Site Analysis

Understanding all the features of a site, using and protecting the best, and minimising the impact of the worst.

Site Analysis

Understanding the site is the first step towards designing or substantially renovating a house that will minimise its impact on the environment, minimise the use of resources and be comfortable and healthier to live in.

You will need to distinguish between macro (regional or large-scale) effects and micro (site-specific) effects.

You will need to understand site characteristics that are specific to the site (such as topography and landscape features) and broader local or regional effects such as regional climate.

In addition to physical aspects such as sun, wind or ground stability, look closely at the land title and check whether it has any notices or restrictions on it that will affect construction on the site. These may include:

  • covenants or encumbrances, which can limit what you can do on a site. Covenants may place restrictions around things like the building materials or colour schemes used on a building. They can also apply to the land around a building, by limiting the height of trees or prohibiting clotheslines that are visible from the street, for example. Covenants often apply to new suburbs or developments.
  • easements, which typically cover a local authority or a neighbour running an underground gas, water, stormwater or sewerage pipe through a property. This limits the use of the land where the pipe runs through.
  • a Section 72 notice describing a natural hazard (such as flooding) that the site is at risk of. Where a title has this notice, the building consent authority is exempted from liability for damage arising from the natural hazard; the Earthquake Commission (EQC) can decline to provide cover, depending on the nature of the hazard; insurance companies may decline to offer cover or may exclude cover for the relevant hazard.

In addition, it will be necessary to understand relevant Resource Management Act and District Plan requirements.

 

Updated: 26 May 2022



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    New Zealand climate and environmental zonesClimate should influence building size/form and location on site, material choices, window/door size and placement, bracing requirements and Building Code compliance.

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    SunUtilising the availability of the sun on a site can increase the energy efficiency and comfort of the building.

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    WindBuilding design must take account of wind direction, speed and frequency.

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    RainThe amount, direction and intensity of rainfall on a site should influence several aspects of a building’s design.

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    Plants, trees and landscape featuresIdentify the impact or benefit of plants, trees, landforms and adjacent buildings on sun, shade, shelter and a site’s intrinsic value.

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    HazardsAssess potential risk from earthquakes, floods, slips, slumps and erosion, and contamination or pollution.

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    Services and infrastructureDetermine the availability of and access to water, energy services, sewer and stormwater drainage, vehicular access, phone and other services.

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    Site conditions and ground stabilityAssess stability of ground and banks/cliffs, acceptable soil bearing pressure and soil types and water table.

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    Culture and heritageConsider the historical and cultural context of the site – building style, materials, scale, protected structures and trees, and permitted development.

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    Site analysis checklistSummarising the documents that need to be obtained and the information to be collected on site.