Architect-Designed Split-Level Homes for Steep and Sloping Blocks in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast & Gold Coast.

Split Level Homes On Sloping Blocks

Sadly for some South East Queensland home builders, the world isn’t flat. In fact a high percentage of the area is filled with sloping blocks. However, that doesn’t stop them wanting to build their “cookie cutter” split level homes exclusively on perfectly flat or gently undulating land. That option is becoming more and more unlikely in South East Queensland. Most of the level lots are developed and long gone, and the remaining pockets of land being opened up are quite hilly meaning sloping home sites. In fact, a list of suburb names in the Brisbane Statistical District alone reveals eight have the word “Heights”, twelve “Hills” and a further twenty-one contain the name “Mount” or “Mountain”. Even the Sunshine Coast has nine of the latter, and that doesn’t even take into account places like Montville, Maleny and Mapleton. Fortunately, at Civic Steel Homes, we LOVE building on sloping and steep blocks.

A Custom designed home you’ll love

Civic Steel Homes have created many stunning split level homes on sloping blocks.
Being strikingly different from single level and highset homes, they represent some of the most popular designs in our portfolio of custom-built, architect-designed homes.
A custom home design working with the slope of the land is timeless, as it always looks like it was meant to be. Practical, functional and logical design solutions for steep home sites will always be the best outcome.
What we like most about sloping blocks is that each is unique, and offers us a chance to do what we do best – create fantastically liveable and lovable new homes that capture the essence of the block and will suit you and your lifestyle right down to the ground.

Maximise the natural beauty of your unique land

Each maximises the breezes, views, aspect, orientation and those other special characteristics that attracted you to the location in the first place.

Transitioning up from the road, cascading down from the street or across the block, either way your home will flow naturally with the natural contours of your block and meld seamlessly into the surrounding landscape; it will work with it, rather than against it.

We will strive for minimal disturbance of your land itself, eliminating wherever possible the costly and unsightly retaining walls, earthworks and drainage works that some builders think are a ‘necessary evil’ when building homes on sloping blocks.

Steep blocks come with their own set of challenges, not unsolvable problems. In our experience, nothing that can’t be overcome with lateral thinking spawning clever design.

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5 Top Tips for Building on a Sloping Site

It’s easy to under estimate what’s involved in building on a sloping site. Here are our 5 TOP TIPS for tackling a difficult site before it eats up your budget.

1. Work with the Slope

A design that runs with, or alongside, the contours will keep the fall across the house to a minimum, this means less retaining walls, less scaffolding and less site costs.
If that means you’re facing west or south, you might need some creativity to bring the winter sun in but designing with the contours of your land can save you BIG dollars in engineering costs.

2. Know Your Height Limits

Did you know – the height limit on your land is NOT set above the current slope of your site, but above the Natural Ground Level when the site was subdivided. You’ll need what’s called a ‘Natural Ground Level Survey’ if you’re pushing close to the height limit. Dreams of the third level balcony can be dashed by this overriding rule, so we’ll check these levels with you early on.

3. What’s Below the Surface.

Every site needs a soil test, but a steep block of land means you’re likely to hit rock as you cut into the site. We want to know how deep it is and how hard it’s going to be to cut through.
A soil test will also give us an idea of excavation & piering costs – not exciting home-design stuff – but factoring these issues in from day one will mean that more of your money is left for the fun design of your home!

4. Check the Wind Rating

If you’re at the top of an escarpment, on an exposed ridge, or high on the edge of the Brisbane River, you’ll be subject to a high wind rating and we’ll need to engineer against uplift and provide more bracing to your framework. It’s just one more thing to factor in early, rather than getting a 20, 30 or $60,000 surprise later.

5. Get Advice Before You Buy

We’ve seen lots of people buy an exciting sloping site and be taken in by ‘fantastic’ views,
only to find that BIG dollars are going to pour into the site costs.

After 20 years of working on challenging sites, we’ve learnt one thing – it’s NOT EASY!
One site can need retaining walls, piering, suspended flooring, sub-floor bracing, and multi-storey scaffolding. All these issues need to be managed well to give you value for money and the best home design possible.

So, work with an architect and builder who lives and ‘breathes’ this kind of complex project. The great news is that the constraints of a difficult site can give you a totally unique design solution for your home.

