A grass-covered hillside makes for a picturesque setting for your dream home, as it likely overlooks a beautiful natural area, or a city setting if you are perched up high. Building on sloped lots is especially popular in northern Colorado seeing as there are many beautiful natural landscapes in the area. The process of bringing this picturesque home to life, however, is more complicated than you may be aware of. Building a custom home on a sloped lot presents unique challenges that you wouldn’t encounter when building on a level lot, which may lead to additional costs and longer construction time.
Below we will be discussing some of the challenges and advantages of building on a slope. If you have any more questions about the custom home building process, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Splittgerber Professional Builders. We are happy to provide more transparency into the entire process so homeowners know exactly what they can expect when building their own home. Learn more by visiting our site.
How Do You Build On a Sloped Lot?
There are two ways to build a house on a sloped lot, one uses a “cut and fill” method, and the other method involves stilts.
Cut and fill refers to the process of leveling out the ground for the foundation by adding soil, removing it, or both. Soil may be brought in to “fill” the plot and make it level, or it can be dug, or “cut” from the slope and either trucked out or used to shore up retaining walls for the home. Depending on the grade, soil conditions, and other factors, cutting and filling can make construction several times more expensive than that for a home on a flat slope.
Stilts is an alternative that is more cost-effective than the cut-and-fill method and can also open up a realm of possibilities for home placement. They protect against floods, maximize views, and allow homeowners to build on rocky, steep, or unstable land.
What Are the Drawbacks of Building on a Slope?
Slopes have a few potential drawbacks that can distress both your builder and your wallet:
Additional Foundation Work
The cost of the complex foundation systems required for houses built on steep slopes is often more than the cost of an entire house on flat ground. But even moderately sloped sites typically require more concrete, deeper excavation by specialized excavation equipment or blasting, retaining walls or terraces, and specialized solutions for drainage and septic systems. All the extra labor and materials needed to ensure the house is up to code and safe to inhabit means higher costs and longer construction costs.
Access to the property, for both you and your contractors, is an important factor to consider in your home building costs. Property that seems like a steal initially could run up high costs for additional grading if there is no good way to access it. Switchback and curved driveways are helpful and attractive, but small properties that don’t have room for them may have no choice but to install a steep driveway that could be hazardous in inclement weather.
Sloped homesites also present drainage challenges. If your site is on the side of the slope, you need to pay special attention to the amount of water that can flow toward your home and its foundation. Rainfall-runoff has to be redirected away from your home’s foundation without endangering any neighboring properties with water flows and without flooding public roads. Swales and culverts can usually be used to channel the runoff to stormwater drains or soakaways.
If your home will have a full basement that will be located below the seasonal high water table, subsurface water leaking in can become an issue. There are several ways to work around this issue, like French drains or crushed stones beneath the foundations, and sump pumps in the basement during rainy seasons.
Sewage treatment can be tricky depending on where your home is relative to the sewer line. If the line is uphill, you may need to install a pump, and if it’s downhill, you may have to install tumble bays to slow the flow to a reasonable rate.
The type of soil on a sloped property can be easily overlooked but could pose a problem for home builders. While granular soils, like gravel, land, or silt with little or no clay, drain well and can bear high loads. Soils with high clay cannot do either very well. Certain clays can damage foundations by swelling or expanding when wet or frozen, and may require expensive engineering fixes or additional fill of granular soil.
What Are the Advantages of Building On Slopes?
Of course, there are pros to building on sloped lots. It is up to you to decide whether they outweigh the cons, or at least equal them.
Get A Walkout Basement
If you grew up with a traditional dark and dank basement, then a sloping lot will give you a complete 180. A walkout, finished basement with plenty of daylight and extra square footage is one of the best features of a house built on a slope. Most homeowners choose to build their residence on sloped lots because they can more easily enjoy living in the well-lit lower level, and enjoy being able to head outside to enjoy a deck, patio, garden, or path. Our professional home builders can also give you even more possibilities when it comes to turning your basement into guest quarters, a wine cellar, a theatre room, or even a home gym.
A home on a sloped lot can give you incredible views depending on the proximity of your house, as well as the placement of the windows and doors. It is tough to get the same kind of ambiance from a home that is on a perfectly level lot.
Tons of Natural Light
The windows, high ceilings, and walkout basement in a home built on a sloped lot will let more natural light in, thus transforming the residence into an energy-efficient and healthy space.
With a sloped site, homeowners have the option of doing away with the traditional manicured lawns. Homes on sloped lots can totally embrace the natural landscaping that surrounds their home, or get creative with the options that are available to them.
You May Save Money on Excavation Costs
As you can imagine, a smaller amount of soil needs to be removed when you’re dealing with construction on a sloped lot than on a more traditional level lot. This helps balance the added cost of other issues related to sloped lots, like drainage and foundation considerations. The custom home builders at Splittgerber will be able to give you more detail on a cost analysis of your sloped lot excavation prices and explain our methods a bit more.
Create a One-of-a-Kind Architecturally Designed Home
Want to stay away from the cookie-cutter mold? A house on a sloped site allows the owner to be creative and customize to include certain architectural details. With a sloped lot, you have almost unlimited options in terms of your residence’s ultimate architecture. This is the reason so many sloped lot homes are unique in their designs.
Ultimately, building a custom home anywhere will present unique challenges, and you shouldn’t let the listed cons sway your opinion about wanting to build a home on a sloped lot. If you want a professional opinion on sloped lots, then please feel free to contact the home builders at Splittgerber. We will walk you through our past projects that include homes on sloped lots, our home building process, and an estimation of the project cost. We would love to hear more about you and your ideas, and would be greatly honored to help turn your dream into a reality! Give the custom home contractors at Splittgerber Professional Builders a call to learn more.