What factors influence the cost of driveway removal?

If your property has an old-style concrete driveway and it has seen better days, then a new surface might be something that you are thinking about investing in. This means the old concrete driveway will need to be broken up and removed so how much does it cost to remove a concrete driveway and how much will this add to the overall cost of the project?

There are a number of different factors which can impact the final concrete driveway removal cost and these include:-

  • The size of the area
  • The depth of the concrete – the standard thickness for a concrete driveway is 4”
  • The disposal of the waste which can be highly labour intensive
  • Size of skip required and length of time it is on hire
  • Whether the concrete is reinforced or not, special tools are required to remove reinforced concrete, and this can double the cost
  • Where you live in the UK – London and the Southeast are more expensive

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What is the process of removing a concrete driveway?

Before work starts, the driveway needs to be clear of debris and inspected for the presence of pipes or underground cables.

Removing a concrete driveway involves using a mix of tools both powered and manual. A jackhammer is a pneumatic hammer or drill that is both quick and efficient at breaking up concrete. Sometimes, a sledgehammer can be used to break the concrete up into smaller pieces to go into a skip. If a mini digger is required this will increase the concrete driveway removal costs.

Laying a new resin driveway on top of a concrete driveway

Avoiding the time and expense of removing an old concrete driveway is an option If the concrete is sound and secure and the surface has not deteriorated. It is possible to lay a new surface over the top of the old one, but you can’t do this with every type of driveway material.

Top of the list for ease and popularity is a resin driveway. Resin driveways not only look good and require little maintenance once they have been laid but they also provide some of the best traction for pedestrians and cars. Best of all, a resin driveway is usually laid on a tarmac or concrete sub-surface.

Don’t assume that your old concrete drive is going to be in the right condition or of sufficient depth but if it is, then that will save some money on the final bill. It is crucial that the sub-surface is of good enough quality and integrity otherwise the resin-bound aggregates will not bond properly and there will be a very expensive mess to sort out.

If you do intend to lay a fresh driveway on top of an existing concrete surface, then it is really important to find a reputable contractor who will give you the right advice. Resin aggregates laid on top of concrete need to be of a type which allow the concrete to breathe. Also, the concrete will first need to be sealed before the resin is laid.

How much does it cost to remove a concrete driveway vs adding an asphalt surface on top of an old concrete driveway

An asphalt driveway is only as good as the surface it is laid onto. It is possible to install new asphalt on top of an old concrete driveway, but the surface and integrity of the concrete must be very good.

Usually, asphalt is laid on excavated ground which is prepared with a layer of stone for drainage. If your concrete driveway is crumbling and cracking and this is why you want to replace it, then this is not usually a surface that would be good enough to act as a foundation for asphalt. The strength of the upper layer of asphalt comes from the base layer of concrete. Any problem with the concrete will almost always be reflected in the upper layer and will end up costing you more money in the long run.

Asphalt is permeable so water is designed to pass through it. When the water reaches the concrete layer, it will seep into any cracks, even very small ones that you can barely see. During the freeze and thaw cycle of winter, the water in the cracks will expand and so will the cracks. The concrete base will begin to move and affect the asphalt layer above it with cracks starting to appear on the surface.

The other problem is that your driveway is going to be higher than the ground around it, creating an edge or lip where the driveway meets the road or pavement edge and/or the steps into your home.

How to find the right driveway installer

If you are considering getting rid of an old concrete driveway you probably want to replace it with something different or better but finding the right contractor to remove the old concrete and then prepare and lay a new surface is not always easy.

Ask friends or family for a personal recommendation. Sometimes you may see a new driveway laid at a house in your neighbourhood and the contractors will leave a sign there or you could ask the owner of the property.

There are plenty of local community groups on social media where you can find a recommendation but make sure the person who is giving the recommendation has actually had that company work for them and is not just promoting a friend or family member.

Trader platforms are becoming an increasingly popular way to get a few quotes direct to your inbox by just inputting a little bit of data about where you are based and what kind of driveway you are looking for.

Always obtain at least three quotations – you will be surprised at the variation in price.

Questions to ask a new driveway contractor

  • How much will it cost to remove and dispose of the old concrete driveway?
  • Are there any problems with site access for a skip or grab lorry?
  • Will you be using pneumatic equipment which is noisy?
  • How long will it take to remove the old driveway?
  • What happens to the old concrete surface, is it recycled?
  • Are there any third-party costs associated with the removal of the concrete which do not appear on the quote?

