HOUSING + HOMELESSNESS

The benefits and challenges of building a home on the mountainside

Apr 25, 2023, 8:00 PM

On Saturday, two homes in Draper collapsed and fell into a ravine due to a crumbling, man-made foun...

The debris of two homes in Draper that have reportedly been evacuated for months sits at the bottom of a hill after sliding overnight on Saturday, April 22, 2023. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — After multiple homes in Draper were swept away in a landslide, many people may be wondering why anyone would build a home on the mountainside.

Dave Noriega, co-host of Dave and Dujanovic, was one of many people with this question. To help find answers, Noriega spoke with Jed Nilson, president of Nilson Homes.

“He has been building homes generationally, his father (and) himself for decades now,” Noriega said. “He didn’t build these homes in Draper. But I did want to tap into his expertise to find out what could have been done.”

Nilson told Noriega he had built mountainside homes in the past.

“I worked for my dad for 20 years and I dealt with all the challenges of building on hillsides,” he told Noriega. “He loved it because you get views and, you know, you can build really cool stuff on hillsides.”

Nilson said he hated building homes on mountainsides because there are so many challenges.

“(It’s) really hard to build on hillsides and deliver exactly to the customer what you wanted to deliver,” he said. “You, kind of, have to change things up a little bit as you dig into the earth.”

Nilson found mountainside homes to be so challenging that now he only builds on flatland.

“(If) somebody wants to build on the hillside, they gotta hire somebody else who wants to deal with those challenges,” he said. “There’s benefits of living on a hillside, but there’s challenges in building on the hillside.”

Protections for homes on the mountainside

According to Noriega, Nilson Homes buys “essentially a warranty” for all of the homes it builds. The “warranty” helps protect homes from shifting soil, an issue currently posed to many homes around the state.

“For example, we purchase with every home what’s called a 2 10 warranty,” Nilson said. “We purchase it from a company called 2 10, who then will ensure the structure of the home for 10 years.”

Listen to the full segment:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

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The benefits and challenges of building a home on the mountainside