Electrics Archives » Building Regulations South Africa
Feb 112014
 

Electric Fences Regulations & Rules Explained

A Definition of  Electric Fences

Electric fence top wall s Electric Fences Explained

Electric barrier fence erected on top of a street facing wall

For the purposes of managing and assessing proposals in terms of the City’s policy, an electric fence means “an electrified barrier erected on top of a boundary wall or attached to a boundary wall or fence”.

Specifications for Electric Fences

  • Electric fences shall conform to the following:
  • Electric fences may not be any higher than 450 mm.
  • They must be at least 1,8 m above the level of natural ground at any point.
  • They may only be erected on top of walls and fences, or attached to them.
  • They may not encroach over site boundaries.
  • Regulation 11 of the Electrical Machinery Regulations promulgated in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, No 85 of 2003 must be fully complied with.

Regulation 11 of the above Act gives information in terms of how electric fences operate in terms of the shock they impart. For instance, the peak value of voltage is 10 kV; the maximum duration of the electrical impulse it puts out is 50 ms; the minimum interval allowed between impulses is 0.75s; the maximum quantity of electricity per impulse allowed is 2.5 mC; and the maximum energy discharge per impulse measured at a resistance of 500 ohms is 8 J. In a nutshell, electric fences are intended to be a deterrent – not a device that will kill an intruder!

Other points in Regulation 11 include (but are not limited to):

  • “fence energizers” shouldn’t be installed in locations where they could become a fire hazard
  • they shouldn’t be installed any closer than 2 m from the earth of any other electrical system
  • barbed-wire should never be electrified – the idea is that a person who touches electric wiring will let go immediately

In addition, the City’s policy document states that freestanding electric fences may not be erected along any boundary in a position that would allow people to “inadvertently come into contact therewith”.

Essentially the reasoning is that while electric fencing is erected to keep intruders out, it must not be erected in such a way that a passer-by could touch it accidentally.

Security Devices Explained

Definition of Security Devices

Spikes wall electric1 s Electric Fences Explained

Spikes and an electric fence mounted on top of a street facing wall.

For the purposes of managing and assessing proposals in terms of the policy, security devices include a variety of devices – security spikes, razor wire and barbed wire affixed to, or on the top of walls or fences.

Requirements Regarding Security Devices

Any proposal in this regard shall comply with the following:

  • Security spikes are permitted on top of boundary walls as long as they are affixed at least 1,8m above the footway (usually a pavement or kerb).
  • Security spikes may not encroach over the site boundary.
  • Razor and barbed wire is not permitted in any form in residential-zoned and commercial-zoned areas. They may be used in areas that are zoned industrial.
  • Glass shards are not permitted in any form in residential areas.

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Acceptable Materials for the Construction of Boundary Walls and Fences

1. Residential and Commercial-zoned Areas

Street Frontage

These materials are allowed:

  • Facebricks and facebrick finishing
  • Plastered and painted brickwork
  • Decorative brick and blocks
  • Natural stone
  • Galvanized or plastic-coated wire mesh
  • Pre-cast concrete
  • Cast-iron work
  • Steel palisade fencing
  • Timber, as long as the components consist of:

(i)            processed and treated and square-sawn timber

(ii)          round poles of even thickness in the case of ranch-type fencing

(iii)         in the case of interwoven fencing, shall be suitably capped and framed

  • Freestanding electric fences that are set back by at least 1 metre from the boundary.
  • Electric fences and spikes are permitted on top of walls and fences.

These materials are not permitted:

  • Galvanized iron sheets
  • Asbestos-cement or fibre-reinforced sheets
  • Barbed wire, unless the Council is satisfied that the property is being used for bona fide farming purposes (which clearly wouldn’t be the case in a residential area).
  • Razor wire
  • Off-cut, untreated split-pole or sapwood timber (laths or latte) of any kind.
  • Razor wire and barbed wire, and embedded glass shards are not permitted on top of walls and fences

2. Lateral Boundaries (ie neighbour’s boundaries)

These are the boundaries between you and neighbouring properties.

These materials are permitted:

  • Facebricks and facebrick finishing
  • Plastered and painted brickwork
  • Decorative brick blocks
  • Natural stone
  • Galvanized or plastic-coated wire mesh
  • Pre-cast concrete
  • Cast-iron work
  • Steel palisade fencing
  • Timber, provided the components consist of:

(i)            processed and treated and square-sawn timber

(ii)          round poles of even thickness in the case of ranch-type fencing

(iii)         in the case of interwoven fencing, shall be suitably capped and framed

  • Freestanding electric fences must be set back by at least 1 metre from the boundary.
  • Electric fences and spikes are permitted on top of walls and fences.

These materials are not permitted:

  • Galvanized iron sheets
  • Asbestos-cement or fibre-reinforced sheets
  • Off-cut, untreated split-pole or sapwood timber (laths or latte) of any kind.
  • Razor wire and barbed wire, and embedded glass shards are not permitted on top of walls and fences

3. Industrial Areas

As above except that galvanized iron sheets, razor and bared wire are allowed on both street and lateral boundaries.

Authority to Erect a Boundary Wall or Fence or Electric Fence

Prior written authority to erect a boundary wall or fence or to install an electric fence must be obtained from Council in terms of the National building Regulations and other applicable laws.

[Note: The local authority has the right to demand plans for walls and fences that are higher than 1,8 m]

Deviations and Relaxations of the City of Cape Town Policy

Deviations and relaxations of the policy are permitted at the discretion of the District Manager. Any application for a deviation or relaxation must be accompanied by a full motivation including endorsement by the neighbouring property owners.

[So if you want to do something that is not normally allowed, your neighbour will have to agree – in writing. The same applies to your neighbour.]

Sources

Boundary Walls and Fences Policy. City of Cape Town, Directorate: Strategy & Planning; Department of Planning & Building Development Management; Development Policy & Processes Branch. January 2009.

