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Building on Uneven Land | Hill Builds with David Reid Homes

When building your home in New Zealand, it is imperative to work with a builder who understands how to build on all types of sections. Sites that are on a slope or on a steep hill are common here in Aotearoa, and there are many important factors to consider when building on such a site.

David Reid Homes Queenstown house with The Remarkables mountain range set behind

Hill builds have a reputation for being tricky and challenging, and that reputation isn’t all wrong - there are challenges to face when building into a hill or on a sloping site. However, there are also many long-term benefits; the views your home will have when perched up high are spectacular, and you are far more likely to enjoy 360 degree sun when you aren’t shoulder to shoulder with another home. Our franchises have plenty of experience building on the trickiest of sites, and know exactly how to prepare your build right from the ground up.

David Reid Homes home pictured from outside amongst native fauna

If you are building a new home, there are some important things to consider when buying a section on a hill. 

Access to the site can be difficult depending on the section - what is the vehicle access like, how steep is it? Often you will find the cheapest site is great once you get there, but the actual ‘getting there’ is the problem. Be sure to properly consider what will need to be done before you purchase a section in order to ensure good access to the site can be achieved. The cheap price may be outweighed by the cost of retaining walls, driveway layout and foundations, where a slightly more expensive site with easier access could save you money and many headaches.

David Reid Homes Hill Build Queenstown

Water control is a very important part of the hill build process, and you must ensure all water drainage solutions are well planned out prior to beginning work. Proper attention to drainage from rain and water run off is imperative to the safety of your home. There are many ways to ensure water is drained correctly, and they are each highly dependent on your site. For example, any retaining walls must have a tanking membrane for waterproofing, and culverts, soakaways and swales are often used as a channel style solution for storm water runoff. Putting accurate water solutions in place can be the difference between your home sitting safely for years to come and a mudslide causing disaster.

You will also want to think about the environmental conditions of your site. Where does the sun set in relation to your outlook? Are you exposed to the wind? Hill sites are naturally predisposed to more wind, but the placement of your house can be a large contributor to creating quieter, more calm areas in and around your home. 

When it comes to window placement, it is understandable that you want to capture as much of that stunning view as possible. Window placement design is important not only for capturing your unique perspective, but also for climate control. Large windows are tempting, but will make your home harder to heat in winter, and scorching in the Summer. Thought out and well designed window placement will allow you to appreciate all of your views and sunshine without the temperature troubles.


Along with things to consider, there are some common mistakes to avoid when building on a sloping site, or into a hill. A common mistake made is trying to build a house designed for a flat section onto your hill site. Building a successful home on a hill means working with the landscape, and designing your home to fit the site like a jigsaw puzzle piece. Everything from foundations, home design, materials used must be carefully thought through in order to create a home that not only looks like it belongs there, but also works with the terrain instead of against it. 

Finding a section in New Zealand that isn’t situated on some sort of slope or hill can be tricky, and a hill build has its perks! To enjoy the benefits of a build up high, you must work with builders who know everything there is to know about building on sloping, uneven sites. If you are looking at purchasing a section on a hill, feel free to get in touch with one of our local team. We would be happy to view the site with you and plan your new unique home, exactly the way you want it.

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