After months of just looking at preliminary floor plans and exterior elevations, we took a small step forward this past week and actually put some stakes in the ground at our building site. This was a completely informal exercise that I did with our designer using just approximate property lines and a tape measure, but it still made things seem that much more real.
We had a couple of main reasons for wanting to do this. Beyond simply seeing some sort of tangible progress, we wanted to see how close we needed to be to the required setbacks to avoid a large raised mound which is planned to be the septic field and also to see what the site will look like behind the house for pool construction.
The topography of our site has been a huge consideration in every aspect of our design. While the site we chose is flatter than many of the others in the neighborhood, it is by no means flat. We chose it because it gave us the best option for a usable backyard including a pool, but until we put stakes in the ground, we had no idea where the pool would sit on the slope that exists. We put the stakes in assuming the house would be as close to the road as the setbacks require and hope to get some pool contractors out before everything is buried in snow so they can get a lay of the land and we can start some planning and budgeting for that part of the project.
Incidentally, this exercise proved to me that I’m terrible at estimating sizes. When we staked off the setback from one side and I looked at the remaining space before hitting the raised mound on which we can’t build, I said “there is no way the house will fit in that space.” But, after measuring off the width of the proposed foundation, we have at least 10 more feet of space that will probably allow us to slide the house over a bit. And, it is amazing at how small it feels when all you have is stakes! The building envelope is just over 2000 square feet and about 72 feet wide, but it seemed tiny. I know that they say rooms feel small when they are empty, and that effect apparently gets magnified when you don’t even have walls.
Anyway, here are a couple of pictures to try and show you how it looks right now.
This first picture is oriented looking from what will be driveway toward the front of the house. The stake in the middle of the frame is about where the front door will be although it will probably be a few feet higher that ground level there since the whole lot is sloping downward from where I’m standing.
This second picture is looking along the backside of the house. The 4 stakes that are in a square represent the dining nook that will represent the back part of the foundation. So, it starts to give a sense of the topography that exists behind the house, but it is still hard to really grasp. The main floor, where that dining nook will actually be, will probably be 8-10 feet higher than the level where the stakes actually are. We don’t know yet what will be in the walkout basement at that location.