What most new, aspiring, and even longtime homeowners don’t know is that, in many cases, they are responsible for replacing the sidewalk slabs in front of their homes when broken. This can be a headache, and a costly one if repairs are done by an expensive or dishonest professional service.

a broken concrete pedestrian walkway

Here’s a some common questions referring to sidewalk slab repairs, and answers to get you going in a sensible direction.

When do I need to replace a slab?

Different cities have different rules regarding the quality of sidewalks, but slabs should certainly be replaced if they cause problems for movement-impaired people. If a slab is very off-level with its neighboring slabs, or if it sustains a large and treacherous crack, consider replacing it to help neighbors and avoid nasty lawsuits.

Who should replace a broken slab?

This is up to the discretion and handiness of the homeowner.

Many handy people have success and save money when replacing concrete slabs on their own, but there are many professional services to replace slabs for you. Online estimates for DIY and professional repair vary greatly depending on the quality of tools and materials that are purchased/rented, but most place the cost of a DIY repair at around $4 per square foot, compared to the professional estimate of around $7 per square foot. This may sound inconsequential, but in some cases, you can save half of your potential money spent based on this price difference.

Where can I learn the process of fixing a sidewalk slab?

There are plenty of DIY videos and articles online that will walk you through a successful repair step-by-step.

Can I do this repair at any time?

When cutting off a piece of sidewalk from your neighborhood, you may need permits. Additionally, your local government may require inspections once work is complete. Check the rules that pertain to your neighborhood with a quick online search, and avoid confrontation with city officials and neighbors.

If no one’s asking, why should I repair my sidewalk at all?

Aside from the ethics of maintaining your piece of the public walkway, a broken sidewalk slab has other consequences. Property values may fall in relation to broken slabs and reduced curb appeal. Your young kids may slip on their scooters and skateboards when riding over big cracks. Also, shoveling snow and snow-blowing in the winter proves much easier with a level and smooth stretch of sidewalk.