Reader’s Digest Family Guide to The Law in South Africa. The Reader’s Digest Association South Africa (Pty) Ltd. Cape Town. 1986.

Jun 232013
 

New Electric Fence Legislation Sends Shock Waves throughout South Africa

ElectricFenceX690 New Electric Fence Law

Photograph: Janek Szymanowski

Penny Swift,  23 June, 2013

When the regulations regarding an electric fence were changed in 2011, nobody paid much attention. But now that the authorities are enforcing the regulations, people are totally shocked and all fired up.

Yesterday a homeowner living in a “wealthy” Pretoria suburb was interviewed on eNCA. She said: “I think it is absolutely crazy. I mean we must try and do absolutely everything in our power to safeguard ourselves and the police don’t have the manpower to keep you safe.” The woman told how three would-be burglars had accessed her property and were trying to break through her front door. She said she ran to get her “pistol” and fired at them. The implication was that not even her electric fence had stopped them. But it wasn’t clear whether her electric fence, if there was one, was compliant with the new regulations – or even up to standard in terms of the relevant SANS.

She seemed to be outraged that if people did not comply with the new electric fence legislation, and a criminal was injured by the fencing, the owner could be held liable. Sure it may seem unfair that you could be charged in these circumstances. But if the woman interviewed on eNCA had hit one of the intruders and killed him when she fired her pistol, she could have been charged with murder.

Beeld ran a story on 12 June that quoted Marike van Niekerk, legal manager of MUA Insurance Acceptances: ”The law requires that only certified installers may erect fences. All installers of electric fences must undergo an examination by October this year  before they can be accredited. There are very few certified installers. The Association of South African Electric Fence Installers expected that by October there will only be 300 accredited installers in the country. Not only will the owner have legal fees to pay, but he also runs the risk of criminal prosecution.”

Why is this an issue? We are expected to use qualified building contractors to build our homes. The law says that all electrical work must be carried out by qualified, registered electricians; and that only qualified, registered plumbers may do plumbing work. And we need both electric and plumbing certificates of compliance (COCs) for our newly built homes. In coastal regions, houses cannot be sold without beetle certificates, to ensure that woodwork is not infested.

These compliance issues are in the interests of you and me – as are the newly amended regulations that affect electric fencing. Well, that’s the general idea.

The main issues raised by the media recently are that if property owners don’t comply with the regulations, and get a COC from a registered company:

  • insurance claims may be rejected
  • property owners may be held liable if someone is injured by an electric fence, even if that person is a criminal

Let’s get this into persepctive. If you don’t comply with the National Building Regulations (NBR) and your house falls down, insurance isn’t going to pay. If you don’t have an electrical COC, and your house burns down because of faulty wiring, insurance certainly won’t pay. If you build a staircase that doesn’t comply with the NBR, and someone falls down and breaks a leg, you can be held liable and be forced in a court of law to pay substantial damages.

Electricity is potentially lethal. Would you really consider getting a company that is not qualified to install an electric fence to do the job? … even if they were cheaper? The new registration process is intended to ensure that you and I know who is qualified and who is not.

So What is the Problem?

The main problem is that, as the Beeld article points out, there are very few people who are registered in terms of the new legislation, which should have been enforced from October last year. According to the South African Electric Fence Installers Association (SAEFIA), electric fence installers who are “qualified” may, and have been, granted temporary licenses to issue COCs. But to get a permanent license, it is necessary to pass a test (see next section below). The deadline for registration has been extended to September 2013.

The other problem relates to the COC itself, which must be updated in certain circumstances, including when a property is sold, and where tenants lease a property.

The Amended Regulations

The regulations that apply to electric fences, are the Electrical Machinery Regulations, and they fall under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993. Until 25 March 2011, when the new Electrical Machinery Regulations were published in the Government Gazette, electric fences were governed by the rather sketchy Electrical Machinery Regulations, 1988 – as well as the relevant South African National Standards (SANS), including SANS 60335-2-76.

It should be noted that the regulations do not only deal with electric fencing, but cover all types of electrical machinery, portable electric tools, portable electric lights, overhead power lines, and personal protective equipment for electrical work. You can download the “new” 2011 Electrical Machinery Regulations HERE.

In the new regulations, an electric fence means “an electrified barrier consisting of one or more bare conductors erected against the trespass of persons or animals”. A person registered as an electric fence system installer is required to have “sufficient knowledge of the safety standards applicable to electric fence systems”. Further, proof of “electric fence system installer proficiency” must be given before registration will be approved.

But this doesn’t mean old electric fences need to be replaced. As long as they comply with the old 1988 regulations, they are perfectly legal. And if they comply, there is no reason why they shouldn’t qualify for a COC. This is important, because if a property is sold, a COC is required (see 2 below).

The regulations state that every “user or lessor” (which implicates tenants) of a new electric fence system must have a COC “Provided that such certificate shall be transferable”. Electric fence systems installed prior to 1 October 2012 don’t require a COC unless:

  1. they have been added to or altered,
  2. there is a change of ownership of the premises.

The Law and Electric Fencing: A Pocket, Ready-Reference to the Legal Dos And Don’ts of Electric Fencing In South Africa is available FREE from SAEFIA, or you can download it HERE.

 

 A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE

The following story, originally published in De Rebus (The South African Attorneys’ Journal published by the Law Society of South Africa) will be of critical interest to all home owners, property developers, body corporates, estate agents and anyone involved in the security industry.

New certificate requirement for electric fence systems

By Carol McDonald

It is important for practitioners dealing with a change of ownership of immovable property to be aware of the latest developments in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 (the Act) regarding electric fences.

Regulation 12 of the Electrical Machinery Regulations, 2011 imposes an obligation on the user of an electric fence system to have an electric fence system certificate of compliance.

