We've hired the biggest excavating machine possible, in an effort to trade of volume and weight of rocks moveable against the time and cost it will take. This machine can move rocks (not lift them) up to around 15 tons, but much more than that and the direction will turn to jack-hammering, or explosives, or a decision to redisign the house to avoid the largest of rocks.

So far, luck has been with us. The grading is going well, with only a few tough "world rocks" (that's what they call the ones that are attached to the rest of the planet) to deal with, the rains have held off, and we're getting a ton of free dirt for fill.

First step, bring in a lot of dirt so the excavator can actually get from the street to our lot

For the really big stuff that won't move, the routine seems to be to drop some other huge rock on it and see if you can break it in pieces. This works some of the time.

Of course a fair number of trees will have to go. Better now when they're like toothpicks to this machine.

Starting to look like a driveway...

That view's getting better all the time!

To build up the pad under the house, we first need to pull out all rocks and topsoil...

We've had to use the jackhammer a bit for some nasty rocks in the driveway, but thankfully most of the grading so far has been done without it.

...then in comes a few hundred yards of dirt!

Then spread it and compact it, one foot at a time

For a brief moment, it looks like we're done with the house pad, but then another layer of dirt gets added. This is the "north wing" of the house.

Once again we're buried in rocks!

Mike and I have laid out the house several times, to make sure the various drawings Gwen and I come up with will fit on the lot.

Starting the grading for the "west wing" of the house

We'll have a basement area under the west wing of the house.

Loose rock hanging out over the driveway.

Not sure why we hired an excavator when Mike can just lift these things around?

After blasting out the last of the rock in the driveway, and hauling away truckload after truckload of rock, we're finally done with the site preparation!

View up from the downhill street.

View up from outside the development.