Building on Sloping Land – What to Consider

Building your own home is an exciting undertaking. Whether you hire a builder or you are hiring trades yourself and acting as the contractor, then the next step is to purchase a block of land where you will build your new home. You may not have considered sloping land, but there are many types of blocks including sloping blocks with a view. A sloping site can be wonderful, and it can be frustrating, all at the same time. A sloping site is land located on a decline or an incline and is not flat like a standard plot of land. Here are some of the things that you should consider if you decide that you will be building on sloping land.

What is the Direction and Severity of the Slope?

Some land slopes up while other land slopes down. Some may even slope on either side. The upslope land is more costly to build on than land that slopes away and down from road access because more cut and fill will be required to ensure that the land can be built upon. Retaining walls will also need to be constructed. It is also important to understand that severity of the grade so that the home can be designed to suit and fit into the building site.

Costs

There are some serious challenges when it comes to building on sloping land and that means that you will need to come up with some creative ways to get the work done. Slopes make building more challenging, and it can make the costs of getting the building done add up. In fact, building on a slope can be more expensive than building on a flat parcel. Some of the extra costs could be added footings to hold the home in place, back filling to create a base for your foundation and the cost of trying to clear an area to build your home.

Ground Conditions

You should consider soil testing completed by a qualified geotechnical engineer to help you to determine ground’s stability. If clay and sand make up the soil in your land, you will want to reconsider building plans since the ground will settle often and dramatically. If rock is encountered, then the cost of excavation can be substantial which means that the house will need to be built away from the sloped area. Too much moisture can create an added risk of moisture build-up which can lead to dampness in the basement of your home, and it can put address pressure onto your structure.

Best Drainage and Ventilation

The higher up the land is located, the better the ventilation. The air has a cross flow, and this means that your energy bills will be lower. If your home is placed on a slope the slope will also provide natural drainage. You will never have to worry about your home being flooded during the rainy season and you will not have to worry about not getting enough air flowing through your home because it will be in an area that allows you to take advantage of all of the natural options to make your home better.

Natural Lighting

You could save quite a bit of money on lighting costs since your home will be on a slope which ensures that it will gain all the best natural light. Natural light is a feature that many home buyers are looking for in a new home. This is something that can make the interior of a home very welcoming and extremely comfortable. If you can take advantage of a sloped lot that has plenty of natural lighting, you can alter your home plan to incorporate plenty of windows and let more natural light in.

Design Options for Landscaping

Building a home on a sloped lot means that there is an opportunity to create eye-popping exterior designs planted over multiple levels. This can also help to create extra privacy from neighbours. You can install hardscaping such as decks that look over spectacular panoramic views of the area below your home.

Access

One factor for a sloped property is access for both vehicles and pedestrians. You want to be able to get to the property in a safe and straightforward way. An analysis of the best access will also help you to determine the ideal location for your home’s driveway and any other points of entry.

Site Analysis

When you are planning to build, you should always consider having a site analysis performed. If you do not take this crucial step before you commence the building process, you might be dealing with many different issues including increased construction costs as you work through the build.  Having a site analysis completed will help you to decide the best location to build and any areas of potential slippage. It will also help you to determine the best way to access the property for driveway access and where drainage corridors should be placed. A good practice is to consult a builder before you commit to purchasing land just to ensure that they are able to build what you are looking for. An experienced build will be able to assist you with determining the best location for your new home as well as determining the characteristics required for the placement of your new home.

Climate and Local Plant Life

You should also consider the local climate and the plant life that is growing in the area around the building site. Wind direction and exposure as well as the direction of the sun all play a role in the location of your home. If the area that you plan to build in has heavy rainfall during certain times of the year, you could be at risk for erosion and/or flooding and there can be some areas where bush fires are frequent. The vegetation on a slope might cause issues if removed (it may have stabilized the slope and its removal makes the slope unstable). Vegetation can also be an indicator of climate and trees can either block your view or provide perfect shade.

Drainage

You need to understand how water can affect your land. If too much water is flowing through the land, it could cause erosion and many other problems. Water needs to be redirected and there needs to be drainage corridors, pits, and tanks. If your land is located in an area where there are heavy rains, then you need to be aware of the potential water issues.

Excavating and Backfilling

Depending upon the severity of the slope and the potential building location, when topsoil is removed it can have an impact on the land’s biodiversity. This might increase erosion or change the soil’s stability. You may need to have many loads of backfill delivered to level off the building site. Fill can be expensive, depending on the quality and if there are any ongoing projects in your local area. There are also trucking and fuel costs which will be added to the cost of fill being deposited upon your property.

Building Schemes

Depending upon where you are building, there could be height restrictions and other limitations on the type of property that you are building. There might be limitations on how much alteration you can do to the land since the property should not stand out too much from the landscape. Some areas do not allow the removal of trees without permits, so you will need to find out the limitations for your local area before you get started.

Views

You may wish to build in a location where you have the best view. This could mean adding large windows and strategically placing windows in certain locations around your new home to ensure that you have the best vantage point. You will need to examine your house plan and decide the orientation and where windows will be located before you start the build.

Layout

There are different layout options for homes built on sloped land and many of the areas within the home will be large and filled with light. You should choose open plan living space options and ensure that you have many large decks that flow from the interior of your home. A home on a slope should appear seamless and not “chopped up.”

As you can tell, there are many considerations when you decide to purchase and build on a sloped lot. The truth is that it is not for everyone, but there are so many options that this can be a wonderful choice. The views and the reward once your home is completed are well worth the effort that you have to put into the project. Choose a reputable builder that has experience with the various challenges that a sloped lot presents. Once you connect with the builder, they can inspect your home plan and let you know if they can help you to create the finished product that you desire with a home that you will love and enjoy for years to come.

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