The requirement does not apply to a system in existence prior to 1 October 2012. However, as with an electrical compliance certificate, this certificate will be required where an addition or alteration is effected to the system or where there is a change of ownership of the premises on which the system exists if the change of ownership takes place after 1 October 2012.

The electric fence system certificate is separate from an electrical compliance certificate and is therefore an additional requirement if the property has an electric fence system.

It will also be necessary to include an appropriate clause in sale agreements concluded after 1 October 2012 if there is an electric fence system on the property.

A transfer registered after 1 October 2012 therefore triggers the obligation to provide a certificate. It will thus be necessary to arrange for an electric fence system certificate if an electric fence system exists on a property that is in the process of being transferred.

The certificate is however transferable: Once it has been issued, there is no need to obtain a new one on a change of ownership.

Three questions arise in response to the above:

• Who is the user in respect of sectional titles? Must the owner of a unit obtain a certificate when the unit is transferred?

• If a property on which an electric fence system is situated is sold and the sale agreement is silent on, who is to obtain the certificate, who is responsible for ensuring that it is obtained?

• If a property is leased and the lease is silent on the issue, who is responsible for the certificate – the lessor or the lessee?

The regulations do not provide clear answers to these questions and they therefore require amendment.

In the interim, I submit the following comments.

Who is the user in a sectional title scheme?

The common property in a sectional title scheme comprises the land and permanent attachments to it that are not included in sections (s 1(1) of the Sectional Titles Act 95 of 1986 and GJ Pienaar Sectional Titles and Other Fragmented Property Schemes 1ed (Cape Town: Juta 2010) at 72).
An electric fence system erected on the common property forms part of the common property and is therefore owned in undivided shares by the sectional owners in the scheme (s 2(c) of the Sectional Titles Act).

A general duty is imposed on a body corporate to control, manage and administer the common property for the benefit of all owners (s 37(1)(r) of the Sectional Titles Act).

‘User’ is not defined in the Electrical Machinery Regulations, whereas the Act defines ‘user’ as:
‘[I]n relation to plant or machinery, means the person who uses plant or machinery for his own benefit or who has the right of control over the use of plant or machinery, but does not include a lessor of, or any person employed in connection with, that plant or machinery.’

A body corporate falls within the definition of ‘user’ as it exercises the ‘right of control’ over an electric fence system erected on common property.

The owner of a sectional title unit, likewise, falls within the definition of ‘user’ as each unit owner has the ‘benefit’ of the system. In addition, the body corporate is required to exercise its control for the benefit of all the sectional owners (CG van der Merwe Sectional Titles, Share Blocks and Time- sharing vol 1 Service Issue 14 (Durban: LexisNexis 2012) at para 14 2 14 11).

In respect of existing electric fence systems, a certificate is required only if there is a change of ownership of the land on which the system is situated.

The land does not form part of a sectional title unit being transferred. However, as the sectional owner’s undivided co-ownership in the land is an accessory to the section (GJ Pienaar (op cit) at 65), a change in ownership of a unit brings about a change in co-ownership of the land. The transfer of a unit will trigger the application of reg 12, which stipulates that every user of an electric fence system shall have an electric fence system certificate.

Unlike a certificate of compliance required in terms of the Electrical Installation Regulations, 2009, where the user or lessor may not allow a change of ownership if the certificate is older than two years, there is no such provision in the Electrical Machinery Regulations. As stated above, the electric fence system certificate is transferable and does not expire.

I submit that a separate certificate is not required by every sectional owner. If there is a change of ownership of a unit in a scheme, by virtue of the change of ownership in the common property, the body corporate should be obliged in terms of reg 12 to obtain an electric fence system certificate of compliance. Thereafter, if a sale agreement requires a seller to produce a certificate, a certificate issued to the body corporate and produced to the conveyancer in respect of the transfer of any sectional title unit in the scheme would be sufficient to comply with the requirements of reg 12.

Responsibility for obtaining the certificate

As stated above, reg 12 of the Electrical Machinery Regulations stipulates that ‘every user or lessor’ of an electric fence system shall have an electric fence system certificate.

This wording is similar to that of reg 7 of the Electrical Installation Regulations, which stipulates that ‘every user or lessor of an electrical installation, as the case may be, shall have a valid certificate of compliance’.

Regulation 12 differs from reg 7 in that the former stipulates that ‘if there is a change of ownership … the user or lessor shall obtain an electric fence system certificate’, whereas the latter provides that ‘the user or lessor may not allow a change of ownership if the certificate of compliance is older than two years’.

Regulation 12 does not prohibit the transfer of ownership in the absence of a certificate. It does, however, place an obligation on the ‘user’ to obtain a certificate.

Although there may be a difference of opinion on this point, I submit that there is nothing in the regulations to prohibit transfer in the absence of a certificate and it is the purchaser who would be in violation of the regulations once transfer has passed.

The obligation therefore falls on the purchaser to obtain the certificate.

There is no obligation on the conveyancer to obtain the certificate on behalf of the transferee unless the agreement of sale specifically places that obligation on the conveyancer.

Conveyancers must peruse the sale agreement and establish whether reference is made to the certificate. Provided that the agreement of sale does not prohibit it, transfer may be registered without a certificate having been obtained.

A clause in a sale agreement that places an obligation on the seller to provide the purchaser with an electric fence system certificate serves a twofold purpose: It removes the ambiguity created by the imprecise wording of the regulation and it protects the purchaser.

Penalty

Failure by the user to obtain an electric fence compliance certificate where an addition or alteration has been effected or where there has been a change of ownership of the premises on which the system exists (if the change took place after 1 October 2012) could result in a fine or a prison sentence. In terms of the reg 24 of the Electrical Machinery Regulations, any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any of the provisions of reg 12 shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a maximum of 12 months and, in case of a continuous offence, to an additional fine of R 200 for each day on which the offence continues or additional imprisonment of one day for each day on which the offence continues: Provided that the period of such additional imprisonment shall not exceed 90 days.

