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How to: Make a sloping block work for you

By Georgina Mann

Some of the most prestigious blocks in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are elevated, offering sweeping views of the cities below.

So why are buyers a little wary of purchasing homes on sloping blocks?

John Kearney from Sloping Block Solutions says there can be advantages to building a property on a sloping site.

1. Custom builds don’t always cost more

The cost of building on a sloping site depends on whether you are purchasing your home from a volume builder or a custom home builder, Kearney says.

Volume builders produce homes from a number of different blueprints which tend to suit flat sites.

Altering floor plans for these homes can be a challenge.  Some of these builders may prefer to remove the slope from the block, which can be costly.

Kearney says in many cases choosing a custom builder for a sloping block will not cost buyers any more than building on a flat block.

“If you go to a custom builder, someone who is prepared to work with the block, then the result is often price competitive,”  he says.

2. Only measure the slope you build on

If you have a sloping block you need to measure the amount of rise or fall over your proposed building area, not the entire block.

“The fact that you have a block of land that has a 10 metre rise is irrelevant if it’s only got three metre rise over the building area,” Kearney says.
For example, building horizontally across the block rather than vertically will minimise the impact of the slope.The key is to create a design that works with the block, slope and aspect to achieve the best result.

A rise or fall of three metres or less on the building area is manageable for most builders, Kearney says.

“Three metres of slope is about the tipping point where you start to get into very high costs,” he says.

3. Split-level homes are cost effective

A common design seen on sloping blocks is the single-storey split-level home.

The front half of the house may include a lounge room and master bedroom at street level, with stairs leading up to a kitchen, bathroom, family room and extra bedrooms.
Kearney says a garage or rumpus room could go underneath the house and may sit below street level.The advantage of this design is that whether you’re entering through the front door or the back door you’re entering at ground level, with no need for a retaining wall.

“A good building designer will be able to design workable designs for a split-level house around a sloping block,” he says.

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