Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Joys of Homeownership 

The house my partner and I moved into 3 months ago is wonderful in many ways, but one major headache lingers: we can't get our cars into the garage. It's a 2-storey house on a downslope from the street. The garage is on the upper floor, which is not exactly at street level, but 2 or 3 feet above street level at the end where the garage is. Because of the hillside, the setback from the edge of the street is only a dozen feet or so; thus the driveway is short and steep, and only a vehicle with a high ground clearance can get into the garage without scraping the bottom going over the edge from the driveway to the garage floor.

We just had the driveway rebuilt. When we bought the house, it was worse. One side had settled over the years since first built, leaving a vertical gap of 6 inches or so that had been patched with a filler slope of concrete. The new driveway is even on both sides, and fills in most of the dip at the edge of the street where the gutter was. So it's not as steep as it was, but it's still too steep for an average sedan, let alone any car set lower to the ground. Given the geometry of the situation--the street can't be moved, the house can't be moved--the new driveway is about as best as one could expect.

Nevertheless, geometry is academic if it means the cars sit out on the street getting dusty or rained upon. This is California, where we're obliged to take better care of our cars than that; it's in the contract. Yes, I suppose we could replace our cars with SUVs. What a good idea. Any other ideas, clever skiffy fans? Hydraulics to raise the cars a few inches just while entering and exiting the garage, perhaps? Some sort of ramp inside the garage to extend the slope of the driveway, to avoid that scraping edge when transitioning from slope to flat garage floor? Send all ideas to driveway@locusmag.com. Entrants who submit feasible ideas that we actually use that we haven't already thought of will receive special prizes.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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