view from the southwest

It looks like we may be excavating the building site and pouring part of our foundation within a few weeks!

This will be the third time we have ripped open the earth, and each time feels traumatic when the bulldozers and backhoes have at it.  We had to dig into the hill to build the barn, and we had to dig into the hill to lay in the drainfield and sink a septic tank.  Fortunately we work with a very intuitive earth mover.   And he well knows the lay of our land.

view from the northeast

Now we will dig into an even steeper par of the hill to build the foundation for the house.   Since we have been researching green building, I’ve some to realize that the easiest way to make an efficient house is on a flat piece of ground.  Unfortunately we don’t have any of that.

The site was originally covered in oak trees that we planned to build among, but they have been going down like dominoes before an oak wilt infestation.   We have walked back and forth over this ground thousands of times getting the solar angle just right and the placement on the hill as optimal as possible.This house has been in the planning stages for eight years,  and we will probably be tweaking it until the last nail is hammered home.

Doug stands at the eastern wall of the building site.

But we are feeling very good about the way the plans are coming together.

south side of the house (drawings by Whole Trees Architecture and Construction)



The house will be dug into the hill so the southwest corner is open to the basement level, but the north west level will have garden windows on the upper floor.  The passive solar design will fill the house with sun on winter days and being partially earth sheltered will help keep the house cool on summer days.

the west wall of the house will be protected from the hot afternoon sun by a screen porch.

I have stared at this drawings so much, I can literally see the house when I look at the hillside.

4 replies

  1. I longed for a house to be built into the side of the hill on our land but we couldn’t face the upheaval this would cause, so I can understand the pain you feel. I guess we will just have to wait for the house at the top of the hill to become available. At least we live nearer to our land than you do so it’s not too bad. May it not be too traumatic in the end

  2. Ah, you and Walt Jeffries. How I admire both of you for doing so much of your own planning and researching all you need to know, and then doing it yourselves. Salute’!

    • I feel very fortunate to have circumstances come together in a way that is allowing me to explore home building in this time and place. It feels like a great adventure (and I won’t lie — sometimes it seems a little daunting). There are so many interesting building materials and techniques being developed and rediscovered right now. Sustainability is a great guide, and I’m enjoying following this path.

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