Updated: February 2020

Once you find the perfect lot for your dream custom-built home, it’s easy to envision how your dream home will come together. But what if the lot is on a slope?

Steep slope lots present some additional challenges for your builder. But don’t let this steer you away! Steep slopes often reveal the most beautiful views and offer unique design features. The positives will likely outweigh the challenges, but you need to prepare for the process. 

If you’re thinking about building a new home on a steep slope, there are a few considerations to make, first.

First things first, always have the lot inspected by an expert

No matter the type of lot, you should always have it reviewed by an expert. However, this is especially true for steep sloping property.

You need someone to come in with a professional eye who can investigate the soil and surrounding groundwork to ensure it’s possible to construct a solid foundation.

Beyond conducting a geotechnical investigation, steep slope builders also have the expertise to explain the design possibilities and any other potential obstacles that may come with building on the lot.

The benefits of building on a steep slope

1. Amazing views

A common reason for building on a slope is the lot overlooks breathtaking views of the city or mountains. Depending on the location, it may also provide greater privacy from neighbors than a flat lot.

2. Unique architectural design opportunities

Building on a slope allows for unique design options — from the landscaping to the exterior view and interior space. Working with an expert throughout the lot selection process is ideal, as they can help you visualize the various design possibilities.

For example, here at Westlake Development, we can provide you with a wide range of exciting architectural designs — from Asian Contemporary to Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired homes. All our designs are possible in a variety of unique conditions and terrain.

3. Extra space with daylight basements

With a steep slope lot, you get the added space of a daylight basement level. These types of spaces offer much more natural light, full-length windows, and walkout capabilities, unlike basements that are fully underground. This has become a popular option in more recent years.

The challenges of building on a steep slope

1. Added complexity

Since sloped lots are often in unique locations, specialized equipment might be required to function in the available space. When you work with the right builder, they’ll understand what special tools will be required and can help you understand these unique needs before the project begins.

2. Greater costs

In some cases, sloped lots may require a greater budget. This is particularly true if the land needs to be built up and/or if it doesn’t have adequate drainage and sewage accessibility from the street at ground level. 

3. Time consuming

The extra work of making a home on a sloped lot stable and safe may require extra time. Building up the land to the standard 8 inches above the soil, along with adding retaining walls for stability in the home, is extra work that isn’t incurred when building on a flat lot. 

If the lot needs to be equipped with sewage and drainage capabilities as well, this will also require additional work and time.

Always work with a steep slope construction expert

Working with a steep slope builder who can give you expert advice, beginning with the lot selection process, is important. You should be confident that your builder knows the proper way to place and construct a residence in the most structurally sound and cost-effective way, while gaining all the benefits the home site has to offer.

At Westlake Development Group, we have 30 years of experience constructing custom homes on steep slopes and other challenging properties. As Portland’s award-winning steep-slope builder, will give you peace of mind knowing that your new home will be built to the highest safety and quality standards. 

View our gallery of work or contact us today to learn more.