Lease – who is responsible for the certificate?

If a property is leased, and the lease is silent on the issue, who is responsible for the certificate – the lessor or the lessee?

The Act’s definition of ‘user’ specifically excludes the lessor, while reg 12 specifically includes the lessor. But it is the lessor of the electric fence system that is referred to in reg 12, not the lessor of the premises on which the system exists – a distinction that creates ambiguity rather than clarity.

It is unclear why the drafters specifically included the lessor.
Applying the definition in the Act, the user is the person who ‘uses … for his own benefit or who has the right of control over the use’ (my emphasis).

Who has the right of control? The lease in each case will determine the answer to this question. In a property with a single tenant, the system may be controlled by the lessee or the lessor. In a multi-tenanted building it is likely that the lessor will control the system. The body corporate will control the system where the lease pertains to a sectional unit in a sectional title scheme.

Who is using the system for their own benefit? The landlord benefits from the existence of the system on the property that he is renting out. However, the tenant also benefits. Without clarity in the wording of the regulation, one must apply common sense. It would be inequitable to require a tenant to obtain a certificate because the landlord has sold the property. The landlord should therefore obtain the certificate.

Nonetheless, it would be prudent to include a clause in the lease to address this issue.
It is hoped that there will be amendments to the regulation to provide more clarity on these issues.

Conclusion

In summary:

• A sectional title owner need not obtain a certificate. Following a change in ownership of a sectional unit, a body corporate should obtain a certificate.

• Unless a sale agreement provides otherwise, the purchaser of a property must obtain a certificate.

• A landlord should obtain a certificate for leased property.

Carol McDonald LLB (UKZN) BCL (University of Oxford) is an attorney at Cox Yeats in Durban.

 

May 152013
 

Environmental Sustainability &
Energy Usage in Buildings

w house 25 800x510crp Energy Usage & Sustainability (SANS 10400X & XA)

Glazing and lighting are two vital factors when it comes to energy usage.

In 2011, in an endeavour to make our buildings more sustainable, and to decrease energy usage in South Africa, a new part was added to SANS 10400, The application of the National Building Regulations. Part X deals with environmental sustainability, and Part XA deals with energy usage in buildings.

In many ways these new regulations have turned the building industry upside down, but not in a bad way. However for the average man-in-the-street it has become a puzzle of note. Every week we get people writing into this web site asking for advice and information about the “new energy laws” and how they affect their building and renovations.

On the down side, it seems that new regulations have opened up a can of worms that has less-than-knowledgable people (and some scamsters) flippantly quoting “the new green laws” in an effort to force people to spend more money than they need to on energy-efficient materials, appliances and the like. While there is no doubt that we need to “go green” and get our act together (pun intended) in terms of energy efficient building, it is also important to know the difference between what we should do, and what we must do to comply with the National Building Regulations and other national standards.

What the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act Says

While the Act was originally passed in 1977 (officially it’s Act 103 of 1977), a number of amendments have been added to it over time. In 2011, Rob Davies, the Minister of Trade and Industry added the sections that relate to environmental sustainability and to energy usage in buildings.

The motivation for this amendment is to reduce greenhouse gases caused by buildings and extensions to buildings. These relate to a number of specific occupancies that are defined in Part A of SANS 10400, namely:

  • A1 - Entertainment and public assembly Occupancy where persons gather to eat, drink, dance or participate in other recreation.
  • A2 - Theatrical and indoor sport Occupancy where persons gather for the viewing of theatrical, operatic, orchestral, choral, cinematographical or sport performances.
  • A3 - Places of instruction Occupancy where school children, students or other persons assemble for the purpose of tuition or learning.
  • A4 - Worship  Occupancy where persons assemble for the purpose of worshipping.
  • C1 - Exhibition hall Occupancy where goods are displayed primarily for viewing by the public.
  • C2 - Museum Occupancy comprising a museum, art gallery or library.
  • E1 - Place of detention Occupancy where people are detained for punitive or corrective reasons or because of their mental condition.
  • E2 - Hospital Occupancy where people are cared for or treated because of physical or mental disabilities and where they are generally bedridden.
  • E4 - Health care Occupancy which is a common place of long term or transient living for a number of unrelated persons consisting of a single unit on its own site who, due to varying degrees of incapacity, are provided with personal care services or are undergoing medical treatment.
  • F1 - Large shop Occupancy where merchandise is displayed and offered for sale to the public and the floor area exceeds 250 m2.
  • F2 - Small shop Occupancy where merchandise is displayed and offered for sale to the public and the floor area does not exceed 250 m2.
  • F3 - Wholesalers’ store Occupancy where goods are displayed and stored and where only a limited selected group of persons is present at any one time.
  • G1 - Offices Occupancy comprising offices, banks, consulting rooms and other similar usage.
  • H1 - Hotel Occupancy where persons rent furnished rooms, not being dwelling units.
  • H2 - Dormitory Occupancy where groups of people are accommodated in one room.
  • H3 - Domestic residence Occupancy consisting of two or more dwelling units on a single site.
  • H4 - Dwelling house Occupancy consisting of a dwelling unit on its own site, including a garage and other domestic outbuildings, if any.
  • H5 - Hospitality Occupancy where unrelated persons rent furnished rooms on a transient basis within a dwelling house or domestic residence with sleeping accommodation for not more than 16 persons within a dwelling unit.

But they specifically EXCLUDE garage and storage areas contained within these specified occupancies, as well as a number of other buildings that are used for commercial, industrial and buildings used exclusively for a variety of storage uses.

The law (because this is part of the Act – not SANS 10400) states that these “occupancies” (types of buildings) must be:

  • capable of using energy efficiently while fulfilling user-needs in relation to various things including thermal comfort, lighting and hot water; OR
  • have a “building envelope and services” that facilitate the efficient use of energy that is appropriate to the function and use of the building as well as its geographical location and its internal environment.

