Plasma cutting steel staircase Tung oil applied on trim woodwwork Floors milled from site grown trees Septic field restoration Reflecting afternoon sun Birth of a barn on Bragg Hill Radiant floors Solar panel installation Capping off the chimney Proud shape emerges on the hilltop Pumping concrete into the three gables Forming 12x12 Gables Delivering concrete from the sky Parallam beam positioning Flying flitch beam ICF window framing Precision concrete placement Lower level ICF fabrication Newly excavated driveway Finishing garage deck concrete Pouring concrete footers Rebar safety caps Surveying the construction site Checking out the excavation equipment Rapid soil stabilization Testing the soils for drainage Taking Solar Pathfinder measurements Milling downed trees onsite View to the Southeast over the Benzel Family Trust Future meadow to be cultivated Taking a stroll on Bragg Hill Road

Landscape Concepts Developed

Once the footprint of the house was established, Jonathan Alderson and his team went to work to design the courtyard and the landscaping scenario for the home.  Keeping with our desire for minimal disturbance of the environment and careful control of storm water runoff several courtyard concepts were presented.  Each of these designs utilizes an impervious self contained gravel courtyard designed to be functional and aesthetically balanced with the new house and its surroundings.  Utility, low maintenance, proportion and balance are the key drivers behind the designs.
The first concept utilizes a arrival courtyard integrated with natural plantings and pathways.

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This scenario preserves two hickory trees to the South and provides easy access to the existing dirt road.
The second scenario requires that we remove two hickory trees on the South side of the house.  This is preferred because we plan to install a matrix of solar panels on the South facing roof, and these hickory trees would block the sun on the panels much of the day, limiting their effectiveness.  The pathway configurations are different than in scenario 1 as well as the addition of the retaining wall to the East.

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This scenario was also rejected because the design was felt to be too organic and difficult to maintain.  The arrival courtyard is designed to have a base of gravel and containing the gravel to the parking area would be difficult in this case.


The architect, landscape architect and owners (Nancy and me) decided on the following design.  Here, the arrival experience is clearly defined by directing you to a dedicated parking area defined by dry stacked stone walls about 3 feet high.  From there you walk up a stone path to the front door where the visual and spatial experience of the home and surroundings takes over.  This arrival dialog is intentional and artfully orchestrated with this design.  By creating the parking area set within the hill and defined by the boundaries of the stone walls, parked cars will be hidden from view from the majority of the property to the South.

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The addition of the firepit as part of the landscape design creates a natural , private campfire sitting area.  This reflects our desire to live in harmony with the environment by spending as much time as possible in and around our precious woodlands.