Written by: Andrew Goodman
Questions: What should I consider before buying a home off of a pipestem or shared driveway?
A pipestem or shared driveway is a private driveway off of a public street that two or more home driveways branch off of.
When looking to purchase a home with this kind of driveway, most buyers don’t even consider the implications the driveway may have. Pipestem driveways can be great if handled correctly. However, here are some things to consider before buying a home with one:
Neighbors: When living on a pipestem or shared driveway, you must get along with your neighbors. There are a lot of issues that are understood but not always in writing with a shared driveway. When neighbors get along, it makes things so much easier. Pipestem driveways usually have a recorded maintenance agreement, which clarifies most things.
Snow Removal: When living off of a pipestem or shared driveway, or any private road for that matter, the owners off of that road are typically responsible for maintaining the road. Therefore, snow removal becomes a popular topic if it’s not covered in any agreements.
So going back to my comment about getting along with your neighbors above, you and your neighbors must decide who is going to plow the driveway. The owner of the house farthest from the public street normally is the one at a loss because he or she has the farthest to go to get to the street. Therefore that homeowner ends up having to clean at least part of the driveway to get out. Don’t forget: The first person who has to leave after a snowfall gets to take a stab at plowing or shoveling first.
Trash Removal: Trash removal is also an issue as you are not just taking your trash to be picked up at the end of your driveway, but rather to the end of your pipestem driveway. Obviously, it’s not big deal if the pipestem driveway is short. But if you’re dealing with a quarter-mile driveway that goes uphill, it may make you regret your decision.
Parking: With this kind driveway, guest parking can be an issue.
Normally, your personal driveway off of the shared driveway is large enough to fit your own vehicles. However, when you have that family barebecue with 20 guests, where are they going to park? At the end of the pipestem driveway? Or on your or a neighbor’s lawn? Parking can become a real issue depending on the length and style of the driveway.
Traffic: I do have to say: With a pipestem or shared driveway you typically see less traffic. The only traffic going up and down the driveway is your neighbor. This sets up a nice, quiet area for you and your family to enjoy off of the beaten path. It also gives kids an area to run around and play in without having to worry about unnecessary traffic.
I mentioned several negatives here about pipestem and shared driveways.
I do want to mention that many owners love living off their driveways, especially being off of the public street with less traffic. Neighbors are a big factor when considering one, but if you have the right neighbors, a pipestem or shared driveway could work out just fine.