We built our house in stages. We did not want a mortgage. The house we were living in was too small, but it was paid for. We had the acreage, and decided to build our new house closer to the lake. The first year we only had the frame and outer shell. The second year we finished the walls, floors, plumbing and electrical. We did not hire a driveway asphalt contractor until we had been living in the house for about two years. We just had a nice gravel driveway. Our neighbors had concrete and really fancy landscaping. They also had huge mortgage payments. We had a house on the lake that was new and affordable for our budget. We had the old cottage house we lived in before torn down. It is now our front lawn facing the road.
When you live on the lake, the back of your house is really the front for all intents and purposes. Sure, the side facing the road is where you put your front door and mailbox, but all of the best scenery and activity for your family and guests is on the side of the house facing the lake. It is the side with the biggest windows and the huge deck. It is where our boat dock is at, and it is where we have our barbecues and evening gatherings around the fire pit. The driveway asphalt contractor made the front of our home look much nicer with the nice driveway that was installed. It does look a whole lot better than the gravel.
However, we put in all the stuff out back before we finished the driveway. The boat dock, deck and fire pit were considered more of a necessity than replacing the gravel driveway with asphalt. The driveway was actually the last thing we had done that now makes us consider the house finished. It is nice to have everything done and not have a mortgage.