Making the Grade


People used to ask us before we found and bought our lot if we had our house designed.  Even though we had an idea of what we wanted because of the other potential lots, we never really had it designed.  To an architect, designing without a lot is like packing for a trip when your destination.

Plan for a flat beach lot and you end up in the Alps.

This is especially true on Asheville where the terrain can be so varied and the lots  are generally irregular in shape.  When we did start designing the house, I'll admit we were ignoring the existing site's slope a bit.  We met with a grader on site and while he admitted it wasn't what he'd do and it will be more expensive, he said he could regrade to give us a flat spot for our concrete slab-on-grade house.

Good thing hand sketching was not part of the architecture licensing exam!

We've had a nagging feeling, and today when we had a family picnic on the lot we just realized that we were fighting the slope too much.  The lot is much more like a big dish, but I simplified it in this sketch. We also were worried that without radiant heat in the concrete floor, that concrete slab floor was going to be cold!! (We can't afford radiant).

What does this all mean?? One word: basement. 

Concrete Slab Site Work ------------------------ Basement/Crawlspace Site Work

Well, actually half basement, half crawl space.  Gone are concrete floors, but we gain a ton of crawlspace storage, put the workshop in the basement instead of a $$$ outbuilding, and it solves a dilemma we were having about how to termite proof & insulate the edge of a concrete slab. Plus, look at my horrible diagrams. We get so much more flat yard.

Here are some cool photos from our lot picnic. 

(sorry for the repeats instagram friends!)

Hide and Seek

First of Many Picnics to Come


  1. So wonderful that you have such nice big trees - will you be able to work around most of them? We purchased an in-fill house and it was great having a brand new house AND large trees shading us.

    I'll admit that while I understand the concept of waiting to design until you have the lot - it is not something that I've seen in action. I've spent most all my adult life in central FL where it is pretty flat and most new homes are in developments that have been stripped of every tree. Even if you build in an existing neighborhood you can have a design picked out ahead since you will be dealing with a mostly flat lot. So glad you were able to get some grading advice at this stage that improved the plan!

  2. It is beautiful! I think you have a great plan. I don't think I'll ever build, but I can experience it through you!


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