Why Building In The Mountains Takes So Long
MANY PEOPLE DREAM OF BUILDING A HOME IN THE NORTH CAROLINA MOUNTAINS, AND NO WONDER.
The seclusion, the exceptional views, the tranquility, and the direct connection to nature make the area an idyllic place to live. However, prospective homeowners are often surprised to find that building in the mountains is a longer and more complex process than building elsewhere.
Sean Sullivan, owner of Living Stone Design + Build, has built hundreds of homes in and around Asheville, and he knows all too well the delays this specific locale can create, and the reasons why.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
Many of the delays in building mountain homes occur in the planning stages. “There are a lot of municipal rules and regulations to contend with,” Sean observes. “In addition to those, the planned communities we build in have rules and review boards we have to comply with.”
“Because we build custom homes, there’s a complex sequence to the whole process. We have to design the home, evaluate preconstruction services, and submit plans for approval. We need to get permits for septics, wells, retaining walls, and the site design. It’s a lot of legwork. We can’t start construction until everything is approved.”
The most significant cause for the delay on the construction end of any project is a sloped lot. “Building on a slope creates several different challenges,” Sean explains. “Parking can be an issue; sometimes there’s insufficient room for materials on the lot, so you have to shuffle things around.
A sloped lot means the back of the house might be 20, 30, 40, or sometimes even 60 feet off the ground. When you have guys installing windows and siding at that height, safety is a significant issue. We have to go slowly and ensure that we’re taking all of the appropriate precautions.”
When it comes to mountain building, the very soil itself can cause delays. “Sometimes we’ll excavate and find organic matter, like trees for example, have been buried in the lot, whether due to development issues or a natural landslide. Sometimes we’ll find rock, an underground spring, or alluvial soils, which are loose soils deposited by moving water. If we find any of these things, we need to excavate and replace them with gravel. There’s no way to know if these types of issues are there until we excavate, and correcting them takes thoughtful planning.”
The great news is, if you’re willing to invest the time, money, and patience, you can have your dream home, no matter which way your lot slopes. “Every lot is buildable,” says Sean. “It’s just a matter of cost, engineering…and sometimes out-of-the-box thinking!”