Understanding your Lot's Topography
Updated: Jul 13, 2022
Understanding how the slope on your lot will effect not only the cost, but the useful area on your property is very important.
^^ABOVE: SAMPLE OF A TOPO BOUNDARY SURVEY WITH SIGNIFICANT TREES INCLUDED.
Many times when I walk a homeowner's lot for the first time with them I will point out a 'slope' on their lot that may have gone unnoticed when the property was purchased. This slope can be from almost any direction: front to back, back to front, or from one side to another. And the slope of your lot will absolutely have an impact on cost and the design considerations of not only your home, but your properties final grade. Topography is also a topic I see a lot of other builders pay little attention to. However, I give it much more thought and consideration as we are building your Forever Home and we want you to enjoy the layout of your home and yard. We also want to be wise in considering the cost to build.
^^ABOVE: FORMED-UP FOUNDATION ON LOT SLOPING FROM FRONT TO REAR. NOTICE THE HEIGHT DIFFERECIAL FROM THE REAR OF THE HOME TO THE NATURAL GRADE (IN ADDITION TO THE FORM BOARD SUPPORT NEEDED IN THE REAR OF THE HOME).
Frequently smaller slopes are barley noticeable, but can be very noticeable after the house is constructed. Many custom homes, for example, are over 100' in length and many are over 80' depth. If your lot slops even just an inch over the span of a couple of feet of distance: this can really add up. You may be looking at having 4' or more of distance between the top of your porch and the natural grade once the house is built!
Having the beneficial perspective of being both a home designer and builder, topography is something I'm always considering from the very first site visit. If we plan for the topography in advance and factor it into the design of the house, we can both save money on your build and provide you with a much more beneficial/ enjoyable final grade. Sometimes, I will even consider what options we have with our septic system when considering the final topography / grade. The location of the septic system is also a factor based on your lot's topography.
One good starting point is to get a topography survey (when the boundary survey is performed) in the anticipated build area. Adding a topography report to your survey is usually not expensive and extremally helpful during the house / site plan design. It's also helpful to have the surveyor record any significate tress (oaks with a trunk size of 6" or grater- for example) that may be in proximity to the build area as well. This can be factored into the design and/or placement of your new home during the design process (if the survey information is available).
The more information you have available for you and your designer, the better and more cost-effective your build will be.