So the 6' rear retaining wall sounded like a great idea at the homesite, but apparently I was wrong. Met with our site expert yesterday (my Dad), who showed my the error of my ways...
Option 1: Go with a full-size retaining wall in the back (9' - 10')
Pros: Since the back fill dirt can only sit on concrete (and not a wood wall) so as to prevent the house from rotting away... this option gives us the shortest distance between the ground level and the front door. You see, apparently there is a great deal of math involved... If the wall is 9' and the floor joists are 9" tall... then it's 9' 9" from the basement floor to the top of the floor joists. Add another 1/2" of floorboards and 1/2" of flooring.. you have added another inch to the equation. 9' 10" from the bottom of the basement wall to the floor at the front door. Simple enough.
Since the dirt level at the front of the house MUST be up against the concrete (and usually below the top to prevent moisture from seeping in to the floor joists), I am budgeting about 12" from the dirt level to the top of the concrete retaining wall.
So what? If the ground level is at 0 and we add the 12" of concrete wall, add 9" for the floor joists, add 1/2" for floorboards, add 1/2" for flooring... then the front door is 22" (1' 10") higher than the ground! Good thing they invented stairs. Were thinking maybe 2 treads and 3 risers.
Cons: Holy expensive Batman... Concrete is a LOT more expensive than wood framing.
Option 2: Go with a 5' or 6' concrete retaining wall in the back, and add 4'-5' wood framing on top of it
Pros: Cheaper.. much cheaper. Like thousands cheaper.
Cons: See equation above. 1' 10" didn't sound too bad. Well for every 1' of concrete you take away, also add 1' to the rise in your staircase to the front door. This is something I did not account for in the original layout. If we pour a 6' wall and add 3' of wood framing too it.. we save a few thousand in foundation costs... however this makes the front door 4' 9" higher than the dirt level (and parking). Holy awkward right?
OK I'm done ranting. Were headed to Adair in Lincoln City today to meet with Josh and pick out all the insides for the house! We've been struggling with a "theme", since our modern furniture and oriental accents hardly fit with our new farm-style arrangement!