Difficult Blocks

With a flexible and imaginative approach, difficult sites present great opportunities.

Designing and building for difficult blocks

Homesites come in all shapes and sizes – sloping block builds, narrow home design or sometimes just an irregular shape. The benefits of these blocks often outweigh the challenges as long as your vision is approached intelligently by architects experienced in the demands of smart design.


Maximising your design

It is possible to achieve an impressive innovative design on a difficult site – and realise an exciting place you can call home. No matter the degree of difficulty, there is always a way a challenging site can be transformed into a beautiful home.

A collage of three images the top is the exterior of a sloping two storey house custom home built by Destination Living the bottom left is a wooden deck and barbecue out looking a nice view of greenery and the bottom right is the hallway of a new home with a dark staircase

Architectural designs of a three storey house on a sloping block

What is a difficult site?

Destination Living brings great experience in developing difficult sites including those with unseen constraints. Examples of difficult site we have developed include:

  1. Narrow, sloping or irregular shaped blocks
  2. Issues with services such as water, power or gas
  3. Easement and overlays such as for heritage or for trees
  4. Natural such as fire, flood or coastal issues
  5. Building conversions including commercial to residential
  6. Issues from surrounding properties including Overshadowing
Iconography of a culculator with an orange dollar sign to the right handside. Representing Destination Living's building calculator.

Calculate the cost of building your custom home on a difficult block

No two blocks are ever the same, each comes with its own unique challenges and intricacies. With over twenty years of experience in designing and building custom homes on blocks of all shapes and sizes, we can help you calculate the cost of your project.

Difficult Blocks: FAQ

Can you build on a difficult block?

Yes. Building on a difficult block is just that – difficult, but not impossible. Perhaps you’ve found the perfect view and location within your budget, but it’s on an unusual block. The build will present unique challenges compared to a traditional site, and you’ll need a builder with imagination, experience, and flexibility. Destination Living is a leader in challenging home builds. They understand building a traditional home on a challenging site is like fitting a square peg through a round hole. Each complex block requires a custom home design to suit its unique environment, whether it’s a sloping, narrow, or odd-shaped block.

How do you know if my land is unbuildable?

While we’ll endeavour to overcome difficult block builds, there are rare instances when a block of land is more than challenging; it’s unbuildable. The soil is the most common reason for unbuildable land, so we conduct soil tests before signing the building contract. The site may be impossible when the ground has above-average surface movement expected. Other factors such as zoning restrictions, utility access, and your block’s gradient can deem the site unsuitable for building.

How does Destination Living design houses on difficult blocks?

We approach difficult blocks with an open mind and innovative lens, overlooking the challenges to create a stunning architecturally designed home. We believe building on an odd-shaped, sloping, or narrow block, is an opportunity to showcase individuality through clever design. We use the same design process with any build. To avoid expensive redesigns, we look for hidden constraints first, like obstructing your neighbours view, proofing for extreme weather events, or applying for a heritage overlay. Once the feasibility assessment is out of the way, we take the time to understand our client’s needs, how they want to live, and what’s important to them. We factor this into our designs while maximising the block’s natural light, elevation, and landscape. Our experience building on complex sites allows us to confidently navigate the process, from start to finish, minimising the stress for our clients.

How much will it cost to design a house on a difficult block?

The cost of building on a difficult block will depend on the ‘degree of difficulty’. Are you just dealing with a sloping block, or do you need to factor in service connection as well? Before you consider building, you need to understand the added expense of excavation, engineering, and council approvals, before you even put a slab on the ground. Although the exact price will vary, having built custom homes on complex blocks for over twenty years, we can help estimate the cost with our home building calculator.

Do I need council approval before building on a difficult block?

Yes. You will need to contact the local council and apply for a building permit, or both, depending on the build type. The building can’t commence until these permits are approved. At Destination Living, we can help you navigate the council approvals process, avoiding any expensive setbacks.

Helpful Articles for Difficult Blocks

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281 Lower Heidelberg Road
East Ivanhoe VIC 3079

Level 1, 181 – 191 Bay Street
Brighton VIC 3186

If you would like an assessment of your site or project, we’d love to hear from you.