Dealing with Slope and Topography Challenges in Land Investing: Tips and Strategies Needed

Hello everyone,

My name is Brant. I’m brand new to the forum/group and I have been land investing for the past year. I’m 100% remote and have acquired five properties thus far. The issue I’ve run into several times is topography and slope. It’s there a way to circumvent this through LandID, Google Earth or just talking with counties and asking the right question? Does anyone have a slope gradient that they just steer clear from… Like after 29° the property is a wash?

Thank you for your input.



Welcome @brant! Good to see you here.

You could use Google Earth or Land ID to get an idea for the slope. Land ID will give you a somewhat clearer picture since it includes topo lines… even those aren’t spot-on accurate, but they’re better than nothing.

This video explains the topo maps for Land ID (formerly MapRight) at 2:22:

Building on sloped land is a mixed bag. On one hand, you could get awesome multi-level designs and killer views. But, on the flip side, it can be a construction headache and hit your wallet hard.

How steep is too steep? It’s not a straight “the steeper, the pricier” answer. Gentle slopes? Pretty much a breeze to build on. Once you start hitting slopes above 15% (that’s about an 8.5-degree tilt), your costs are gonna climb (pun intended). If you’re looking at super steep slopes over 30% (roughly 17 degrees), brace yourself for some heavy-duty construction and a heftier bill.

For a ballpark idea:

  • Flat to Gentle Slope (0% - 5%): Easy-peasy. But if it’s too flat, you might get drainage issues.
  • Moderate Slope (5% - 15%): Not too bad. You get the perks of drainage, and maybe some cool design quirks.
  • Steep Slope (15% - 30%): Now it’s getting tricky. Expect some extra costs with more engineering challenges.
  • Insanely Steep (>30%): You’re in the big leagues now. Think top-tier engineering, construction gymnastics, and a fat checkbook.

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • Soil: Some soils are a pain on slopes. You don’t want your dream home doing a landslide tango.
  • Retaining Walls: On steeper grounds, you might need these to carve out flat spaces. Ka-ching!
  • Drainage: Water and slopes can be frenemies. Make sure water drains away, not into your home.
  • Getting Around: Imagine hauling bricks and beams uphill. It’s gonna cost you more time and money.
  • Red Tape: Some local councils are fussy about building on slopes. Check the rules before diving in.

Got a specific property or situation in mind? It’s best to chat with an engineer or architect who’s done this kind of work before. They’ll give you the lowdown on what you’re in for.

Ultimately, anything can be built upon; it’s just a question of how much you want to spend on engineering and implementation.

People have literally built houses on cliffs before… so anything is possible with enough money and dedication to make it happen.

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@retipsterseth Thanks for reaching out Seth and giving the detailed information. I’ve been trying to put some verbage around my thought process when it comes to this topic for a while and you definitely did that for me.



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@brant glad I could help!