So it is not a one solution fits all situation. For instance, what works for a house in Durban may not make the same structure energy efficient in Cape Town! In addition, the legislation excludes the “equipment and plant” required for conducting business – if the building is used for business.

Hot Water Heating Requirements

XA2 requires that at least a half – “50% (volume fraction) of the annual average hot water heating requirement shall be provided by means other than electrical resistance heating including but not limited to solar heating, heat pumps, heat recovery from other systems or processes and renewable combustible fuel”.

So you can use a conventional geyser IF you meet the 50% requirement. And if you are renovating, you certainly don’t have to toss all your existing water equipment and go solar – even though there is absolutely no doubt that it’s the way to go.

What is Required

The orientation, shading, services and building envelope must be designed according to SANS 10400 Part XA. Alternatively the rational design of the building must be done by a competent person who “demonstrates that the energy usage of such building is equivalent to or better than that which would have been achieved by compliance with the requirements of SANS XA, or has a theoretical energy usage performance, determined using certified thermal calculation software, less than or equal to that of a reference building in accordance with SANS 10400 Part XA”.

If you’re looking to change jobs, becoming a person competent to specify these requirements is one way to go! It is something that is not easy for someone who hasn’t got the relevant training to get their head around.

What 10400 XA Says

As with all national standards, 10400 XA has a number of definitions, some of which are in the glossary that is part of the Act.

A few of the important definitions that relate to this particular part of the standard are:

  • Building envelope Elements of a building that separate a habitable room from the exterior of a building or a garage or storage area 
  • Competent person Person who is qualified by virtue of his education, training, experience and contextual knowledge to make a determination regarding the performance of a building or part thereof in relation to a functional regulation or to undertake such duties as may be assigned to him in terms of the National Building Regulations
  • Fenestration Any glazed opening in a building envelope, including windows, doors and skylights
  • Fenestration area Area that includes glazing and framing elements that are fixed or movable, and opaque, translucent or transparent

Requirements of 10400 XA

The requirements of this new national standard cover:

  1. Hot water supply
  2. Energy usage and building envelope
  3. Design assumptions
  4. Building envelope requirements

The standard also defines the different climatic zones of South Africa.Climate zones XA1 Energy Usage & Sustainability (SANS 10400X & XA)

To be a little more specific, the main centres for each zone are:

  • Zone 1 – Johannesburg and Bloemfontein
  • Zone 2 – Pretoria and Polokwane
  • Zone 3 – Makhado and Nelspruit
  • Zone 4 – Cape Town and Port Elizabeth
  • Zone 5 – Durban, Richards Bay and East London
  • Zone 6 – Kimberley and Upington

Building Envelope Requirements

This is probably the most vital part of the new regulation, and it addresses orientation, floors, external walls, fenestration, and roof assemblies – but not in a lot of detail.

Floors

If any type of underfloor heating system is used in a home, this must be insulated under the concrete slab with insulation that has a minimum R-value of at least 1,0. The R-value is the thermal resistance (square metre K/W) of a component. According to the Standard, it is “the inverse of the time rate of heat flow through a body from one of its bounding surfaces to the other surface for a unit temperature difference between the two surfaces, under steady state conditions, per unit area”.

Roof Assemblies

Any roof assembly must achieve a minimum R-value for the direction of heat flow. This is specified in several tables in the regulations.

 Minimum total R-values of roof assembliesPart XA Min total R values of roof assemblies Energy Usage & Sustainability (SANS 10400X & XA)

Roofs with metal sheeting affixed to purlins, rafters or battens made of metal are required to have a thermal break that consists of a material with an R-value that is not less than 0,2, and which is installed between the sheeting and the support. In addition, roofing assemblies that utilize metal sheeting must achieve a minimum total R-value that meets the requirements shown in the table above. Insulation must also be installed with an R-value that meets the specified in the table below.

Metal sheeting roof assembliesPart XA Metal sheeting roof assemblies Energy Usage & Sustainability (SANS 10400X & XA)

Clay tiles used for roofing must achieve a minimum R-value as in the first table above. Insulation should be in accordance with the specifications shown below.

Part XA Clay tile roof assemblies Energy Usage & Sustainability (SANS 10400X & XA)

The other standard that you need to know about is
SANS 204 (2011): Energy efficiency in buildings.  

 

Apr 202013
 

Electric Cables – What is Legal

conduits On Underlay509 Electric Cables

We get a lot of questions about which electric cables are legal and how they must be installed. So here is a brief rundown of the different types of legal cabling available and the way an installation could be done. There are various accepted methods and we illustrate a general one here. When a builder has to wire a home, he will first lay conduits, which are plastic or metal pipes fixed in place above the plastic damp-proof underlay and the steel reinforcing.  (See the picture above.)

These pipes are layed out according to the house plans and extend upwards from the floor, and will be built into the walls later when the bricklayers start their work. The concrete for the floors will then be placed, and the conduiting will run within the floor slab. From there they can be chased, or cut, into the walls so that they can be routed to various outlet points where plug points and lights are required. The electrician will later pull the wires through these tubes. There are classes of cable that do not need to be encased in conduit and can be chased into, and laid directly under the plaster. Two examples of these are Surfix and Flat-Twin-and-Earth cables. A full specification can be found in the Aberdare brochure below. When the roof is on and waterproof the cables can also be layed in the roof space for overhead lighting and other fittings.

Wiring electrician185 Electric Cables

A qualified electrician gets to work sorting out all the wires that come together at the distribution box.

Be Guided by What the Law Says about Electricicty and Electric Cables

By law a fully qualified and registered electrician must be  responsible for the wiring. It is a good idea for all homeowners to familiarise themselves with, and be able to identify, different types of cable and flex to ensure that all materials used in the installation are up to standard (literally – they need to meet the relevant South African National Standard).The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act does not cover electricity and nor does SANS 10400. Electricians must comply with SANS 10142: The Wiring of Premises.

