We have gone into our objections to the First-Thought Design in some detail already. As you recall, the First-Thought involves a house with a facade of windows facing downhill and a solid back wall abutting the hillside. In the worst version of this design the roof is pitched back into the hill backing up the roof runoff against the drainage from the hill. The other common variation has a flat roof. As we have mentioned both of these can cause disastrous drainage problems especially with the PSP system. A French drain will help but in this instance we don't believe it can be relied upon. There is simply too much else going against it.
The First-Thought design does have two advantages: view and possible solar energy adaptation. The view advantages are obvious. The possibilities of solar energy come where the downhill slope is a southern exposure. Whether a person should put this sort of house in an area of high density of housing where it is visible to others is an open question, especially since both views and solar energy may be utilized by more concealed design methods.
If you feel, however, that you absolutely must build with this design we have two suggestions: (1) Put in an Uphill Patio, and (2) Pitch the roof so that the roof drains off to the sides where the water can run off and downhill away from the house. Unless your soil is exceptionally well drained you will probably want to put in French drains on the side of your house also. Following these suggestions should give you relief from your drainage headaches plus balance of light and cross ventilation.
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