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Building on a Slope

Mountainsides, cliffs and hills offer appealing views for log homes, but what are the challenges when it comes to building on a slope? Here are 7 simple strategies to take advantage of a sloping site site.

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Reverse your layout.

Sloping sites allow a more modest appearance from the front and a grander one from the rear, especially with dramatic windows, such as prows. When building on a slope, it is often best to put your “front” door behind the house.

Have your driveway access the home from above, not below.

You’ll avoid having to cut the driveway into the side of the hill and build retaining walls to keep dirt and stone from falling onto it. Placing your garage at the front of the top level opens up views at all levels in back of the home.

Build tall.

Taller homes with smaller footprints require less excavation and grading, both of which are major construction expenses. And a narrow, stacked house with an open floor plan can bring views to all or most rooms.

Create a daylight basement in the excavated wedge area under homes on the downside slope.

You’ll create a great view with an additional room, instead of an underused crawl space, and without enlarging your home’s footprint.

Avoid building on the very top of a hill or mountain.

A panoramic view is great, but it will also raise your heating costs by exposing the home to cold winds in winter. Use the slope to shelter the house and narrow the view’s focus.

Proper Siting

Site your house to avoid winter shade and summer sun as much as possible.

Make the house part of the view.

Build to conform to the land’s contours, and blend rather than clash with the topography.