Site Analysis

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

Services and infrastructure

Before any design or construction work can begin, the services available on the site must be determined.

  • Services to urban sites will typically include sewer and stormwater drainage, mains water supply, power, gas and telecommunications services.
  • Rural sites will generally have power and telecommunications services, but may not have a mains water supply, gas, sewerage or stormwater services.
  • Where services are not available at an urban or rural site boundary, early in the process ask for an estimate or quote for bringing them to the boundary. In some cases the cost can be substantial, even over relatively short distances, and housebuilding clients need to be aware of this.
  • Remote sites may have no economical access to any services.

On this page:

  • options for services
  • health effects from electromagnetic radiation
  • underground network utility services
  • legal site issues
  • locating information.

Options for services

When assessing a site for building, the source of services must be determined.

Service Possible sources/options
Potable water supply Mains supply
A spring
A stream
A combination of sources if one source is unlikely to be sufficient for the expected demand
Electricity Mains supply
On-site generation, which may be one or more of:
• photo-voltaic
• wind generation
• micro hydro generation
• fossil fuel generator
Gas Reticulated
Sewage disposal Mains sewer – if a sewer main connection is available, the wastewater system must be connected to it
On-site wastewater treatment system
Stormwater disposal Local authority stormwater system (if permissible)
A soak pit (following the guidance in New Zealand Building Code Verification Method E1/VM1)
A retention tank for garden watering etc. (but not human consumption)
A natural waterway (with local authority consent)
Telecommunications (telephone and internet) Telephone Landline connection
Mobile phone connection
Fibre-optic cable

Health effects from electromagnetic radiation

Some people are concerned about living close to mobile phone towers and similar facilities. Considerable research has been done but not established a clear health risk.

In 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluated research, including research covering people who lived near mobile phone towers. It reported that: “Based on the FDA’s ongoing evaluation, the available epidemiological and cancer incidence data continues to support the Agency’s determination that there are no quantifiable adverse health effects in humans caused by exposures at or under the current cell phone exposure limits.”

The World Health Organisation has said: “Antennas [for mobile phone base stations] emit a very narrow beam of radiowaves which spreads out almost parallel to the ground. Therefore, radiofrequency fields at ground level and in regions normally accessible to the public are many times below hazard levels. Guidelines would only be exceeded if a person were to approach to within a metre or two directly in front of the antennas.”

The biggest practical impact from building a house close to a mobile phone tower maybe the home’s reduced attractiveness for potential buyers when the owners want to sell.

Underground network utility services

In some generally urban locations, a site may be crossed by underground services such as water, gas, stormwater and sewer lines. These are likely to impose limitations on the design such as where the building may be built on the site and how close the building may be to the services.

Verify actual locations and invert levels of buried services. Do not rely on local authority drawings as they may not be accurate.

Legal site issues

Before beginning design work for a building, check the certificate of title for limitations from easements, covenants or restrictions on the site. A right of way should be registered on the title.

Locating information

Information regarding the infrastructure services and main utility service locations of a site are available on the property information memorandum (PIM) or land information memorandum (LIM). Local authority records such as building consent application documents and Code Compliance Certificates may provide additional information.

Gas and power and telecommunications companies should have information about the location of underground services.

Another service offering information on the location of underground utilities is Some utility companies refer people to this site.

You can check what broadband internet options are available at a given location – including whether or not fibre is available – on the website


Updated: 04 July 2023