The Site That Tells You All About Building Regulations

NewIntroPic1 s Building Regulations Introduction

Three stages for building regulations; Foundations, Construction and Finishing

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.

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  710 Responses to “Building Regulations Introduction”

Comments (710)
  1. Hi
    As part of a school project I have to design a modern day-care centre for children ages 2-5years old except I cant find an information on building regulations as well as day-care regulations for the Northern cape, specifically the Kuruman and Kathu region. I understand that regulations may be different from region to region so I am looking for information on these specific areas. Are there any specific websites I should look at?


    • The National Building Regulations – covered in detail on this website – are law throughout the country. In addition there are bylaws that every local authority (council/municipality) has in place. Part A of the NBR specifies “Occupancy or Building Classifications” that are classes for different types of buildings. Required differences are specified according to these classes, throughout the NBR. I think that a day care centre would fall under “Places of instruction” A3. As an example (as you can see from the link I have given you above), when it comes to design population, a building classified A3 requires 5 square metres for each person who will use it. We haven’t referenced all instances of the use of building classifications by any means, but you might want to do a search through the site to see where A3 has been used. You can also look at our sister web site, Owner Building. Ask your local authority for the bylaws that relate to day care.

  2. Hi,

    Would one require any form of approval from council in order to use shipping containers as office/residential space?

    My understanding is that because the containers are seen as ‘temporary structures’, they surpass any zoning requirements.

    What other legal requirements would one have to go through in order to utilise shipping containers on a property, and where can I find more information on the subject in general?

    • Josh, Absolutely yes. This link will explain what temporary structures are and why you need permission – and a time-frame – for them. Whether you use a container for an office or part of a house, or anything else, you will need plans (as for any other structure) and you will also need an agrément certificate that details how you will use it. Agrément certificates are covered in Part A of SANS 10400 and are defined as a “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. Hello i am interested in building a block of flats out of old shipping containers and would like to know what the laws are regarding that. And if it is legal at all

    • Wilro it is legal, but you will need an agrément certificate that details how you will use the containers. Agrément certificates are covered in Part A of SANS 10400 and are defined as a “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” You will, of course, also need plans that adhere to the NBR.

  4. Morning can someone inform me how to go about reporting a council house with illegal structures on it. Also law enforcement dept numbers to report about that structures if the can remove it cause the new law say u must have a permit and plans fire prevention /for illegally erected structures.

  5. We recentley hade work done at our home the builder (Steffens Project PTY (LTD) did not finnish the work and made a mess of the roof. We heve contacted him daily and he is not taking our calls. The work has been standing now for two weeks and the contractor was paid in full. What is our rights.

    • By paying in full you have put yourself at risk even though you have every right to demand that he comes back and completes the job. I have done a search for the builder on the NHBRC website and there is not a company of that name. Contact them and check because if he is not registered with them he is building fraudulently. Further, I have checked on the Cipro site and nothing by that name comes up either. If indeed he is pretending to be a Pty Ltd company and isn’t then this too is fraud. Make sure you have the name spelt correctly and check both these yourself. The NHBRC has a fraud line where you can report him if he isn’t registered. NB It is against the law to do any building work as a contractor if you are not registered with the NHBRC. You can also go to a lawyer and issue summons against him.

  6. I would like to know weather installing double sided sisolation in a tile roof, would sufficiently reduce the R-Value to replace installing thinkpink? It is quite a saving.

    • Hi Shane, R-Values are tricky to work out, I suggest you contact one of the manufacturers who have the info to hand. ISOVER Tel: +27 (0)12 657-2800 (Think Pink) & Sisalation SA Tel: (011) 234-6841

    • Hi

      I need some advise.

      Property adjacent to me is a comercial property where they are now putting up a shop.

      the shop owner has approached me they need 3 phase electricity and t has to be taken from the light pole on the other side of my property.

      Accordig to him, it will be a major cost saving if they could run the cable on the inside of my property along the boundary wall and then into the adjacent building that they are constructing (it is against the boundary wall).According to him if they run it outside it has to go all the way around both properties and come in around the back.

      I have asked about future problems as i would like to pave etc and they advvised that it will be run in 50mm PVC conduit planted 400mm underground so they will never need to dig as it can always be threaded through the pipe.

      is this correct? What are the implications to me if i do allow this?

      • Shiraz, Firstly if you are saving them a lot of money, you have every right to ask for payment if you decide to allow this. If the conduit is underground, and a good quality pipe is used, they shouldn’t ever need to dig it up, but you should then, in a written agreement, state that if it does at any stage need to be accessed, they will cover ALL costs and make good any damage to your property. My question is – if they can run it along your side of the wall, why can’t they run it against their side of the wall? The last thing is that if you do allow this to happen, you would need to inform any future purchaser of you property about the situation and it might affect the sale.

  7. I just want to find out do you need building plans for property on small holdings as well?

  8. Hi there
    I need some advise please. We have been residing in our house for the past 34 years. A quiet area, in a cul-de-sac. The property next to our property was vacant for a few years after the original house was demolished. Now, in this year, a big building project was started. We now realise that this is a double story building, in total 38 bachelor flats.
    Now our problem: we were never approached to give consent or even notified via a notice on the wall of the property, or in writing. Our privacy is completely invaded as 19 of the dwellings directly look down on our property.
    I did speak to the town planner who told me that the owner does have permission to build this building. How ? Being in a cul-de-sac the thought of extra traffic in this short road is frightening. I do not know if any environmental impact studies were done etc etc
    Please advise me what to do with regards to this huge problem that we are facing.


  9. Hi there! We could not obtain building plans so in order to sort out a property that was in a bad state
    we opted to do minor renovations – including putting up a playroom for my kids by converting a flat roof
    into a gable to blend in with the overall look of the house. This is much lower than the rest of the home.
    There is no window looking into my neighbour’s garden. The room was “made” above the maid’s
    room. My neighbour consented verbally in the presence of the builders to the top of my garage
    being converted into a garden. The renovation to the little roof was made nearly 2 years ago.

    We then opted to start from scratch and re-draw plans etc and get approval for the garage ( to
    which the neighbour now complained but agreed to initially) but we have thus far faced problems in obtaining the title deeds to the property. Everything is now on hold owing to the plans not being formally

    We have now received a letter of demand from his attorneys that he would like everything to be
    demolished. He keeps hens and roosters that keep my maid and guests awake throughout
    the night.

    Does he have the right to demand that everything be demolished – the garage, low and small roof-room,
    garden? Is it not the council’s authority to do such? Are we forced to comply with his demands within
    one week? Do we have any recourse?



    • No you are not forced to comply with his demands. As you say it is for the local authority to make demands. Apart from anything else, why do you need your neighbour’s consent? I would write a letter back to the attorney saying that you have no intention of demolishing anything and are in the process of having plans passed by council. Also put in writing that the hens and roosters are a public nuisance and if your neighbour continues to harass you, you will have no alternative but to take legal action against him.
      Lawyers hate it when people don’t get a lawyer to respond! But make sure you cover your back by getting plans into council asap.

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