The most successful home designs are tailored to and enhanced by their physical settings, so considering the site conditions is one of the first crucial steps for architects. Physical restrictions such as steep slopes can affect the preparation, access and layout of the site, and all of these factors can have an impact on final project timing and cost. Each site type offers its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these characteristics from a builder’s standpoint can assist in creating a home that makes the most of its natural environment and minimises unnecessary project variations.

Level Site Construction

Level site construction is ideal for traditional slab-on-ground home designs. This is the cheapest type of site for home construction for a number of reasons:

  • Workers and equipment have greater access to the site
  • Site preparation is relatively easy and fast
  • Slab-on-ground foundations are generally simple and cost-effective
  • A variety of construction methods can be utilised
  • Useable space is maximised.

Potential Challenges
It can be costly to construct basements on level sites due to several factors:

  • Landfill must be removed in order to make space
  • A pump system may be required to drain water from the basement level.

Slope Site Construction

Slope site construction is ideal for pole framed or split-level houses, and offers a number of advantages for architects, builders and homeowners:

  • Slope site construction can take advantage of spectacular outlooks from hillsides and natural inclines
  • A site’s slope provides a unique creative challenge that can inspire a one-of-a-kind design
  • Inclines can facilitate the construction of basements and lower levels without significant landfill removal
  • There are a number of construction methods available, with pier foundation being a common cost-effective choice
  • A sloped site can open up added possibilities for natural light and ventilation.

Potential Challenges
Slope site construction is considered a more complex and costly site type construction for multiple reasons:

  • Excavation and earthworks may be necessary to even out the site
  • Additional engineering may be required depending on the site’s irregularity, angles and incline
  • Certain sites may necessitate the construction of retaining walls
  • Site access can be limited, which can increase manual labour expenses
  • Additional drainage such as pump systems may need to be factored in
  • An increased wind load can cause complications throughout the process
  • Erosion and landslip can be a problem, requiring further stability for piers.

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