So you’ve found your ideal block, in a suburb you love, within reach of fantastic amenities and well connected to other parts of the city. The issue? It’s a sloping block.
While it presents its own set of unique challenges, building on a sloping block doesn’t need to be exceptionally complicated, or result in a lower-quality end product. In fact, with the right guidance and preparation, it presents an opportunity to build something completely unique, taking advantage of surrounding views or introducing a striking design into the streetscape.
As an affordable custom builder in Victoria and ACT, we have led many clients through the process of building on a sloping block, so understand the need for creative thinking during the design process, as well as the elements that need to be considered and where potential issues may arise.
But where to start with building on a sloping site? Here’s our ultimate guide.
Most simply, a sloping block sits at an angle, with one side higher or lower than the other. The direction it slopes can vary – sloping up means the highest point is at the road, while sloping down means the exact opposite. A cross fall is where the incline or decline is side to side. Usually, there is a rise or fall of approximately three metres or less across the area on which you’ll build.
Regardless of which direction your land slants, building on a sloping block comes with an array of benefits.
This will depend on the incline or decline of your land, but with the right design, a home built on a slope will feature wonderful views of your neighbourhood or landscapes. Whether surrounded by city living, the ocean or countryside, you’ll enjoy unbeatable views and depending on your orientation, soak up brilliant sunrises or sunsets every day. Where you place your windows, doors and external living spaces will play a huge role, so it’s important to carefully consider this in the early stages of the design process.
Elevated homes are pre-disposed to absorbing exceptional levels of of natural light, a highly desirable design feature of any home. In the early stages, your architect or builder should consider the slope of your block and potential for natural light in order to take full advantage, with a focus on morning light. To prevent over-heating, there should be protection from the west, while capturing natural light from the north.
You can emphasise this natural advantage with large windows, while also introducing an element of energy efficiency, capturing natural rays with solar panels.
There are a whole host of creative design solutions that work perfectly when building on a sloping block. Elements such as voids and high roofs make popular additions, as do multiple living areas staggered across different levels. However, it’s not just the interiors – a block with a decline or incline also offers the chance to get creative with your landscaping, creating a layered garden with elements like a fire pit, deck and distinctive flora.
Building on a sloping block comes with a unique set of considerations, but with the right builder, they remain just that – things to take into account, rather than obstacles.
Without easy access to your block, it’s going to become difficult for your trades and builders to do their job, especially if heavy machinery is required. As such, it’s important to consider how vehicles and pedestrians will gain access and if additional attention is required at planning stage. On the other hand, discussing access points early on will also give you a great indication of where your driveway or other entry points should be.
Drainage can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the natural slope of your block – it could naturally drain water away and prevent flooding, or it could be vulnerable to excessive water pooling at the bottom of your block or under your home. Your builder will need to consider the possibility of subsurface drainage, water tanks, pumps or easements, or perched water tables in order to manage storm water run off appropriately.
Building on a sloping block requires a little more preparation time compared with a flat piece of land, as there’s a high chance you’ll have to excavate. This is where your ground type can make a huge difference – rocky ground will be more complicated than straight soil. You will also have to consider the environmental impact of earthworks on your land, especially with regards to drainage and erosion.
As a general rule of thumb, building on a sloping block will incur additional costs, as there are a few specific tasks for your builder to complete to ensure your new home is built to the highest standard. These including excavation and fill costs, retaining walls, a custom slab or drainage costs.
That said, sloping blocks can be cheaper to buy than a flat block, meaning with the right approach, you could break even, or even save money!
Looking at a sloping site in Victoria or the ACT? Get in touch with the team at Achieve Homes to find out how we can bring your vision to life.
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