May 10, 2008

Moving mountains

Dug out hill

If you have property with a steep slope in Honduras, no problema! Just cut the hill away. There is a problem, though, in that you'll need a very tall and very strong retaining wall to keep the rest of the hill from falling on your house during rainy season. The wall will also need a lot of drainage holes or the pressure of the tropical rains absorbed by the soil will knock the wall down on your house.

To give you bearings, I think that those cement blocks are on the sidewalk. The pile of dirt is spilling over on the street, which slopes downhill. The house will be at street level with maybe 10 feet (3 meters) of land in front and back of it.

Another consideration is the neighboring lot. Depending upon what the neighbor does, he could be putting a lot of pressure on that wall. Or even worse, what if decides he wants a flat lot, too? Then the two neighbors will have a 20-25 foot tall wall (6-8 meters) between their houses. Not pretty and probably dangerous.

Flat is "in" in Honduras! I've seen a lot of this and I've also seen a lot of walls that have fallen down. Most people don't want to spend the money to hire an engineer to design a good wall.

We were advised to level our steeply sloping lot. I can't even imagine how many dump trucks of dirt it would take to fill it up! I would guess that the lowest part is at least 25 to 30 feet (8-9 meters) lower than the front. Not to mention that the slope and the drop-off at the back of the lot are what make the lot so interesting to us and provide so many gardening possibilities. We even built our house to flow with the slope. We have 5 different levels inside.

Apparently there will never be a shortage of fill dirt in Honduras. Imagine moving the hills from one place to another.
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