Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative

On Habitat, The Homestead

Homestead Homework: Challenge #1 – Low-Lying Land


Just because you find the perfect spot to build, does not mean it’s going to be the easiest spot to build on. For a long time, Andrew and I had been envisioning the spot we would build and anticipated some issues but you just can’t anticipate everything – including the cost. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that building a home is not cheap. So this is where we currently find ourselves.

We’re in the process of interviewing architects and builders and that’s actually been the most successful part of this process so far. We’ve been lucky to have really liked and connected with the people we’ve spoken to and they’ve been extremely helpful in giving us direction and things we should be considering at this stage in the process.

Determining whether the land is build-able has been a bit more of a challenge – challenges that I’ll be sharing with you as I have time to write them up!

Because the property is low-lying according to the 100 year floodplain map, we need a geotechnical soil test done, mainly to determine what kind of foundation we need and whether it will include a basement. Not cheap and a bit of a pain in the butt because a lot of these businesses don’t deal with residential and also don’t seem to check their emails. Gah!

What this entails is drilling down into the soil in the spot we plan to build, then pulling a sample to analyze and determine the make up of the soil (whether it’s sandy or clay or whatever) amongst other things. We have a good friend who is a civil engineer in the Chicago-area and has been super helpful in giving us guidance on what we need done, what questions we need to ask and what we should expect. We sent him a Google map pin of the site location and based on his initial survey, just looking at the elevation and flood plain map, he thinks we should be just high enough to get in a basement. We should be able to build up out of the ground a couple feet if need be to ensure we don’t have water issues. But we still have to get the geotechnical boring done to be 100% sure.

Planning on getting that done here in the next few weeks (hopefully) so will report back once we have that figured out! Check back for challenge #2 later this week.

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