Depending on the class of cable the non-conductive insulation material around the wires inside cables and flex are different colours to make it easy to identify them. Green, or green and yellow, is the earth; live wires are brown or red; and neutral is either light blue or black. Once the wiring in a building is complete the entire system must be checked by an accredited person (from Eskom or the municipality/ local authority) who will issue a certificate of compliance.

Aberdare Cables have an excellent brochure (see below) that should help to identify the various cables associated with the electrical installation in a house.

Download (PDF, 2.47MB)

[Note that we have no affiliation with this company and reference to their brochure does not imply any particular recommendation.]

Mar 112013
 

Fenestration and Glazing Guidelines, Procedures and Calculations.

Windows house335 Fenestration Calculations

The guidelines featured in the pdf below give an idea to anyone wanting to calculate the Fenestration Compliance Procedures in terms of Sans 10400-XA:2011 and SANS 204:2011, what is required and what is involved.

There is a step-by-step guide to area (nett floor) calculation with reference to the parts of the regulations that apply. A SGHC (solar heat gain calculator) is also supplied, to calculate the heat conducted in and out of a building. There are a couple of “real life” calculations at the end of the document that illustrate how this was achieved.

You will see that the calculations that need to be done to comply with the Regulations are not at all straightforward. But you do, in any case require a “competent person” to draw up your building plans, submit them to the local authority, and take responsibility for the project (including ensuring that construction is in accordance with the plans). A competent person should be well equipped to interpret fenestration and glazing guidelines as well as procedures and the calculations. If not, it is the responsibility of that person to include someone who is in the project.

Download (PDF, 250KB)

Mar 062013
 

Water Pipes, Steel Reinforcing and
Electric Cable Detector

MultiFinder Plus D Etch Detect Pipes and CablesEven though instruments that detect pipes and cables have been around for a number of years, they are, I believe, under used.

Pipe and cable detectors are indispensable tools for any contractors in the building industry from plumbers to electricians, and installers who have to drill holes into walls from time to time. All DIY homeowners should own one of these as well so that they know if they can safely drill in a particular spot or not. Building inspectors will also find this tool useful when making a report on a site. This universal detector for locating wood, metal, copper, iron and live wires is manufactured in Germany and distributed locally by RT Agencies cc. You can visit the rtagencies website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 MultiFinder use graphic1 Detect Pipes and CablesSeveral integrated sensors make the MultiFinder Plus a scanning and detection tool for many different applications. It features:

  • One-button operation to switch between the different measurement modes.
  • The user guide on the LC display makes the MultiFinder Plus easy and reliable to use.
  • Auto-Calibration: adjusts the device to different surfaces immediately after switching on.
  • Auto-Cal Plus: allows objects to be localized easily in Metal-Scan mode.
  • Acoustic and visual detection signals for finding objects.
  • High safety is guaranteed by the permanent voltage warning function.

Special feature: in metal mode it is even able to detect concealed lines when they are not live.

Detection Depth

MultiFinder use graphic2 Detect Pipes and CablesThe range of detection is up to 40 mm for wood/metal beam location in dry-walling i.e. a stud-scan, non-ferrous metals up to 50 mm and ferrous metals up to 100 mm depth. Live and dead electric cables can be measured to a depth of 40 mm with a live wire warning alarm built in.

The MultiFinder-Plus is the top-of-the-range model and there is a smaller model, the CombiFinder-Plus with a few less features but still a key piece of equipment to have in your toolbox.

There is more information on the RT Agencies website.

You can also contact Robbie van der Walt

Mobile: 082 444 2334  Office: 011 976 0388 Fax: 086 635 8799  email: [email protected]

 

Mar 052013
 

Regulations for Lightning Conductors on Thatch Roofs

Thatch house lightning Thatch Roofs and Lightning

Thatch roofs are most susceptible to be set alight by lightning than any other roof type. For the protection of the public and property the South African National Standard 62305-3 was introduced in 2011.

SANS 62305-3: Protection against Lightning (published in 2011) is drawn from an international standard, IEC 62305. Part 3 deals with “physical damage to structures and life hazard”.

Remember that anything related to electrics must be dealt with by a qualified and registered electrician.

Introduction to the Regulations for Thatch Roofs and Lightning

This part of IEC 62305 deals with the protection, in and around a structure, against physical damage and injury to living beings due to touch and step voltages.

The main and most effective measure for protection of thatch structures against physical damage is considered to be the lightning protection system (LPS). This usually consists of both external and internal lightning protection systems.

An external LPS is intended to:

  1. intercept a lightning flash to the structure (with an air-termination system),
  2. conduct the lightning current safely towards earth (using a down-conductor system),
  3. disperse the lightning current into the earth (using an earth-termination system).

An internal LPS prevents dangerous sparking within the structure using either equipotential bonding or a separation distance (and electrical insulation) between the external LPS components and other electrically conducting elements internal to the structure.

The main protection measures against injury to living beings due to touch and step voltages are intended to reduce the:

  1. dangerous current flowing through bodies by insulating exposed conductive parts, and/or by increasing the surface soil resistivity,
  2. occurrence of dangerous touch and step voltages by physical restrictions and/or warning notices.

The type and location of an LPS should be carefully considered in the initial design of a new structure, thereby enabling maximum advantage to be taken of the electrically conductive parts of the structure. By doing so, design and construction of an integrated installation is made easier, the overall aesthetic aspects can be improved, and the effectiveness of the LPS can be increased at minimum cost and effort.

Once construction work on a site has started, access to the ground and the proper use of foundation steelwork for the purpose of forming an effective earth-termination, may well be impossible. Therefore, soil resistivity and the nature of the earth should be considered at the earliest possible stage of a project. This information is fundamental to the design of an earth-termination system and may influence the foundation design work for the structure.

