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Small Cabin Forum / Properties / Cost of building road?
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Houska
Member
# Posted: 1 May 2018 14:33
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Hi there. Fairly new to this site, and zeroing in on a couple of potential properties to buy and build on in Ontario.

Can anyone give a ballpark figure for the cost of building/upgrading a private access "cottage road"? Of course it depends on a lot of stuff, but just so we can see if it's prohibitive or manageable.

On this specific property, there would be a choice of upgrading a ~3-4km old fire road (passable, cleared, graded, but narrow and no surface) or cutting a new ~1.5km driveway.

My gut tells me it's worth doing tolerably well (drainage, appropriate thickness of granular material) or leave as is, not do a half-assed job. But maybe that would make the whole thing out of any reasonable pricerange.

Thanks!

Houska
Member
# Posted: 1 May 2018 14:40
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And to be clear, referring to not just material but also labour. I did learn how to drive a skid-steer (Bobcat) in my 20s, and happy to level a small cabin lot, but this would be beyond my DIY level.

NorthwoodsGuy
Member
# Posted: 1 May 2018 15:58
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Hire a dozer- our guy did our entire driveway in one morning. We did clear all of the large trees for him first. Most of the cost is going to be in whatever material you put down. Around where we are, everyone just puts down ungraded dirt from the closest gravel pit.

Just
Member
# Posted: 1 May 2018 16:58
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6 in . Of stone x 8 feet wide = 10 $ a running ft.plus excavation and colverts.I would gess 7500$.. If there is free pit run around + trucking be a lot cheaper..

NorthwoodsGuy
Member
# Posted: 1 May 2018 17:27
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Yeah, that sounds about right. We were just north of $10 a foot if I remember right. 1 culvert.

Houska
Member
# Posted: 1 May 2018 17:58
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Muchas gracias!
Not cheap. $10/linear foot = $30000/km in stone costs alone.

snobdds
Member
# Posted: 1 May 2018 19:16
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Good roads have good ditches. Better to spend money on proper drainage than endless rock.

DaveBell
Member
# Posted: 1 May 2018 21:07
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Quoting: Houska
upgrading a ~3-4km old fire road


I'm almost 60 and I rent a Deere 310SJ backhoe. Learned how to use it with Youtube videos and reading the user manual. Saves labor $$. It has joy-sticks very easy to use. I would upgrade the fire road if the new road has too many trees. Digging up large stumps takes talent. Once that's done, you don't need to gravel the whole thing - just the bad spots, if any. I can share the highlights of using a backhoe if you like. Is the only problem with the fireroad it's width?

creeky
Member
# Posted: 1 May 2018 21:52
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I built my own road. Only 300 meters. On soft farm soil. So I had to use road tarp. Then 3" minus broken rock. Topped by a 5/8 road topper. My cost with the tarp was $4/ft. I did all the work myself with a tractor and a front end loader.

Take your time before starting a huge road project. Chances are that old fire road wanders for good reason.

As suggested, patching would at least give you time to figure out what's really happening seasonally. A dry shallow gully in late summer can be a raging torrent come spring.

Houska
Member
# Posted: 1 May 2018 22:49 - Edited by: Houska
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Quoting: DaveBell
I can share the highlights of using a backhoe if you like. Is the only problem with the fireroad it's width?

Thanks Dave, may take you up on that - once I've progressed a bit more on the whole program and have a pile of dirt to use the backhoe on

Not yet sure about state of the fire road. So far have only seen the property snow covered (plus pics and aerials). Trying to figure out exactly how insane I am to even consider this any further. Info I'm getting from this thread is "not cheap and don't underestimate it, but not certifiably insane either, and not as hard as it might look at first glance". Thanks again to everyone!

Mike 870
Member
# Posted: 2 May 2018 14:16
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Hey Houska, it can really vary depending on your terrain, soil presence of water etc. I have about $11,000 in my 3/4 mile road, but I've got hills a creek and 4 culverts. For a point of reference a 10 ton dump truck of stone is $300 USD delivered where I am. I have 7 loads on mine so far. Also my road was already cut in, So my cost paid for re-grading, culverts, ditching and surfacing. I have a couple videos on the subject that may give you an idea what I was dealing with. The 2nd video only the first half is about the road, hope this helps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcHQa2GQ-FQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i0217G8U88&t=59s

cspot
Member
# Posted: 3 May 2018 20:00
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Stone prices can vary widely depending upon your location. If you are 50 miles from the nearest quarry the haul cost gets expensive alone. Personally if you are interested in a property, I would get someone to take a quick look and give you a "rough" estimate. This would give you a better idea. I would also factor in maintenance costs over time. Depending upon terrain the 1.5 km would be cheaper to maintain. Would you be using this in the winter with snow removal concerns? That could get expensive as well.

