Sloping Block House Builders Melbourne | Forme Homes

Sloping Block Home Builders Melbourne

side sloping house

Even the most gentle grades and slopes present architects and designers with a premium palette on which to create homes of distinction. Indeed, and for most of us, a distinct and unique structure to call home is the reason we decide to build in the first place.

Identifying the parcel of land on which we will place our dream home is the seed that launches our project. And there’s nothing like a sloping block to inspire imagination.

Elevation affords homes unobstructed views and a commanding presence. This is the main reason we’re drawn to the sloping block challenge. The more dramatic the vistas the better.

It is ostensibly true that the greater the slope the greater the building challenge. It is also true that challenges met can often lead to a priceless reward. Each site will bear challenges or cakewalks as unique as the final structure promises to be.

Modern engineering principles and contemporary materials allow architects to seemingly defy gravity yet ensure bedrock stability, even on the most severe grades. Often, new building techniques work in concert with cutting edge design to reduce costs. This can make unlikely propositions highly achievable within the parameters of budget restraints.

Radical slopes invite daring designs that on flat land might appear contrived. With a sloping block, one can be as conservative or as ostentatious as dreams demand, yet still achieve harmony with the surrounding geography.

It is vital that owners have a strong understanding of the likely construction challenges involved in sloping block builds. Remember, this is not ‘off the rack’ construction. Dramatic slopes are worthy of grand designs. Slopes demand homes of distinction and should be anything but little boxes on the hillside.

Floor Plan for Averley Project
side sloping house

Even the most gentle grades and slopes present architects and designers with a premium palette on which to create homes of distinction. Indeed, and for most of us, a distinct and unique structure to call home is the reason we decide to build in the first place.

Identifying the parcel of land on which we will place our dream home is the seed that launches our project. And there’s nothing like a sloping block to inspire imagination.

Elevation affords homes unobstructed views and a commanding presence. This is the main reason we’re drawn to the sloping block challenge. The more dramatic the vistas the better.

It is ostensibly true that the greater the slope the greater the building challenge. It is also true that challenges met can often lead to a priceless reward. Each site will bear challenges or cakewalks as unique as the final structure promises to be.

Floor Plan for Averley Project

Modern engineering principles and contemporary materials allow architects to seemingly defy gravity yet ensure bedrock stability, even on the most severe grades. Often, new building techniques work in concert with cutting edge design to reduce costs. This can make unlikely propositions highly achievable within the parameters of budget restraints.

Radical slopes invite daring designs that on flat land might appear contrived. With a sloping block, one can be as conservative or as ostentatious as dreams demand, yet still achieve harmony with the surrounding geography.

It is vital that owners have a strong understanding of the likely construction challenges involved in sloping block builds. It’s certainly going to cost more, and you may experience a higher level of apprehension than on a standard build.

Remember, this is not ‘off the rack’ construction. Dramatic slopes are worthy of grand designs. Slopes demand homes of distinction and should be anything but little boxes on the hillside.

Under the following headings you will find the most common challenges sloping blocks will present. The focus is on the more challenging, extra steep blocks.

Site Access

Even before the first sod is turned, a full inspection might require abseiling gear and a sense of adventure. Some slopes are more akin to cliff faces. You’ll wonder how the neighbouring properties ever managed to build at all.

Craggy outcrops and dense vegetation are common on vacant lots. You’ll encounter points of land slippage and even water flows that look a bit like waterfalls. Inspectors, engineers, and surveyors are used to this. You might not be.

It’s one thing to get people on site. However, it’s a completely new set of logistics to get plant equipment, building supplies and machinery to the position where it’s required.

When heavy earth moving machines are required, they may need to be lowered into position via crane. In other cases, temporary access roads to the lowest points of the property can be constructed specifically for machinery access.

Jases 5 crane lift-600x450

Adjoining properties have their pros and cons. Willing neighbours might allow access via their properties, at least for people if not machines. You might also encounter less agreeable neighbours wishing to be excluded from any involvement.

Properties adjacent to accessible waterways, such as lakes and harbours, can offer water access. Barges can be used to ferry plants and materials into position with minimal fuss.

Such issues are unlikely in subdivisions where lot clearing and access were provided during construction, gutter and curbing.

The quality, size and stability of access will usually be determined by the scale of earthworks required. Frequently, heavy earth moving machines are needed. While expensive, these machines certainly earn their fees, as they can move copious amounts of earth in short periods.

It is not uncommon that such machines simply can’t access the property. In this case, more time is required to allow labourers with smaller tools to do the earthworks.

In some circumstances, site access issues may even play a determining role during the design phase. Such restrictions shouldn’t be viewed as limitations. On the contrary, site limitations can be inspirational.

crane

For those building in remote locations, such as isolated acreages, or sparsely populated environments, site access has a further logistical consideration.

Services such as running water and electricity might not be available. Grid connection might be a significant challenge unto itself. In the absence of electricity supply, generators might be required.

There’s also the concern of commutes for labourers and trades people, not to mention freighting materials. Is your new home well within 90 minutes of a concrete batching plant? If your site is remote, you might require concrete batching on-site.

Remote locations are a site access logistical issue for most construction. Adding the common issues associated with sloping blocks simply changes the shape of the hurdle for an isolated sloping block project.

Having just now engaged with the very first challenge (site access), the timid might start to worry. This is normal. These are concerns for your builder.

In most cases it’s your builder who is responsible for the access, logistics and associated concerns. However, the diligent owner will be well across these issues, keeping a vigilant eye on any challenges and developments.

For the owner, much of the access logistics translates to a bill. Clearly, such challenges will attract higher costs. Unique, bespoke architectural creations of any type usually do.

It’s helpful to know, however, that the site access issues of your wildly sloping block will be a distant memory when you’re drinking in the views from your stunning pool deck.

