It is surprising how much work (and money!) goes into the ground.
West Harris is an area of sandy machair (beautiful grasses and flowers growing on sand blown on the wind), and also areas of rock beneath and penetrating the surface. The rock is called gneiss, and is some of the oldest and hardest rock on the planet.
As we cut the ground, it was obvious from the outset that this was a challenging site. The sandy soils had very little structure and would slump when wet, requiring technical drainage and lots of retention structure. As the contractors tried to excavate for the lower floor of our building, they discovered a massive lump of gneiss in exactly the wrong place. Combined with the soil issues, we had a big decision to make - should we keep the lower storey at all? The more we looked at this, the more obvious the solution became.
The lower storey would actually look into the driveway up to the house, and the views would be partially obscured by it. We had a huge space for a double garage, with the most incredible views. Why not re-think, and build the house on one level, sitting on an elevated platform?
We still had to get rid of some of the rock, and the only route was dynamite. You can’t bring dynamite on a ferry for obvious reasons, so it has to be helicoptered in. Blasting was successful, and before too long we had our platform - ready to build our house at last!