This is a view of our new build. To say I’m excited is an understatement. Thanks for joining me on the ride.❤️
When we purchased our property, we went to the auction believing it was going to be totally out of our budget. I had only gone through the property once. Eric hadn’t even been through the property before we bought it.
The block is 683sqm and in Sydney is that is considered a big block. With the beach at the end of the street it is in a great location. So, it was hard to pick what the price would be on the day. (I had my fingers crossed that this could be the one for us.)
When I looked through the property, I thought it had great bones and would be a great reno project. I never thought we would be doing a new build.
On auction day we had been to another auction in the morning and missed out on that property. We felt that one was really overpriced for the condition it was in. We got down to the last two bidders and pulled out when we thought it had gone $100K over what we were willing to pay. The market at the time was hotting up so we where a little nervous of prices going crazy. So we wanted to get in ASAP.
I said to Eric lets go to the second auction in the afternoon to see what this house with the views goes for. So I registered to bid and when the auction started we put in a few quick bids. (I was conscious Eric was going to play touch footy with his friends in the afternoon). I really wanted to get it over and done with if it wasn’t going to be ours.
So it quickly got down to two of us bidding and when the hammer fell I really couldn’t believe we had bought it. (We were really happy!)
We called a real estate friend on our way home & he couldn’t believe the price we got it for. So, then it was all systems go to get the plans done before settlement.
The block is on the lower side of the street and the land slopes 2/3 of the block. So, when we decided to do a new build, I wanted to utilise the base that had already been cut for a lower floor. Also, if we went up one level from street level there is a view to a lagoon and the ocean. So that is how we ended up with a three level home. (I think it will save me on gym fee’s later on with all the stairs!)
Understanding building on a sloping block
A sloping block is a block of land that has an incline, decline or slopes sideways. The price of a traditional size building lot that is sloping is almost always priced lower than a level block of the same size in the same area, due to the additional costs incurred when building on it. However on larger parcels of land, a sloping block can offer views that increase the value of the site.
Finding our Builder
I was keen to find a builder that had a lot of experience at building on a sloping block. So I had to do a bit of research to make sure I understood what we needed to get the best result. We ended up going with Icon homes as they really had a very good understanding of our needs for the build. Icon also had won awards for building on difficult sloping blocks. They helped us to understand what techniques will need to be used to get the most from the block and for a quality build.
Building on a sloping site can be a difficult task and poses some very specific challenges. It requires creative and innovative thinking. The nature of a slope can make building more problematic and therefore more costly than building on a flat site.
There are a few options to be considered when you build on a slope.
Do you use a “cut and fill” method or use “stilts” to elevate the property?
Cut and fill refers to the process of levelling the ground for the foundation by adding soil, removing it or both. You must be acutely aware of the drainage requirements of the property if you use this method.
The stilt method is used to raise the structor off the ground. Pilings or posts are driven into the ground that forms the base for construction.
Excavation and accessibility can also be a problem depending on the size of drop-off. The greater the slope, the more challenging it can be to get excavation equipment onto the lot. Also more expensive. And so, while it’s often harder and more expensive to build a home on a sloping block than a flat piece of land, it’s often worth the extra hassle, as elevated properties tend to deliver greater price increases over time.
The condition of the land
Occasionally, the land being built on may be in poor condition. Testing for high levels of water retention, deep tree roots and soil like clay or sand can introduce additional costs and challenges. For instance, a high level of moisture in the soil can risk moisture build-up that dampens and puts pressure on underground walls. So drainage with use of ag pipes and back filling with stone helps, so the moist soil is not encasing the lower levels.
A few things to be aware of when building on a sloping block
When building on a slope, you should consider:
- Stormwater retention – this could be in the form of a rainwater tank, stormwater pits, rainwater garden or absorption trenches. (This is what caused our problematic DA approval & we incurred a substantial cost.)
- The degree of your slope – this will help determine the design of the home you can build.
- Energy efficiency – this could include solar orientation and the placement of doors and windows to capture natural light and cross ventilation.
- Making the most of the surrounding landscape to make the most of your view.
- Earthworks and excavation – you may need to remove or import additional fill and account for excavation to manage the slope of your land. (This can be costly!)
- Retaining walls – these walls are typically required on a sloping site that requires excavation close to external boundaries.
- Internal steps and split levels to maintain a level platform and allow transitioning to natural ground level.
- Adequate waterproofing of underground supporting walls.
- The appropriate drainage to ensure moisture will have no effect on the lower level internal walls.
- The location of your neighbours to ensure their building isn’t compromised during construction.