“Everyone is drawn to the majesty of elevation, whether you’re on a mountain in the Alps or in the eastern part of our country in the Appalachian Mountains,” said Amy Conner-Murphy, an Asheville, N.C.-based architect. When people move to the mountains, she said, they want to be as close to the view as possible—often right on the edge.
Beyond a home’s aesthetics, challenges that architects have to consider when designing mountain homes include slopes, subsurface rock and soil conditions, and wind loads (depending on the elevation of the house). Another issue is erosion. Water can wash away soil and undermine the foundation, said Ms. Conner-Murphy.
Living at high elevation means driving up a steep driveway in the wintertime. If one is prepared, though, it isn’t so bad, said Colter Smith, a real-estate agent with Christie’s International in Aspen.
“A lot of the higher-end houses have a fully heated driveway, so you don’t even have to do anything,” he said.
At one of Mr. Smith’s listings, for example, the driveway has a sensor that only turns on when it is snowing and shuts off when the snow is cleared.
For Mr. Smith, any effort that comes with living in a mountain home is worth it.
“The sky’s much clearer. At night, the stars are much brighter,” said Mr. Smith.
People don’t notice it at first, he said, but over time they realize how hazy the city is. “Up here, it is a lot more peaceful.”
Four High Altitude Homes for Sale
Caldwell, W.Va. // $859,000
At 3,130 feet of elevation with 180-degree views of the Allegheny Mountains and Greenbrier Valley, this house within a gated community has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, one half-bathroom and is 4,657 square feet.
The house has board-and-batten siding and a gambrel roof, as well as a timber-frame living room with vaulted ceilings, a stone fireplace, a kitchen with granite countertops and a two-story deck. There is also access to a community lodge and pool. The property is listed by Grist Real Estate Associates.
Boulder, Colo. // $4.45 Million
Overlooking the Rocky Mountains from 6,838 feet of elevation, this 5,700-square-foot house has four bedrooms, four bathrooms and one half-bathroom. Throughout the house, which has a Decra tile roof, are three soapstone wood stoves, marble flooring with radiant heat and double-pane windows.
The kitchen has two islands, an electric and gas range, a walk-in pantry and a Miele coffee machine. The primary bedroom has a loft and patio as well as a spiral staircase that leads to its own living area. The home has three levels of patios and the main level has a new hot tub. The property is listed by Coldwell Banker Realty.
North Wilkesboro, N.C. // $4.25 Million
Perched at 1,800 feet of elevation, this gated estate sits on 279 acres surrounded by recreational trails and overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The open-floor-plan, 4,788-square-foot home has three bedrooms and 2½ bathrooms, as well as vaulted ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows in the great room. Additionally, there is a deck and a five-car garage. The property is listed by Premier Sothebys International Realty.
Aspen, Colo. // $16.995 Million
This ski-in, ski-out home is 8,983 square feet, sits on 1.4 acres and has a view of the Rocky Mountains from its location at 8,346 feet of elevation. There are five bedrooms, six bathrooms and three half-bathrooms. The primary bedroom on the main level has a fireplace and a bathroom with a soaking tub and oversize shower; the bedrooms on the lower level have access to an elevator.
Throughout the home, there is wood flooring as well as ceilings with wooden-beam trusses, stone archways and multiple fireplaces. The elevated patio has a waterfall, stone hearth, and a Jacuzzi. The terrace is partially heated. The house also has a 1,000-bottle stone wine cellar and tasting table, wet bar, club room and an office with a private entrance. It also has a three-car garage and a driveway with a snowmelt system. The property is listed by Christie’s International.