Tips for Building on a Slope

Tips for Building on a Slope

Many of Australia’s most beautiful and interesting homes are built on sloping blocks because a well-designed home on a slope offers many opportunities not available on the flat.

Sweeping views are the most obvious but a home on a hill can also have other benefits such as capturing prevailing breezes to cool the home in summer.

It can also allow for multiple levels to be lit by natural light including the ground floor which would otherwise be overshadowed in urban areas by the neighbours.

As an added benefit, a sloping block tends to result in a home with more character because of the creative architecture needed to work with the land to deal with its unique topography.

So, if you are considering buying a sloping block, here are our tips to ensure you get the most out of it.

  1. Don’t rule it out automatically – Many people dismiss a sloping block of land because they think it brings too many complications. But sloping blocks are generally cheaper than a flat equivalent. So any additional building cost can be offset by your savings from acquiring the land.
  2. Choose an experienced builder and architect – Building on a slope requires special skills so make sure you choose a builder with experience on sloping blocks and the same goes if you use an architect.
  3. Choose an appropriate house type - The slope has an impact on the type of home that can be built. Flat land matches the slab-on-ground building type. Steeply sloping blocks are usually more suitable for pole-framed homes. Taking this into account will minimise the amount of cut and fill needed to accommodate the slope, which reduces costs and environmental damage.
  4. Orientation counts even more – Orientation is important wherever you build but even more so on a hill. Obviously, you want to capture the view but big glass panoramas can expose the home to unacceptable sun in summer and wind in winter if the home is incorrectly oriented.
  5. Direction of Slope Is Key – Which way does the block slope from the road? This will dictate the ideal design of the house. If it slopes up from the road, you will usually want the garage at the bottom of the home and the living areas above. If it slopes down from the road, a split level that follows the block down, with living areas in the back, may be more suitable.
  6. Deal with storm water runoff at the start - Steeply sloping sites increase storm water runoff above and below the surface, from surrounding land and the site itself. This is one of the biggest concerns for buyers of sloping blocks. Don’t skimp on managing this at the building stage because it is much more expensive to fix problems afterwards.
  7. Consider Access: A severely sloping block can be difficult to access and require extra costs in transporting materials to the site.
 
This may seem like a lot to consider, but most site problems can be overcome by an experienced team with an appropriate budget, and some can be turned into assets.

Handled properly, water, rocks, and steep slopes can become important landscaping features that make your home special.

Get it right and you can have a beautiful and interesting home with more character than you can get on the flat.

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