Regular consultation between LPS designers and installers, architects and builders is essential in order to achieve the best result at minimum cost.

If lightning protection is to be added to an existing structure, every effort should be made to ensure that it conforms to the principles of SANS 62305-3. The design of the type and location of an LPS should take into account the features of the existing structure.

Notations

NOTE 1

Specific requirements for an LPS in structures dangerous to their surroundings due to the risk of explosion are under consideration. Additional information is provided in Annex D for use in the interim.

NOTE 2

This part of IEC 62305 is not intended to provide protection against failures of electrical and electronic systems due to overvoltages. Specific requirements for such cases are provided in IEC 62305-4.

NOTE 3

Specific requirements for protection against lightning of wind turbines are reported in IEC 61400-24 [2].

References

The following referenced documents are indispensable for the application of this national standard. These references are listed in the standard. For dated references, only the edition cited applies. For undated references, the latest edition of the referenced document (including any amendments) applies.

IEC 60079-10-1:2008, Explosive atmospheres – Part 10-1: Classification of areas – Explosive gas atmospheres

IEC 60079-10-2:2009, Explosive atmospheres – Part 10-2: Classification of areas – Combustible dust atmospheres

IEC 60079-14:2007, Explosive atmospheres – Part 14: Electrical installations design, selection and erection

IEC 61557-4, Electrical safety in low-voltage distribution systems up to 1 000 V a.c. and 1 500 V d.c. – Equipment for testing, measuring or monitoring of protective measures – Part 4: Resistance of earth connection and equipotential bonding

IEC 61643-1, Low-voltage surge protective devices – Part 1: Surge protective devices connected to low-voltage power distribution systems – Requirements and tests

IEC 61643-21, Low-voltage surge protective devices – Part 21: Surge protective devices connected to telecommunications and signalling networks – Performance requirements and testing methods

IEC 62305-1, Protection against lightning – Part 1: General principles IEC 62305-2, Protection against lightning – Part 2: Risk management

Nov 152011
 

Chimneys, Flues, Hearths and Fireplaces
Used for Space Heating

FireplaceBR1 Space Heating

A freestanding fireplace with a flue that goes through ceiling

Anyone searching through the National Building Regulations for information about chimneys and flues, hearths and fireplaces, might go straight to the part that deals with Fire Protection. The next step would probably to look through the part that deals with Walls – after all chimneys are often built with bricks and mortar and often extend from a wall. Or Roofs might seem to be a good place to look.

But no, you are not going to find the information you are looking for in any of these three sections of the NBR. The information you need is in Part V of the Act. This section is very short, and deals only with the design, construction and installation of fireplaces and hearths that have chimneys and/or flues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The legislation states:

“(1)  Any system of space heating in any building shall be so designed, constructed and installed as to operate safely and any flue, flue pipe or chimney used in such system shall be so designed as to safely remove any smoke or noxious gases produced by such system.

“(2)  The requirements of sub-regulation (1) shall be deemed to be satisfied where the design and construction of any flue pipe, chimney, hearth or fireplace complies with SANS 10400-V.” That’s it.

SANS 10400-V: Space Heating

As with all the Standards that make up SANS 10400, if you ensure that your installations comply with the SANS it will be “deemed to satisfy” the law. But other Standards are often cross-referenced. This Part of SANS 10400 makes reference to:

  • SANS 10177-5, Fire testing of materials, components and elements used in buildings –– Part 5: Non- combustibility at 750 °C of building materials.
  • SANS 10400-A, The application of the National Building Regulations –– Part A: General principles and requirements.
  • SANS 10400-B, The application of the National Building Regulations –– Part B: Structural design.

Like all the published SANS, it has a list of useful definitions, some of which you will find in our Glossary of Terms.

Examples include:

  • chimney That part of a building which forms part of a flue, but does not include a flue pipe
  • flue Passage which conveys the discharge of a heat-generating appliance to the external air
  • flue pipe Pipe forming a flue, but does not include a pipe built as a lining into a chimney

Hearth and fireplace are not defined!

Chimneys

Chimneys must be designed and erected from materials that are non-combustible – which of course stands to reason. It is also important that they don’t become a fire hazard, particularly to those materials adjacent to the chimney structure. Further, chimneys should not reinstalled in shafts or ducts that might be affected by heat.

Timber is one of the combustible materials that we commonly use in our homes, and the regulation states that elements including joists for timber floors, trimmers or roof trusses may not be built within 200 mm of the inside of any chimney.

There are additional regs that relate to dimensions, for instance where the walls of a brick or block chimney are less than 190 mm-thick, it must be lined with a flue lining that is made of a material that will withstand the action of any flue gases and won’t crack or soften. The flue lining must also extend throughout the full height of the chimney.

There are also regulations that relate to the height of the outlet – this has not changed since the regulations were published previously in 1990 (and of course you can download these free). Below you can see the chimney positions.

Part V opening or adjacent structure Space Heating

Opening or adjacent structure

Part V roff pitch 10 deg or more  Space Heating

Position when the roof pitch is 10 degrees or more

Part V Roof pitch less than 10 deg Space Heating

Roof pitch less than 10º

Flue Pipes

This is all largely common sense. Flue pipes may not be designed or installed if they are going to become a fire hazard to adjacent material. They may also not be connected to shafts or ducts that form part of any ventilation system. And they may not be installed in shafts or ducts that are likely to be adversely affected by heat.

Hearths and Fireplaces

Any fireplace that is used for burning “solid fuel” MUST have a hearth that is make of a non-combustible material that is sufficiently thick. It must extend no less than 500 mm in front of the grate or fire basket and not less than 300 mm beyond each side of the grate or fire basket.

Timber floor joists and trimmers – or any other combustible material – may be built into a hearth.

