Before I begin … We know we were very fortunate to find and purchase a lot with the clearing and driveway already completed which makes envisioning and planning easier. If you’re working with a virgin lot you’ll need to talk to your builder to discuss the best first steps for your particular lot.
Our first few weeks in possession of our lot for our new home build were spent clearing the vegetation so we could see the palate we were working with. We had so much fun and worked SO hard! There was old wood to move, brush to clear and much more exploring to be done. We bushwacked our way through the forest to find our boundary markers, and discovered plants and mosses we haven’t seen before. My brother-in-law even brought his tractor up to help us move some of the bigger logs and rocks.
All the while we discussed, re-discussed and explored every imaginable angle and aspect of placing our home on the lot. When we got home, Brian used the aerial shot of our lot from Bruce County Maps to plot out some of our options. It wasn’t just the house we were laying out but driveways, sheds and gardens too. It turns out that this can be a much more complex a phase than I imagined, as you try to find the balance between all the important elements.
Elements to Consider for Placing Your Home
- Site lines at different vantage points
- Placement of the big elements like the well and septic bed
- Light inside and outside the home
- Vehicle turn around radius – for getting our boat into place and so that we don’t have to back down the long driveway to get out.
- Shed/garage placement so that tools and equipment are close to where you’ll need them
- Having space/clearance for the trucks and crane pad for delivery.
When we finally landed on what we thought was our best site plan, I showed it to site contractor for some input. Full disclosure: I work for the site contractor, Underwood Construction, so it’s easy for me to ask a quick question and know that I’m getting the best advice possible. Be sure you find a site contractor you can trust just as much! Anyway … He immediately saw an issue with the orientation of the house in relation to the placement of the septic system to enable proper filtration. And that’s why you talk to professionals!
We were quickly able to flip the plan and advise Quality Homes of the change. As an added bonus, the flip solved our parking and turn around issues too! Then we took the revised plan to the lot and started staking out the house placement. I even went so far as to grab a couple logs and placed them where the porch would be. Then we popped a squat and took a moment to imagine our view and enjoy the feeling of this being our home soon!
Questions for Your First Site Meeting
As we worked away at the staking and clearing, we started taking notes of questions we wanted to ask at our site meeting. Boy did we end up with a lot of questions! Here are some things we wrote down to ask at our first meeting:
- What clearance do the trucks need – in the driveway and to turn into the driveway?
- Will the existing culvert be sufficient to bear the loads for delivery of the house?
- What is the best location for the well considering where the septic system needs to go?
- How do they recommend we run the hydro service off the pole at the road?
- How much more clearing of trees do we need to do to allow for proper grading and equipment movement within the building envelope?
- Get a better understanding of the foundation construction, elevation and grading using our 4’ crawlspace configuration.
What to Prepare for Your First Site Meeting:
- If possible, clear or mark your proposed building envelope
- If possible, mark out the corners of the building
- Know where you’re thinking your well and septic will be
- Have a list of questions. This is really important to have written down so you can be sure not to miss anything as the conversation gets rolling.
Who Will Attend the First Site Meeting?
Generally the more people attending meetings, the more complicated and inefficient things get. You’ll want to keep the guest list short: just you, your our site contractor (the one who will be clearing, putting in your drive way. septic and excavating for the foundation and your assigned Quality Homes Foundation Supervisor. This short list will keep the meeting effective and efficient. This will help ensure that by the end of the meeting, the three of you are clear about your plan and next steps.
Don’t worry if you aren’t able to coordinate the schedule as easily as we did. If separate meetings are required just be sure to take notes and share contact information between your Builder and Site Contractor.
What to Bring to Your Site Meeting?
- A sketch of proposed site plan and a pen or pencil. It doesn’t have to be to scale but it should be in proportion to your measurements. Be prepared for mark-ups!
- Your list of questions.
- A tape measure, marking paint, stakes & a hammer. Your contractor or the foundation supervisor will likely have all this, and you might not even need it, but it’s nice to have these things at the ready.
- An open mind! This is the most valuable thing to bring to your first site meeting. Your builder and site contractor are bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience; they’ll likely have recommendations and requirements. You don’t always need to take their advice but having an open mind will allow you to have productive conversations and agree on the best plans to move forward with.
So … How Did Our Site Meeting Go?
Even with all of our planning there was still plenty to learn and changes still to be made. For example:
- Our driveway isn’t wide enough for the house delivery so it will have to be widened.
- It was strongly suggested that we move the house back 10 – 15 feet to create a better slope for the septic tilebed and grading at the front of the house.
- The planned parking area was too short to make an easy turn around.
- There are some mature poplar trees close to the edge of the clearing that could cause trouble down the road so they should come out while the arborist is there.
At the end of the meeting we had a clear idea of how many more trees had to be cleared, where the house would be placed, we had a better concept of final grading and how much wider our driveway had to be to accommodate the house delivery. That feels like a pretty productive meeting to me! Oh … and we were complimented on how well prepared we were for the meeting; it was very much appreciated.