Buying In A Hilly Neighborhood? Look Out For These Features

17 July 2017
 Categories: Real Estate, Blog


Finding a home in a development set among rolling hills means you could have some wonderful views, but it also means you've got to look at a few special features to ensure the house will be what you want. These features aren't necessarily unwelcome; they just change how you do things when living in the house. Consider these and ask about them when you look at new homes or have a custom home built because there's no reason to deal with issues you don't like if you can help it.

Driveway and Road Slope

Home builders are generally sensible about road grading because they know there will be moving trucks and more trying to get up and down the hills. However, some developments (and open land, if you're having a custom home built) are situated in very hilly areas, where there's no choice but to have a steep road grade. Ensure your car (and your nerves) will be OK with the grade. Sometimes it can be steep enough to make walking interesting, in the euphemistic sense of the word; if you think that's impossible, take a look at roads in places like San Francisco and San Diego, where some surface streets can have grades of upwards of 26 percent.

The driveway slope is just as important. Even gently sloped streets can result in some steep driveways that could make trying to get out of your car a struggle as the doors might not stay open. Always inspect the driveways for areas that allow you to park without a problem.

Drainage at the Bottom of the Hill

If your favorite house lies at the bottom of a slope, such as the end of a cul-de-sac, check the drainage. You want to be sure that any heavy rains send water to a storm drain and not to your front yard. If you're buying in an HOA area, find out who handles clearing leaf debris out of drains. Do not automatically say no to a house just because it's at the bottom of the hill; many developers are very, very good about installing more-than-adequate drainage.

Retaining Walls and Property Lines

In a sloped area, you're likely to see a lot of retaining walls, which are good things to have. But double-check the walls versus the property lines. This will determine who takes care of the wall and whether or not the care is divided. Again, if there's an HOA, check if they're responsible, too. If the retaining wall is at the bottom of your backyard, find out what the policy is regarding planting right next to the top of the wall. There may be restrictions on plants due to root size and weight.

New home builders, real estate agents, and HOA representatives will have the answers you need to any questions regarding land slopes.