Silver Bay, NY
Tony DeFranco had worked with Ric Santamaria of Round Tree Construction on a previous project in the Adirondacks, when he called about a potential project that a homebuyer would like to tear down and replace an existing lake house on Lake George. It is very common to see a small cabin being replaced with a larger modern house along these shores.
In this case, Ric explained to Tony that the house was going to be larger inside, but on a smaller footprint. Tony was skeptical at first on how this would work, but had complete trust in Ric’s abilities and skills. The plan was to create a loft on the upper floor, but to meet the strict Adirondack Park Agency (APA) height requirements; the walkout basement was sunk into the ground. The house is very quant in appearance from the street side and does not stand out in the neighborhood, however when you enter the house and walk through the 3-1/2 stories of living space-you will be blown away with all the open space. The house’s interior was framed in with steel to eliminate those columns to provide an open floor plan with beautiful unobstructed views of Lake George.
Ric relied on Tony’s consulting engineering business to provide site design and permitting for the project. The project had a very tight deadline to obtain approvals to begin work in the fall of 2015. The project design started on August 9th, 2015. Typically, permitting in the Adirondacks and particularly projects on the shorefront of Lake George can take between 12 to 16-months to obtain the necessary permit approvals. Ric had devised a plan to reduce the building footprint and figured a way to handle the building height, now it was up to Tony to reduce the amount of proposed impervious surface area to help aid in reducing the site’s impacts on the lake. Tony was able to reduce the amount of impervious area and provide enough water quality volume with green infrastructure. However, Ric and the homeowner’s decision to make the driveway out of porous pavement further reduced the project’s impact on the lake. LGPC Stormwater Permits were obtained on September 18, 2015, in a record 6-week turn-around from the start of the design process, much of that can be credited to Ric’s attention to detail and concern for the environment and Tony’s knowledge of the local permitting process.
Ric also wanted Tony’s landscaping business to handle all of the extensive shorefront landscaping work. “Our two businesses make us unique, we have the technical expertise and the reputation for doing what is right around one of the most heavily regulated bodies of water in the country. We work with a lot of builders and architects from outside of Lake George, because we have inside working knowledge of how projects must be designed, permitted and constructed on these shorelines”, notes DeFranco.
DeFranco Landscaping, Inc., a full-service professional landscaping company that specializes in serving lake front properties along the shores of Lake George and surrounding Adirondack region. DeFranco is a licensed professional engineer, with a degree in civil and environmental engineering from Clarkson University and also a Certified Nursery & Landscape Professional (CNLP) with the New York State Nursery & Landscape Association.
The shoreline work started the week of 4th of July, at the peak of the summer tourist season on Lake George, which meant that the project could expect numerous neighborhood “inspectors” who would be critiquing DeFranco’s shoreline work. “We had people stop by in kayaks, swimmers that walked up on the shore, our crews saw it all. We were not required to put in a turbidity curtain. We put it in as a ‘just-in case’ measure. It helped provide us some distance to keep people on the water out of our construction site too.”, noted DeFranco.
DeFranco’s crews had to work down to the shoreline while the house was under construction and start by removing all of the existing walls and patios. “We basically started at the lake level and worked our way back out of the site while the site was full of other construction activities. It is not the ideal way to work on a shorefront lot. There’s only one way in and there is usually no easy way to get equipment down to the lakeshore. We really love these challenging site, it makes me have to think and get out of your comfort zone. And eventually your level of comfort improves with the more experience you get and your threshold for discomfort increases-if that makes sense. Our crews become very comfortable working right next to one of the most heavily regulated bodies of water, where many people would run away. It might help that our crews have the confidence in knowing that I have obtained all the necessary permits too. ”, DeFranco states.
A new timber wall was constructed along the shorefront with concrete foundations to support a new articulating dock system. A permeable bluestone patio was placed on top of the wall in a small flat area with a set of bluestone steps that lead people back up to the house. Native shoreline plantings cover the shorefront banks. “We pretty much excavated the entire shorefront two times, except for an area around the lone Oak tree on the shorefront. And we had to use some creative construction techniques to tear out a wall and then build a new wall around that big oak tree that sits right on the shorefront. Ric had experience working on a similar project and understood the process. I owe a lot of our success on this project to Ric.”, states DeFranco. The project was completed in the summer of 2017.