Sloping block house design – The Introduction

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 in Blog, How to/ Tips | No Comments

Of the varying types of difficult blocks I work with, it is sloping blocks that I receive the most phone call enquiries about. Many of these calls are received before the block is purchased, but unfortunately many not. I never enjoy having to tell someone that it will cost more to build on that steep block they just bought. As many people aren’t aware of this being the case, in today’s blog I will begin to explain how sloping block house design differs from that on a flat site, and why it costs more.

Whilst no site is perfectly flat, a sloping block is one that requires the house to be split into more than one level; this allows the house to follow the contour of the land. We want the house to follow the fall of the land, so it is not too high out of the ground at one end. If it were too high:
– You would look over your back yard rather than into it.
– Many steps would be required down to the yard – this creates a disconnected between the living area and the yard.
– Once you look over any fences, you may have to screen some of your windows if they are too close to the neighbours, to maintain their 
privacy. By screening I mean a physical screen that blocks the view out, or a frosted glass window. Nobody wants to look at frosted glass instead of their beautiful garden or view. You must know these rules may affect you before committing to a sloping block. However, with a clever design approach, this can be worked around. All to often I see houses fall victim to this, and no doubt the clients must be disappointed that many views have been screened off. It doesn’t have to be this way.  

Blog 59-2

Blog 59

The splitting of a house into a series of connected boxes on different levels is more complex to build. Imagine building a model house out of cardboard – building one box is much easier and faster than needing to build three smaller boxes to join together. So to it’s the same on the building site, this extra complexity requires extra work to build, and with that comes added costs.

That’s the not so good news out of the way; now I want to sing the praises of sloping blocks. Split level homes are amongst my favourite. There is something wonderful about a house made up of a series of connected pavilions. There is a sense of playfulness and adventure in the experience of moving up and down these levels as you move through the house. The varying boxes also allow the house to be separated into different zones, which allows for great noise control between the loud living spaces and the quiet bedrooms. But most of all sloping blocks offer beautiful views. To see out amongst the tree tops of the surrounding area, or a perhaps a view of the city is far more exciting than seeing your fence as is the case on a flat site. To me, those features far outweigh the added costs involved. “Sloping” is not a bad word in my world.

Now to that all important question you no doubt are waiting for me to get to – What are the added costs likely to be? It is impossible to have one answer, given every site is unique. I will however share this general rule of thumb of mine – the cost is directly related to how steep the slope. The more the house must be split the greater the complexity and cost. Having said that there are different methods to working with sloping blocks, which I will share with you on how you can save on the added money needed for such a site. But that I am afraid is a blog post in itself, so stay tuned for that in two weeks time.

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