Can (And Should) You Pave Your Campground's Trails Yourself?

If you've recently purchased some wooded acreage with waterfront access and dream of setting up a campground or cabin rental site, you may feel overwhelmed at the amount of work that awaits you -- from plumbing and wiring multiple cabin building sites and arranging for construction to paving your parking lots and driveways with asphalt or concrete that will be able to stand up to boat trailers and heavy-duty trucks with minimal maintenance. In many cases, performing as much of this work yourself with the use of industrial rental equipment and volunteer manpower may be your most cost-effective option to get your land into rentable condition. Read on to learn more about some of the equipment and supplies you'll need to perform the paving process yourself, as well as the factors you'll want to consider when deciding whether this is an efficient use of your time and money.

What equipment will you need to pave an asphalt or concrete road?

  • Excavator

An excavator or skid steer will help you prepare the area -- excavating it to a uniform depth and compressing the sand and/or crushed rock that will underlie the asphalt's surface. Even if you already have a gravel driveway or parking lot in place, performing this step and allowing the sand or gravel enough time to settle naturally will ensure a more solid base for your driveway, minimizing your risk of cracks and potholes.

  • Asphalt mixer

Both hot mix and cold mix asphalt must be mixed and kept at a constant temperature before being poured and spread on the sand or crushed rock base of your driveway. The most efficient way to accomplish this is by renting an asphalt mixer that can keep the asphalt warm and viscous, allowing for an easy pouring and spreading process. This is especially useful if you're using hot mix asphalt or pouring your driveway during spring, fall, or winter when outside temperatures can quickly cool the hot asphalt and make it less pliable.

  • Twin drum roller

The key to a long-lasting asphalt driveway that isn't prone to pitting or potholes is to compress it quickly after it's been poured. This is all but impossible to accomplish without the use of a heavy-duty twin drum roller that can uniformly and effectively crush the surface before it cools. Your rental of a twin drum roller should be a short-term one, as compressing your driveway or parking lot will be a relatively quick process when compared to preparing the area and pouring the asphalt.

What should you consider when deciding whether to undertake this project on your own?

Even when paying equipment rental rates that include insurance and fuel surcharges and full price (rather than wholesale) for your materials and supplies, prepping and paving your asphalt surfaces yourself rather than relying on a contractor can save you a significant amount of money. However, those without much experience in heavy equipment operation may struggle when it comes to actually performing these tasks, as well as running the risk of making a structural mistake that isn't detected until it's too late to be repaired.

If you have some contracting or paving experience in your past or the assistance of a friend or family member who does, you should be able to handle this project yourself. It can be a time-consuming prospect that will take you away from your full-time job for at least a week or two, so you'll also want to consider the amount of workplace flexibility you have (or, if you work on a commission basis, how much potential income you could lose) when making your decision.