Building On A Steep Site


OR, How to get the best from a sloping block of land

If you have or are looking to buy a sloping vacant block of land, you’ll face certain challenges that building on flat sites don’t have. However, a home that is designed to work with a sloping block can have it’s own unique characteristics and positive aspects that aren’t available with a flat building block.

A sloping block has great views and a split level home offers the opportunity to place extra windows on external wall spaces created by level changes to frame the external environment surrounding your home.

There are 2 main methods of building on a sloping block, cut & fill or split level design.

Note the disconnect of the different levels created by the retaining walls. Also the small space at the top of the wall in the second image becomes an unused space.


Want this in your backyard?

Want this in your backyard?

The main alternative to cut and fill construction is a home, with more than one floor height incorporating stairs. Split level construction is usually, but not always, built with a stump and bearer subfloor which can be a much cheaper way to build foundations on a sloping block.

A split level home can be moulded to suit the natural fall of the land with floor heights changing relative to natural ground level outside.

On steep sites a split level home can be designed with a garage built under the rest of the home - a construction method volume builders are reluctant to use.


This involves excavating into the high end of the site and putting the displaced soil at the low end to form a flat site. This method requires large retaining walls or angled slopes to overcome the height differential created by the excavation and fill.

This method is used by volume builders because it ensures a single level floor area and a simple build. But it also creates extra costs with excavation and construction of retaining walls and results in a home that is displaced from the natural fall of the land.

Depending on the size of the retaining walls required this build method can also result in more shade around the home caused by tall retaining walls, and creates disconnected yards.

If you’re interested in utilising the benefits of a split level home on your sloping block then the best place to start is by talking to a builder experienced in split level design and construction.

Nathan Croft