Building Regulations Introduction


  • 01 building inspections 603x325 Building Regulations Introduction
    1. During the building process there are a few inspections that most municipalities require. This will be of the building and the standard of work done, these are briefly explained in the following slides.
  • 02 Site for inspection 603x325 Building Regulations Introduction
    2. When plans are first submitted the building inspector will do a site inspection to see if the planned house will fit on the site and if the building will be within the allowed building lines.
  • 03 Foundation trench reinforcing 603x325 Building Regulations Introduction
    3. Foundation trenches must be inspected and approved before the concrete is placed.
  • 04 House at roof height 603x325 Building Regulations Introduction
    4. When all the walls have been built up and have reached roof height the next inspection will be done; this could be combined with the next level - roof trusses.
  • 05 roof trusses 01 603x325 Building Regulations Introduction
    5. The building inspector might want the roof trusses to be erected and in place for the inspection at this stage. This you should ask at the start so you follow the correct procedure.
  • 06 Drainage 603x325 Building Regulations Introduction
    6. All plumbing fixtures and fittings as well as the sewage connections may be inspected, checked, tested and and must be approved before the trenches are backfilled.
  • 07 Completion Occupation certificate 603x325 Building Regulations Introduction
    7. When the final completion inspection is done, an occupation certificate will be issued and the owner can take possession of the house and move in and finish off the interior.

The Site That Tells You All About Building Regulations

South Africa’s National Building Regulations were originally produced as a set of functional guidelines for anybody building any type of structure. They were not intended to be prescriptive in terms of what people should build, but they do stipulate important “dos” and “don’ts” – many of which are in fact mandatory. So if you are planning to build, this is a document you should familiarise yourself with.

If you want to know more about these important regulations, have a look at the scroll-down menu under National Building Regulations (SA). While these topics are those found in the regulations, we have not duplicated the regulations. Instead we have discussed the issues the regulations cover in easy to understand pages.

The Building Regulations are divided into 22 chapters as follows: General Principles and Requirements, Structural Design, Dimensions, Public Safety, Demolition Work, Site Operations, Excavations, Foundations, Floors, Walls, Roofs, Stairways, Glazing, Lighting and Ventilation, Drainage, Non-water-borne Sanitary Disposal, Stormwater Disposal, Facilities for Disabled Persons, Fire Protection, Refuse Disposal, Space Heating and Fire Installation.

Additional blogs (which we are adding to over time) under the various chapter headings give further information, some personal experiences, and case history-type articles that share what others have experienced in terms of the regulations. We have included an A to Z Glossary of definitions and terms used in the National Building Regulations to help you understand the meaning of the various terms used in the context of the legislation and national standards.

You can find the following on our downloads page:
Guide for Architects Concerning Drainage Water and Storm-water Drainage.
Drainage Details
(guidelines in the form of technical drawings covering most aspects of drainage).
Standard Electrical, Mechanical & Architectural Guidelines for the Design of Accessable Buildings (Facilities for Disabled Persons).
Hardware Sample List (guidelines for the required finishes etc. of hardware when submitting tenders)
A “Norms Calculator” for Quantity Surveyors

Here are a few articles that you will find useful:
Building Extensions
Alterations & Additions
SANS 10400X & XA – Energy Use In Buildings
Boundary Walls & Fences
New Electric Fence Laws
Waterproofing Roofs
Stormwater Disposal
Download Regulations
NHBRC Questions & Answers
Competent Person
Concrete Mixes
Concrete Mixes – By Weight & By Volume
Owner Building – The Pros & Cons

Our Documents Page has free downloads of all the important building codes of practice for example SANS 10400-1990 and the 2008 amendment.

Our LinksPage to Local South African Websites of interest: NHBRC (National Home Builders Registration Council), SAIA (The South African Institute of Architects) and SABS (The South African Bureau of Standards)

 International links on our Links Page to information rich sites such as the International Building Code (IBC)  and the International Code Council (ICC) entries on Wiki (or you can go directly to the ICC here) we will keep you updated with more current sites.

Although we have launched the site (and gone public), there is so much to cover that the site will technically be “under construction” for a while.  If  there is something specific you need guidance on, please post a comment on the relevant page and we’ll see how we can help. Please only use the “contact us” if you want to advertise or if you have a suggestion on how we can improve your visit with us.

We Rely on Regulations
ReadMoreBlue Building Regulations Introduction

  826 Responses to “Building Regulations Introduction”

Comments (826)
  1. I am having a house built and the contractor has quoted to work Mondays to Saturdays from 8am to 5pm. Is it legal to work on Saturdays until 5pm?
    My Contractor assures me the the municipal by laws allow work to be carried out until 5pm on Saturdays

    • John the municipal bylaws are generally in line with the National Building Regulations that specify when site operations are allowed. If you click on the link I have given you and scroll down to Control of Unreasonable Levels of Dust and Noise you will see that your contractor is correct.

