Graham Jones, the owner of Hawks Hill Builders in Mechanicsville, Virginia, knew this project was going to be a challenging build, but until he actually started he had no idea just how difficult the task was going to be. The building site was a steep slope adjacent to an existing home, with another dwelling not too far to the other side. Designed by architect Scott Stephens, the garage was going to be a three story structure, with storage on the lower floor, a three bay garage on the upper ground floor entrance level, and a large room on the top level to be used as an office, with two dormers on the front and a long single dormer on the rear. Due to the steep slope and the need to support the garage floor steel supports were going to be needed to uphold the building. This was definitely not the average residential garage, in scope, or in construction.
The front elevation of the finished garage.
The rear elevation of the finished garage, and an indication of the steep slope of the the building site.
The ‘before’ photo, taken from the backside of the building site.
To get started two massive trees were cut down and the stumps removed, and then the excavation commenced. (All progress photos courtesy Graham Jones, Jr)
Some rock was encountered, which was not that big of a surprise. What was a surprise was that the encountered rock was almost one solid boulder, extending almost the entire length and width of the dig, and clearly not certain how deep. The project almost came to a halt.
Like a giant rock iceberg, only a small portion of the boulder is visible
However, the homeowner gave the go ahead to proceed, and proceeding meant blasting. Setting off dynamite in such close proximity to existing homes was not without its hazards. But with the help of highly trained explosives experts from Blasting Services of Rockville, Virginia, the massive boulder was slowly broken into manageable chunks.
After the dynamite -1
These boulders were then used to shore up the new grade elevation at the bottom of the slope. Once excavation was complete, the garage proceeded to go up as originally planned. There were problems encountered, but none as big, literally or figuratively, as the enormous rock formation that nearly stopped this project before it got started.
Note the close proximity of the existing homes. Not the ideal place for setting off dynamite!
As seen in the above image, the rear yard was raised some 4 to 6 feet, anchored in place by the boulders blasted out of the garage site.
It took a huge amount of steel to not only anchor the building, but hold up the garage floor, the weight of three vehicles, plus the remainder of the building.
Huge steel beams support the weight of the building.
The steel beams are installed
Of the three garage bays, the far left bay doubles as a wash station. A fully functioning, restored antique air pump fits in nicely in the back corner of the wash bay.
The top floor, the office, is one big room with a fireplace at one end, and the stairwell, half bath, and cabinetry at the other. The front of the room has two dormers, while the rear has one long continuous dormer.