The house earthwork and foundation are progressing well. Below is one image of our new concrete walls, and you can also visit a full web gallery of photos.
These photos are actually 10 days old, as I've just been too busy to post them! I'll take new photos at the end of the week to show the additional progress.
On the news front, the surprisingly different grade than the survey indicated continues to challenge us, though our team has been great at adapting to the situation and making lemonade from lemons. We've changed the site plan a bit by removing retaining walls along the west side of the property, and adding one to the east side. We also are going to use some of the rocks from the rockery at the front of the property to create a new rockery wall in our backyard. The rocks will retain the grade change along the north property line, so that we can still have a level backyard.
Finally, with the change to expand the basement level there was a miscommunication, and a bit of extra wall was poured full-height that wasn't originally intended to be full height (in the upper-right corner of the above photograph). However, given the grade along this area of the property, our architect felt it was a lucky accident since some sort of wall is needed in that area to retain the taller grade, anyways. So, he did some small modifications to the laundry/storage area to incorporate it, and we're happy with the new design. I will post the new floorplan early next week.
One more surprise is that when we unearthed the sewer out line, we found that it was 3' higher than the slab level. This means $900 will need to be spent on a sewage pump and installation, since gravity won't pull water up from basement fixtures. We've now spent about 25% of our contingency budget; apparently most of the surprises occur during this phase of construction, however, so I've been assured we're doing well on budget. The next stage is to pour the slab with radiant heat, and create the retaining walls and hardscape along the south and east sides of the property.