Thursday, June 18, 2015

Excavation Part 1: Terra Mova, Terra Nova, Terra Firma

After spending a day at our home site with our excavator, Dave, we have gained even greater respect for the skill and vision each trades person brings to a construction project.

Photos by Author
Dave was the second person we met after we purchased the New Hampshire property. (The first was surveyor Scott, who provided us with a refined topographical map of a section where we thought we would build a house.) Multiple times in the past year, Dave has walked the property with us, scoping out where a driveway might go to lead to the house and give us a view of majestic Mount Cardigan. The white pines and maples (sugar and red) were too thick and tall to see but a patch of sky. We showed him a site 800 feet into the woods we thought would accommodate a house with a walkout basement. His expert eye found a spot 200 feet closer to the road that met our specifications. On paper we sketched a driveway with a slight right curve that hides the house from the road. We talked about the drive as if it was real—which it was in our heads. Only after the logger did his clearing and harvesting were we able to see the true lay of the land. The envisioned house site was all we had hoped for.

After a long wait for road postings to be removed (banning heavy machinery that might damage thawing roads), and after mud season had passed (which is interminably long), Dave brought in the “big boys” and the driveway began to take shape. Using an excavator, he plucked and piled tree stumps to clear a swath then bulldozed the earth, setting aside rocks to be used for retaining walls (and one possibly for a front step). Michael and Jason ferried material for the 18” base of the driveway—finely crushed stone and sand—in trucks carrying loads of 28 and 38.5 tons each. Dave dozered that into a compact and stable roadbed, then excavated more driveway, moving from one machine to another to keep the flow of material efficient.

At the end of the day, we walked down 255 feet of solid driveway, half of stage one. After months of waiting for weather and schedules to align, progress was made—and a new obstacle emerged. The slope of the land that nicely accommodates a walkout basement for the house works against pouring a simple slab foundation where we wanted “the barn.” We remain optimistic, however, and have our money on Dave and his bulldozer being able to further sculpt our patch of mountainside.  

P.S. We've posted a game cam to see what the bears, moose, and deer are up to when we are not there. Circumstantial evidence points to some partying going on. We want something firmer--photographic evidence.

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