Building a Home on a Slope: Pros and Cons

Here in British Columbia and around the world, most of the land is far from flat, and you don’t have to travel at length to see countless homes seemingly floating on mountainsides. Even so, you may be feeling wary when considering whether to build your home on a slope or not. To help you with your decision, we’ve laid out the pros and cons of building on a slope, what to look for, what to avoid and the alternatives available to you.

Advantages of building your Homes on a Slope

Opting to build your home on a slope has many benefits. From natural lighting to reducing your environmental impact, building your home on a slope is everything you could want from a home in the woods or countryside. Here are a few of the advantages of building your home on a slope:

  • Stunning Views – Whether building in a forested area or on more open land, a home built on a slope can provide a sense of being immersed in the forest or provide breathtaking views of mountains or crystal clear lakes.
  • Maximized Natural Light – Building on a slope allows you to economically increase your home’s square footage with a walkout level, thus allowing for more daylight throughout, as opposed to the typical darkness of a basement. Additionally, homes built on a slope can be done so in such a way that they are better able to capture sunlight in general.If you plan on having multiple levels in your home, make sure to check with the local building codes and height restrictions in your area to ensure that your home meets all regulations.
  • Less Excavation – Typically, a home built on a slope will require less excavation as it is built into the land; especially on slopes with a gentle grade of less than 10%. Working with a professional designer can help ensure that your home utilizes the natural landscape while at the same time maximizing the view and key design details of your home.
  • Co-Existence – Building into a slope offers numerous opportunities to co-exist with the environment. Building close enough into a hill can provide easy roof access to build a roof-top garden, effectively replacing the footprint taken up by the house. Terraced strips of vegetation can be placed throughout the site to pay homage to the original lay of the land.

log home on slope with roof top garden

 

Disadvantages of building a Homes on a Slope

While there are many reasons why you should build your home on a slope, a few challenges do exist such as the following:

  • Added Costs – Creating the foundation for a home on a slope can become more costly than one built on flat land. The cost of additional excavation that is required will also cost more then if you were putting up a home on flat land. Retaining walls may be needed to keep soil in place, transportation of materials may be more complicated if trucks cannot access your home’s site and driveway construction can be more complex, especially if local building codes require your driveway to have emergency vehicle access.
  • Added Time – Any additional excavation (i.e. to deal with water flow issues and general foundation development) will add time to your home’s construction as opposed to that of one built on flat land. This can include extra grading, building stem walls or retaining walls, and mitigating drainage issues.
  • Excavation Complexities – Although building on a slope requires less excavation overal, for the most part, if the site is on a particularly steep slope, additional grading around the side may be required to gain access while also requiring the use of more specialized equipment for operating in rougher terrain. It may be worth seeking out a local builder to gain expertise on excavation, soil matters and rocky ledges in the area. Consider the safety and affordability of constructing a road to the property if one does not already exist.
  • Equipment – Overall, building your home on a steeper slope or hill will likely require much more complex equipment and machinery, such as backhoes, loaders and rammers that are key to excavation.

The Planning Stages

As you begin to decide if you’re going to build your home on a slope or not, really take into consideration all your options before tackling this giant project. Thoughtful planning and a certified contractor alongside a degreed architect go a long way, especially when adding extra factors such as a potential slopped lot. Keep in mind that extra excavation work will add time to the construction process and make the process of building your home that much longer.

Review a topographical survey and walk the property with your architect whether you have already purchased a sloped site or are just considering one. By doing so this will allow you to get a better lay of the land if you will and to get an idea if you’ve got the most optimal site possible for your home design. When doing so take into consideration a few key elements of your home such as drainage, where water will be moving from and onto your home, plumbing and sewage systems.

No matter the grade of the slope, the design of your home can play an exceptional role in emphasizing the beauty of its natural surroundings. Contact us today to learn more about how we can build you a home that co-exists with the natural environment to help you feel more connected to the earth too. We can’t wait to help you design and construct the home of your dreams!