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Building on a Sloping Block: Everything You Need to Know

Building on a Sloping Block: Everything You Need to Know

Sloping block house designs, living on top of a hill is the ultimate dream – there is no better feeling than being on top of the world. Finding that perfect parcel of land ticks many boxes, such as sweeping views of the neighbourhood and the surrounding area, living closer to family and friends, and nearby amenities. However, here’s the catch of living on a hill – it’s on a sloping block.


Building a home on a sloping block comes with some complexities and challenges. Therefore, there will also be additional costs involved. But of course, there are so many more amazing benefits to building a home on a sloping block that makes everything worthwhile.


Building on a sloping block and working with experts in our team at Shelford Quality Homes means you have the option to customise your home design, and we will be with you every step of the way to offer our skills and expertise in building homes on sloping blocks. Our top tip is to create a home design that works with the block, slope, and aspect to achieve the best result.

What is a sloping block?


A sloping block is a parcel of land with different surface levels resulting in a slope. For instance, one side of the block is higher or lower than the other. There are varying types of sloping blocks:


  • Sloping up – the low point is at the road
  • Sloping down – the high point is at the road
  • Cross fall – the slop is from right to left or vice versa
  • Cross fall + sloping – a combination of the above


The building costs and design options depend on the rise or fall of the slope. Typically, the steeper the block (3 metres or more), the more challenges there will be. But don’t worry, because here at Shelford, we work with you to find the best option and customise a solution to suit your block and lifestyle needs.

Tips for designing and building a home that works for your sloping block


  1. Choose the right builder


More often than not, sloping blocks require a modified, special type of home design and build solutions. And so, you will need to work with a builder that is experienced and flexible and can change, tweak, and adapt the design.


When choosing the right builder, make sure they have designers who understand the challenge of building on interesting blocks and are experienced in achieving the most suitable, economical design outcome. Engaging with experienced builders like Shelford Quality Homes allows you to work with an in-house design team that can advise on cost savings in design, structure, and design efficiency.

  1. Start with a contour and feature survey


Work with your builder in carrying out a site inspection of your property. Organise a contour and feature survey, which is a visual representation of your land and provides information like surrounding trees, fences, ground levels, topography, existing structures, and utility services, among others. A contour and feature survey measures the sloping levels of your block.


A contour and feature survey allows your building team to understand your sloping block to achieve the best design and cost outcomes, including possible site cost estimates. The designers can then get to work and customise the best home design to suit your sloping block, make recommendations, and offer design options that fit your budget and site.

  1. Design your home for a sloping block


Now it’s time to be creative! Designing a home on a sloping block allows you to add more visual interest than homes built on a flat block. If your block is in a great position, you may have the opportunity to have that extra height for an unbelievable sweeping view of your neighbourhood or local scenery. You can start with an existing Shelford Quality Homes design, and we can easily adapt it to your sloping block. We can also work together to start with a blank canvas and make it work for you.


Home design options that can work with your block contours include:


  • Split-level home design – This design might add construction costs but may offset site works and retaining costs.
  • Add terracing to your site to break up the steep rise on the block.
  • Add brick build-up under the home with steps inside and outside the home.
  • Allow the sweeping views to enter the home by adding balconies and/or bridges and large windows.
  • Design a garage under the home.
  • Designing your home as though it was on a level surface by applying a “cut and fill” process – levelling out land by cutting away soil on the high side and transferring it to the low side of the block, resulting in a flat plane where a concrete slab can be placed.
  • Consider building your home on poles, stumps, or stilts so that you can adjust the heights to suit the block’s levels.
  1. Look out for the following


Sloping blocks can be more challenging, but when you get your contour and feature survey, you can work out things that you should consider when designing a home on a sloping block.


  • Site access to your building envelope on your sloping block may be challenging for trades and builders, especially if you are on a steep site. Without easy access to your home site, building your home may be costly and difficult.
  • Drainage is a necessity. Consider the slope of your land because your site could naturally drain water away and prevent flooding. You may also need water tanks, pumps, easements, or pits to funnel water away from your home.
  • Earthworks – There will be more work to get your block prepared for your new home build. You need to be aware of what this may mean. You may need to do some excavating, such as cutting and filling, retaining walls, and terracing, among others.
  1. Think about the costs and savings


Sloping blocks are generally more affordable than flat, level, easy-access blocks. However, the cost of building on a sloping block is higher simply because there are challenges associated that will incur additional costs. At the same time, you can balance the build with what you save on the land. For example, you might need to cater to site access, excavation, and fill costs, drainage solutions, retaining walls, or extra over building like cavity-filled engineered undercroft walls, waterproofing underground walls, and additional steps.


To save on costs, try to reduce the number of earthworks required on your block and reduce the amount of retaining walls. When building a home on a sloping block, consider the building area your home will be built on. This means just measuring the slope you build on and not the entire block. Sometimes, moving your build location on your block based on the terrain can make a huge difference in costs.

Build your sloping block home with us


At first, building a home on a sloping block may present unique engineering and design challenges. However, the results can be amazing. Just think about the stunning views you will get to experience from your open-plan living area and the flexibility to custom-design a home you will love and live in forever.


Get in touch with us at Shelford Quality Homes today! Let’s work on building on challenging blocks and learn more about sloping and/or narrow block home designs.