While talking to our contractor, we learned that the James Hardie line of products was an option for us, and we decided to go with that instead of Certainteed, as we feel that their shingle siding looks more realistic.
For those of you who were pulling for cedar, all of our trims, decking, and decorative moldings will be made of cedar, so hopefully our house should still have some of that natural warmth.
Concern about the risk of forest fire also led us to change our mind about the Enviroshake roofing shingles. It turns out they only have a Class "C" fire rating, so we tossed around the idea of going back to the steel roof option. Unfortunately, the curved roof over our front entrance is concave, and standing seam steel roofs can only be used on convex curves. Can you see where this is going? You guessed it - we ended up having to go with the product that we were hoping to avoid in the first place - asphalt shingles. The upside is, they have a Class "A" fire rating, and since we opted for the ones that come with a lifetime warranty, we hopefully won't have to deal with replacing them in our lifetime. If we ever build another house, we'll be sure to avoid house plans with curves in the roofline (although that was one of the things that drew us to this particular plan!).
See that lovely mud pit above? We finally have a hole in the ground! This was taken on the day that we went over to the property to spray paint the house's footprint on the ground so the blasters could come in and make some room for the foundation. The house is going to run the length of the rock along the trench that you see on the left, with the back extending over the rock's slope, and the front entrance on the right hand side on the rock. I was initially against blasting to put in a basement, but because of where the house has to go (due to covenants, etc.), the front of the house was going to require a 9 foot foundation wall anyway, so it made sense to blast out a little bit more of the rock to give us a full basement for storage (that way we don't have to build a garage or shed right away). At this point, the blasting is nearly done, and we're hoping that the foundation will start going in over the next few weeks.
We're currently recovering from a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, and we've been happily munching on leftovers every day since Sunday. Saturday was also the last regular farmer's market of the year, so we stocked up on apples, asian pears, cranberries and honey. Luckily, they're planning to do bimonthly winter markets this year, so we didn't have to stockpile quite as much as usual.
I'm not sure how much time I'll have for posting in the coming months, as things are just starting to rev up for us. Our part of the work probably won't begin until around December however, so I should be around for another month or so. I look forward to catching up with all of you again - I've fallen way behind in my blog reading!
Thanks again for the good advice!