Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Decision

Lot #28, Day
Originally uploaded by tropo
We have seen dozens of pieces of property. Some have been much larger, some of have been smaller. Many have been cheaper. I think my husband was most in love with the two acres also in MacDonald Highlands, just because it was such a huge piece of property. It was tucked in the back of some hills and had privacy in all directions, including the fact that it was one of only nine house to be built on that road. But once we saw the night view from Lot #28, even he was sold that this was the perfect piece of property to build on. The night view is simply spectacular, all of the Strip and most of the valley from Anthem to Lake Las Vegas.

Does this mean that this is the perfect piece of land? Rarely is a piece of land perfect. It might have a great view, but be really steep. It may be flat, but small. This lot has a road that curves around three sides of the property. I am worried that the house will not be as private as I would like it to be, even though the road will have very little traffic on it. The original piece of land was a steep, steep slope, but the road construction company filled in a pad across almost the entire piece of property. We will still have to do a lot of engineering to make the fill stable enough for a house. And the house cannot be more than one story above the pad height. That means that whatever we design will probably be two stories and spill down the hillside. Although we are really grateful to have a one story house now after the "house of stairs" that we owned in Burlingame, I think we can handle two stories, especially if we add an elevator or at least a dumbwaiter.

Now comes the really exciting part: actually designing the house. We are going to interview two construction companies on Monday and Tuesday. Later on there will be interviews with architects, kitchen designers, landscapers, and media consultants. We have talked about the functional areas we would like to see on this piece of land. Now to see if we can make all the parts fit.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Do You Golf?

I know some of you, especially from the East Coast, will probably find the rocky landscape pictures from yesterday somewhat depressing. These lots may be more to your style. This is a different development surrounding a golf course and filled with houses that are more Tuscan influenced. Most of the lots face the golf course and some have a strip view.

This is a typical half acre lot with a view of the strip to the north. About three quarters of it is buildable, with a portion of steep slope down to the golf course below. The buildable land is perfectly flat fill and priced very reasonably. There is no earth moving or engineering to worry about. I'm sure many people would find this heavenly. But to us it just seems boring. We are not golfers. Privacy and space are more important to us than greenery. The option of building a very different, very unique house is more appealing to us than another McMansion. I tried very hard to like this community, but in the end we are going back to the first rocky community (which does have a golf course, but not next to any of the properties that we are interested in). Tomorrow morning we will walk some of the properties again that we saw in the late afternoon. We will also go back after dark to see what views the properties have of the sparkling strip and city lights.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Five years ago we moved to Clark County, Nevada, from the San Francisco Bay Area. Our plan was to buy a temporary house and to start building our Dream House. But as life often does, it got in the way and only now are we ready to build The House. At least in the last thirty years we have bought, designed, remodeled, and sold many houses and condominiums. We are experienced and know what to expect, but we also know that the unexpected is just around the corner. Although we have some ideas about the type of house we want (private, contemporary), we know that the land will dictate the design. So starting last Thursday we started looking for land. Land in Clark County comes in two types; slopes and flat. All of them are going to be pretty rocky. The first lot we looked at has a 60 - 70 degree slope. It also has a phenomenal view of the Las Vegas Strip. At night the lights would be mesmerizing. But the building restrictions on such a slope and ridgeline are also pretty daunting. We looked at a lot of sloping land, even one that starts with a twenty foot rock wall that my husband likened to the Mines of Moria.

Other land is flat. No not originally flat, but filled flat. This is a two acre parcel surrounded by hills. It is surrounded by a curved road and would make a spectacularly beautiful private compound. But it does not have a strip view, which is why it is priced much less than the surrounding properties. When we first moved here we thought that the next house would have a spectacular strip view, but the house we are in now has no view at all. Instead it is focused on the backyard which has a spectacular pool. Do we really need a view? Can we build on a slope and go back to the House of Stairs we once lived in in California? It certainly is nice to have everything on one level. While we debated these questions, we looked at another community which features a golf course and not just rocks.