As a leading Brisbane builder – Civic Steel Homes are often asked about building on a steep or sloping block. Some questions in particular, especially about costs, keep recurring. So in the interest of informing potential clients about the pros and cons of construction on a hilly homesite, we present answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Q. Does building on a sloping blocks increase the cost?
A.Yes it does. There are some additional costs involved that may not be applicable on a level site, such as
- Excavation – cut and fill, import or export of fill
- Piering, shoring up foundations
- Retaining internal external and landscaping
- Hydraulics, drainage etc.
- And the simple construction logistics, of storage, cranes and access.
However any added construction costs are usually offset by the fact that sloping blocks are generally less expensive to purchase than flat lots. The bottom line really depends on the gradient and the direction of the slope – upslope (sloping up from the roadway), downslope (sloping down to the roadway) or cross slope. But beware, simply eyeballing the gradient can be deceptive, your project manager should take a look and instigate a proper feature survey to determine.
Q. What excavation is involved in building on a sloping lot?
A. As little as possible, preferably. Civic Steel Homes believe it is far better to use the natural fall of the land, and we invariably work towards achieving this. A split level design that transitions with the slope and the use of internal retaining can often be a way of reducing excavation. We try not to simply bench a block and create an eyesore and a potential drainage problem.
Q. Does building a split level home take longer – and cost more?
A. In our experience, split-level or multi-level homes can be just as fast to build as single level homes, and are not that much dearer. Obviously the bigger the level change and how many changes there are in a design has an impact on budget. This can be examined and explained very early in the discussion by a custom home professional.
Q. Would a pole home be an option?
A. Certainly. Split levels and multiple levels are not viable for extremely sloping blocks, and a suspended or pole construction may be required. There is a cross over point where pole homes become a better option than fighting the slope. A suspended floor is dearer than the same floor plan slab on ground. When the fall of the land is too much the offset of less retaining contributes to the suspended floor cost.
Q. How steep is too steep?
A. Obviously the steeper the block, the more challenging it will be to build on it. Slopes over 18 degrees (1:3) can be particularly difficult. The physical access and garaging is the starting point a driveway should be less than 1:4 and then the design can evolve from there. If you are considering buying such a lot, we strongly recommend you arrange a Free Onsite Ideas Meeting for a better understanding of the possibilities and cost implications.
Q. How early can I establish the cost to build on steep site?
A. Costs can’t be fixed until design, selections and engineering are completed. However, Civic Steel Homes’ project managers can give an accurate estimate on the very first site visit and update and check these estimates as we develop the design and select the inclusions. Whilst we don’t have a crystal ball, we have been in custom housing design and build for long enough to be pretty accurate and pride ourselves on client budget management.
Q. Do I have to own the block to get Civic Steel Homes’ advice?
A. No, before you jump in boots and all, get us on site and we can do a full feasibility on what the potential costs to build might be. We can and have looked at numerous blocks with our clients prior to them making an offer. When you think about it, knowing the overall cost of land and house makes it easier to determine your land price limit.
If you have a question about building on a sloping block, Civic Steel Homes would be delighted to answer it. Simply call 3714 5900 and speak to one of our sloping lot specialists, or if you prefer contact us.
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