Sydney’s hilly inclines and declines lends itself to split level home design.  These designs can fully take advantage of our stunning views, vistas of our harbour and bush outlooks.

When building, and you are sympathetic and work with your sloping block, the design of your home becomes a natural part of the aspect.  Taking full advantage of your unique piece of land and designing and building a home that suits both the block and your lifestyle is the perfect combination to achieving the wow factor.

In contrast, where you try to make the site something that it is not, is where home design can come unstuck and add to the cost of the building.

So, if your block is sloping and you find yourself looking at split level home design, do not fret.  At SBR Group, we have some great ideas to help you work into the design a stunning split-level home, that will amaze you and make your neighbours and friends envious.

What is a split level home?

A split-level home tends to follow the natural slope of your block.  It is designed to capture the natural light and the views.  The home has shorter levels with each of the levels connected by short flights of stairs.

Split-level homes come in all shapes and sizes.  Some meld with the slope with harmonious indoor-outdoor connections, some are a haven that hovers over the ground, some use materials from their settings with varying flat, sloped or curved rooflines.

Why you should build a split-level home on a sloping block

While some sloping blocks are steeper than others, it can be a wise decision to follow the slope of the land in your house design and not fight it.

Architect’s love the challenge of designing homes on sloping blocks.  They can use all their creativity and design nous to tick all your boxes of needs and wants.  Moreover, they can use architectural features to add character and appeal to the living environment, to sit the house  proudly on the block, take in the view, and give good access and impact to the location.

Our 5 reasons to choose a split-level home design
  1. Split-level homes are unique

If you want a house that no one else has, then this is the way to go!  Subject to the block of land, your split-level home design becomes a home that not only looks great but fits snug on the block.

  1. Less excavation

Less excavation means you will be saving on building costs.  Consequently, by trying to change the slope of the land, you will need to slice and even out the slope.  This can be costly in terms of excavation and labour costs.

  1. Less retaining walls

Again, when you change the slope of the land, you need to add retaining walls to ensure the block maintains its integrity and can hold your house securely.  Installing retaining walls are costly and require engineering ingenuity to ensure they are structurally sound and will perform.

  1. A more interesting design

When designing your split-level home, you can be creative with the functionality and layout.  By layering the living spaces with the outdoor areas, playing with the slope, views and light to produce a truly unique home just the way nature intended.

  1. Gently sloping driveway

Depending on the slope of your land, you can build the front and back access of your home at ground level.  In most cases, a split-level home can be accessed from the ground if the design follows the slope of the land.

Design solutions for split level homes 

If you have decided to design a split-level home for your family, here are some ways to get more from your sloping block –

Study the angle and irregularity of the block

Get to know your block intimately will enable you to get the perfect design for your split-level home. Finding the steepest parts and the natural flow of the block, where the slope starts and finishes, will help in deciding the best position for your house.

Views, views and more views

In most circumstances a sloping block will contain a view in some form or other. This may be sweeping views of bush, harbourside, or of the local district.  Look beyond the four corners of your block to find the view you can capitalise on.  It may be treetops in the distance or the twinkling lights of the neighbourhood, incorporating it into the design can become the feature you love the most.

Natural light

Watch the sun move across your block. Consider the trees and other obstacles to maximise the amount of light pouring into your house and to take advantage of passive heating and cooling.  In fact, by understanding the movement of light across your block, the design of your split-level home will naturally place your living areas.


Check out the prevailing breezes of the site and orient your house, as well as windows and doors to ensure cross ventilation is captured. Of course, this will depend on your climate, location and landscape.  In climates with stronger winds, the design of the house and landscaping can funnel the breezes away from your home.


Understand the natural flow of water through your property not just during heavy downpours or flooding, to direct water away from your home.  For land that is prone to heavy downpours, incorporate elevated driveways and pathways.  Alternatively, add some fun creative design features with open drains for waterfalls, aqueducts and serpentine sections.


Check out the location of neighbouring houses. In the split-level home design take into account where neighbour windows or living areas are, so you are not looking into (and they aren’t looking into) your home.

Your architect will be able to help you design your split-level home.  It is a good idea to keep these tips in mind especially in the early days of the design and idea gathering.

Our advice when designing a split level home

‘If you are designing a split-level home, don’t stress about the designs you can’t do and what the house can’t be, and turn your attention to all the things and designs it can be’.

Adam Davani, Director of SBR Group


  1. When building on a slope, give some budget to external site works like drainage and retaining walls to create useful flat areas to enjoy.
  2. A sloping site can present both a challenge as well a gift. Indeed, the challenges may add to the cost of the project however the finds on a sloping block will far out way the challenges.

For a little design inspiration –

Here are some beautiful examples of split-level homes we have built

Northwood / Greenwich split level home
Split level home design with level front entrance

A level front entrance for this split level home on a deep sloping block

Views from split level home design

Utilising the district views and treetops into the suspended deck design gives the homeowner an amazing outdoor space.

Sunken lounge in split level home design

Two steps turn this sunken lounge into a cosy oasis.

Click here for more images of this stunning Greenwich split-level home

Pemulwuy / Blacktown split level home
A tri-level home level front with gently sloping front yard

The gentle sloping driveway and front garden is the only clue this not a flat block

A short staircase leading to the kitchen and family room

The short staircase is a dramatic entrance for the kitchen and family room with huge glass windows to the backyard.

Split level home design uses a short staircase to access the backyard

The deck is built level with the house with a short staircase to access the backyard.

Click here for more images of this amazing Blacktown split level home.

If you are wanting to create a family home that is not a traditional brick box – architect Harry Seidler was a master – investigate all the possibilities of a split level home.

At SBR Group, we have experience in building split-level homes for clients across Sydney.  We can guide you through the design process and advise how to capitalise on the pluses of your sloping block – all for an amazing new split-level home.

Contact us now to find out what great ideas we have for your sloping block and split-level home.  We won’t disappoint!