Project Designs

Split Level Homes

The split level home offers an astonishing list of lifestyle choices. For many architects, a split level home on a sloping block is the perfect easel on which to mount a blank canvas.

Think lofts, mezzanines, and breathtaking voids. Imagine dramatic high ceilings, and floor to ceiling glass two stories high. Of course, there’s the private pool deck, where its infinity edge blends seamlessly into the sunset.

The split level home and the sloping block makes for the perfect marriage. By virtue of the slope, the geography nearly demands a series of levels. Multiple levels provide enormous scope for designers to cater for the varied and contrasting living needs of a large family.

sloping block house with impressive layout

With split level construction, the contemporary desire of expansive open plan can accompany the demand for numerous private spaces. Large living areas can contrast mysterious passages and stairways that lead to surprising nooks and inviting hideaways.

No matter the slope orientation or the steepness of the gradient, the split level home will often be the hand in glove choice. In many respects, going split level allows builders to construct in harmony with geographical inclines and falls.

The split level home will often follow existing contours, avoiding the need for extensive earthworks. Moreover, split level construction is now so commonplace that builders have standard yet flexible project designs. These designs can be tweaked to fit a broad variety of sloping site demands. Such options will almost certainly reduce the overall cost of the project.

Split level construction

Upward Sloping Block House Designs

upward sloping house

Building on an upslope, or the high side of the street, offers some benefits over a downward slope on the low side of the street.

Primarily, dispatch of both stormwater and blackwater is far easier to manage. With common services usually located on the front verge, gravity takes care of all the drainage heavy lifting.

Even severe upward slopes can be easier than fall. Working upwards frequently affords easier site access for machinery. This makes early earthworks and foundational work less of a challenge and therefore less expensive.

Of course, slope stabilisation, and plenty of cut and fill may be required. Depending on the geography and design, significant use of retaining walls might also be required either for the structure, earth retention or landscaping.

Upper Beaconsfield Alfresco

Single slab homes might be achievable with more gentle slopes. However, they would usually require a lot of earthworks. The backyard and front yard might need to be terraced or require large, imposing retaining walls.

Depending on the depth of the block, two tier or multi-tier split level homes are ideal for upward sloping blocks. Indeed, this is probably the most common style of home constructed on upward sloping sites.

The upward slope will nearly always offer the benefits of significant elevation with unobstructed views. Even when positioned in a large sub-division, such a home will invite views to a big sky over the surrounding neighbourhood.

Any slope attracts extra procedures during site preparation and foundation work. However, selecting designs that can work in harmony with the contours, such as a split level home, might offset some of the costs of earthworks.

Downward Sloping Block House Designs

Depending on the severity of the slope and the earth on which foundations will sit, the downward slope can offer greater design scope than an upward slope. It is often the case that the land can be terraced, thus facilitating grand split level designs replete with all the split level hallmarks, and desirable architectural features. The geography of your site may even allow for a split level construction on piers or columns. In such instances, costs can be reduced quite significantly.

The use of piers and columns may also present an option for a single level structure. While the columns may be dizzyingly high at the deepest point of the slope, the finished structure can appear to float out from the slope face, as if floating on air amidst a canopy of trees. For many, the convenience of single level living is important. A downward sloping site will often facilitate such desires. While a suspended slab is likely to be prohibitive, timber frame floors will reduce costs while inviting the use of natural materials and the warmth of exposed timber.

sloping block beach cliff house

Considering the problematic issues associated with dramatic sloping sites, a downward slope can present an impressive list of design options. Flat roof lines can work to hide the structure beneath the precipice of the slope. On the street approach to such a home, inviting yet curious small entry structures and car ports provide nothing but vague hints that a grand structure lies just meters below.

Skillion roof lines, grand or subdued, are standard for downward sloping blocks. Pitched roofs can deliver a traditional feel in an extraordinary setting, where gables invite loft constructions with stunning voids. A downward slope will almost certainly present drainage challenges. Usually stormwater and blackwater must be dispatched at street level. Many downward sloping blocks will require pumps to move drainage up to street level. Such services will add an extra cost during construction, but as pumps require power, there will be an ongoing price for delivering waste water to council services.

sloping block cliff house

Contact

Got a question? Need advice and expertise about new home building, constructing your own plans, developing a block for an investment with duplexes, or multi-unit solutions? 

Earthworks

Sloping blocks frequently require significant earthworks. Earthworks are renowned for adding the lion’s share of extra fees to a sloping block building project.

A geotechnical engineer is the professional responsible for assessing the earth on which structural foundations will lie. This assessment will reveal the class of soils and rocks, and most importantly, the slope stability.

For all intent and purpose, this is a scientific assessment of the earth. The resulting data from geotechnical testing allows structural engineers and architects to identify structures more suited to the earth on which it will stand.

Ultimately, the grade of slope, the class of dirt, rock, and soil, and the water flow and run-off will almost certainly impact design choices.

Downward sloping earthworks-1240x600

Understandably, analysis of foundations or earth conditions reveals the most suitable structures for the site. Significant financial savings can be made by designing in harmony with the foundations on offer.

Engineers can and will wrestle with unfavourable conditions to make your vision achievable. However, such manipulation might add significant costs.

For example, the conditions of a particular slope may favour a home design where the structure rests on piers or columns. However, the design you favour demands the slope be terraced. The latter, while achievable, will attract a significantly higher cost due to earthworks, retaining walls and potential slope stabilisation.

Terracing a slope is a common method used for leveling and stabilising. Extensive excavation might be required to terrace a deep site. Ideally, the materials extracted will be suitable for filling in other areas. This is not always the case, however. Sometimes the earth extracted must be disposed of.

sloping block earthwork example

Depending on your location, enormous boulders might be discovered. Secured to the slope by dirt, gravel, and foliage, they’re unsuitable for foundations and often must be removed. With luck, boulders with compelling aesthetics can be incorporated into landscape design. Alternatively, they are broken up and carted away.