  2. hi was wondering if anyone could help me out.wanting to build a container home on the lower south coast kzn . where In south Africa are we allowed to build such homes and how could one get that area to approve homes like this!

    • You need a agrement certificate that specifies what it is you are building.
      “Agrément certificate
      certificate that confirms fitness-for-purpose of a non-standardized product, material or component or the acceptability of the related non-standardized design and the conditions pertaining thereto (or both) issued by the Board of Agrément South Africa”

  3. I love your service. We want to build a house in Mamelodi that is on a government given plot for a lady and her son. There is no electricity, running water or gas and everyone around has a shack. Do we need a building permit. I know no one around has. The house will be well built with two bedroom and living space

    • Hi Dot, Every municipality in South Africa has zones that regulate what is allowed in each zone. If you want to build in an area that is an informal zone the you will not need plans. If you are worried then call the local municipality planning department and double check with them.

  4. I always spent my half an hour to read this website’s articles daily along with a cup of coffee.

  5. I live in a complex and would like too know if building can take place on weekends.

    • Hi Pamela, If you look at our page of the regulations “Site Operations” there is a section that deals with this:
      Anyone involved in demolition, excavation and building work has to take care not to “unreasonably disturb or interfere with the amenity of the neighborhood”. Specifically there are times that they may not use any machine, machinery, engine, apparatus, tool or contrivance that is noisy or makes a lot of dust.
      Before 6 am and after 6 pm any day of the week.
      Before 6 am or after 5 pm on a Saturday.
      On Sundays or public holidays.

  6. Hi. I recently sold a property and discovered that the previous owners did alterations but never updated the plans or sought council approval. The new owners are asking for updated plans. Am I liable for this?

    • Tracy this kind of thing happens all the time and unfortunately unless you check when you buy, you might only find out when you sell – which is what has happened to you it seems. Someone else has just asked the same question, though he is the purchaser and the sellers are refusing to oblige. If the purchaser of your property has already taken ownership and you were not aware of this situation when you sold, then I don’t see how they can hold you liable. However they might chose to involve a lawyer … though I think they would have to prove that you knew the plans had not been updated. My guess is that having “as built” plans drawn and approved would be cheaper than going for litigation (for the new owners). At the end of the day there is no law that I am aware of that says you have to provide approved plans when you sell a house – though it’s illegal to build without approved plans. Often it is the bank that discovers there are no plans – when a purchaser applies for a bond.

  7. I am buying a house in Gordon’s Bay. At the rear of the house about 5 meters away, the Owners of the complex erected a 2 meter high vibracrete wall. Since then the municipality in constructing a dual freeway on the other side of the vibracrete wall, has raised the ground level about 1 meter now putting pressure on the vibracrete wall. Surely this is not allowed as the vibracrete wall is not a retaining wall and could fall over injuring or killing children playing in the backyard?

    • Arend by putting earth against the wall they are basically making it a retaining wall and apart from anything else – all retaining walls are required by law to have plans. You need to put in a formal objection with the council. Chances are that the planning department and the roads authority have not communicated on this issue. I can contact one of the town planners in Somerset West, but will need to know details regarding where this is. Please send more detailed info via a Contact Us email. Thanks. Also provide a cell number as it might be a good idea for us to take pictures of what has been done – since we live close by.

  8. Hi Penny
    Is it permissible to build a house with outside walls of 170mm, single brick wall? I have signed a deal in Gordons Bay and discovered this now. Transfer is on 1 September.

    • Arend there is nothing to stop you having a single brick (or single leaf) external wall providing it complies with the NBR. All these requirements are detailed in Part K of the regulations and would be detailed on the approved plans.

  9. grannyflat
    I wold like to bild a grannyfat 4.5 by10 meters wold like to have a quote

    • Joann we are not builders. You will need to find someone in the industry who builds the kind of structure you require. Just make sure you get recommendations, e.g. word of mouth – from previous clients.

  10. Hi There,

    We live in Pinelands and are wanting to do some additions to our home, specifically a double garage and a home office. Both of these would be built directly off the house and would not be separate structures. The original title deed, which was set up by Garden Cities in 1962, has a building line restriction of 4.5m from the road boundary and 1.5m from the lateral boundary. Unfortunately without moving one or the other of these lines, we are not able to get a usable space for either the cars or the office.

    I have heard that the entity that imposed the restrictions originally has the power to override them. Is this true? Also, if this is the case, then what are the regulations set out by the City of Cape Town and can the original entity override these as well? I have read that some places have a 1m building line all round and other places that have 6m building lines. Without going into council, which is in complete chaos normally, how do I find out.

