Listening: Fur Coat Blues by Jamestown Revival
Weather: Rain. More Rain.
Words: Explore your questions.
Having done this three times now, I think that one of the most exciting days in building a new home is the first day you (finally) move dirt. There’s something exciting (and maybe a little bit scary) about making that first cut into untouched land – and it’s one of the first times you can really visualize your new space.
And, by that point in the process, there is typically a lot of built up anticipation and eagerness to actually start construction, especially after the long weeks of planning every little detail..
Since our building site is at the bottom of a very steep, very treacherous, and very wooded hill, we had a lot of clearing to do before we could even get to this point. I pouted every time JR cut down a tree, and huffed and puffed when had to move the driveway location because the county wouldn’t work with us. As you know, we had tons of weather delays. Rain and mud don’t mesh with construction and bulldozers.
When you really think about the amount of coordination it takes, as an owner-builder especially, to juggle contractors, weather, equipment availability of both, and the fact that everyone was in the exact same boat as us, it’s a wonder we ever got started. Any time the weather would chill out for JUST. A. SECOND., we were battling to get our names moved up on the list of our contractors.
JR did a lot of the early clearing work for the driveway and build site. In those cold winter months, he’d bundle up and disappear for hours with his chain saw. Most of the time and effort was spent knocking down the big trees in hopes of saving some billable hours for our excavator.
In our many hours walking the land and getting to know all of the little nuances, we discovered that there are several natural springs scattered over our 50 acres. Ultimately, we think that’s AWESOME. But, it did cause an issue or two because there are a couple of places in the driveway that are always wet.
The issue can be solved with some heavy layers of rock for day-to-day traffic (like our personal cars) but big, heavy, construction trucks will be a problem.
I love the way the driveway came out. I love how it seemingly disappears off the edge of the hill. I love the curves. I love how you have to drive through a tunnel of trees as you come to the end of the driveway, before the build site is finally revealed.
The picture above was taken from a road on the other side of our property with a bit of help from the zoom function on my camera, but it gives you an idea of the hill we are dealing with.
The most difficult part (for me, ha…) about the excavation was deciding exactly where we were going to put the house. While we were somewhat limited by the county (again, ugh) we were also limited by the hill, two large ponds that sit directly west of our home site, and some very, very thick woods.
Once we picked out our spot, JR and his Dad spent a very warm weekend staking everything out. And then, after I decided to expand the living area by two feet, they spent another hot afternoon re-doing what they had already done.
The excavator spent a day clearing, and another day and a half digging. It’s crazy how big that hole in the ground looks, and how much it shrinks once you pour foundation walls. So many mind-tricks!
Now that we are finally making some progress, it’s really fun to watch it all come together. I’m beyond the point of return for any major changes, so hopefully this house plan will serve us well – the plan is to stay here for the rest of our lives, so fingers crossed, I guess.
Foundation is next. Stay tuned!