Should you discover bedrock at a height or level in conflict with your vision, this too may have to be excavated and removed. Heavy machinery is required to break up the rock, which by itself can create challenges and added expense.

While most people would wish to retain existing trees and foliage, removal of some portion, large or small, is probably inevitable. Extensive clearing may lead to slope stabilisation issues, as the foliage and tree roots hold the slope surface in place. When extensive clearing is required, further slope stabilisation may also be required.

Bespoke earthworks and foundational stability are absolutely critical when constructing on a sloping block. Demand to work with only the most experienced professionals, and get it right from the start. Remediation after the fact can be fraught and expensive.

Client Testimonials

  • BRUCE AND PAM
    We were fortunate to meet Malcolm, Vance and their team at what was a very stressful time for us. Our first builder having gone into liquidation with our home only at frame stage. Their helpful and professional guidance was invaluable when going through the insurance process. They completed our home to a very high standard and we were kept fully informed through the entire process. They were always available to answer any questions we had. We had a particular desire for a high quality finish to our kitchen and in this regard they exceeded our expectations. If you are looking for a dedicated professional team to build the home you have always dreamed of, then in our experience the Forme Building Group is the company for you.
    BRUCE AND PAM
    CLYDE NORTH
  • DARREN
    We really appreciate your ability to complete the home in such a manner. Especially with the circumstances attached. I am sure you are making a lot of people happy at the moment. I would happily recommend you to any family ready to build.
    DARREN
    MCCRAE
  • BERNADETTE, TREVOR & NIGEL
    Dear Malcolm, We just want to say ‘thank you’ and how very truly grateful and appreciative we are for everything you and your team have done for us. You really are an amazing team. Thank you especially to you Malcolm for all the patience you’ve had and to Vance and Maaike for their continued support throughout. Having chosen Forme Homes to create our new home is a wonderful feeling. Thanks again. We love our home and can’t wait to move in.
    BERNADETTE, TREVOR & NIGEL
    CRANBOURNE EAST
  • HAYLEY & ANT
    Malcolm and Vance were very accommodating with changing a few things in our plans to better suit us. They also went above and beyond in helping us obtain our subdivision and gave us guidance where it was needed. Communication was exceptional throughout the build and Maaike provides great administration support and is very prompt with responses.
    HAYLEY & ANT
    LANG LANG
  • GLENN
    I have very much enjoyed working with the Forme Homes Team on this project and am very happy with how the project finished up. Special thanks to Vance. Nothing was too much trouble and his help, advice and patience was much appreciated. I won't hesitate to recommend you guys to anyone and look forward to the opportunity to work with you again.
    GLENN
    ROSEBUD DEVELOPMENT
  • BRENDAN & NICOLE
    Forme Homes were great from start to finish, guiding us through the home building process for first time builders and offering excellent suggestions along the way to make our dream home.
    BRENDAN & NICOLE
    CRANBOURNE SOUTH

Difficult Projects and Problem Sites

Awkward shaped blocks 1st floor plan-rotated-300x600

All building sites have the potential to present construction issues and problems. Sloping blocks have inherent construction issues, simply by virtue of the gradient. However, when sloping sites develop issues during construction, problems are often amplified, with solutions or rectification more complex and involved. Many issues can be avoided via thorough site research, caution, and by employing only the most experienced sloping site professionals.

Complex sloping blocks should not deter aspiring homeowners, however. Awareness and understanding from the outset are the keys to managing potential frustrations. A financial contingency also provides peace of mind, as well as access to remedy, should unexpected problems occur.

Having backup funds allows for problems to be solved without taxing the principal construction budget. Therefore, your plans can continue without compromising the final vision. The more you know from the outset, the better prepared you can be. Inevitable surprises will be less daunting.

The most important thing to know from the outset is that the steeper the grade, the more complex the build. Gentle slopes of 10% and less are relatively straight forward.

Once a slope hits 15% to 20%, difficulty levels become moderate, and it will impact on costs. A slope exceeding 20% is considered steep, and this is where costs can rapidly escalate, while also inviting a greater potential for issues.

A radial gradient will rarely impact construction viability. It can, however, greatly affect your budget.Homes can be built on extraordinary gradients of 50% and more. The technology and capability certainly exists. Project viability in such instances generally comes down to budget.

While there can be problems erecting the structure itself, the greatest sloping block problems usually involve site access and geology. Where access issues attract frustrating delays, red tape, and modest cost increases, geological issues can attract serious remediation plans, expensive earthworks, and even design alterations. This is where costs can seriously mount.

A lack of suitable staging areas make for a problem build. Plant equipment and construction materials need to be stored appropriately. Often sloped blocks in built up areas are completely devoid of suitable places either on or adjacent to the property.

Council permission might be sought for storage on council property, which may add to costs. Alternatively, a suitable location nearby might be utilised, with equipment ferried to the site as required.

With grades of 20% and more, locating plant equipment in the required position on site can be problematic. Temporary access roads may need to be constructed, or large cranes might be required to lift machinery onto the site. Once grades surpass 20%, it may not be possible to deploy heavy plants at all. In which case lighter and more time consuming methods may need to be utilised for initial excavation. In cases where excavated material cannot be used on site for fill, this material must be disposed of. Depending on volumes and the distance to the street, this can be an onerous task.

Experienced sloping block builders will generally have go-to solutions for overcoming access issues. It is this experience that mitigates delay and escalating costs. Even more critical than access, is the experience component of dealing with complex geological issues and problems. This is where skilled, experienced geotechnical engineers and builders utilise all of their critical and creative thinking to overcome complex foundation issues.

sloping block home
Bulldozer clearing land from old trees, roots and branches

Unfavourable soil conditions and hydrology must be dealt with to ensure the slope, and therefore the structure, remains permanently stable. Necessary site clearing and the re-routing of natural water courses can actually exacerbate or redirect problems, if not dealt with appropriately. Soil class will determine the type of footings and foundations best suited for site and structure. It will also determine the degree to which builders need to excavate and stabilize to achieve a reliable foundation.

