Hi Carl, I would just like to get your input/insight on the best approach to building on a steep slope. My wife and I bought a 5 acre property on a side of a hill in Colorado.
My guess is that the elevation from the bottom to the top of the hill is about 100-150 feet and the slope varies between 20-30%.
I think I'm going to need a grading plan or topography survey of the plot.
Another potential issue is the amount and size of boulders on the property.
We might have to hire someone to blast/dynamite the area where the foundation will be built. Any advice you could give us would be greatly appreciated, Neil
Since you didn’t give me the actual lot dimensions I am going to assume (you know what that spells) that the lot is almost square. That would make each side dimension approximately 468 ft.
Unless I calculated wrong that would mean about a .25 ft drop per running foot.
So, a house with a foundation 30 feet deep would have an approximate difference of 8 feet from the front wall to the back wall. That’s not too bad
You also need to be concerned with sewer/septic availability and their location.
Did you investigate this before you bought the land? I hope so.
If there is sewer, is below your planned building site or above it. If it’s above, you will need a lift station and they only pump just so high.
If a septic system will be needed, did you check with the local municipality as to system requirements, including the location on your lot? A 20-30% grade would probably require an alternate system.
Lots of things to investigate before you can even “locate” or position the house on the lot.
I would consult with a local architect familiar with mountain building, and who knows and can refer you to a local engineer.
An engineer would be the logical person to consult with as to the boulders and location of the house.
Without knowing the size of your boulders, I could not begin to guess what you need to do. Can they be moved? Can you build around them?
You may or may not need a topography survey. For those of you who might be interested, a topographical survey (Topo) is a survey that shows contours, natural and man-made features, and elevation gradients.
You have your work cut out for you, but as usual, most of it is investigation and planning.
Be sure you provide a rugged temporary driveway (see Paving Mountain Driveways) to your building site. I learned that the hard way.
I have done two mountain houses. They both were challenges, but well worth it.
Carl Heldmann, byoh.com