Here is a photograph looking South at the recent excavation adjacent to the house. This is the uphill, Western, side of the house. We used our old garden tiller to break up the hard soil and make it easier to shovel up the hill. I have done several projects with this excavation method. It is labor intensive though it does save money on equipment rentals. The other upside to this method is that the soil is not compacted by a large machine nor is it difficult to maneuver the small garden tiller into positions where a large excavator would not fit.
Here I have dug out some of the up hill area West of the house. The plan here is to create a concrete path to the back of the house ( North side). The path will be covered and the soil will be retained. The retaining wall will create a nice border for planting shade tolerant plants. The plant root structure will help mitigate water coming down the hill ( assisted by gravel in fill and a french drain) Placing concrete on the ground around the house will help with reducing pest problems inside the house as there will not be vegetation and soil directly proximal to the house to provide harborage.
Here is another shot looking at the excavation. On another note: the roof covering over the concrete path will be approximately four feet. This covering will allow us to forgo guttering the upper roof as the lower roof will catch all of the rain off of the upper one. The best long term reward here is in regard to accessibility. The upper roof is difficult to access relative to the lower roof. Being tucked into the woods means there will be a decent amount of leaf and needle litter that will deposit into gutters. Gutter cleaning will be imperative. The lower guttering will allow easier and safer access to the gutters. The pollen dropped off the pine trees make the upper roof slippery to work on in addition to their elevation. Ultimately, I would rather avoid the upper roof and so the lower roof and guttering create a little work for today and less for tomorrow.
The house is wrapped! We are almost completely dried in. I have a door to frame up and then we are golden.