Positioning the House

We don’t formally own the land yet, but I start my first day on the property, aiming to position the house and the other features on the property.

Kevin and I met the geometra, the builder, and the current land owner. Right now, there is only a farm track that leads down the hill to the land and the ruin, so we were in Kevin’s four-wheel-drive car. (Even after our access road is built, I think we’ll want 4×4 to reach other locations in the area, maybe even to reach our property.)

One of the reasons the land has great views is that it slopes downhill, fairly steeply in places. It’s also roughly a triangle, with the “point” on the uphill side. The main questions in positioning the house are to maximize the views while maintaining as many trees as possible, having flat areas for the house, a yard/garden, the pool, and parking, and “hiding” the pool a bit, as it will be covered most of the year.

As I’ve mentioned before, olive trees are apparently pretty resilient, and even larger ones can be cut back and moved. There is a large fig and two cherry trees that we need to work around or lose.

Edge of fig on left, cherry in center
Edge of fig on left, cherry in center

Kevin had sent us a couple of options, with the placement of the elements drawn on a Google Earth image. That way, we could see where the trees sit. One option had the house
positioned right on top of the ruin; the other had it farther up the hill.

Anne and I preferred the higher option, as it left more property on the “view” side of the house and we might be able to save the fig and cherries. Now, on the site, the five of us looked at the options. We put some stakes in the ground for the building footprint.

Property layout Click image to enlarge
Property layout
Click image to enlarge

On the ground, I confirmed our opinion. My preference was for a siting near the higher option, where we could leave two olives in place on either side of the path from the parking to the front door. It also would let us keep the fig, though it would be closer to the house than might be ideal. (The fig and the cherries are all in need of serious pruning, as you probably imagine.) Four or five olives will need to be moved, but we can use them as a screen blocking the one imperfection in the view, that of some large agricultural building in the mid-distance.

After our discussion and the experimentation with placements, I asked the geometra to do a “side view”, so we could see the flat areas and the slopes. I’d say I like what I saw: a top level for parking, the level of the house with some yard, a third level of lawn and garden, a fourth level for the pool, and the rest just left as a slope. The levels will be joined smoothly and connected by paths, if possible, so we won’t need to build retaining walls or stairs.

Side view of slope Click image to enlarge
Side view of slope
Click image to enlarge
An Update

Anne’s thought is that we won’t have enough level ground immediately behind the house, With the my proposed placement, we’re constrained on one side by the fig, but we may be able to make the other side, by the portico, bigger.

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