Jim in NB
Member
# Posted: 7 May 2018 06:54
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Costs can vary significantly as close as projects 20 miles apart - biggest cost is trucking material. Key to any long term road project is drainage. Get water off and away from the road as quick as possible - good ditches and liberal use of off takes to get water out of the ditch into adjacent woods. Ensuring proper drainage will ensure the road stays as dry as possible which can permit use of pit run material in many cases and will minimize long term maintenance costs.

Houska
Member
# Posted: 7 May 2018 07:34
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Thanks everyone. Lots of good tips I'll have to remember if/when I actually build the road. Mike 870 - nice place! And great reminder by several of you that I should check about where people get material around here. Terrain could well mean someone has a gravel pit right around the corner....

Mike 870
Member
# Posted: 7 May 2018 21:41
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Thanks good luck and keep us posted when you get started!

Houska
Member
# Posted: 20 May 2018 07:16 - Edited by: Houska
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Update: have finally walked the property (now 3 times). Vendor is a nice pragmatic guy, started the tour not by showing me the little private lake or the wonderful view, but first took me to his sandpit and gravel pile. That's good news for road costs, as well that his pal Joey has a backhoe. Less good news is that the existing old fire road cuts across another property and my questions on legal ROW were answered as "I knew the guy before him and he didn't mind" and "you know, the lot lines have changed around here."

So before any deal can happen, my lawyer and his lawyer are having a bit of a chat, and someone may need to pay to get a survey done and that someone won't be me....

cspot
Member
# Posted: 21 May 2018 21:32
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Quoting: Houska
So before any deal can happen, my lawyer and his lawyer are having a bit of a chat, and someone may need to pay to get a survey done and that someone won't be me....



Very good idea. Whatever I did I would make sure you have legal access for the driveway. If there is a free gravel pit right there then that should keep the road costs down for sure. Let us know how it works out.

Houska
Member
# Posted: 12 Aug 2020 11:49 - Edited by: Houska
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So, an update. The land is ours, the legal stuff is sorted, and I now also own a 42 hp tractor + backhoe.

It's time to patch the existing road. Some can be done with the material on site: one pit of sandy loam with 10% gravel, one pit of clay. But I'm getting a few loads of what I'm ignorantly used to referring to as "gravel", but of course comes in different grades.

Some of the work is patching ruts and filling in low drainage areas. Some is topdressing areas that get mucky. More knowledgable folks, which would you do:

1. Get the local standby, Granular A, a mixture from 7/8" rock down to sand. Packs solid, used for lots of driveway building. I'd use it for all major road repairs, leaving the on-side sandy stuff for where I need other fill.

2. Use the on-site sandy loam/gravel mix for patching, and get 3/4" or 7/8" clear rock for topdressing and where need water to drain through. Slighly more expensive per load.

We may eventually rebuild the road more fully, but it's actually decent, so taking the advice of people above (and our wallets..) and patching first till we figure out precisely what we need.

Thanks!

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 12 Aug 2020 12:53
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The best roads are nothing with out proper ditching and run off areas. Since you own a backhoe the ditches are at the cost of fuel. Get your road high and dry. If you have to go across a real muddy area use road fabric then gravel. The fabric dosnt allow the gravel to mix with the native soils, thus you will need less gravel.

Nothing onsite is Ideal for building an actual road surface.

Ditches, ditches and more ditches. Keeping the water away from the driving surface keeps the road dry and dosnt allow for ruts to be formed.

Houska
Member
# Posted: 12 Aug 2020 14:09
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Thanks, already doing ditching, run-offs, replaced 2 small culverts, and added a couple of berms. That's how I'm learning to use the backhoe! (This is rocky Canadian Shield terrain, so sometimes there's nothing to ditch into, though...)

Any suggestions on type of gravel?

The fabric is an interesting idea; will explore. Thanks.

snobdds
Member
# Posted: 12 Aug 2020 16:13
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Fabric is only needed if you can't get the organic top layers of soil off the road bed. THen you lay fabric down to make sure the rock doesn't disappear into the mud. Then you want to lay some bigger rock, 3 inch type stuff, down to carry the load of the road. Then lay some crusher run (1 inch down to fines) to lock the road in. Then Lay some washed angular rock down as a top dressing. That is the proper way to make a road. If you are on shelf already, then proceed to the crusher run and top dressing.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 13 Aug 2020 07:07
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I'm not sure what rocky Canadian shield terain is.

Fabric works over clay too. That stuff can really eat up some gravel if it's not able to dry.

Last spring (a very wet one) I built a road through about 100ft of swamp. I used tree tops to bridge the wet area like a corduroy road then was able to drive the mini ex out on the wet area and dig ditches and place the dirt on the log road. Then I took about a month off to let dry. We then did fabric, 2in crushed (4in thick) then a gravel with fines( 2-3in thick) The same area I could walk on with out rubber boots now supports the 26klb truck with gravel in it. Theres pics of this in my build.

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