Geology and geography may indeed impact design decisions, as geological conditions might lend to particular structures being more cost effective. Clay, loose gravel, and larger boulders, when coupled with a natural water course, present the most problematic builds. Add to this a terraced foundation for a split level home, and you will require serious site preparation.

It’s possible that such sites require rock excavation at one location, and deep peering only meters away. Having cleared significant amounts of vegetation to facilitate the build, surface and immediate subsurface soil will likely require retention strategies to ensure stability and mitigate erosion. Clearance of vegetation from site peripheries will likely require replanting to re-establish stability and soil retention when building is completed.

Problem builds are by no means impossible. Issues of difficult sites can be overcome. They simply require aptly experienced professionals and suitable budgets. It should be remembered, however, that such builds, complex as they often are, will most likely deliver a unique and stylish home of distinction making it all worth it.

They’re more than a dwelling, and more like a liveable work of art, expressing your personality, your vision, and the vision, creativity and technical skills of the professionals who made it possible.

SITE ACCESS

Even before the first sod is turned, a full inspection might require abseiling gear and a sense of adventure. Some slopes are more akin to cliff faces. You’ll wonder how the neighbouring properties ever managed to build at all.

Craggy outcrops and dense vegetation are common on vacant lots. You’ll encounter points of land slippage and even water flows that look a bit like waterfalls. Inspectors, engineers, and surveyors are used to this. You might not be.

It’s one thing to get people on site. However, it’s a completely new set of logistics to get plant equipment, building supplies and machinery to the position where it’s required.
When heavy earth moving machines are required, they may need to be lowered into position via crane. In other cases, temporary access roads to the lowest points of the property can be constructed specifically for machinery access.

Adjoining properties have their pros and cons. Willing neighbours might allow access via their properties, at least for people if not machines. You might also encounter less agreeable neighbours wishing to be excluded from any involvement.

Jases 5 crane lift-600x450

Properties adjacent to accessible waterways, such as lakes and harbours, can offer water access. Barges can be used to ferry plants and materials into position with minimal fuss.

Such issues are unlikely in subdivisions where lot clearing and access were provided during construction, gutter and curbing.

The quality, size and stability of access will usually be determined by the scale of earthworks required. Frequently, heavy earth moving machines are needed. While expensive, these machines certainly earn their fees, as they can move copious amounts of earth in short periods.

It is not uncommon that such machines simply can’t access the property. In this case, more time is required to allow labourers with smaller tools to do the earthworks.

In some circumstances, site access issues may even play a determining role during the design phase. Such restrictions shouldn’t be viewed as limitations. On the contrary, site limitations can be inspirational.

crane tight space

For those building in remote locations, such as isolated acreages, or sparsely populated environments, site access has a further logistical consideration.

Services such as running water and electricity might not be available. Grid connection might be a significant challenge unto itself. In the absence of electricity supply, generators might be required.

There’s also the concern of commutes for labourers and trades people, not to mention freighting materials. Is your new home well within 90 minutes of a concrete batching plant? If your site is remote, you might require concrete batching on-site.

Remote locations are a site access logistical issue for most construction. Adding the common issues associated with sloping blocks simply changes the shape of the hurdle for an isolated sloping block project.

Having just now engaged with the very first challenge (site access), the timid might start to worry. This is normal. These are concerns for your builder. In most cases it’s your builder who is responsible for the access, logistics and associated concerns. However, the diligent owner will be well across these issues, keeping a vigilant eye on any challenges and developments.

For the owner, much of the access logistics translates to a bill. Clearly, such challenges will attract higher costs. Unique, bespoke architectural creations of any type usually do.

It’s helpful to know, however, that the site access issues of your wildly sloping block will be a distant memory when you’re drinking in the views from your stunning pool deck.

SPLIT LEVEL HOMES

The split level home offers an astonishing list of lifestyle choices. For many architects, a split level home on a sloping block is the perfect easel on which to mount a blank canvas.

Think lofts, mezzanines, and breathtaking voids. Imagine dramatic high ceilings, and floor to ceiling glass two stories high. Of course, there’s the private pool deck, where its infinity edge blends seamlessly into the sunset.

The split level home and the sloping block makes for the perfect marriage. By virtue of the slope, the geography nearly demands a series of levels. Multiple levels provide enormous scope for designers to cater for the varied and contrasting living needs of a large family.

sloping block house with impressive layout

With split level construction, the contemporary desire of expansive open plan can accompany the demand for numerous private spaces. Large living areas can contrast mysterious passages and stairways that lead to surprising nooks and inviting hideaways.

No matter the slope orientation or the steepness of the gradient, the split level home will often be the hand in glove choice. In many respects, going split level allows builders to construct in harmony with geographical inclines and falls.

The split level home will often follow existing contours, avoiding the need for extensive earthworks. Moreover, split level construction is now so commonplace that builders have standard yet flexible project designs. These designs can be tweaked to fit a broad variety of sloping site demands. Such options will almost certainly reduce the overall cost of the project.

Split level construction

UPWARD SLOPING BLOCK HOUSE DESIGNS

Building on an upslope, or the high side of the street, offers some benefits over a downward slope on the low side of the street.

Primarily, dispatch of both stormwater and blackwater is far easier to manage. With common services usually located on the front verge, gravity takes care of all the drainage heavy lifting.

Even severe upward slopes can be easier than fall. Working upwards frequently affords easier site access for machinery. This makes early earthworks and foundational work less of a challenge and therefore less expensive.

