Situated on a formerly overgrown section of farmland and scrub woodlands, the site offered no naturally flat or attractive terrain within the buildable area limits of the 8.86 acre lot. The best buildable land on the lot was preserved as open farmland through a conservation easement. The vast majority of the trees cut for project development were not commercially viable and were converted on site into woodchips that were used for erosion control berms and ground cover stabilization. All of the topsoil removed for project development was stockpiled, sifted, and then converted into loam for use on the project, and the surplus loam was exchanged by the site contractor for other gravel materials required for driveway construction. All large stone removed during the project excavations were extensively re-used later as free standing stone wall construction, vertical stone retaining wall construction, and inclined slope “armoring”. All small stone, stumps, and farm debris were buried on site as common fill.
The finished site design extends the green pasture lands to the east, down to the new access drive, and new grasses flow into the upper terrain of the vegetable and perennial gardens. These areas were previously scrub woodlands, tangled and overgrown bushes and vines, and farm debris. The newly created tiers of the project layout and design extend over four distinct levels: the upper natural grade fields and gardens; the driveway, first floor residence, and garages (2) at-grade access; the lower level floor at-grade access and septic field/lawn; and the lowest level natural grade of woodlands and grasses. The two at-grade levels of the house design embrace the naturally sloping terrain and are integral to both the economics of “earth berm” construction and zero net energy performance.
Large prominent trees consisting of maple, white oak, red oak, eastern pine, shag bark hickory, and pignut hickory have been painstakingly preserved within the project’s buildable area. All species of trees and shrubs are preserved within the conservation area. Some of the existing species of softwood trees and natural grasses were also transplanted within the newly landscaped areas of the project. Native species were also purchased from New Hampshire nurseries. A small orchard of mixed semi-dwarf varieties was planted on gently sloping terrain that would otherwise be unused, as it connects the upper main access drive, the side drive that provides access to the lower level in the rear, and the lower level lawn/leaching field. All new lawn areas and grass field extensions were seeded and grown in-place.
A comprehensive stormwater runoff collection and redistribution design was implemented to make sure that pocket wetland areas below the site would be properly recharged. A compliment to that strategy was to divert some of the upper level roof runoff directly into a perimeter drain system of the house that must first saturate a 2,500 sf +/- area of a 12” deep sand bend layer that houses some 7,500 lf of “slinky” solar-geothermal hybrid ground loop lines, before exiting the perimeter drain system.