Planning permission

There are no restrictions on removing a concrete driveway unless it has been designated with a special or listed status. Building protection legislation often includes the land around the property as well as the building itself. There are concrete buildings from the 1960s which are listed as being of architectural importance, but these are mostly commercial or public buildings not private dwellings.

However, planning permission may be relevant to the size of driveway you plan to install once the concrete has been removed and the type of material you intend to use.

Most planning regulations concern the impact of surface water runoff if you are choosing a new driveway material that is not permeable to avoid flooding issues for neighbouring properties.

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Funding the removal of a concrete driveway

Removing concrete is going to add between £1,000-£2,000 to the cost of a new surface. The new driveway costs will be on top of this unless you are reclaiming the area as a garden and even then, there will be some associated expense.

A new driveway is a very popular home improvement and can add between 5%-10% to the value of your home. A new driveway is the chance to choose an improved surface both in terms of aesthetic and perhaps size. A new driveway also adds kerb appeal as it is the first thing that a prospective buyer sees. If you live in an area where street parking is difficult or crowded, then a large driveway will always be a top priority for any house buyer.

Funding a project like this can be done from savings, raising capital on a home improvement loan, re-mortgage or equity release scheme or a combination of these. Some driveway installers will offer finance via a third-party company and it can be tempting to take this if you like the driveway quote and everything comes together as one package. However, always shop around for rates as you could find a better deal elsewhere.

So when wondering “how much does it cost to remove a concrete driveway?” remember that removing the old concrete surface yourself is one way to reduce the price but there will be costs associated with this such as the hire of machinery and equipment and a skip to take away the rubble.

If you decide to go for a different style of driveway to concrete, why not learn more about gravel grid driveways, brick driveways and Indian stone driveways.

An asphalt driveway is only as good as the surface it is laid onto. It is possible to install new asphalt on top of an old concrete driveway, but the surface and integrity of the concrete must be very good.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any options to avoid removing a concrete driveway?

Some new surfaces can be laid on top of an existing driveway so you could choose a surface which can use your old concrete driveway as a base. Much will depend upon the quality of the concrete; if it is cracked and crumbling then it is probably not going to adequately support a new material on top of it. Ask a driveway installer whether this is an option or whether there are any possible remediation steps that could be taken to improve your old concrete driveway.

How is concrete disposed of after removal?

Usually, a driveway company will hire in a skip to dispose of any waste surfaces or, if you are breaking up the concrete yourself, then you can hire a skip quite easily from a local contractor. If there is a large area and the slabs of concrete are quite big, then sometimes it is quicker to book a grab lorry to come out and pick it up; this saves having to break up the concrete into small pieces.

Can I remove a concrete driveway by myself?

How much does it cost to remove a concrete driveway myself? It can save money to remove the driveway yourself prior to installing a new one but you will require the right tools for the job. It’s essential to check that there are no services laid underneath the driveway before you start breaking it up.

I have bought a new house with a concrete driveway I just don’t like, it’s in perfect condition, why can’t I lay a new surface directly on top of it?

Even a concrete driveway that is in good condition is going to cause you problems if you don’t remove it first. If the driveway has been laid properly then it will have expansion joints every few metres. Expansion joints are designed to allow movement of the concrete surface to accommodate those inevitable changes in the weather and the freeze and thaw of water. If you lay asphalt over these joints, then this will create weak areas in the upper surface. When the concrete layer moves, this will cause disruption to the asphalt on top of it.

How is old concrete recycled?

Concrete can be recycled and reused in many ways. Usually, waste concrete is crushed or pulverised at a site as close as possible to the location it was removed from. Concrete can be used for new paving for walkways and driveways, as a base for new asphalt paving and as foundation material for trenches for underground utility lines. Crushed concrete can also replace some of the virgin aggregate used in ready-mix concrete.

Can the old concrete be crushed on site and used as a base for a new driveway?

Unless it is a very small area, it is unlikely to be economical to do this as this will only increase the concrete driveway removal cost due to the increased labour involved in the crushing process.

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

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. I’m also head of marketing and technical at Raindancer Ltd

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