Of course, slope stabilisation, and plenty of cut and fill may be required. Depending on the geography and design, significant use of retaining walls might also be required either for the structure, earth retention or landscaping.

upward sloping house

Single slab homes might be achievable with more gentle slopes. However, they would usually require a lot of earthworks. The backyard and front yard might need to be terraced or require large, imposing retaining walls.

Depending on the depth of the block, two tier or multi-tier split level homes are ideal for upward sloping blocks. Indeed, this is probably the most common style of home constructed on upward sloping sites.

The upward slope will nearly always offer the benefits of significant elevation with unobstructed views. Even when positioned in a large sub-division, such a home will invite views to a big sky over the surrounding neighbourhood.

Any slope attracts extra procedures during site preparation and foundation work. However, selecting designs that can work in harmony with the contours, such as a split level home, might offset some of the costs of earthworks.

Upper Beaconsfield Alfresco

DOWNWARD SLOPING BLOCK HOUSE DESIGNS

Depending on the severity of the slope and the earth on which foundations will sit, the downward slope can offer greater design scope than an upward slope. It is often the case that the land can be terraced, thus facilitating grand split level designs replete with all the split level hallmarks, and desirable architectural features. The geography of your site may even allow for a split level construction on piers or columns. In such instances, costs can be reduced quite significantly.

The use of piers and columns may also present an option for a single level structure. While the columns may be dizzyingly high at the deepest point of the slope, the finished structure can appear to float out from the slope face, as if floating on air amidst a canopy of trees. For many, the convenience of single level living is important. A downward sloping site will often facilitate such desires. While a suspended slab is likely to be prohibitive, timber frame floors will reduce costs while inviting the use of natural materials and the warmth of exposed timber.

sloping block beach cliff house

Considering the problematic issues associated with dramatic sloping sites, a downward slope can present an impressive list of design options. Flat roof lines can work to hide the structure beneath the precipice of the slope. On the street approach to such a home, inviting yet curious small entry structures and car ports provide nothing but vague hints that a grand structure lies just meters below.

Skillion roof lines, grand or subdued, are standard for downward sloping blocks. Pitched roofs can deliver a traditional feel in an extraordinary setting, where gables invite loft constructions with stunning voids. A downward slope will almost certainly present drainage challenges. Usually stormwater and blackwater must be dispatched at street level. Many downward sloping blocks will require pumps to move drainage up to street level. Such services will add an extra cost during construction, but as pumps require power, there will be an ongoing price for delivering waste water to council services.

Of course, as with any sloping site, earth works and early site access will present challenges. The steeper the down-slope, the greater the challenge for heavy machinery and earth moving. A standard rule of thumb is that more earth works, more cutting and filling and the greater need for retaining walls will certainly add to the financial impact.
Designs that are sympathetic to the unique constraints of a particular downslope will reduce costs while delivering a more connected feel to the surrounding geography.

sloping block cliff house

EARTHWORKS

Sloping blocks frequently require significant earthworks. Earthworks are renowned for adding the lion’s share of extra fees to a sloping block building project.

A geotechnical engineer is the professional responsible for assessing the earth on which structural foundations will lie. This assessment will reveal the class of soils and rocks, and most importantly, the slope stability.

For all intent and purpose, this is a scientific assessment of the earth. The resulting data from geotechnical testing allows structural engineers and architects to identify structures more suited to the earth on which it will stand.

Ultimately, the grade of slope, the class of dirt, rock, and soil, and the water flow and run-off will almost certainly impact design choices.

Downward sloping earthworks-1240x600

Understandably, analysis of foundations or earth conditions reveals the most suitable structures for the site. Significant financial savings can be made by designing in harmony with the foundations on offer.

Engineers can and will wrestle with unfavourable conditions to make your vision achievable. However, such manipulation might add significant costs.

For example, the conditions of a particular slope may favour a home design where the structure rests on piers or columns. However, the design you favour demands the slope be terraced. The latter, while achievable, will attract a significantly higher cost due to earthworks, retaining walls and potential slope stabilisation.

Terracing a slope is a common method used for leveling and stabilising. Extensive excavation might be required to terrace a deep site. Ideally, the materials extracted will be suitable for filling in other areas. This is not always the case, however. Sometimes the earth extracted must be disposed of.

sloping block earthwork example

Depending on your location, enormous boulders might be discovered. Secured to the slope by dirt, gravel, and foliage, they’re unsuitable for foundations and often must be removed. With luck, boulders with compelling aesthetics can be incorporated into landscape design. Alternatively, they are broken up and carted away.

Should you discover bedrock at a height or level in conflict with your vision, this too may have to be excavated and removed. Heavy machinery is required to break up the rock, which by itself can create challenges and added expense.

While most people would wish to retain existing trees and foliage, removal of some portion, large or small, is probably inevitable. Extensive clearing may lead to slope stabilisation issues, as the foliage and tree roots hold the slope surface in place. When extensive clearing is required, further slope stabilisation may also be required.

Bespoke earthworks and foundational stability are absolutely critical when constructing on a sloping block. Demand to work with only the most experienced professionals, and get it right from the start. Remediation after the fact can be fraught and expensive.

DIFFICULT PROJECT AND PROBLEM SITES

All building sites have the potential to present construction issues and problems. Sloping blocks have inherent construction issues, simply by virtue of the gradient. However, when sloping sites develop issues during construction, problems are often amplified, with solutions or rectification more complex and involved. Many issues can be avoided via thorough site research, caution, and by employing only the most experienced sloping site professionals.

Complex sloping blocks should not deter aspiring homeowners, however. Awareness and understanding from the outset are the keys to managing potential frustrations. A financial contingency also provides peace of mind, as well as access to remedy, should unexpected problems occur.

