Steep driveways are unique features with special requirements.

8 Issues of Steep Access | Keats Island

Steep Access Considerations

Abstract: Keats Island Home Inspection notes on a recreational property with a steep driveway approach. What will be the resulting issues for the buyers?


Buyer Advantage

In general, I have found that the majority of buyers will not consider a property with a steep driveway. As such, the seller will likely be more flexible on price. For the buyer that can look beyond this issue and to the value of the house on the site, there may be pleasant market discount.


Winter Access

We do have snow in winter. It may not be long-lasting but it will certainly be there. So for a period of two to four weeks there could be snow on the ground. This may make the climb or descent unsafe, even in 4-wheel drive. Determine if there is an off-street parking space for your vehicle when the driveway is not useable. Also, be sure to consider foot traffic. A path with handrail would be ideal. Otherwise it may be a treacherous slip and slide hazard with snow and icy conditions.


Foot Traffic

Be realistic. How often do you plan to walk up and down the driveway? If you have mobility issues, then you could be trapped on either end and have to rely on a vehicle.  



You will likely need a vehicles to transport your family, friends, groceries, construction material and garbage. Decide what works. Will it be an car, truck, SUV, 4×4, golf cart, ATV, bike, electric bike, motorcycle or some combination? This really applies to all properties but we are talking here about a vehicle’s climbing ability as well as its braking capacity on the way down. Brakes and tires in good working order are essential. If you don’t want to do the work yourself, be sure to find out if there is a local mechanic available on the island!


Surface Material

An asphalt, concrete or paver stones driveway is best because they do not erode, or at least it erosion will be kept to a minimum. A gravel or dirt driveway will require annual maintenance as it will rut, washboard and become loose with material. That loose material will create lack of grip for traction, which may develop into a safety issue.



If you do not see any side diverter swales along the road or culverts under the road, then the road itself will be surface runoff drainage path during rain events. This only hastens the erosion of the surface layer and any road base compaction.


Parking at the Top

Take a look at the parking situation at the top. Is it adequate for the vehicle(s) you have in mind? In particular, look at the turn-around space. Will your vehicle be able to manage it? After all you are not going to back-down the driveway!


Shared Driveway

In some circumstances it may be a consideration to have a shared driveway. When we had our house in West Van, the drive was so steep that at one point the two adjacent properties shared a common one way loop. That way the parking was increased and the slope was decreased because it was shared over two lots.  


In conclusion, a steep driveway can be both unintentionally exciting and an attractive feature for any property. Just be sure to understand all the issues around it relating to weather, erosion, vehicle and pedestrian safety.