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Western North Carolina The Mountain Region including Asheville
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Old 10-30-2011, 09:34 PM
18 posts, read 47,745 times
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Well....it is the mountains which have slopes....so building on them does happen...daily.

Why exactly do you have to build? Why not buy one of the thousands of NEW houses that are sitting around empty right now selling for pennies?
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Old 10-31-2011, 06:31 AM
Location: Blue Ridge Mntns., NC
8,431 posts, read 11,140,384 times
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Best check with a reputable surveyor / civil engineer, who will refer you to a reputable contractor with steep slope experience, and with the County Building Inspector; there are steep slope rules that must be followed. You could be borrowing trouble.
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:59 AM
Location: Western NC.
1,319 posts, read 1,599,207 times
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We bought on a slope number of years ago not knowing all that this entails. Problems have been with retaining wall and drainage issues. Lots of water in these mountains and springs. As mentioned be sure the person you are working with knows a lot about steep slopes and building on them. Check out the steep slope ordinances I think you are in Buncombe county should be posted on the county website. Better to stay away from them if you can less costly so far our repairs have cost about $15,000.
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Old 10-31-2011, 12:58 PM
Location: Livingston, Montana
577 posts, read 1,490,872 times
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Also keep in mind local ordinances against steep slope building. Boone has such an ordinance put in place after student apartments went up on a known fault above Wal-Mart!
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:25 PM
3,850 posts, read 4,296,463 times
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Aside from the practicalities and extra cost, you have to ask yourself if you're going to enjoy living on a slope.

I'm renting a spec home that was built on a super steep lot. They had to dig out a lot of the hillside to build the house. Just walking to the mailbox is a heart attack opportunity.

If we get ice, we aren't getting out of here until it melts.

And there is no such thing as easily walking around the yard. Every step is precarious and hardly anything is level.

I'm am only renting, but I'd never buy this house in a million years because of the lot.
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:32 PM
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
3,549 posts, read 6,215,119 times
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I agree that mtn homes on slopes/ridges are not everyone's bag, but even after 10+ years here, we absolutely love our location, and the house. Another decade from now, if I'm still on the planet in my mid 70s then, I may not be so enamored, but I will worry about that if/when the time comes.

I would have bet the ranch that the OP's post would bring on the 'controversy' and the detriments, as I subtly noted in my first lengthy post response, and I find the subject very subjective and overly controversial in some peoples' minds, much to my amazement.

Ridge/mtn living is not for the masses, but I have seldom enjoyed hanging/living with that group... ;>)
GL, mD
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Old 10-31-2011, 02:07 PM
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Thanks for the input! All great advice. We live in Texas right now, so everything is flat!!! This is a new venture for us, but we LOVE the North Carolina Mountains and I can't think of any place I would rather be. I just want to make sure it's not in a house that is sliding down the side of a mountain.
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Old 10-31-2011, 06:17 PM
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just my opinion but better to be safe than sorry and it is better to know what to watch out for than be unaware.

people get stuck with unbuildable lots all the time. sadly
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by motordavid View Post
I would have bet the ranch that the OP's post would bring on the 'controversy' and the detriments, as I subtly noted in my first lengthy post response, and I find the subject very subjective and overly controversial in some peoples' minds, much to my amazement.
Yeah, Motor David, but here's the thing ... I've seen countless flatlanders come up to the mountains, point at houses way up on ridges and mountains, and say ... "That's cool!" .

Then they move into one and reality sets in. They want a garden, but the soil up there is thin and rocky. They get tired of huffing and puffing just to get down their own driveway and retrieve the mail. Every winter, they are the first people in town to get snowed in and require assistance from snow plows - and sometimes they need it even when no one else does. What if they need an ambulance and it can't get through?

Too many people don't think it through and then what? Maybe they can sell; maybe they can't. Why not help them to think it through beforehand?

I realize not all slopes or mountain lots are created equal. Some of them have easier access and more level areas, but you've got to search them out. I've rented four brand-new houses here in 10 years time. Two were on slopes. One was easier to walk around on because it was on a large plateau. This current one is so steep, it's a barrier to physical exercise.

The man who built the current house I live in was talked into it by a friend. It is a spec home built at the end of the housing boom. He has never been able to sell it in spite of taking $150,000 off what he has invested, and he's very bitter about it. There is a fortune in rock work just holding back the hill the house is carved into. That's money that would have been better spent on the house itself, and it would have been unnecessary if he'd built it on a level lot. I think it hasn't sold because of the lot.

We do have friends who live on very high ridges and on top of mountains ... with mixed results. One of them spent tons of money just putting in enough concrete to hold their home up before they could even start building. They have deep pockets though.

Some people thrive in such a location and yes, the views are spectacular. You are happy up way up there and I understand the allure. But I assume you thought it through because you don't seem like someone who wouldn't do your homework first.
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Old 11-01-2011, 05:32 PM
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
1,978 posts, read 2,769,659 times
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Well, I live in a "cove", which in my case is a kind of dogleg of land hooking out off the front of a mountain. The land in the cove is all on a slope, but the homes (5 of them in our cove, and 3 are the family of the owner) are all on nice, level lots with room for gardening, etc. I wouldn't trade this place for the world, and I am quite sure that I will openly weep when I leave. I have gotten to be good friends with the fellow who owns the place, to the point that now I get the privilege/responsibility of driving the tractor and grading the road. It's a lot of fun for me, because I am very much mechanically inclined and very into anything with wheels and an engine (especially a diesel engine ). However, here's the big thing:

If you aren't experienced with things like I'm describing, you might want to shy away unless you're planning on putting in a paved road (which I STRONGLY suggest you DO NOT do unless there are parts that are too steep for gravel (which is extremely steep)). Like, if you've never driven a tractor, or graded a road, or chopped wood to fill a woodstove, or used a woodstove at all, in my personal opinion this is not the place or lifestyle for you. Not meant to be discouraging, just realistic is all. I understand that you could rely on central heat and just pave everything, but then you wouldn't have a place that feels like it naturally grew out of the ground, you would have something that feels forced. I say this from experience (and of course, opinion). I spend 3-4 hours daily chopping wood (especially lately because we're putting wood up for the winter) and grading/moving dirt and gravel/whatever needs to be done with the tractor. It would be much easier work on a flat, paved surface, but I wouldn't be here if that were the case. Consider that as I'm doing this hard work, anytime I want to I can turn around and be faced with a view that suits the gods, and it's all because of this cove and the hard work put in by the man who made it happen.

Of course, this is a cove (sort of), not a mountainside, and there's a big difference. We are a much less steep escarpment sticking out of a very steep mountain, and it's not man-made, that's just how the mountain "grew". So it was a good place to do what the guy who owns it wanted to do, which is put in a main gravel road going up the cove, a couple of rental houses, and then a couple of houses for himself and his family. I imagine at the end of the day, as he looks out over this place, his creation basically, he feels mighty damn good about it, and well he should. It took a hell of a lot of work and time (septic for the houses, putting in the road and drainage system, etc. etc.), but the pay-off is HUGE if you pull it off.

Let me appeal to you though and ask you to do one thing: PLEASE do not tear up a beautiful mountain. Whatever you do, make your place tasteful, not an eyesore, and if you can help it, don't pave anything that doesn't need to be paved. I know that last part sounds kind of trivial, but I promise you it's not. This place would feel so phony and weird and unnatural if that road were anything besides gravel. It's a bit of extra work, but it makes the place that much nicer, and that's what it's all about when you move somewhere like this. Oh yeah, and get some chains or 4x4 for the snow. Don't be afraid of it, enjoy it. It's wonderful.
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