Hi there, I saw some other home-building posts in this group, but let
me know if this is off topic.
There's a 3485-sqft piece of land for sale near where I live (Seattle).
I like its location, and water/sewer are available at the street, but
according to the city of Seattle, about half of the lot is declared as
"above 40% grade", so certain permit restrictions apply. From a quick,
uneducated visual inspection of the lot, it looks to me like it is
possible to build a single-family house with a small footprint there -
it's not a cliff face or anything. But I'm no builder. So how do I find
a LOCAL expert in building on steeply graded lots? Is this expert going
to be an engineer, architect, or what? (Even if you're not from
Seattle, maybe you can tell me who to look up in the yellow pages...)
touch the lot. Maybe builders will instantly see that as soon as they
begin excavating there will be a landslide. On the other hand, maybe
the lot is easily regradable. I have no idea.
Second, if builders are willing to work with this lot, I need to know
whether we can convince the city of it. The project will probably
require some special permits regarding regrading, etc. I need to know
how hard it is to get such permits.
Anyone know how to find an expert that can help me with these things?
There must be some around, because Seattle is pretty hilly. Come to
think of it, I've seen houses on lots much steeper than this one, so
it's been done before...
Thanks, and happy building,
Just about any lot is buildable but is it buildable at reasonable cost?
Only half of the lot is above 40% grade (equivavlent to aprrox a 5/12
roof), what's the rest of the lot like? Are there houses nearby?
Their terrain must be similar
The lot is ~50 x 70, so you can put a resonable sized house on it, no
yeard or not much.
I would suggest posting to sci.eng.civil for a referral to a local CE
Based on what you say, you may have a great lot.
A lot too difficult and out of the ordinay for a tract house solution,
aka an architect's lot.
I would find an architect familiar with the governmental restrictions
in the area.
The architect will have to sort through several kinds of information to
give you an answer.
I suggest a contract for consultation only.
If the regulations, preliminary engineering information, estimated
probable building cost, and your budget and program appear to fit, you
can consider a design contract.
Choose your architect on technical knowledge and how well you work
Don't be shy about talking to several architects and asking to see
examples of relavant work and talking to clients. I'm an architect
working on the East Coast, and have seen Seattle. There are some great
There was a series on TV (maybe Discovery Channel?) about building a few
"dream houses" and one was in your area. It was on a small lot and a steep
hill. They had to dig some deep footings, put in steel beams on piers for
supports and a lot of extra work that would not be needed on a more flat
piece of land. A high priced architectural firm was involved, along with
engineers. It was much more involved than the typical Bob the Builder home.
I'd start with a good architect and a very willing banker. The cost of
getting the land ready was considerable compared to a normal house, as was
the special equipment needed for construction, such as cranes and staging.
If you are thinking "I can put a cute little house there cheap" just move
on. If you are thinking "I've got more damned money than I could ever spend
and this location is just perfect with the view of the city sewage treatment
plant", then go for it.
You are talking about the home of Skid Row and the underground
city aren't you? The area that is prone to sliding down the face
of the hill, right? I think I remember Pike's market being 3 or 4
stories tall to get one city block.
All kidding aside, I think you need an architect more than any
other trade/profession. He will have contacts with the requisite
engineers and will have knowledge, if not influence, about working
with the city. Most builders in your area will be at least mildly
familiar with the heroics of stabilizing and reworking steep
ground. I'm sorry, I don't see a lawyer as being of much use
under these circumstances. For that matter, I can't think of many
times that they are of much use. ;-)
(top posted for your convenience)
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
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