Mystery of the ‘mud-jacked’ driveway

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Q: My cement driveway is about 25 years old and certain spots became "mud-jacked" about nine years ago due to "settling." It is settling again in some areas and I’m wondering whether I should spot fix it again or redo the whole driveway and while at it make sure the foundation (adequate rebar, gravel etc.) is set up right. What’s your advice?

A: Whenever I hear about the same problem occurring twice, I’m almost always in favor of doing some additional investigation, and that would be my thoughts in your case as well. It sounds like there might be some groundwater problems, poor compaction or other issues that are going on under the slab, and I’d want to get those looked at before proceeding with another repair.

Before tearing up the entire driveway, you might want to dig up the areas that are settling and then have an experienced, licensed excavator or concrete contractor come out and take a look at things. They may be able to do a little additional digging and investigative work and determine what’s causing the settling, and if it’s an isolated condition you may still be able to make repairs rather than doing a complete replacement.

If you opt for a complete replacement of the driveway, talk to the contractors about what your options are. In addition to concrete, you might want to consider paving stones or some other material that allows for greater expansion and contraction, as well as being more resistant to freeze/thaw cycles.

Q: I plan to sell my home soon. Is it worth investing in a "sunroom" patio off the master bedroom in order to increase my per-square-foot sales price? It will be engineered, have a permit, and be approximately 400 square feet.

A: Whether or not it’s worth the investment depends on the current value of the house and what’s happening with other comparable homes in your area that are up for sale, but my gut instinct is that it probably wouldn’t be worth it. However, since this is being done strictly for resale value, I would suggest that you talk with a local real estate agent and see how many homes in your area and in your price range are equipped with these types of sunrooms; look at how much the addition will cost; and then see whether the agent feels you will recoup your investment. …CONTINUED

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