On Lanzarote, most of us live in boxes. And whether we have the whole box to ourselves, or just live in a box-shaped compartment, we’ll need to work out how our box faces the outside world.

Traditional Canarian villas aren’t usually boxshaped. They may look square on the outside but they’re often open within, gathered around a sheltered central courtyard that serves as a place for socialising. This arrangement is still echoed in many urban apartment complexes, which are gathered around central areas with pools, gardens etc.

But most of us live in boxes – rectangular arrangements of rooms that stand alone or are stacked up in apartments. Look at tourist apartments in resorts such as Costa Teguise and Puerto del Carmen, and you’ll see that almost all of them are oriented on a north-south axis. That means that, even if you have a flat with other flats above and below and an internal entrance, and only one side of your box faces the outside – it will probably face south, to get the best of the sunshine that is the main selling point of resort properties.

If you have a north-facing side, you may already have noticed that it’s considerably less sunny than southern sides, with some parts never receiving direct sunshine. This increases the possibility of damp on north sides, where waterproofing and ventilation are important considerations.

In a detached home, all six sides of the box will face the elements, and you’ll have to consider waterproofing a roof that’s almost certainly flat. Flat roofs, however, also offer opportunities that many islanders don’t fully capitalise on, from rooftop gardens to sun traps.

Eastern and western facing walls will receive sunlight in the morning and evening respectively, and this will be vital for the way you plan your home. Do you like breakfast in streaming sunlight? Then stay to the east side. Fancy a golden evening of cocktails and late sunshine? Make like a Pet Shop Boy and go west.

And don’t forget the sixth side of the box beneath you. Low-lying coastal homes can often see damage from salt and sea, and that is something that is vital to address.