Birds and Bones? Bring It On

Look at the top photo in the "Embracing Land's Beauty" article. Stunning, isn’t it? Architects and builders dream of filling their portfolio with projects like this, and many people work for years to retire in a custom beauty like this one. With its sweeping views, ocean breezes and the privacy of being perched high atop a cliff, who wouldn’t want to build on this property?

Many people, that’s who.

Why? Because the picture tells only part of the story. This house sits on American Indian burial ground, and right next to a bird sanctuary, both of which required extra time and expense to successfully address.

How would you like to deal with the close supervision and added costs that come with hiring a representative of the American Indian community to monitor your operations? Maybe you’d enjoy visits from wildlife officials or sound engineers who measure your crew’s noise levels to ensure the birds in the biological sanctuary next door aren’t disturbed?

And you think OSHA regulations are tough to deal with.

These construction challenges did not throw the folks at Wardell Builders off track. Confronting these issues was easier with clients who were driven by their vision, and had ample funds to support their project. But still, for Wardell, significant headaches remained. Sound was kept to a minimum to protect the birds, and many holes were dug for a series of caissons on which the house essentially floats above the burial ground. The amount of dirt disturbed by digging holes was much less than excavating for an entire foundation.

What did Wardell get for all the headaches? The result is a gorgeous home that won the grand prize in San Diego Home/Garden magazine’s Homes of the Year program. Congratulations to Wardell Builders and Safdie Rabines Architects for proving that hard work definitely has its rewards.

In a time when custom builders are faced with so many challenges, others should be inspired by those like Wardell Builders that commit to succeeding no matter what obstacles lie in their way. So whether you’re dealing with job sites being raided by the INS, escalating costs for basic building materials, or visitors from the EPA checking on your stormwater plan, realize that clients hire you — a custom builder — because they know you can get the job done.