Terra’s House is being built near the top of a black oak and ponderosa pine hill at the 3000 foot elevation in Calaveras County, California. The site slopes gently to the south, exposed to the eastern sun and to prevailing afternoon western breezes. Oak trees shade the northwest corner in the summer, and a grove of small oaks protect the north side and frame the entry.
The work involved in site preparation is typical of most rural residential construction: clearing and grubbing, which is removing small trees, brush, and top soil from the building area; and cutting a level pad (Terra’s House has a concrete slab on grade floor). Since it was within our skill set to undertake this work ourselves, we rented a small bulldozer (Case 210 at $200 per day). The work was accomplished with the dozer, a chain saw, a builder’s level, and a one-hundred foot tape. It took two people about two days.