Here's what the new house is looking like right now. The floor joists have been added as well as the foundation gravel for the driveway. There's a lot of embedded piping going in. The framing is probably about to go in, too.
We had hoped the driveway would be less steep than it looks like it's going to be. Drat. I think it'll work out, but I suppose that's part of the hassle of living on a hill: things are frequently steep.
The garage is actually fairly large. It's a 2-car garage with an additional keyhole area that is generally used for a work area. The master bathroom and closet have been expanded somewhat at the expense of this work area, which is fine with me. I'm sure that boxes will end up being stored here for a while, but because this house has a lot more room than the current house for books, there are going to be fewer boxes.
The fence currently ends on the one side at the next-door neighbor's driveway. We've noticed that they store their garbage cans on the side (a logical place for them) but looking at their garbage cans—or anyone's garbage cans—is not a big scenic attraction, so we're probably going to have the fence extended. I hope they like cats and are generally friendly sorts on all sides of us; it's going to be difficult if we have crappy or unfriendly neighbors.
We were a little concerned about feeling like we were in the bottom of a well, but in fact the bottom of the windows in the house are going to be about level with the top of the retaining wall, so we'll have plenty of good view of the plants (read "rock roses and lavender") in the hillside that's part of our back yard. There isn't going to be a lot of backyard, sadly, but that's the way it goes.
The retaining wall and hillside run all the way across the back of the property. There's going to be a board fence at the top of the hill so we'll have a little privacy from the house above us. We're thinking of terracing this. I remember as a boy that the house my parents built in Cheney had a hillside similar to this in size and shape and my parents terraced it with railroad ties and then planted things in it, particularly squashes and strawberries. I'm willing to pass on the strawberries but I love the idea of squashes and the like being planted here. The big question will be access: how to get up and down it without having to climb huge rocks and so on. Don't have an answer for that one, yet.