Site Prep

Stuff is finally happening on the house-building front!

Before submitting our application for a building permit we needed to make sure our septic system was compliant for the new house. When we bought this property, the realtor told us the septic system was designed for a bigger house than the little mobile home on the property. Now it was time to find out if we could keep the existing system for our new home. Having to replace it would cost us upwards of $25,000, which would significantly impact our budget for the house. Also, our old concrete tank is in excellent condition even though it is going on 30 years. The guy who comes to pump it out said he hoped for our sakes the district didn’t make us replace it, as the new plastic systems did not last long and weren’t as well built, in his opinion (after 40 years of doing septic systems in our area). So we were really hoping we didn’t have to do that!

It was a tense few days as we waited to have the system inspected, but the news was good. Our tank meets the minimum size requirements for the new house, and it needed only a few minor repairs (the distribution box needed replacing). Also, the drainage field was overgrown with shrubs and small trees that could damage the pipes, so we had them clear the site and put new raised access lids on (the old ones got buried easily and were hard to find).

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The guys also marked out the septic field with little blue flags so that big equipment would not run over it during construction of the house and potentially damage the pipes underneath.

After that, several weeks went by as we finalized the plans and submitted them to the district. Next we had some tree fallers come to take down 3 Western red cedar trees on the property. We will be milling these into planks that will be used for the board-and-batten siding. We also took down 3 or 4 firs and balsams that were either blocking sunlight or encroaching on the house site. The balsams are going to one of the carpenters in exchange for some labour, and the firs will be milled into boards for the ceiling of the master bedroom and living room. I love that we are able to use our own trees for parts of the house!


Watching these guys at work is amazing.

Then this past week, just in time for Christmas, the excavator arrived to clear up the mess from the tree fallers, clear the site for the surveyors, and put in the new driveway.


Best Christmas present ever!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stared at the view below and imagined the driveway leading up to the new house, and now it’s finally taking shape!





I was pleased that we were able to save the Sitka alder (the leafless tree just to the right of the pump house). The kids like to climb that tree, and there is a Stellar’s Jay who comes and hangs out there each autumn. It’s the only Sitka alder I’ve found on the property, too. Instead, we removed a small Western dogwood, but we have many of those on the property.

Up at the top of the drive where the building site will be, were the remains of an old greenhouse. We’d removed the roof a few years ago to make a pig shelter – it was an eyesore, and I’m glad it’s gone now! With the tree removal and clearing up the brush, it looks a lot bigger up there now.






Things have halted for the holidays, and we are awaiting our building permit before we proceed with digging holes and making forms for the foundation. But at least something is happening!

Categories: New House Build | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Site Prep

  1. How exciting for you all. Looking forward to seeing how this all develops, and I’m sure you are too.

  2. Pingback: Step-by-Step: windows, doors, decking, and more! | FreeLearners ~ life outside the box

  3. Pingback: Step-by-Step: inside and outside | FreeLearners ~ life outside the box

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