Before You Buy That House on a Pipestem Driveway



Have you found your dream home but shares a driveway with one or more other houses? This arrangement is called a pipestem driveway. It is a private road with two or more driveways branching off the road. Before you buy a home on a pipestem drive, there are a number of issues you should be aware of.

For starters, the pipestem is a private road. That means the city/county is not responsible for its maintenance, nor can city services like trash pickup or snow plowing, travel on the private road. To the city, your pipestem driveway is the same as any other driveway that connects to a public road. So, at the heart of it, your ability to leave and return to your home depends on how well and how effectively you and the other homeowners on the pipestem, maintain and use it. And that can come with an element of risk you wouldn’t be exposed to with a traditional driveway paving Company.

The Ins and Outs of Living on a Pipestem Driveway

There are a number of advantages to living on a pipestem but there are also situations that could become contentious issues with neighbors, or even your own family. Buying a house is the largest single investment most families will make. Driveways are rarely considered as part of the buying decision but that all changes with a pipestem drive. Here are a few items buyers should take into consideration:

  • No Traffic. Especially important to families with small children, as private roads, pipestem drives have no public traffic creating a much safer area to play. The only vehicles on your pipestem will belong to neighbors, guests, and delivery services.
  • Privacy. When you don’t have traffic buzzing past the front of your house, it’s possible to create a peaceful, quiet environment that feels private. The front porch can become just as enjoyable as the deck in the back.
  • Sense of Community. By necessity you’ll be more engaged with your pipestem neighbors than you may be living on a public street. Living on a pipestem requires neighbor cooperation as we will discuss later.
  • A Safer Start to Your Day. This may seem to be a small issue, but it isn’t. A pipestem that is off a busy public road, particularly in the morning and late afternoon, has a distinct advantage over homes with drives directly connecting to the street. Homes on the public road will be backing down their driveways into heavy traffic. That nerve racking experience is not the best way to start your daily commute. Homeowners on a pipestem drive will be pulling into traffic, a much safer and less stressful maneuver.

And now for the “outs.”

  • The Agreement. Obviously sharing a driveway means you are going to have to share responsibility for it and agree on how it is used. Agreements, and most pipestem drives will have some kind of recorded document, run from simple to complex. Get a copy of whatever is available. If it’s possible, talk to one of the neighbors about what their understanding is. For sure, talk to the seller on driveway maintenance costs. Look to the condition of the other homes on the pipestem. If they are well maintained, you probably won’t have any problems but all it takes is one to make the arrangement a deal breaker. If you buy, record an easement. You’ll want this when it comes time to sell.
  • Maintenance. This is another area that may be more of a mutual agreement than a written obligation. Small (two or three home) drives are more likely to have informal agreements on snow removal and driveway repair. Larger pipestem drives may have annual contributions to an escrow account to have the work done professionally.
  • Parking and Guests. Typically nobody parks on the pipestem. They park in their own drives and garages. But how is guest parking handled What do you do if you have a party and need space for four or five extra cars?
  • Trash Removal. The city isn’t going to drive up your pipestem. This means you’ll need to bring your trash container to the curb on the public street. That can be a challenge if you live on a long drive or one on a steep hill.
  • Mail. Like the trash service, the USPS is not going to deliver mail to your home. Mailboxes are usually at the curb of the public street.

When you consider buying a home on a pipestem, take the time to get fully informed about the shared property that you will be using every day. A pipestem home can be a piece of paradise or a major quality of life issue. If you need asphalt paving contractor then standard paving can be the best.

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