Sloping Hillsides Pose Many Challenges for Home Construction

The hilly terrain of East Tennessee offers some of the most magnificent locations for building a house anywhere.

It’s no secret why some of the most coveted homes in our area are built on slopes. For one, you can enjoy stunning vistas of green valleys or wooded forests below, clear sky views above, and uninterrupted lines of sight for miles in some cases. Lots with steep slopes also allow for the extra space of a walkout basement that serves as another floor of the house.

Houses situated on the side of a hill are often perfectly situated to maximize lots of natural light.  And, for those who place a premium on privacy, building on a slope often allows you to select a location far off the beaten path.

But the sloping hillsides can also pose many challenges when excavating a new home site.

You can get a rough idea of how challenging a particular site will be to build on by its “gradient rating”, also known as incline. Less than 10% incline is considered slight and is the easiest to build on, while 11-20% is considered moderate. Anything above 20% is deemed steep.

Approximately two-thirds of the land in Knox County has a gradient rating of 15% or less, which means the challenges are manageable. Some areas are steeper. The City-County Building on the riverfront in downtown Knoxville, for example, is built on a 23% slope.

Beyond about 15%, costs begin to increase significantly as the risks become greater and the work becomes more difficult. Even moderately sloped sites typically require more concrete, deeper excavation by specialized excavation equipment or blasting, retaining walls or terraces, and specialized solutions for drainage and septic systems.

Proper attention to drainage — for both surface and subsurface water — is absolutely crucial to building on a slope. Rainfall-runoff has to be redirected away from your home’s foundation, without endangering any neighboring properties with water flows and without flooding public roads.

All that extra labor and materials needed to ensure the house is up to code and safe to inhabit mean higher costs and longer construction times.

Thinking about building on a slope?  Or is your current home on sloped land that needs work? When you need excavation services, let us help you.

Under the experienced leadership of Matt Garrett, Garrett Construction and Roofing has been serving the East Tennessee area since 2005. We are a licensed General Contractor and our general services range from full residential and commercial construction projects to excavation, remodeling, painting, drywall, roofing gutters. We also help with disaster recovery with experienced teams available to address fire and water damage.