0 In All Things Southern/ Design/ Gardens and Landscaping/ Palm House at Lanier/ The Lanier Logs

Georgia Red Clay

Hi friends!

I admit this is not going to be the sexiest post ever.  As a matter of fact you may find it downright BORING with a capital B!  But it is a necessary part of the blog about building our dream home on Lake Lanier in Georgia.  We have .93 acres.  To put that into some perspective, most of us understand square feet, as in a 3000 square foot home etc.  Well, a full acre is 43,560 square feet.  That may be one of the only things I remember from my real estate exam 35 years ago!!  I’m a plethora of useless knowledge for the most part haha!  Well anyway, we had all kinds of perc tests of the soil on our property.  They did borings all over the site to see how and where to put in the septic system.  These days you have to have 2 fields- primary and secondary.  That takes up a whole bunch of land, and nothing, not one THING can go on top of it except lovely grass.  As in, “the grass grows greener over the septic tank”.  Yikes!!  So, there was some question as to whether or not we could get in a 4 bedroom house on our property.  I was beside myself.  What about our dream home, and not to mention the poor other people who might want to tear down their homes and rebuild on much smaller lots?  Seriously, why do septic systems have to be such a pain?   Well, that is my short term hissy fit.  You do, after all, have to have a functioning septic system or else it backs up into the house… nooooo thank you!!

So we cleared that hurdle.  Now came the fun.  A 40 foot drop from the front of the property to the back end of the property.  With only 10 foot basement walls (foundation walls) we have another 30 feet of elevation drop to capture with walls and steps and walls and steps… and the best team to help us determine where all of this would take place.  Because my husband and I were in on almost every single meeting with all of the team.  Our builders are Kirk McConnell of Coal Mountain Builders and his son, Trey McConnell of McConnell Custom Homes.

As for trees, well for starters, we had a lot of bad trees, most of which had been taken over by these massive vines- bigger than Tarzan swung on.  You get rid of the vines and the tree comes down with it.  So we had to take down all the trees before we got down to business.  I’ll stop here for a minute and share with you what it looked like all along the way.  Mind you, I was up there every single day, watching with the keen interest and spirit of a 6 year old boy.  It is fascinating how these land movers and graders know pretty much where to dig and how much.  And all that huge equipment- simply amazing!!

Our neighbors house before the trees were taken down.  They had 3 on their property that were safe.  The rest were on our property and had to go… sad but part of the process.

As you can see, not much set back from their home to the property line.  We have to very careful and deliberate not to disturb their land.

Meeting with part of the team and our neighbors to the left, making sure we were doing everything to keep everyone happy.  Happy neighbors is of the utmost importance to us, as it should be!

Along those lines, here is a text from that same neighbor’s wife, precious Dee, letting me know what she thought of our new view!!  Simply priceless!  Can’t wait to be permanent neighbors with them!

This depicts our lovely site this Christmas!!  I went up to build a Georgia Red Clay “snowman” but it was too slippery with all the rain we have had so I’ll settle for this funny guy (source unknown)!!

A neighbor friend sent this picture to me one day- I got so excited I drove up to watch the action!!  Gosh I want to be a builder some day!!


So let’s talk about the little old cabin we had on the property for years.  It was sold to us as a ‘tear down’… but we didn’t!!  We fixed that sweet little cabin up and enjoyed it and rented it out for years.  You can see the post about the original cabin here.


We loved the little cabin mightily and would have kept her if she hadn’t had so many issues that we couldn’t make it work.  It was always built to be a second summer home, and not anything we could have resuscitated.  So she had to go.  We spent many hours giving away or storing the furniture and equipment.  Man did we accumulate a lot at that little place!  Finally it was done and ready to be torn down.  But first they tested for asbestos.   It was built in the 60’s before anyone knew about the stuff.  And sure enough it had some in the old linoleum floor glue and some other places, that did not affect us at all.  You see it is dangerous only when it is destroyed or manipulated.  Darn it!!  So after lots of $$ to remediate it, we were ready for the tear down.  We were at the beach the week before the tear down, and when we got back, I was on my way up to the house when I got a text from our builder… it said….


The old front stoop and one step up still standing…

Yep, one of the two tubs in the little cabin!

