What to Know Before Construction Begins
Building in certain areas is a challenge. Building codes and restrictions can sometimes get in the way of the customers’ dreams for their home. When sloped land is present, the challenges are even greater. If you are building a new home or remodeling in Los Angeles, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Studio City, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Calabasas, and surrounding areas, listen up because sloped land is everywhere in these popular renovation and building locations.
Why Do People Build on Sloped Land?
For those who grew up in a predominantly flat area, the option to build on a hill is virtually nonexistent. But in hill-rich areas throughout California, there is little compromise and building on a hill is essential. However, the essential need for a residence is not the only advantage to building on a hill. Here are just some of the benefits of building a hillside home in California.
Hillside homes offer a unique opportunity for dramatic landscaping. Landscaping on a hillside provides more of an artist style pallet for a professional landscaper instead of just a flat area to work with. The look can be seen from miles around giving notoriety to the home as well as the landscape professional that designed the outdoor space.
Additional Space Options
Outdoor space can come at a premium in some hillside homes, but for home design, hills can offer substantial ability for interior space. Daylight basements have become one of the most popular additions to homes built on the hillside throughout California as it adds a complete floor to the home increasing the indoor space drastically.
One of the most obvious and impressive aspects of building on a hill in California is the availability of dramatic views. In a general, flat neighborhood, unless you are the one closest to the ocean, you are not likely to have an unobstructed view. However, hillside properties allow the home to remain above neighbors, offering a much better view of the surrounding area.
Take Advantage of Natural Lighting
Like the view, a hillside property provides advanced natural lighting through its unobstructed views. Natural lighting is not just an optional feature but an essential one, especially during these uncertain times when people are remaining home more than ever before. A hillside home maximizes natural light, so you do not miss out on the great outdoors and health attributes of the sun just because you are staying home more.
Seclusion, But not Exclusion
Secluded properties are great for celebrities looking to stay out of the view of the public eye, but sometimes it is also essential to have a community surrounding you for support. A hillside property offers the best of both. The hill provides the ability to be set apart from a large community, but still close enough to enjoy the comfort and camaraderie it can bring.
The foundation of a home is what ensures it remains level. Foundation requirements vary by location and include extensively thick footings to hold up the overall weight of the home. Neglecting to follow protocol with a foundation can lead to shifting and cracking of the home, and this is not easily fixed after building the house.
When building on a hillside, standard foundation requirements drastically increase. California is also home to unique environmental problems such as land shifts during earthquakes. The potential for mudslides and drastic shifts to hillsides add to the need for substantial emphasis on the foundation of a hillside property.
Older-style properties relied on stilts as a way of maintaining the structure, but these complicated contraptions tend to fold under the stress of an earthquake. These days, the foundation of a hillside property can often cost as much as an entire home placed on flat ground due to the precautions and laws regarding the need for a sound structure. Hillside foundations often include additional concrete and cutting the home into the hill to provide a flat surface for the home to sit on. It can get complicated, but is an essential expense to ensure the home stays where it is placed.
Drainage and Sewage
To the naked eye, a hillside home should have no trouble with drainage concerns. However, the concern is not always visible to the naked eye. Hillside properties may not be prone to flooding in the general sense, but they are prone to mudslides that can devastate a property. The key to avoid issues with a mudslide is to allow your home to maintain an excellent drainage and sewage system. Runoff from rainwater must be directed away from the home and not cause flooding for neighbors and roads beneath your property.
Sewage is of some concern as well. For those who choose to place their sewage treatment uphill, pumps will have to be installed to properly extract waste from the home. For those seeking to place their sewage treatment downhill, tumble bays will help slow the flow to not negatively affect the holding tank or your neighbors beneath you.
Proper Access to the Home
Hillside properties can seem remarkably cheap as far as the selling price, but additional development costs will add to the overall price. Where the need for a high-quality foundation will take precedent over many of the home’s aesthetic attributes, other areas such as access to the home will come at an additional cost. Cutting access to the home can cost substantially as you will have to allow access for construction equipment during the process. Steep driveways may seem like a viable solution, but often have to be rerouted to take up more land space for safety reasons. It is best to rely on the advice of an engineer in regard to the best and safest access to the home throughout the process.
Type of Soil
Soil types vary drastically in California and are something to consider before construction begins on your hillside home. Soil conditions with high clay can provide some strength, but are not acceptable for proper drainage. The best solution for both drainage and strength is with granular soils. These include sand, gravel, and silt. Clay-based soil can expand and contract with certain atmospheric and climate conditions and can often require repairs to the home and additional silt or gravel fill ins when the ground changes.
Building a home on a hill does present some challenges, but for the price of the land and the amazing benefits hillside homes offer, many homeowners are willing to put forth the effort to build their dream home in California. If you are considering hillside construction or home renovation in California, contact a qualified and licensed contractor to ensure everything is done correctly and legally, so you can enjoy the final product for many years to come.