving the bricks above it
  • Resin bound driveways are a mixture of resin and stone aggregate in a colour of your choice laid directly onto an asphalt base that itself has been poured over a layer of crushed stone for drainage. This not only looks good but will keep its good looks and practicality for an average of thirty years. Resin bound surfaces offer excellent value for money and little or no maintenance. You can create your own cost effective driveways by doing some of the preparation work yourself which includes digging up your existing driveway and levelling it off. You can do this before the contractor arrives, but you will need to agree to this with them, and they will probably need to make sure that the excavation is up to standard as it will impact what they do and could affect the final result. You can also lower the cost of a resin bound driveway by choosing a cheaper stone

Reducing the cost of a new driveway

There are several things you can do to lower the cost of a new driveway and these include:-

  • Reduce the size/area of the driveway
  • Plan the project in instalments – if you are choosing a surface that may be hard to match or won’t match because of age-related weathering then this can be planned into the design so that the different sections complement one another and don’t look odd
  • Remove the old driveway yourself. This saves labour costs and will make a difference but factor in the cost of skip hire and maybe the rental of pneumatic tools if you need to break up a stubborn surface. Always check for cables and pipe runs before you start work otherwise it can be a very costly exercise
  • Change to a cheaper material, pattern imprinted (read: cost of imprinted concrete driveways ), or stamped concrete (read: stamped concrete driveway cost) can very effectively mimic the look of a much more expensive surface
  • Use a cheaper surface in areas that you can’t see so well or around the edges where cars don’t go
  • Add in lighting later on, just remember if you want hidden cabling then this must be installed at the time
  • Choose a permeable driveway surface to remove the need for extra drainage and a fee for planning permission
  • Make the site as clear and accessible as possible as this will save the contractor time which impacts on the labour bill

Avoiding planning permission and professional fees

Using a non-permeable surface will add additional cost to your final bill. Non-permeable surfaces require planning permission and the installation of additional drainage to manage the surface water run-off.

A dropped kerb or an extension to a dropped kerb will also require planning permission irrespective of the surface of the driveway you choose. This is unavoidable if the kerb by the road needs to be altered.

Paying for a new driveway

Most people pay for their new driveway using savings or finance or a mixture of the two. Your driveway installer may have a partnership with a third-party organisation and could be keen to offer you finance to help seal the deal. It is tidy to wrap up the quote and finance together, but you may find a better rate elsewhere if you just spend a little time looking. These finance deals are subject to all the usual rules on status and credit checks.

Homeowners with equity in their property can raise funds via equity release or a home improvement loan if they wish to improve their driveway. The lender will need to satisfy themselves on the question of affordability but as the repayments are spread over the remaining term of the mortgage, then this can be a very cost-effective way to manage the expense of a new driveway.

Re-mortgages to a new lender are an opportunity to release equity and raise money without a house move. This is another popular way to generate funds for home improvements.

Hidden costs – care and repair

Some of the cheaper and more cost-effective surfaces require more ongoing maintenance once they have been laid. Sometimes, this is just a question of putting in a bit of effort yourself rather than dipping your hand in your pocket. Spend could be small and incremental like weed killer if you have opted to install a driveway without a geotextile to save money.

However, some driveways like gravel can become an ongoing burden as the gravel requires regular raking because it will constantly scatter and disperse through the movement of vehicles. This causes bald patches, potholes and banks of gravel which can be hard to walk or drive over. Gravel driveways also require stone top ups from time to time as even with good maintenance, stone will be lost.

A poorly installed concrete driveway can crack and crumble and this is expensive to patch and repair.

Lowering the quotation

If you have found the installer of your dreams and a quote that is not quite under budget, then ask your contractor if there are any ways you can lower the cost without impacting on the overall quality. There may be ways that you can shave costs which you haven’t thought of which are not apparent on the face of the quote, but can help create low cost driveways.

Checkout this short video explaining factors and costs involved in installing a driveway:

For more information on the materials commonly used for cost effective driveways, why not learn more about asphalt driveways for a hand laid stone effect, stamped concrete driveways for more patterned effects, or gravel grid driveways for reasonable costs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most cost effective of all the driveway materials?

Resin bound is probably the driveway surface that offers the best value for money whilst having no significant drawbacks. It isn’t the cheapest material available, but it is probably the most cost-effective one, that will look the best for the longest and require the least amount of maintenance and repair.

Why are driveways more expensive in towns and cities and in the Southeast?

Most of the spend on a new driveway is made up of the labour costs and labour rates are high in large cities and urban areas and also in London and the Southeast to reflect the cost of living.

Why did the drainage regulations change in 2007?

Increasing severe weather events in the UK attributed to climate change brought about a revision of the drainage provision, both for new build projects and existing homes. This was to encourage homeowners to use a permeable driveway surface or make provision for drainage to ensure that excess water was directed into a soakaway or lawn or flower bed on the property rather than into the public drain. The regulations are referred to as SuDS which stands for Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems. It is not unusual to see driveway materials advertised as SuDS compliant. However, always make your own enquiries about planning permission if you are not sure as there may be some specific features of your site which means it is still necessary.

By how much will a new driveway improve the value of my house?

Even a cost-effective driveway will uplift the value of your property by between 5%-10% providing it has been professionally laid on a stable and well-prepared surface. Space for cars is so important these days that in areas where there is little or restricted on-street parking, some estate agents will tell you that the increase could be as much as 20%.


Paul Robinson
Hi I'm Paul. After years in the mathematical field, I went on to help rescue a flooring and driveways company and spent 10 years building the company. I’m a property expert with extensive driveway and home improvement industry knowledge.
Mike Alexander
Hey there, I'm Mike - writer and part time home improvement expert at Refurbb. Since owning and refurbishing my own property in 2018, I've since been developing rental properties, writing about my home improvement endeavours, sharing what I've learned and connecting readers to reputable tradespeople in the UK.

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