So this was what I saw that day when I got up there.  My sweet little cabin had GONE away and I didn’t get to say ‘Goodbye’!!  And can I tell you I was incredibly emotional.  I cried, and even as I write this I am tearing up.  I can hear my Mom Bootsie saying “it’s just a house.”  But I am that sentimental girl (well 62 years old but there is still a little girl inside) who wanted/needed to say goodbye, place my hands on that old wood frame and thank that lovely little home for the memories she gave us.  And I could not because it was too late.  And yet I had the biggest thrill to know we were finally on our way to the new home becoming a reality.  After a really long wait.  So it was a true bittersweet moment for me.  My bestie, Kathy, did remind me that the memories were and will always be with all of us, and that those memories are still there in the land and lake.  She’s right you know.  I will always be able to walk to the dock and hear kids laughing and jumping off the top deck just like it was yesterday!!

Circa 2005


Ok, so here comes the sexy part!!  Haha just kidding.  Well, maybe to some.  After all moving lots of dirt seems to really attract people!  Our neighbors come over to watch periodically.  As do I.  And my husband on his lunch break.  It’s really rather cool!

Let the games begin!  A dumpster truck and a big yellow ‘Cat’.

I joked that my husband got me a Christmas present- a Big Yellow Cat!!  Not a bad present in my opinion!!

A before shot of the old driveway and lots of junky shrubs and vines and not great trees!

The right side of this photo shows the old well house.  Both wells on the property had to be demoed.

Meet Myron.  He is the one I call ‘The Dirt Whisperer”!!  He also demoed the old cabin.  Nicest guy with all kinds of knowledge about moving dirt.  He said he started when he was 5!!

Oh yeah, and there is a lot of this stuff going on with these boys… what can I say.  I didn’t want to be their Mama and tell them just don’t do it.  But I wanted to don’t ya know?!!

Oh and did I mention silt fencing?  Did you know it stays in place with REBAR??  Holy cow- serious stuff, and we now have triple rows of it due to the uh, well, endless winter rain.  Endless…

Before they all came tumbling down.  Can you just see all the vine stuff?  It was a mess!!  Wait for it though… This sight is about to look a whole lot different!!

See here?  Over Kirk’s shoulder (our builder) is the same hill, devoid of the overgrowth!!  Isn’t that something??  Oh, and meet Trey- the one walking and smiling.  We have the best builders!

Those trees are sitting somewhere near where the old well house picture I showed you earlier used to be.

Here’s an approximation of where those trees are stacked.  It was a serious wow moment when the trees were all just gone and the view opened up.  We knew it was good.  But not as good as it is now.  It is truly something special!!

We can see for 5 miles down the lake.  We are south/southwest facing on the back side.  Which on a lake house there are two fronts to the house.  The street front and the lake front.

And we knew we were a true construction site when they brought us a porta potty!!  And what is a day without a little levity.  I was cleaning out my basement and had this old goofy pumpkin.

I am quite sure this little spoof scared nobody!!  But I did get a good belly laugh placing it in there to be discovered by some lucky grader!  And then I found out what happened to it a few days later…

Gotta have some fun.  Life is short and we need more giggles in our lives.  That’s my theory anyway!  Laugh more, Bark less 🙂

Now I told y’all we have a 40 foot elevation drop from front to back.  This is a retaining wall we had to build to contain the dirt and help with the 40 feet.  It is big- I refer to it as the Great Wall of Lanier.

It is so cool to watch how quickly they can do what they are expert at doing.  And then suddenly a wall was built!


Next up, footings were poured.  Lots of them.  It seemed to make the house huge!!   But it is 5000 square feel, two levels, four bedrooms.

Here is a view of the length of the house.  The neighbors loom large at the moment.  They won’t for long!

We left town for Sea Island for a week.  I had an Entrepreneur’s Summit for Women.  Chris had golf.  This is what we came home to!!  Chris is 6’4″ and the walls are supposed to be 10 feet in the basement.  They call it the ‘Terrace Level’ these days!

Looks kind of huge huh?!

This will be my tornado room some day… 


And here is the drawing of our home sweet home.  It is white and has three sets of 8 foot doors across the front, and a ‘friend’ door over near the garage.  I am thinking I will do a dutch door over there.  I have always wanted one.  And it makes sense on that side of the house since it is where my Mom Bootsie will have her suite.  So if someone comes to the door she can open the top part of the dutch door and not let Louie our puppy out!  You know you can just open the top part and let the fresh air in.  Isn’t that awesome?

And speaking of awesome, I have been having sparks of joy whenever I go visit the home site.  It is so thrilling to be able to watch it’s growth, almost as if it is a living thing, like a tree planted in the spring.  Now let’s just pray for a dry spring season to continue this party till we are dried in and can work anytime!  Until then, I will continue to take pictures and give y’all an update soon.  Continue to join me on this journey won’t you?!  Thanks!



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