Site Use

Considering how a building and site impact on each other, enhancing energy efficiency, comfort and convenience.

Positioning a house on the site

A house’s location on the site will influence many aspects of passive design.

In practice, on most sites the house should be positioned to maximise solar access for warmth and daylighting. Other considerations include access to views and cooling breezes, and minimising harmful impacts on site biodiversity.

Location for solar access

To maximise solar access for warmth and daylighting, the house should in general be located to minimise shade – particularly in the north – from landforms, neighbouring buildings, and vegetation. In most cases, locating a building near the site’s southern boundary will reduce the risk of shading.

Exposure to sunlight also adds dollar value to a house. In their study Valuing Sunshine, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust calculated that each additional hour of direct sunlight a house gets per day, averaged across the year, adds 2.4% to its market value.

Also see location, orientation and layout for information about orientation for solar gain, and site analysis: sun for information about sun paths.

BRANZ has more research-based guidance about house orientation and achieving comfortable temperatures in the online resource Up-Spec.

Other factors

Site use will also be influenced by prevailing wind and local climate effects, site topography, views, noise and the locations of vegetation, neighbouring buildings, and services.

Site use will also be influenced by hazards such as the risks of flooding, slips and erosion.

Finally, where a house is located on a site may also be affected by easements or covenants on the land title. Covenants on sections in new developments may have restrictions on where a house is placed. An easement on a land title may cover, for example, an underground gas, water or sewerage pipe running through the property.


Updated: 11 May 2020


    Wind effect/microclimateBuilding location will be influenced by prevailing strong winds and local wind tunnel effects.


    TopographyOn sloping sites, topography will affect access to sun and views, and building footprint.


    Adjacent buildingsAdjacent buildings will affect privacy, and access to sun and views.


    ViewsBuilding location can influence views.