    I know that we do not fall into the heritage zone of Pinelands and I have seen a number other buildings in the area that have been built closer than 4.5m to the road.

    Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.


    • Kevin my educated guess is that it is the title deed that matters and to get a waiver you will need council permission and probably also the consent of neighbours. You can download a copy of the City of Cape Town’s relatively new zoning bylaws HERE – there may be additional info in this document that will be of assistance to you. There is information in this about building lines. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful.

    • The local council does not have the authority to override any restrictive clauses on your Title Deed, and you will have to make an application for the “Removal of Restrictive Clauses”.

      The process involves obtaining comments from certain municipal offices, such as the “Department of Human Development and Infrastructure” as well as “Eskom” and the municipal offices responsible for water works.

      A good idea will be to get in contact with the Town Planner for your area, and have them advise you on which departments will be required to give comment, and who the contact person is with whom you should deal.

      You will also have to submit a Site Plan, indicating the Proposed Position of the Proposed Garage and Home Office, as well as the position of the Building Line as set out by the Restrictive Clause on your Title Deed.

      The documents for this can be obtained from the council offices, and it will also have to be submitted with them.

      You can also contact an Architectural Professional or a Lawyer specialising in Conveyancing to deal with the application on your behalf.

  11. Hi, I have a walled courtyard and would like to have a roof erected. Would I need plans drawn and submitted to the local authority for this?

    Thank you kindly

    • If the roof is going to convert the area into a livable room then yes you will – presuming you mean a solid roof with rafters, beams and a solid covering on top.

  12. Hi – where can i report a residential property that was built (extended) without a registrered contractor and that is not built according to building standards – including the drainage and electricity infrastructure

  13. Hi Penny

    Do you know where I can get the documented National Builers Regulation Act specifically about (Boundary Walls) where it states information regarding the ownership, shared or not, height, foundation ect of a wall.

    I am in a situation where I purchased a stand and the wall behind me have a foundation that stretches up to 70cm in my property. The wall was erected around 6 months prior to me byuing the stand and started to build.

    The foundation also stands out about 25cm above ground.

    Information I read on the site states that the foundation cannot extend over the property boundary if there were no prior arrangement.

    Your assistance will be appreciated.

    Thank you

    • Henry, Part K of SANS 10400 Walls contains structural information and requirements for freestanding walls (which would include boundary walls). I have written quite a lot about walls on this website if you search for boundary walls you will find more info.
      Foundations for boundary walls can extend to the next property but they must be underground.

  14. We had some major renovations done to a shop interior by a NHBRC builder. After struggling to get him to finish off to acceptable standard, he has now made a decision to withdraw from completing the minor work at the expense of an amount of R4000 which we owe him. Is it in the scope of the NHBRC to deal with non-structural things like not fitting door thresholds strips when tiling the floor, seriously damaging a carpet by painting without a groundsheet and not redoing some really shoddy paintwork?

    • Terence, contact the NHBRC. Apart from anything else this is totally unprofessional and should be brought to the attention of the NHBRC. I’d be interested to know what their response is as an article about their so-called service is long overdue. So let me know what happens.

  15. Hi There,
    I have a couple of questions and wonder if you can help!

    1. We are hoping to change the position of the kitchen in a house we have recently bought. Please can you tell me if we need planning permission to change a window into a door or door into a window?

    2. Will we be allowed to knock through an internal wall without planning permission, providing it is not a support wall?

    3. If a window in the house is not being shown on the plans that we have received, do we need to insist the seller gets new plans drawn up to show this window?

    4. I see a comment about drainage above and I wonder, if we move the position of the kitchen will we need new planning for drainage?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Amy you will need to have plans if new plumbing – specifically drains and gullies etc – are required. You will also need to employ a qualified plumber to do the work. The new location of the kitchen will also have to be shown on the plans. You could then ask whoever draws up the plans to mark the position of the window “as built”. It really isn’t a major. Generally the local authority isn’t likely to expect you to submit plans when making doors into windows and vice versa, but you should probably check with them just in case. Knocking through a wall (as long as it isn’t load bearing) is also not a problem; but again, if you’re having plans drawn up anyway, you could mark the opening “as built”.

      • Jannie
        I just wand to know who is benefiting if a builder quote on a projact 1 meter wall and he find that there is a concrete foundation after he open up

        • So the question is whether the builder should be reducing his quotation? That is really a question of ethics. The more important question is whether the concrete foundation that already exists is adequate for the new wall. This will be in terms of both the size of the foundation – width and depth – and what mix was used for the concrete. That you probably won’t know, but an expert will be able to gauge.

        • Hi Penny
          Thank you for the response I appreciate it

 Leave a Reply


(required but will remain confidential and not be published)