If we couldn’t put our whole house on one level then could we do a walk-out basement instead? If you have a nice natural hillside then a walk-out basement is entirely possible and can look quite nice as the house appears tucked into the hill and protected by the slope. I started to realize that the walk-out basements I really didn’t like were the ones that I tended to see in the City, where really there are no natural hills. In the City, and primarily in upper-class suburbia, they man-make the hills and sit houses in them. They look pretty stupid and have led to my general despise of them. That being said, a proper natural site for a walk-out is kind of appealing.
On our land, there is the river valley itself that is steep, however I would feel very uneasy trying to place our house just so on the edge of the river’s slope, even if the geotechnical survey that we have (provided by the former owners) says it could be done. Still, our land has a nice slope to the edge with some natural ups and downs to the land. Perhaps a walk-out could fit in there. But how the heck is one to know?
Well, a topography guy can tell you apparently!
The only way to really be certain is to have someone come to your land and perform a topographical survey. It’s pretty neat (and fucking expensive). They walk around the site taking GPS readings every 10 feet. This allows them to put all of the points into a crazy 3D map showing all of the elevations of the land. They use the same program (ArchCAD) as our house designer, so once the topographical study is done and placed on the program, the designer can then simply drag and drop the house on various spots on the site and see what looks best. Fancy stuff. The future, I tell you.
So, which spot did a walk-out look best on our land? You ask.
Well, none. No spot worked. Not even close. They all sucked.
At best it would’ve looked forced (a la suburbia). At worst it would have looked even more ridiculous. We would have had to excavate so much dirt away and landscape and grade that we would have to completely destroy our build site to make it even remotely possible.
Unfortunately we had to spend $900 to find out it wouldn’t work. But I guess now we could let it go and not question it or something. I dunno.
Anyway, so we’d now come to the conclusion that a single level slab was not practical and a walk-out basement was not possible. That left us with the third and final option: a basement.