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My block of land is sloping – is that a problem? A benefit?


By christian / Monday, 16 April 2018

My block of land is sloping – is that a problem? A benefit?

Maybe you like a natural view. Maybe your desired area is hilly. If you want to live in Mount Elisa, well – the clue is in the name.

A sloping block can offer great benefits – a spectacular view, elevation, an inventive house plan – so let’s take a look at what to consider when thinking about a house on a hill.

First of all, nothing can substitute for a thorough site survey. This will find out factors that you will not have even considered, but it would do you well to keep the following in mind before you start:

Facing

Obvious when you think about it, but a Northerly-facing slope will afford more light and gather more heat, while a Southerly will catch less light, especially in Winter. If you view a block on a December afternoon, consider where the sun will be on a June morning.

Design

Clever design for sloped land can allow customised benefits. A downstairs area can be a separate kids’ room and den, a quiet study and library, or a garage and laundry with its own clothes chute. Each would have the ability to isolate each section with sound-proofing carpet. Alternatively, a loft up the slope can afford its own quiet retreat or guest room with balcony.

Excavation and/or drainage

Sloping houseA house on a hill will need to be dug into the slope, for which the soil type is to be considered, as the side of the cutting may require reinforcement to avoid erosion.

On flat ground, with slopes above, drainage can be a serious issue. The water of a valley gathers and funnels directly into the flat and, given no exit, will create a pool or swamp. If your sub-floor is lower than the land around it, you will have a damp pool under your house which will not drain.

Stagnant water in or under your house is the cause of mould; a serious health issue.

So particular care needs to go into adequate water redirection, drainage and drying so this does not occur.

Materials

A building on a sloping block can be a bit more exposed to the elements – wind, sun, water and erosion, so materials may have to be more hardy to resist these forces, and more maintenance recommended. The flashings and seals on the roof, for example, may see a lot more sun and wind, and so need to be of better quality and replaced in fewer years than on regular blocks.

The foundations and beams may need to be stronger and more resilient, and repair cost-effective.

Access

Some extra cost could come in the form of getting the builders and materials to the site itself. Hauling timber and brick up a hill where the truck will no longer go will add to time and labour costs.

Summary

There are many benefits to designing and building a custom home on a sloped piece of land, and we do urge you to make the most of the natural features it can offer you. There are so many cost factors to be aware of, and considerations so simple to overlook that only a professional building designer with experience in your area can spot them, that we recommend you book an appointment when considering building on that unique patch of land on the hill you have your heart on.

It might cost a little more, but the results can be wondrous.

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