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Selecting A Site

Selecting A Site

Once you have decided on the prefered neighbourhood, research the site itself. Consider these issues in site selection: soil content and drainage, council regulations such as LIM reports and plans, as well as the appropriate balance of costs between land and the building itself.

Site Requirements


The aspect of your home will influence your quality of life in the home, as well as the running costs and your impact on the environment. So getting it right at the planning stage is critical. Consider:

  • Geographic location of your house site in New Zealand
  • Orientation of the house on the site
  • Shading on the house and property from neighbours, trees or the landscape
  • Does the site capture the sun or the wind?
  • Does it have a view?
  • Is it private?
  • Does it have good drainage?
  • Is it swampy?

It pays to visit the site at different times of the day and weather conditions. Also consider these things at different times of the year.

Building Site

Does the property have good access as a building site? If not this will greatly affect the building costs. Are there services in place? (Water, electricity, phone, gas). Contact your local council to find out what services are in the area. For a new subdivision, check with the developer or sales agent as this will greatly effect your budget if you have to bring them to your site.


Site Specifications


When purchasing a section you need to consider:

  • Soil: Has the property been used in conjunction with hazardous waste? Are there pollutants that may not be apparent to an untrained observer?
  • Land Stability: Is the property subject to landslides or sinkages?
  • Drainage: Is the property located near a river? Are there hills or low spots which will make your home subject to water run off?

If there is any concern over the stability of the site, a geotech engineer will be required to carry out testing. There may also be limitations on the materials – if there is a lot of infill it may not be possible to use heavy materials such as concrete or brick in the house design.

If you are buying a section in a new subdivision, the developer will have an engineer’s report which you can ask to see. Any earthworks in built up areas have to have an engineer’s certification of earthworks to ensure the land is suitable for residential development.

For older areas the LIM or council files may have some information on the stability of the ground. The Certificate of Title will have encumbrances placed on it if there is uncertified or unengineered fill in the site.

Hazard Report
Quotable Value produce a hazard report which will tell you earthquake frequency, fault rupture, amplification, liquefaction and landslide risks specific to the site – NOTE: it is not to be used to replace the engineers report.

Soil Testing

When builiding a new home or moving into an existing one, it pays to check test the soil to assess its safety. Soils and plant tissue can be tested for nutrients, the presence of herbicides, pesticides and heavy metals. It is useful to have a checklist to ensure that all the relevant information is collected. A checklist is provided by Landcare Research and can be downloaded here. The checklist covers things such as site details, land use, possible contaminants, phsyical site description, hydrology, nearby habitat and follow-up matters.


Each section is contained within specific boundaries. When building a new house you need to ensure your section is surveyed correctly, that the house is built in the correct space, and you are not encroaching on any neighbouring properties. The cadastral plan that comes with the certificate of title will give you dimensions for the size of the section. Your council can provide this overlaid on an aerial photo for a fee. If there is any doubt about the exact dimensions of the section, use the services of a registered surveyor to identify the precise boundaries. Getting the property re-surveyed will help avoid encroachment and disputes later on. To engage a surveyor go to the Institute of Surveyors website.


Environmental Considerations


Water: If you are building in a new subdivision, infrastructure for waste water and storm water will generally have been laid on by the developer of the subdivision before parcels of land are available for building. They will be able to give you all the information you need regarding the placement of these services.

If you are buying an older site, or a site where there was previously a house which has been demolished, contact your local council and request your LIM or property file. A property file will usually contain more detail than a LIM (and it’s cheaper). This will show any easements, noted flood zones, where drains and sewers are located as well as overland flow paths and other pertinent information.

Some councils may require new dwellings to assist in the management of storm water by installing storm water or grey water retention tanks to slow the rate at which water is released into the main storm water lines in a downpour. If this is a requirement of your local council, it will be outlined on their website.

View more guides

Selecting A Site

Once you have decided on the prefered neighbourhood, research the site itself. Consider these issues... Read more.

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