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Last year, we had an opportunity to buy a one-acre lot in a desirable neighborhood at a very attractive price. In many ways it was the perfect spot for the spec house we wanted to build. But the low price came at a cost: Building there, we knew, would be a challenge. The lot had a bowl-like configuration with a designated wetland at the bottom. The only possible building site lay close to the street that defined the lot’s upper boundary, and the grade dropped about 16 feet over the 75-foot distance to the permissible rear limit of work.
The best option, we decided, was to create a usable, level front yard by cutting and filling the slope between the foundation and the street. The front yard was also the only place to put a septic system, which by code can’t be installed within 100 feet of any wetland. An existing municipal storm drain limited the available space even further.