Having backup funds allows for problems to be solved without taxing the principal construction budget. Therefore, your plans can continue without compromising the final vision. The more you know from the outset, the better prepared you can be. Inevitable surprises will be less daunting.

The most important thing to know from the outset is that the steeper the grade, the more complex the build. Gentle slopes of 10% and less are relatively straight forward.

Once a slope hits 15% to 20%, difficulty levels become moderate, and it will impact on costs. A slope exceeding 20% is considered steep, and this is where costs can rapidly escalate, while also inviting a greater potential for issues.

A radial gradient will rarely impact construction viability. It can, however, greatly affect your budget.Homes can be built on extraordinary gradients of 50% and more. The technology and capability certainly exists. Project viability in such instances generally comes down to budget.

While there can be problems erecting the structure itself, the greatest sloping block problems usually involve site access and geology. Where access issues attract frustrating delays, red tape, and modest cost increases, geological issues can attract serious remediation plans, expensive earthworks, and even design alterations. This is where costs can seriously mount.

Awkward shaped blocks 1st floor plan

A lack of suitable staging areas make for a problem build. Plant equipment and construction materials need to be stored appropriately. Often sloped blocks in built up areas are completely devoid of suitable places either on or adjacent to the property.

Council permission might be sought for storage on council property, which may add to costs. Alternatively, a suitable location nearby might be utilised, with equipment ferried to the site as required.

With grades of 20% and more, locating plant equipment in the required position on site can be problematic. Temporary access roads may need to be constructed, or large cranes might be required to lift machinery onto the site. Once grades surpass 20%, it may not be possible to deploy heavy plants at all. In which case lighter and more time consuming methods may need to be utilised for initial excavation. In cases where excavated material cannot be used on site for fill, this material must be disposed of. Depending on volumes and the distance to the street, this can be an onerous task.

Experienced sloping block builders will generally have go-to solutions for overcoming access issues. It is this experience that mitigates delay and escalating costs. Even more critical than access, is the experience component of dealing with complex geological issues and problems. This is where skilled, experienced geotechnical engineers and builders utilise all of their critical and creative thinking to overcome complex foundation issues.

Unfavourable soil conditions and hydrology must be dealt with to ensure the slope, and therefore the structure, remains permanently stable. Necessary site clearing and the re-routing of natural water courses can actually exacerbate or redirect problems, if not dealt with appropriately. Soil class will determine the type of footings and foundations best suited for site and structure. It will also determine the degree to which builders need to excavate and stabilize to achieve a reliable foundation.

Geology and geography may indeed impact design decisions, as geological conditions might lend to particular structures being more cost effective.

Sloping block home

Clay, loose gravel, and larger boulders, when coupled with a natural water course, present the most problematic builds. Add to this a terraced foundation for a split level home, and you will require serious site preparation.

It’s possible that such sites require rock excavation at one location, and deep peering only meters away. Having cleared significant amounts of vegetation to facilitate the build, surface and immediate subsurface soil will likely require retention strategies to ensure stability and mitigate erosion. Clearance of vegetation from site peripheries will likely require replanting to re-establish stability and soil retention when building is completed.

Problem builds are by no means impossible. Issues of difficult sites can be overcome. They simply require aptly experienced professionals and suitable budgets. It should be remembered, however, that such builds, complex as they often are, will most likely deliver a unique and stylish home of distinction making it all worth it.

They’re more than a dwelling, and more like a liveable work of art, expressing your personality, your vision, and the vision, creativity and technical skills of the professionals who made it possible.

Steep block
SITE ACCESS

SITE ACCESS

Even before the first sod is turned, a full inspection might require abseiling gear and a sense of adventure. Some slopes are more akin to cliff faces. You’ll wonder how the neighbouring properties ever managed to build at all.

Craggy outcrops and dense vegetation are common on vacant lots. You’ll encounter points of land slippage and even water flows that look a bit like waterfalls. Inspectors, engineers, and surveyors are used to this. You might not be.

It’s one thing to get people on site. However, it’s a completely new set of logistics to get plant equipment, building supplies and machinery to the position where it’s required.
When heavy earth moving machines are required, they may need to be lowered into position via crane. In other cases, temporary access roads to the lowest points of the property can be constructed specifically for machinery access.

Adjoining properties have their pros and cons. Willing neighbours might allow access via their properties, at least for people if not machines. You might also encounter less agreeable neighbours wishing to be excluded from any involvement.

Jases 5 crane lift-600x450

Properties adjacent to accessible waterways, such as lakes and harbours, can offer water access. Barges can be used to ferry plants and materials into position with minimal fuss.

Such issues are unlikely in subdivisions where lot clearing and access were provided during construction, gutter and curbing.

The quality, size and stability of access will usually be determined by the scale of earthworks required. Frequently, heavy earth moving machines are needed. While expensive, these machines certainly earn their fees, as they can move copious amounts of earth in short periods.

It is not uncommon that such machines simply can’t access the property. In this case, more time is required to allow labourers with smaller tools to do the earthworks.

In some circumstances, site access issues may even play a determining role during the design phase. Such restrictions shouldn’t be viewed as limitations. On the contrary, site limitations can be inspirational.

crane tight space

For those building in remote locations, such as isolated acreages, or sparsely populated environments, site access has a further logistical consideration.

Services such as running water and electricity might not be available. Grid connection might be a significant challenge unto itself. In the absence of electricity supply, generators might be required.

There’s also the concern of commutes for labourers and trades people, not to mention freighting materials. Is your new home well within 90 minutes of a concrete batching plant? If your site is remote, you might require concrete batching on-site.

Remote locations are a site access logistical issue for most construction. Adding the common issues associated with sloping blocks simply changes the shape of the hurdle for an isolated sloping block project.

