First Colony Residence

Back in the mid 70’s, there wasn’t much awareness of the impact of building construction on water quality. And like the owners of this project, people were able to get amazing views by building their houses right on the edge of a creek or river. Today, you would never be able to build this close to a natural water body, and for good reason. We all know now how important it is to protect our natural resources, most importantly, the Chesapeake Bay. And one of the biggest problems facing the bay is the impact of increased construction within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

In 1988, Virginia adopted the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Ordinance to help protect the bay. The act established a 100-foot set back from any natural water body within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These buffers were designated as RPA’s or Resource Protection Areas, and construction was no longer permitted in those areas without an official waiver. Since the house was built entirely within an RPA, there were a lot of restrictions and complications to deal with.

The cross-shaped house is built entirely within the green 100′ RPA zone.

Luckily for the clients, because the house predated the Bay Act, they could rebuild or renovate any part of the building that was within the existing footprint of the house. But for areas beyond the original footprint, like the enlarged front deck and new walkways, Hertzler & George had to go through a permit process with James City County. This involved calculating the square footage of all the proposed construction outside of the original building footprint and installing mitigation plantings using a standard County formula. The new native plantings help absorb excess runoff from the newly created impervious areas.

The back deck had a gorgeous view of a small tributary of the James River. But it had to be removed when foundation repairs were made to  the house to address problems caused by the dreaded shrink/swell soil we have in our area. Luckily, the footprint of the original deck was fairly large and it wasn’t necessary to get permission to rebuild it.

Because we wanted to preserve as much of the view from the back deck as possible, we decided to use a cable rail system by Railing Works. Once installed, the cable railing was about as unobtrusive as we could get. For the decking, the clients decided to go with a composite product over wood because of durability and reduced maintenance. We looked at a few possible manufacturers and ended up going with Azek decking. Working with the client, we came up with a pattern of diagonal boards with contrasting banding.

Unlike the back, the clients did want to enlarge the front deck, which required getting permission from the County. H&G’s built-in seating and planters help to create the feeling of an outdoor room.

Side Path
There were a couple of problems to address at the side of the house. There was an existing dirt path winding down a steep slope that was especially treacherous in the fall when it was covered with wet leaves. And there was a fair amount of erosion caused by rainwater falling off the steep roof. To provide better access to the basement storage area, Hertzler & George installed a concrete paver walkway with steps and a low curving retaining wall. The wall was also part of a system of ground gutters and drain pipes that helped address the erosion and channel the water away from the foundation.

In the front of the house, the clients, who were now getting older, were having difficulty navigating the cramped gravel driveway, and there was no truly defined parking area. H&G designed a new drive and parking court that gives them ample space for maneuvering their car. The clients chose an exposed aggregate finish, and to add some visual interest, we edged it with contrasting concrete edgers.

3D Design
Because the project involved multiple levels and varying slopes, we decided that it would be helpful to create a 3D model during the design process (click here to learn more about 3D modeling). The SketchUp software H&G used was crucial for helping the clients visualize how all the pieces of the design worked together, and they were able to look at several different options from whatever view they wanted. They also enjoyed playing around with the software themselves to try out different colors and material patterns.

We’re Here To Help
Do you have similar issues with RPA areas? Perhaps you need to expand a deck or you want install a path down to lake. Or maybe you need  native plantings  to stabilize an eroding slope. Hertzler & George can help you through every step of the permit process and get your project built. Give us a call!

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Bed Transformation!

Once again I am very pleased with the excellent work H&G did on my property.  They turned a section of my ugly front yard with invasive Bermuda grass into a beautiful and simple flower bed with mulch and many small bushes.  This striking transformation adds greatly to the house’s curb appeal.  I look forward to them coming back out this fall and replacing the rest of the front yard with sod and removing all the undesirable Bermuda grass.  Brian was easy and pleasant to work and plan with.  He always responded to my questions immediately.  Jon and his crew were likewise very nice, efficient, and perfectionists in planting my new yard.  Many thanks and accolades to H&G once again!

Sandy Hall

So thankful to be a customer!

when i returned to williamsburg in 2022, it was a real challenge to find a company willing to take on “yet one more customer” – i was ignored and turned down by others… but hertzler and george came to my rescue and i could not be happier – wonderful staff, professional and so friendly, i completely trust them to service my yard!  merry christmas and happy new year to everyone and H&G!


Drainage Help

I would like to let you know how happy we are with the service we received recently.
We had a drainage issue in our yard and did some research, learned your company was highly recommended and decided to see what your company could do.
From the first contact, we had a great experience as the lady that answered the phone was very nice. She put us in contact with Brian Kemp who we also liked from the start, and we made an appt for him to come and take a look. He was right on time, very thorough, and just a very nice fella who we both liked right away and had confidence in. We really liked how he gave us options and listened to what we wanted. We scheduled the work, it was done right on time, and it looks great! Brian was even nice enough to do a video walk through for us afterwards as we weren’t in town. Just great service from start to finish! Thank you Brian

We will definitely be back with more projects in the future.

T.M. - Ford's Colony

Thank You

Just a short note to thank you for all the help you gave us with our garden this year. Jonathon again did a wonderful job doing the bed detailing this summer, as did the mulching crew in the spring. I don’t know the name of the woman who supervised the mulching crew, but I want to let you know how professional she was. In fact, the entire crew was pleasant to work with, especially to experience the care that they took with their work.

Thanks also for being so flexible with the changes we requested for our mowing schedule.

E.L. - Ford's Colony

Always Helpful

Brian came out last week to try to assess a problem we are having in our yard.  He arrived on time, was extremely courteous and took a considerable amount of time analyzing our situation.  While he was unable to reach a solution, he did take the time to research and recommend another business that might be able to help us.  That kind of customer service will make us more likely to call on Hertzler & George if other issues arise.  Thanks, Brian!