What You'll Learn
Follow the Slope
Often when houses are built on a sloping lot, the land is allowed to fall away at the back, creating a walk-out basement. While this makes for a useful basement, it can be a problem when you're planning an addition. Let's say the new family room is built at the level of the existing living areas. In that case, the addition will float a full story above grade, with no easy access to the outside world.
A better solution is a "stepped" approach that takes advantage of the slope. In this scenario, the new family area is set 3 feet below the existing first floor, with an outside deck or terrace 3 feet lower than that. The result is a comfortable connection to the backyard instead of the typical long staircase leading down from a floating deck. The new kitchen stays at the level of the existing dining room, three steps up from the family room in the main body of the house.
An added benefit of the stepped approach is that it automatically creates higher ceilings in the family room, even if there is a second floor above it, and taller ceilings allow for larger windows, which in turn bring more of the outdoors into your house.