In 1991 the construction started on our second home in Moonridge, which is in Big Bear Lake, California. As we purchased the home from the original owners, they were kind enough to give us photographs of the original construction.
As far as I am aware this is probably the earliest photograph of the house under construction. What we are looking at here is the main staircase which is set in concrete and surrounded in brick, leading up to the wooden deck which in turn leads to the front door.
These are the concrete foundation piles which are 6 feet tall and 12 inches across. The entire house and deck rest on these piles, so it's obviously very important to make sure that the earth around these piles remains in good shape. When we purchased the property, 4 of the piles had to be dug out and recapped due to slippage and erosion in the soil from earthquakes and water. Although it sounds alarming, this is a routine procedure for houses of this type and location.
This photograph shows the entire location of the deck foundation with main staircase, basically finished. The other half of the staircase will be completed in wood as part of the deck construction.
When I think about it, this is probably the very first photograph of the construction as it show the driveway without its concrete and a nice shot of the french drain, now buried deep beneath earth behind the retaining wall.
Interestingly, the truck is parked where the entrance to the garage has been constructed. It's a shame that there are not any photographs in my possession of the garage foundations as that is where the water lines and electricity enter the building and it would have been interesting to see them before they were all covered in concrete!
I really like these two photographs as they clearly show that the house in fact a perfect square shape. The tree in this photo now grows up through the middle of the deck.
When you walk into the house today, you would be convinced it is twice a wide as it is deep, but it's only when you see the plans that you realize it is indeed a perfect square.
One of the biggest and most important features of the house are the large retaining walls which basically keep everything on the hill from sliding down into the street below. There are actually two sets of walls holding back all the earth on the mountain. This is the wall closest to the street, as you can see it's of fairly solid construction and survived the 1992 earthquake.
It's quite interesting to see this photograph as the wooden frames are nothing to do with the main rooms of the house at all, they are just the beams which form the walls of the basement. The horizontal beams are at the level of the first crossbeams which will provide the strength for the wooden floor boards to be placed on (that's the ground floor in layman's terms).
I guess because the original owners primary residence was far from Big Bear, the next photo in the construction collection is of the completed house itself. Those tiny pine trees in front of the deck now tower proudly above it, higher than the handrail. It looks like the top set of windows are parallel with the large bottom window , when in fact the are cut out of the central supporting wall, 50% back from the front of the house.
One thing to note is that the bear, with it's own purpose built stone seat and lamp was at the house from the very beginning. The rather pot-bellied bear still sits on his log today and has is own hat, fishing rod and bag, which I'm sure we'll cover on a later post.