Tutorial: Slope by U-Design Homes




Things to Consider


    If you are on a steep slope; your views are facing away from the hillside. It is rare to have much of a back yard on a steep slope.
    Retaining walls and drainage will need to be considered on hillsides. You may ask us to determine a plan for you. Email us any time: help@u-designhomes.com(or click the "Contact Me" button to the left.)
    If you have a slight slope; you may have views at any angle, especially upstairs. To find out if you will have a view you, or your contractor, may climb to the top of a stabalized 12' ladder to the topmost position suitable for standing, and determine the view.
    If there isn't a slope to deal with, you also may not have much of a view. If your views will be of other homes, you may want to consider privacy when determining room placement.

    Weather Conditions for the Direction of the Slope Face

      North: Generally the North facing slope is the shady side. It will get heavier precipitation that will remain longer. This at times can be intense and exciting for storm watching, however, you want your home to withstand the elements. Consider homes with steeper roof lines that shed more water than do shallow pitched roofs. You may want to use oversized timbers or steel in extreme climates. For maintenance purposes, choose durable exterior materials, that possibly never need painting once installed, as reaching these areas on steep inclines isn't easy or inexpensive!
      East: You will see the earliest light from the morning sun. This works for early risers. Position your bedroom and breakfast areas to enjoy mornings to their fullest. If you're not an early bird, place bedroom windows to the West.
      South: This side will get all-day sun if no shade is provided. If this is the prevailing slope face, consider a flat roof, or one light in color to deflect the elements from overheating the inside of your home. Consider materials that resist extreme temperature changes like rock and stucco.
      West: Long evenings and sunset views are character of a westward facing slope. Perhaps a patio on this side would be fun for entertaining! Dining rooms that have a window to the west are usually enjoyed to the fullest.

    What is a good shape for your home?

      If you have a steep slope, building along the hillside in somewhat of a straight line usually works out. Try not to build over a gulley or where the water shed comes down the slope. If your land only allows room to build over a stream, a sky-bridge is recommended.
      If you have a square lot, usually a rectangular or L-shaped home is best.
      Try to avoid a U shaped house unless the open part of the U is your entry, and there is a courtyard. This turns your design shape into a square.
      Homes in the shape of a T are not common. This can cause an argumentative situation with the windows. One should visualize which rooms will be viewed through the windows from the other areas of the home.

    Determine the steepness

  • You must know the slope of your building area before you get permits. A surveyor can tell you, or you can measure it yourself. Tools needed are at least 2 tri-pods, a yardstick, a 25' tape or longer, and a laser level. Slope is height/distance. Set two points. Measure the distance horizontally(level) with a tape and enter it in the slope equation as distance . Measure the verticle distance by placing the yardstick level with the top your lower tripod location. Direct your laser level from the top of your upper tripod location toward the yardstick. Take the difference between the measurements and enter it in the slope equation as height.

  • Knowing this will help to determine excavation and concrete costs. Other home costs will be average as long as there are no areas that are difficult to reach with a ladder.

  • A garage is usually the best part of a home to be at the lowest level of your property. This is because they generally are at least a step below a homes first level floor. Also, structurally it is the best support for parking a vehicle on.

  • Are there areas that slide or shift regularly? Use an engineer to determine what type of retaining wall and/or drainage should be useed to stablaize the shifting soil. If you would like this service provided, just email us anytime.
  • Driveways and Access

      How steep should a driveway be? You don't want to bottom out your vehicle getting in and out of your property so a slope of no more than 11% is recommended. If this is a challenge, solutions might be to cut into the land or add switchbacks to serious inclines.
      There should be enough room out of the garage to comfortably turn your vehicle around to face out if you have a lengthy incline. Parking should also be considered.
      Typical single driveways range from 9-11 feet wide. Double driveways are generally 18-24 feet wide.
      Consider having ground support beneath the garage area. Do not try to use beams or other support for vehicles rest upon. You may have to bring in fill material if the existing slope doesn't provide earth beneath your garage.