Having just now engaged with the very first challenge (site access), the timid might start to worry. This is normal. These are concerns for your builder. In most cases it’s your builder who is responsible for the access, logistics and associated concerns. However, the diligent owner will be well across these issues, keeping a vigilant eye on any challenges and developments.

For the owner, much of the access logistics translates to a bill. Clearly, such challenges will attract higher costs. Unique, bespoke architectural creations of any type usually do.

It’s helpful to know, however, that the site access issues of your wildly sloping block will be a distant memory when you’re drinking in the views from your stunning pool deck.

SPLIT LEVEL HOMES

SPLIT LEVEL HOMES

The split level home offers an astonishing list of lifestyle choices. For many architects, a split level home on a sloping block is the perfect easel on which to mount a blank canvas.

Think lofts, mezzanines, and breathtaking voids. Imagine dramatic high ceilings, and floor to ceiling glass two stories high. Of course, there’s the private pool deck, where its infinity edge blends seamlessly into the sunset.

The split level home and the sloping block makes for the perfect marriage. By virtue of the slope, the geography nearly demands a series of levels. Multiple levels provide enormous scope for designers to cater for the varied and contrasting living needs of a large family.

sloping block house with impressive layout

With split level construction, the contemporary desire of expansive open plan can accompany the demand for numerous private spaces. Large living areas can contrast mysterious passages and stairways that lead to surprising nooks and inviting hideaways.

No matter the slope orientation or the steepness of the gradient, the split level home will often be the hand in glove choice. In many respects, going split level allows builders to construct in harmony with geographical inclines and falls.

The split level home will often follow existing contours, avoiding the need for extensive earthworks. Moreover, split level construction is now so commonplace that builders have standard yet flexible project designs. These designs can be tweaked to fit a broad variety of sloping site demands. Such options will almost certainly reduce the overall cost of the project.

Split level construction
UPWARD SLOPING BLOCK

UPWARD SLOPING BLOCK HOUSE DESIGNS

Building on an upslope, or the high side of the street, offers some benefits over a downward slope on the low side of the street.

Primarily, dispatch of both stormwater and blackwater is far easier to manage. With common services usually located on the front verge, gravity takes care of all the drainage heavy lifting.

Even severe upward slopes can be easier than fall. Working upwards frequently affords easier site access for machinery. This makes early earthworks and foundational work less of a challenge and therefore less expensive.

Of course, slope stabilisation, and plenty of cut and fill may be required. Depending on the geography and design, significant use of retaining walls might also be required either for the structure, earth retention or landscaping.

upward sloping house

Single slab homes might be achievable with more gentle slopes. However, they would usually require a lot of earthworks. The backyard and front yard might need to be terraced or require large, imposing retaining walls.

Depending on the depth of the block, two tier or multi-tier split level homes are ideal for upward sloping blocks. Indeed, this is probably the most common style of home constructed on upward sloping sites.

The upward slope will nearly always offer the benefits of significant elevation with unobstructed views. Even when positioned in a large sub-division, such a home will invite views to a big sky over the surrounding neighbourhood.

Any slope attracts extra procedures during site preparation and foundation work. However, selecting designs that can work in harmony with the contours, such as a split level home, might offset some of the costs of earthworks.

Upper Beaconsfield Alfresco
DOWNWARD SLOPING BLOCK

DOWNWARD SLOPING BLOCK HOUSE DESIGNS

Depending on the severity of the slope and the earth on which foundations will sit, the downward slope can offer greater design scope than an upward slope. It is often the case that the land can be terraced, thus facilitating grand split level designs replete with all the split level hallmarks, and desirable architectural features. The geography of your site may even allow for a split level construction on piers or columns. In such instances, costs can be reduced quite significantly.

The use of piers and columns may also present an option for a single level structure. While the columns may be dizzyingly high at the deepest point of the slope, the finished structure can appear to float out from the slope face, as if floating on air amidst a canopy of trees. For many, the convenience of single level living is important. A downward sloping site will often facilitate such desires. While a suspended slab is likely to be prohibitive, timber frame floors will reduce costs while inviting the use of natural materials and the warmth of exposed timber.

sloping block beach cliff house

Considering the problematic issues associated with dramatic sloping sites, a downward slope can present an impressive list of design options. Flat roof lines can work to hide the structure beneath the precipice of the slope. On the street approach to such a home, inviting yet curious small entry structures and car ports provide nothing but vague hints that a grand structure lies just meters below.

Skillion roof lines, grand or subdued, are standard for downward sloping blocks. Pitched roofs can deliver a traditional feel in an extraordinary setting, where gables invite loft constructions with stunning voids. A downward slope will almost certainly present drainage challenges. Usually stormwater and blackwater must be dispatched at street level. Many downward sloping blocks will require pumps to move drainage up to street level. Such services will add an extra cost during construction, but as pumps require power, there will be an ongoing price for delivering waste water to council services.

Of course, as with any sloping site, earth works and early site access will present challenges. The steeper the down-slope, the greater the challenge for heavy machinery and earth moving. A standard rule of thumb is that more earth works, more cutting and filling and the greater need for retaining walls will certainly add to the financial impact.
Designs that are sympathetic to the unique constraints of a particular downslope will reduce costs while delivering a more connected feel to the surrounding geography.

sloping block cliff house
EARTHWORKS

EARTHWORKS

Sloping blocks frequently require significant earthworks. Earthworks are renowned for adding the lion’s share of extra fees to a sloping block building project.

A geotechnical engineer is the professional responsible for assessing the earth on which structural foundations will lie. This assessment will reveal the class of soils and rocks, and most importantly, the slope stability.

For all intent and purpose, this is a scientific assessment of the earth. The resulting data from geotechnical testing allows structural engineers and architects to identify structures more suited to the earth on which it will stand.

Ultimately, the grade of slope, the class of dirt, rock, and soil, and the water flow and run-off will almost certainly impact design choices.

