The next steps: Initial meetings to discuss excavation, foundation and electric
Drawings in hand, we drove down to the property last week to meet with the men who will be clearing our land, doing the excavation and putting in the Superior Walls foundation. Knowing that this isn’t going to be a typical building site, we had decided to meet with them at the same time on location to see what they would say about our chosen home site, as well as to discuss where would be the best place to put in the driveway. Fortunately, they agreed that the home site we’ve chosen will work but, given that the property has quite a steep grade and is possibly resting on one giant piece of rock, there was much discussion as to how to go about the excavating and exactly how they were going to be able to bring in the proper equipment in order to get the job done right. While we were discussing possible driveway entrance positions, someone asked if we’d applied for our VDOT entrance permit. To which we replied, “Our WHAT?!” Apparently we need a permit from the Virginia Dept. of Transportation, approving our driveway entrance location before we can have a driveway put in, and we need a drive way before we proceed any further. Really? Why is it that no one had mentioned that rather important piece of information prior to that moment?!
In choosing an entrance location for the driveway, a couple of things needed to be considered. Colemans Lake Rd curves slightly to the south, several hundred feet from where our property lies, creating a blind spot where it’s difficult to see oncoming traffic, and, as there has to be a certain line of site from the driveway entrance to the curve in order for VDOT to approve our location, we were warned that we may have issues getting our permit. On the other hand, placing the entrance too far in the opposite direction, we create another possible problem. Given that the dam does tend to flood, during which time water comes up over Colemans Lake Rd, as well as along the North edge of our property where it slopes down toward White Oak Creek, we want to avoid placing the entrance too far in that direction lest we end up not being able to have access to our entrance during the floods. After much discussion, we agreed upon an entrance area that seemed most likely to avoid flooding issues while still being far enough from the curve to have good visibility and, hopefully, still be approved by VDOT. Despite that little surprise and the possibility that it may slow down our progress a bit, we were still very happy with the results of our meeting and much impressed with the discussions and ideas that were put forth by all parties. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting George, Eric and Chris and look forward to working with them…once we get our entrance permit.
An hour over our expected meeting time, we left Colemans Lake and drove to our meeting at McCray Electric Co. Our experience there was just as positive as with every other encounter thus far. Everybody in the area seems to know at least one other person we’re working with or hunts/races/fishes with one of our neighbors, so is more than happy to work with us. They all seemed genuinely excited at the prospect of working on a project that is a little less run of the mill and are more than willing to make suggestions in areas we are less certain about without seeming like they are trying to over sell us on anything.
The VDOT entrance permit
After returning home I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out what we needed for our entrance permit. Finding nothing on the VDOT website, I put in a call to their office in Richmond explaining what I thought we needed. Three transfers later, I reached the voicemail of Bruce Atwater (Transportation Permit & Subdivision Specialist Sr.), who I was told was the man I needed to talk to. Fortunately, he returned my call within minutes and was able to help me out. I was happy to find that he knew exactly where our property is and, in fact, hunts with one of our neighbors. (Surprise.) After emailing him a copy of our plat, he emailed back the necessary paperwork and told me that we should go ahead and place two 3′ stakes in the ground, marking the driveway entrance, and that someone would be down in a few days to take a look. He recommended filling out the paperwork and emailing a copy back to him and also to Tommy Richards (Consultant Inspector Land Development- Southern Region) to look over before mailing them in.
We headed back down on Sunday, driving the hour down just to spend twenty minutes putting in our stakes and then turned around and drove the hour back home. Once home, we filled the paperwork out, wrote out our checks for the permit and surety and popped them in the mail the following morning, wondering how long we would have to wait to hear anything. Fortunately, we received an email Tuesday from Mr. Richards saying that our entrance spot was fine and that as soon as he receives the paperwork and checks, he’ll issue the permit. Hooray! I forwarded the email to Dave, who immediately put in a call to George Lewis, to tell him the good news, and to let him know that we will want to start the clearing an excavation as soon as the permit comes in. We also went ahead and wrote out the milling check payment and sent it off to Battle Creek Log Homes so that they would start milling our logs.
Things are starting to getting exciting around here!!!