If you’re looking for land in Brisbane, the Sunshine or Gold Coast and need to know what to look out for OR if you already have a steep site, ready to build on – why not take advantage of our FREE site meeting.
Simply call our Project Manager to arrange a time to meet on site with our in-house Architect, who is ALSO our Licensed Builder, and we’ll give you our best advice on where to begin.

Looking for more inspiration? Request our free 80+ page full colour magazine today

Sloping Blocks Home Gallery


Sloping Block Design Specialists

Civic Steel Homes’ have been specialising in sloping block design for many years. In addition, steep and challenging sites often inspire us to develop solutions with unique character and style. What other builders often see as obstacles, we see as design opportunities.

It is our experience in building on these difficult sites that will save you time and money. Due to many years of experience, we can assess and advise you quickly on likely site costs that may be encounterred. We can offer the most effective solutions that will keep your project real and keep control of your budget.

All of this begins with our first meeting with on your site. Call us to book a time to meet with our Project Manager and our in-house Architect. As a result, you will gain valuable insights into our thinking, the constraints and the possibilities on your land.

Sloping block designs give us the chance to think laterally and develop innovative ways to achieve the most from your land – capturing prevailing breezes, making the most of the fantastic views and siting the house in the most comfortable and cost effective way.

The fact that hillside land is usually less expensive than a perfectly flat site can be factored in to your total project cost and with our advice, you will have the confidence to move ahead.

Many of our hinterland home sites – where you see our acreage home designs come to life – are by their nature quite hilly. As a result we can show previous examples and solutions of sloping block designs and illustrate clearly why certain design options have prevailed on each site.

You start to see how and why we have ventured down a particular design path, and will have a better understanding of your own project’s limitations and opportunities.

How Civic Steel Homes make the most of steep and sloping blocks

The last thing you want is a builder who will only consider cutting a flat building pad on your site. You want a builder who can work with your site, not against it.

Before we even begin to put pencil to paper, our in-house Architect and your Project Manager will conduct a free onsite consultation to discuss crucial aspects with you such as:

  • Slope Direction – Whether your land rises from the road or falls away from it, left to right or right to left etc. This is crucial to work out such things as where the garage is sited and what level living area are best located on.
  • Orientation – to work out the best aspects for solar efficiency, views, prevailing winds and more.
  • Soil Type – Many steep blocks have minimal soil and a solid rock base; naturally we’d all like to avoid expensive and unnecessary excavation.
  • Sustainability – Aspects such as cooling and heating, water savings, site sensitive planning, ventilation, insulation and much more. Get our Free Whitepaper on our 10 Tips for Energy Efficient Design.
  • Number of Levels – How far do we need to cut lower levels, split level options, number of stairs etc.
  • The Big Picture – Your home doesn’t start and stop at the walls. We’ll consider the whole site, access outside and around your home – and how it will work for you into the future.

Things Civic Steel Homes do when building on sloping lots.

  • Explore multiple design solutions and potential costs
  • Ensure driveways are fully accessible and not too steep
  • Make sure all levels are accessible and have easy transition
  • Stabilise slopes, counteract challenging soil conditions and groundwater issues
  • Make the most of all views, particularly from open-plan living and entertaining areas
  • Design and cost in all retaining required for final certification
  • Maximise privacy
  • Orient the home to capture breezes and provide shelter from prevailing winds
  • Address hydraulics and potential drainage problems
  • Meet Council requirements regarding building setbacks, protection of neighbouring properties, etc.
  • Adhere to all sustainability principals

For more information about how Civic Steel Homes designs stunning split level homes for steep and sloping blocks, what we invariably look for, and additional costs to consider when building on hilly homesites, read our webpage entitled Steep and Sloping Block Specialists.

Alternatively, why not arrange a Free Onsite Ideas Meeting, during which our team – including our head architect – visit your site to look for any potential issues and, more importantly, opportunities to truly excel. This allows us to get a better understanding of your brief, the site cost involved and give you a much more accurate estimate of costs for your build.

If you’ve found your perfect block of land in a great location, or if you’re considering purchasing one, we strongly recommend you take us up on this offer, which is Step 1 in our Building Process. It’s 100% obligation-free, so you have nothing to lose…and a stunning split level home to gain.

For full details – or to arrange a mutually convenient time to conduct the onsite meeting – please call us on 07-3714 5900 or simply contact us.

Other sloping block blog posts you may be interested in:

 Frequently Asked Questions about Building on a Sloping Block

Difficult Blocks? No, interesting challenges!