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Old 09-14-2009, 03:11 PM
 
28 posts, read 56,229 times
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i've been house hunting and have seen some houses that are on lots with extreme topographies. The one i am really interested in has a garage that is at streel level and the first floor of the house is about 10 feet above the garage level with a flight of stairs inside inside the garage to get into the house. I found a lot where a to-be-built home would have such a layout. I would like feedback from people who own such homes or know someone who does. Is this layout prone to foundation problems moreso than a house in a somewhat flat lot? I noticed that the builder has cut into the property where the garage will be situated, once the foundation and garage wall are poured, the gaps are filled in with dirt (i'm assuming), does this increase the chance for water infiltration into the garage? Feedback is greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-14-2009, 05:52 PM
 
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a lot of split levels are built to accomodate hilly topography meaning they are built on rock so there are no issues with shifiting foundations like there are on many flat plots of land with a deep layer of just dirt. Our home is a variation on the typical split-level where the garage and entry foyer is at street level and once you enter the house you go either up or down a half flight of stairs. Built on rock, the 30 year old house has no foundation issues. We love the unique layout btw.
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Old 09-14-2009, 06:50 PM
 
Location: Stone Oak
320 posts, read 936,615 times
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I live in a neighborhood that is comprised of mostly hillly terrain so depending on the lot you get anywhere from a few steps to a full flight of stairs to get to your first floor. They use a giant jackhammer-like device to chisel through limestone to carve out the garage niche - so you don't have to worry about foundation problems. As far as I know, none of my neighbors with extreme topography have reported water leakage into the garage. My wife and I passed over those lots since it seemed to me like it would be a hassle going through those stairs to carry in groceries, take out the trash etc..
Another factor to consider is that your builder will probably show you a sketch of your home's facade on a flat terrain and it might look too different once built on a hilly lot. In my neighborhood those homes had about 8 extra feet of brick added to the front to fill in the area caused by moving the garage down. In my opinion this rather large brick area, detracts from the look of several models, but it'll vary by design. Hopefully your potential neighborhood has some built homes so you can see what I mean. It might not be a factor for you of course.
On the other hand some of those hilly lots usually afford better views. Some of my neighbors are high enough on a hill such that from their 2nd floor they can see clearly over the neighbors house across the street and into a green area.
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Old 09-15-2009, 07:08 AM
 
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We have a home like that with 11 steps from the garage to the door. We've only been there a couple years so it's too early to comment on the foundation problems, but I can say that carrying groceries up and down the stairs hasn't been nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Obviously it'd be nicer to not have stairs, so all else equal it's better to be flat.

Like StanStelle said, if's the garage is dropped a good distance, having a lot of extra brick can detract from the appearance. Push for some windows in that space! It makes a huge difference in making the home look nicer. Insist on it. Get it in writing.
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Old 09-15-2009, 09:08 AM
 
824 posts, read 1,606,093 times
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As you've probably surmised, these houses are more expensive to construct. And as our population ages, there seems to be a consensus among Realtors that a home with lots of steps could impact resale value.

There generally aren't any structural issues to worry about, though.
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:02 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
4,149 posts, read 9,330,271 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvlpr View Post
As you've probably surmised, these houses are more expensive to construct. And as our population ages, there seems to be a consensus among Realtors that a home with lots of steps could impact resale value.

There generally aren't any structural issues to worry about, though.
Like dvlpr said, structurally, they're the same as any other home. It's engineered for that specific topo.

For resale, they're a nightmare. I just sold one with incredible topo. Gave it really great curb appeal, but the slope of the driveway, stairs to the first floor, etc., made it a very tough sale.

When you have a house with that amount of topo, you're automatically eliminating any buyers over 40 or so (don't want stairs), buyers with young children, etc. Stairs are a huge turnoff here right now. In other places, it's different, as the vast majority of homes have stairs. But in SA, most people want a single story home, or very few stairs. You're just cutting your buyer pool in half.
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:36 PM
 
134 posts, read 334,390 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevcrawford View Post
Like dvlpr said, structurally, they're the same as any other home. It's engineered for that specific topo.

For resale, they're a nightmare. I just sold one with incredible topo. Gave it really great curb appeal, but the slope of the driveway, stairs to the first floor, etc., made it a very tough sale.

When you have a house with that amount of topo, you're automatically eliminating any buyers over 40 or so (don't want stairs), buyers with young children, etc. Stairs are a huge turnoff here right now. In other places, it's different, as the vast majority of homes have stairs. But in SA, most people want a single story home, or very few stairs. You're just cutting your buyer pool in half.
I agree stairs can eliminate plenty of potential buyers, it seems half is unlikely though (or is San Antonio really that lazy?) Anyway, it also doesn't eliminate all buyers over 40. My parents built a new house when they were in their early 60s...two stories and they love it. They actually have more stamina due to walking up and down the stairs daily. They are now in their late 60s and no problems. Also their best friends have a two story and are in their early 70s. Obviously at some point it will become a problem so I am not endorsing seniors buying homes with stairs. Enough rambling though, my point is just that the no buyers over 40 rule is overstated.
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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My friend grew up in a house like this and they never had problems.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:33 PM
 
Location: San Antonio
4,149 posts, read 9,330,271 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egeorge View Post
I agree stairs can eliminate plenty of potential buyers, it seems half is unlikely though (or is San Antonio really that lazy?) Anyway, it also doesn't eliminate all buyers over 40. My parents built a new house when they were in their early 60s...two stories and they love it. They actually have more stamina due to walking up and down the stairs daily. They are now in their late 60s and no problems. Also their best friends have a two story and are in their early 70s. Obviously at some point it will become a problem so I am not endorsing seniors buying homes with stairs. Enough rambling though, my point is just that the no buyers over 40 rule is overstated.
True, but when selling, you need to worry about the majority and not hope that the few that don't mind stairs come along. The trend right now is that most people want a single story. Especially over 40. I pray that I'm able to navigate stairs in my 60's and 70's, but when you're buying a house at that age, even if you're able to do them with ease, you tend to plan for the future when you're not able to.
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Old 09-18-2009, 02:15 PM
 
21 posts, read 53,092 times
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I am really glad I didn't know about the over 40 rule before I puchased a house. I am 42 and have MS and bought a 30 year old house that actually has 6 different levels. This is an excellent way to get exercise. This house has never had any foundation problems, but I really do believe it all depending on the land that the home sits on and the care that is put into building the house and the maintenance that occurs through the years as to whether or not foundation problems will occur.
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