This week in the Examiner, Kieran McCarthy of KMC Homes provides advice when building a home on an elevated site.
Q. I want to build a new home on a greenfield site overlooking Cork Harbour. It has great views which is why I am considering buying it. However, the site is quite steep so I am not sure how this will impact the build. There are other homes nearby that are built on split levels. Is the build cost significantly higher?
A. When it comes to building on sloped sites there are myriad elements to consider in terms of design, planning and cost.
You will first need to survey the site to get a sense of the actual slope of the ground. Your house will to some extent respond to the slope whilst taking advantage of the views and indeed shelter from the prevailing wind. The most cost effective approach is to build parallel to the contour lines but this may or may not work, depending on the site in question.
Another element I would consider is access to the site. If it is sloping downwards it may be that access is difficult and indeed a haul road (temporary builder access road) is required to facilitate access for the builders’ trucks and deliveries. This cost will be borne by you as part of the build budget. Ideally this access road would eventually become your new driveway but this isn’t always the case so get advice from a reputable and experienced builder in this regard.
Building a house that follows the slope down a site may mean the access road has to initially follow the slope of the site downwards as the buildings start at the lower section and work their way back to phases but again this will depend on the design and indeed the site.
You mentioned that you are considering a split level house. By this I am assuming you are proposing to have your living space on the first floor. This allows you to take advantage of the panoramic coastal views on offer but it will drive up the building costs.
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