Have you ever wanted to know what site orientation is best to maximise the value of your development and why? Well keep reading. Because in this property development for beginners article I’m going to share with you everything you need to know when it comes to site orientation and Melbourne dual occupancy projects.

Site orientation is another super important topic that’s never given enough thought.

The key is to understand the principles and techniques that will allow you to maximise what you can achieve on a site. Then executing them from the get-go!

So, before you acquire a site, or when deciding if your existing site is good for a side by side dual occupancy design, you need to have a clear picture of what you are wanting to achieve with your design and how the seasonal variations will impact it.

When you are designing a stand-alone dwelling, it is much easier to get right. But remember we are dealing in 2s, 3s and 4s etc.

So, it’s your job as the residential property developer to be all over the site orientation. The last thing you want as a developer is to end up with devalued dwellings due to a lack of knowledge and effort in this area.

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Direction the Sun Travels

The first thing you need to understand is the direction the sun travels throughout the different seasons of the year.

property development for beginners

Designing your development as a beginner with this in mind will be critical when trying to get the most out of the sun every day as it passes by.  Your end users will love you for it!

Now whether that’s yourself as the end user or you are selling the dwellings of the plan for a return. It’s still something you want to get right because buyers are now smarter than ever.

If you do get it wrong, the smart buyers will know which is going to make it extremely difficult to achieve that premium price that you’ll no doubt be chasing.

The majority of us know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It’s understanding that the sun always travels around the north side is what’s key.

It’s your spaces to the north side that will enjoy the greatest sun advantage. And to a lesser extent the east and west sides of your dwellings will receive great morning and afternoon sun.

This logic becomes even more evident during the winter months, as the sun hangs lower. On those cold days there is nothing better than getting natural light and warmth into your important living zones.

Now let’s start with the holy grail of orientations when talking about side by side dual occupancy development sites.

North Facing Private Open Space

As you can see in the image below your living and private open space is facing north. Meaning for the majority of the day your backyard will enjoy the sun. It also means your own dwelling won’t cast a shadow over your important living spaces.

property development for beginners POS

South Facing Private Open Space

Now let’s flip this orientation around (see image below), what you can see now is a south facing private open space orientation, in this case it means for a good part of the day your private open space will be in a shadow.

property development beginners

Now, the effect is less severe in summer as the sun travels higher, but in the winter when you need the sun most the key living and private open space areas of your dwellings will be under a shadow.

The shadow will also impact your garden including your lawn. This might not sound like much, but all these little things add up and will absolutely impact the end value of your dwellings.

East-West and West-East Orientations

Alright, east-west and west-east orientations. For me, I think of these as a bit of an ‘in-between’ orientation… a bit of a compromise.

Depending on which way you go. You will either end up with great natural light in the rear of your dwelling in the morning or in the afternoon and vice versa to the front.

north facing pos

It’s important to keep in mind as a property development beginner, by running this orientation you will end up with one dwelling on the north side, which will ultimately be more appealing to buyers. As it will enjoy more natural light throughout the day while the sun passes through.

So, essentially, you’ll end up with 2 dwellings built exactly the same. But one worth more than the other, due to its favourable orientation.

One last point I’d like to make on east-west and west-east orientations, and perhaps the most important point I’ll make in this article is when your site is running east-west or west-east you do run the risk of blocking your south neighbours’ northern solar access. Which is not allowed.

So, you need to be mindful of the position of your south neighbour’s house on their block and what kind of shadowing it is going to cast over it.

If your south neighbour has their driveway and/or garage on your side. It will mean you’re in pretty good space as their house will be set off the side boundary by 3 or 4 meters.

south facing pos

If this isn’t the case and you think the existing neighbours dwelling could be too close to your boundary (as per in the image below), then below the image are three things you need to consider;

private open space

  1. Determine where your south neighbour’s habitable windows are, if they are too close to your boundary this may impact the size and height you can build.
  2. Be mindful of your south neighbour’s private open space as you won’t be allowed to shadow it.
  3. Be aware that there are planning regulations in place that prohibit new builds shadowing existing solar panels. So make sure you look at your south neighbour. Because this will also affect the size and height you can build.


As always, if you get to this point and you are unsure. It’s really important that you engage an expert as these decisions can cost significant amounts of money.

So, there you have it, site orientations. Plenty of things to think about. All of which can impact your development both negatively and positively.

As a property development beginner. Having your finger on the orientation pulse will give you a competitive advantage. An advantage that is guaranteed to positively impact your return on investment.

So, if you’re going to be doing it, then you may as well be doing it properly.

Need help? Check out our property development consultants services, we’d love to help you. If you’re just for inspiration, check out this property development ideas video.

Side note – keen to understand the timing and costs involved? Check out this real estate development case study.