Site Use

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

Location of services

The location of and connection to services is not usually a major influence on the location of a building as services are generally laid to a site boundary.

However, where live council services cross a site, the building footprint will need to be kept clear of them or be designed according to specific council requirements. Obtain information from the local council regarding:

  • the specific construction requirements
  • easements for access to services.

Redundant piped services within the footprint of the building area must be located and removed.

Water storage

If water storage is required, the location of the tank must be considered at the preliminary design stage. It should be located where it will:

  • not be visually intrusive
  • be accessible for maintenance
  • be on a sand base over solid ground (a full 5,500 litre tank weighs approximately 25 tonnes).

If the tank is below ground, it must be specifically designed to be able to withstand the load from the backfilled soil. (Note that rotationally moulded polyethylene tanks are not designed for below ground use).

Stormwater disposal

With new house builds, some local authorities now require stormwater to be dealt with on site. The terms often used are ‘hydraulic neutrality’ or ‘stormwater neutrality’. It just means that any rainfall on a site cannot be discharged to the public stormwater system.

This needs to be specifically addressed when planning how the site will be used and the layout of different features. It may involve:

  • minimizing or avoiding non-permeable outdoor spaces   
  • rain gardens – planted areas set in a shallow depression into which water flows and slowly infiltrates into the soil
  • wet or dry ponds – wet ponds are permanent pools of standing water, dry ponds temporarily store stormwater runoff but are dry between storms.
  • soak pits where water is held until it slowly soaks away. A soak pit can be filled with rocks or a solid chamber with porous sides and base. New Zealand Building Code Verification Method E1/VM1 shows how to design a pit, but the calculations are not child’s play and are best completed by someone with experience. Several proprietary models of soak pit are also available. Constructing a soak pit generally requires building consent.


Updated: 22 September 2023