Downward sloping earthworks-1240x600

Understandably, analysis of foundations or earth conditions reveals the most suitable structures for the site. Significant financial savings can be made by designing in harmony with the foundations on offer.

Engineers can and will wrestle with unfavourable conditions to make your vision achievable. However, such manipulation might add significant costs.

For example, the conditions of a particular slope may favour a home design where the structure rests on piers or columns. However, the design you favour demands the slope be terraced. The latter, while achievable, will attract a significantly higher cost due to earthworks, retaining walls and potential slope stabilisation.

Terracing a slope is a common method used for leveling and stabilising. Extensive excavation might be required to terrace a deep site. Ideally, the materials extracted will be suitable for filling in other areas. This is not always the case, however. Sometimes the earth extracted must be disposed of.

sloping block earthwork example

Depending on your location, enormous boulders might be discovered. Secured to the slope by dirt, gravel, and foliage, they’re unsuitable for foundations and often must be removed. With luck, boulders with compelling aesthetics can be incorporated into landscape design. Alternatively, they are broken up and carted away.

Should you discover bedrock at a height or level in conflict with your vision, this too may have to be excavated and removed. Heavy machinery is required to break up the rock, which by itself can create challenges and added expense.

While most people would wish to retain existing trees and foliage, removal of some portion, large or small, is probably inevitable. Extensive clearing may lead to slope stabilisation issues, as the foliage and tree roots hold the slope surface in place. When extensive clearing is required, further slope stabilisation may also be required.

Bespoke earthworks and foundational stability are absolutely critical when constructing on a sloping block. Demand to work with only the most experienced professionals, and get it right from the start. Remediation after the fact can be fraught and expensive.

DIFFICULT PROJECTS

DIFFICULT PROJECT AND PROBLEM SITES

All building sites have the potential to present construction issues and problems. Sloping blocks have inherent construction issues, simply by virtue of the gradient. However, when sloping sites develop issues during construction, problems are often amplified, with solutions or rectification more complex and involved. Many issues can be avoided via thorough site research, caution, and by employing only the most experienced sloping site professionals.

Complex sloping blocks should not deter aspiring homeowners, however. Awareness and understanding from the outset are the keys to managing potential frustrations. A financial contingency also provides peace of mind, as well as access to remedy, should unexpected problems occur.

Having backup funds allows for problems to be solved without taxing the principal construction budget. Therefore, your plans can continue without compromising the final vision. The more you know from the outset, the better prepared you can be. Inevitable surprises will be less daunting.

The most important thing to know from the outset is that the steeper the grade, the more complex the build. Gentle slopes of 10% and less are relatively straight forward.

Once a slope hits 15% to 20%, difficulty levels become moderate, and it will impact on costs. A slope exceeding 20% is considered steep, and this is where costs can rapidly escalate, while also inviting a greater potential for issues.

A radial gradient will rarely impact construction viability. It can, however, greatly affect your budget.Homes can be built on extraordinary gradients of 50% and more. The technology and capability certainly exists. Project viability in such instances generally comes down to budget.

While there can be problems erecting the structure itself, the greatest sloping block problems usually involve site access and geology. Where access issues attract frustrating delays, red tape, and modest cost increases, geological issues can attract serious remediation plans, expensive earthworks, and even design alterations. This is where costs can seriously mount.

Awkward shaped blocks 1st floor plan

A lack of suitable staging areas make for a problem build. Plant equipment and construction materials need to be stored appropriately. Often sloped blocks in built up areas are completely devoid of suitable places either on or adjacent to the property.

Council permission might be sought for storage on council property, which may add to costs. Alternatively, a suitable location nearby might be utilised, with equipment ferried to the site as required.

With grades of 20% and more, locating plant equipment in the required position on site can be problematic. Temporary access roads may need to be constructed, or large cranes might be required to lift machinery onto the site. Once grades surpass 20%, it may not be possible to deploy heavy plants at all. In which case lighter and more time consuming methods may need to be utilised for initial excavation. In cases where excavated material cannot be used on site for fill, this material must be disposed of. Depending on volumes and the distance to the street, this can be an onerous task.

Experienced sloping block builders will generally have go-to solutions for overcoming access issues. It is this experience that mitigates delay and escalating costs. Even more critical than access, is the experience component of dealing with complex geological issues and problems. This is where skilled, experienced geotechnical engineers and builders utilise all of their critical and creative thinking to overcome complex foundation issues.

Unfavourable soil conditions and hydrology must be dealt with to ensure the slope, and therefore the structure, remains permanently stable. Necessary site clearing and the re-routing of natural water courses can actually exacerbate or redirect problems, if not dealt with appropriately. Soil class will determine the type of footings and foundations best suited for site and structure. It will also determine the degree to which builders need to excavate and stabilize to achieve a reliable foundation.

Geology and geography may indeed impact design decisions, as geological conditions might lend to particular structures being more cost effective.

Sloping block home

Clay, loose gravel, and larger boulders, when coupled with a natural water course, present the most problematic builds. Add to this a terraced foundation for a split level home, and you will require serious site preparation.

It’s possible that such sites require rock excavation at one location, and deep peering only meters away. Having cleared significant amounts of vegetation to facilitate the build, surface and immediate subsurface soil will likely require retention strategies to ensure stability and mitigate erosion. Clearance of vegetation from site peripheries will likely require replanting to re-establish stability and soil retention when building is completed.

Problem builds are by no means impossible. Issues of difficult sites can be overcome. They simply require aptly experienced professionals and suitable budgets. It should be remembered, however, that such builds, complex as they often are, will most likely deliver a unique and stylish home of distinction making it all worth it.

They’re more than a dwelling, and more like a liveable work of art, expressing your personality, your vision, and the vision, creativity and technical skills of the professionals who made it possible.

Steep block
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