Sloping blocks are gorgeous blocks with heaps of potential for a home with aspect and character. However, they do involve challenges that take knowledge and care to overcome. One challenge on many sloping blocks is the driveway. We’ve all been in hilly suburbs, and seen some of the most impossible driveways; steep, hard to negotiate, difficult access to the street.
Driveways are just one of the reasons that it’s crucial to select the right builder for a sloping block. You must have someone who will design your home with consideration to aspect, your family’s use of the home and land, and the final landscape layout. This is what you can achieve with a custom builder who’s building (for instance) 30 to 70 houses a year. They will have a designer/architect who will bring a blank sheet of paper to your individual situation. This doesn’t mean they’ll plant the grass and come back and mow it, however they will incorporate all the exterior factors into the design of your home. After all, there’s no point in having a lovely block of land if you can’t get out the back door and enjoy it without scaling a retaining wall, or you can’t get into the garage because the driveway is so steep.
Here are some possibilities for your garage and driveway that a good builder may consider for your sloping block.
On a block that rises from the road, place the garage under the house if possible; or if not under, at least drop the garage floor lower than the house floor level. This will minimise the steepness of the driveway and improve access.
On a block that is falling from the road, consider a garage beside the house; the back of the garage may need to be built up incorporating a suspended concrete slab. Your aim is to have a driveway that is safe and negotiable, not only by car but by foot.
Sometimes it may be appropriate to have a circular driveway, or a small turn around area that allows you to drive forward out onto the street.
Another possibility, where you have a wide block, is a side entry garage where the garage is on the opposite side of the block from the driveway. This will increase the length of the driveway and allow for a lesser grade to access the garage.
These are all things that will be taken into consideration by a good builder using a good designer, working with your block , your home, and your other requirements. You will never get this kind of solution from a Volume Builder, because it is not possible to make changes to the design. With a Volume Builder, the floor of the garage and house are at a set level; your garage floor will be approximately 100mm lower than the finished floor in your home. On a flat block, this is fine. But on a sloping block, a good solution may necessitate dropping the garage floor by a metre or more, and incorporating stairs from the garage level into the house. This may be what it takes to make your driveway easily accessible.
When it comes to sloping blocks, creativity is absolutely necessary. Your design needs to incorporate the big picture, including outside living areas, driveway and garage. Plans that are based on a set home design, or a mirror image of that design, are not going to provide the kind of flexibility and tailor made solutions that maximise the useability of a sloping block. However, if you ally yourself with a builder who has plenty of strings to their bow, you will potentially have one of the loveliest homes-with-a-view in your preferred location.
Do you value integrity, communication and superb quality throughout the building process? Do you have a question about your block or dream home? John Kearney is a Melbourne Building Design and Construction Consultant who has been in the building industry for over 20 years. He is passionate about giving people a cost effective alternative to building in the areas they love, and specialises in solutions for difficult and sloping blocks. Find out more at http://slopingblocksolutions.com.au/ Tweet with John at SBSBuilder and Like his Facebook page to get tips and updates!