Posted by: Scott McCullough | June 20, 2011

Finding The Spot and Making a Path

So now that we owned a piece of land we had to figure out what to do with it.  Or more specifically what to build on it, and where.

Jess and I consider ourselves to be environmentally sensitive people.  Neither of us wanted to cut down any more trees than we needed to in order to  build our house.  The most obvious strategy is to build as close to the road as possible so that the driveway is short.  At first I was thinking that might be best for us, as not only would it be less detrimental to the forest, but would also be significantly less expensive for us in getting the driveway and utilities to the house.  After more exploring and discussion though we were settling in on a spot in the approximate center of the rectilinear site, far from the road.  Our sense was to create a home that is part of the forest, and isolated from cars driving by.  Being up against the road would devalue the house in the end, so we decided that the investment to build where we wanted would be worth it.  And the idea that a valuable house will be better taken care of and therefore last longer contributes to our idea of building a quality home that will last for centuries.

We paced out the driveway we figured to be about 900 feet.  We marked out the route which was not very obvious and got everyone lined up to begin cutting and moving dirt.  The trees vary in specie to include pine, hemlock, poplar, oak, maple, spruce, ash, and birch among others.  The largest we have are pine, which we decided to sell as saw logs along with some oak that we sold as veneer.  This helped to cover some of the cost of all this work being done.  We concluded though that logging is not profitable, in the future we will not likely be cutting anything to sell, but only enough to keep our wood shed stocked.


Our soil is has a fair amount of clay in it as well as a large number of rocks.  The picture below shows a stretch of driveway after the trees were cut and debris was removed.  Extremely ‘boney’ was how our dirt worker described it.  A lot of the rocks were pretty shallow while others would prove to be icebergs, meaning that most of the rock was below ground.


The topography is not generally flat, but sort of rolls along which made for a driveway that winded through the forest.  This helped to add to the feeling of privacy at the house site, and made for a nice approach to the house site through the property.

It took several weekends of grubbing the site removing rocks and stumps in an effort to get a flat and well draining  driving surface for the entire length of driveway.  At times we felt as though we had a superhighway running through our site.  Though we were assured that this is the minimum width needed to get a road in with some slope off to each side.  After a few years the forest will start to encroach back in on the road making it feel smaller.




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