Where do you really want to put that perfect view? It’s why you bought your property, isn’t it? And it might even be what makes your property more valuable than the properties on either side of you. So why wouldn’t you want to put your house right on top of that peak and put that million-dollar view right smack dab in the middle of your picture window?
Well, there are at least a couple of reasons. First, if you have a great view from your house site, there’s a good chance that a lot of people will in turn have a great view of your house site, particularly if it’s perched on top of a peak, and particularly after you’ve cleared a couple of hundred feet all around it to comply with fire safety regulations. You see these prideful edifices on top of peaks wherever, it seems, property owners are able to cut a road up to them. Ellen and I have a word for them – “tit houses,” for obvious reasons (though perhaps “nipple house” would be more precise.) Our horizons, our vistas, are diminished by these scars on our landscapes, and I believe there is a feeling of discomfort, of exposure that diminishes in turn some of the comfort and privacy and protection we would expect from a home not so prominently placed. (And I am reminded of the grand mansions built by the Dutch plantation owners in the Virgin Islands, build of stone atop the highest of peaks to stake their claim and assert their dominance over this new land and its people – while remnants of the fragile wood villages of the native people still remained surprisingly intact tucked away into protected, sheltered areas on the valley floors, those stone Dutch mansions had been long since pounded to rubble by the elements, and I think there may be a moral there.)
In the absence of County regulations, though, or far-sighted CC&Rs which proscribe building upon these peaks and ridgelines, to protect the views for us all, property owners and spec builders will likely continue to be drawn irresistibly to the highest, most far-seeing pieces of land, and the impacts of that construction will be borne by anyone who looks across a hitherto-undisturbed horizon and can only imagine what it might have looked like before.
But there may another reason to rethink placing your house up on the very top of that ridge, and placing that million dollar view right smack dab in the middle of your plate glass windows – if the view is truly a special one, you’ll want to keep it that way, so you can continue to experience that sense of wonder and discovery you had the first time you looked out upon it. We cannot help but go blind looking at the same view from the same place over and over, where if we reveal just a tantalizing glimpses of the view from some of the windows of our house or the chaise lounges of our decks, and leave the main event a short distance away, perhaps to be savored from a bench or gazebo, saved for more special occasions, then perhaps we can keep that view fresh and alive, to be continually rediscovered, and to continue to delight and inspire us.