Preparing to build your home: dealing with hills and roads

 When building your own home, you have control over all materials and tools. Unfortunately, you do not have control over your surroundings. Here's how you deal with hills and roads.

Preparing to build your home: dealing with hills and roads

1. From gate to door

To enjoy a country property, a safe, all-weather road from the frontage to the house and sheds is vital.

  • In hilly country, try for the easiest grade possible. If the land is above the main road, enter from the very highest point of the roadway frontage.
  • If below the road, choose the lowest entry. Where your access road leaves the main road there may be a road drainage channel.
  • A pipe of the appropriate size must be placed in this to allow your access road to pass over the top.
  • A six metre (20 foot) long pipe is usually the minimum length required.

2. Building your road

If excavating your entry road around the side of a hill, have it graded with a slight tilt away from the outer edge, just for safety. There should be a small ditch against the bank with a culvert pipe emptying hill water under the drive at intervals. The amount of water flooding down the hill in heavy rain will dictate how many of these are needed. Begin the road by clearing any trees, rocks or other obstacles that are in the way. Shaping and levelling of the site is work for a excavator and a contractor should be called in to do this. Begin driving over the new work immediately. A heavy car or loaded utility truck is excellent for rolling and packing the soft new earth.

If there are depressions caused by earth settling, fill these immediately while there is plenty of soft earth left from the excavating work. Make slight earth bumps over these depressions — they are certain to settle further. Heavy rain will promote further settling so keep driving over the road and filling where necessary until the surface is even.The quantity of topping needed will be advised by your suppliers. A sensible approach is to spread about half the required quantity initially and half six months later, so that the first layer provides a solid foundation for the second.

3. Roadway problems

If your road is to pass over marshy ground it will be necessary to raise the surface either by dumping filling material or scraping up the surrounding earth with an excavator to provide a firm surface. Top the new work as described above. Where there is an established road or track that is solid but riddled with potholes, it is possible to improve the surface without going to the trouble and expense of new work.

  • Fill each hole with large rocks to a point just below the road surface then fill over and around the rock with metal or gravel. A satisfactory economy job can be achieved by filling holes with short blocks of wood.
  • Never use long wood pieces which will tilt up and cause vehicle damage.
  • Fillings to be avoided during driveway work are sawdust, leaves, grass, bracken, fern or straw. In wet weather wheels make muddy soup of these in short time so it is a good investment to lay a proper surface in the first place.
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