 

 

Nov 152011
 

Good Lighting and Ventilation is Vital for Healthy Living

Bathroom173 Lighting and Ventilation

A beautifully lit, airy bathroom.


In terms of the National Building Regulations, all habitable rooms, including bathrooms, showers and toilets (and interestingly enough garages!) must have some form of lighting and ventilation that will enable people to use these rooms safely. The most important aspect is that it shouldn’t be detrimental to the health of those using the room for the purpose for which it was designed.

If bathrooms are cold and perpetually damp, mould will start to form, and this can make people extremely ill. It will also make the room uncomfortable.

Lighting and Ventilation Requirements

Changes to Part O of the NBR (when the legislation was updated a few years ago) include a welcome move from WC (short for water closet – and a very Victorian term) to “toilet”.

There are also quite substantial changes to this section of the regulations. While the lighting and ventilation regulations are generally “deemed to satisfy” if they quite simply meet the requirements of SANA 10400-O, the NBR states that if there is not sufficient natural light from windows in habitable rooms, as well as corridors, lobbies and on staircases, artificial lighting MUST be provided.

Reasons for inadequate lighting might be due to:

  • the size or shape of the room or space, or
  • the use of thick, patterned or opaque glass for windows, which prevents natural light from illuminating the room.

Similarly, if there is insufficient ventilation, artificial ventilation MUST be installed.

Reasons for inadequate ventilation include:

  • high temperatures which could be dangerous to either the safety or health of those using the room,
  • dust, gases, vapour, “volatile matter” or “hazardous biological agents” that might be dangerous to health or safety, or
  • the purpose for which the room is used may make natural ventilation unsuitable or inadequate.

Compliance Required for Lighting

While the Act states that, “Any habitable room in any dwelling house or dwelling unit, or any bedroom in any building used for residential or institutional occupancy” MUST have at least one opening for natural light – even if there is artificial lighting.

Compliance Required for Ventilation

It doesn’t matter where in South Africa you live, any artificial ventilation system MUST be authorized by your local authority (council or municipality, or City) according to their own specific policies and opinions.

This applies to everything other than regular air conditioners and other appliances installed essentially for comfort.

Further, the “rational design” of any artificial ventilation system must be performed or supervised by an “approved competent person”.

Compliance with Fire Requirements

In addition to the general requirements in this section of the Act, all lighting and ventilation must also comply with Part T of the NBR, a very lengthy section that deals with fire protection.

SANS 10400-O

Part O of the “new” SANS were published in January 2011 after fairly substantial updating by the SABS in collaboration with Agrément South Africa, the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE), and the South African Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SARACCA).

Requirements specified in the SANS include:

  • general requirements,
  • requirements relating specifically to lighting,
  • requirements relating specifically to ventilation, and
  • requirements for designated smoking areas and smoking rooms.

Natural Lighting

The SANS specify zones of space for natural lighting which are guidelines that should be adhered to. These relate not only to the measurement of openings, but also to the angles of openings, and they specify how various obstructions affect zones of space.

Natural Ventilation

Generally, natural ventilation should be organized so that doors and windows relate to one another in such a way that the room will be effectively ventilated, and it should be at least five percent of the floor area of the room (or at least 0,2 square metres if the room is very small).

But anyone designing a home also needs to take into account the fact that in cold, wet or windy weather, doors and windows will commonly remain closed. This will minimize natural ventilation.

In holiday homes, or buildings that people only use occasionally, doors and windows will usually remain closed for long periods of time. Where weather conditions are very hot and humid, the interior of the building may become damp and mouldy. Airbricks built into the structure help; as do roof vents that provide permanent ventilation, even when doors and windows are closed.

Artificial Ventilation

The simplest and most common form of artificial ventilation is found in kitchens and bathrooms, in the form of extractor fans.

Extraction in kitchens (from stoves and hobs) not only removes heat or steam and other vapour, but it also has the effect of removing grease that is in suspension, by filtration. Because the greasy air being removed is hot, the regulations state that extraction units must be manufactured from non-combustible material.

In bathrooms and toilets, extractor fans remove humid air and filter bad smells.

Air Requirements in Homes and Other Buildings

SANS 10400-O contains a useful table that shows the minimum requirements for air, per person using the room. Again it is the health and safety of inhabitants that is vital. Where rooms are used for smoking, a considerably higher supply of healthy air is required.

Sep 192011
 

THE NEED FOR PROPER PLUMBING

I never cease to be amazed by people who ignore building rules and regulations, particularly when the regulations apply to plumbing or electrics. Not only are plumbing and electricity two of the most basic facilities in our homes, and vital for everyday life, but when installed incorrectly, they can be downright dangerous. For this reason both plumbing and electric installations must be undertaken by qualified and registered professionals who understand and adhere to the regulations. For many years I assumed that it was impossible not to build and maintain a home without using qualified contractors. But seeing is believing; and as a result, I have many tales to tell. OwnerBuilding3D Cover1 s1 Burst PipesHaving written South Africa’s only book on owner-building has allowed me the opportunity to give new house builders some insight into what building a house entails, and point them in the right direction. I wrote the book after a build-your-own home project of ours ended in disaster. I WILL tell the story in this blog, but not in this episode. Rather than start at the beginning, in what I hope will be a useful, interesting and sometimes humorous series of blog posts relating to plumbing and electrics, I’m going to share a range of personal experiences, in the hope that it will spare others some of the pain, misery and immense frustration I have suffered over the years. I’ve been through an immense learning curve, and if you’re reading what I have to say right now, chances are you’re on your own curve.

Fortunately I have a long-suffering husband, and a son who both have a natural aptitude when it comes to things like plumbing and electrics. They are the ones who now fix the leaks and drips and broken connections. Until of course there is a situation like the one that occurred last week!

 

Proper Plumbing is Vital

One thing we DID do right when we built the “disastrous” home of our dreams was to get the plumbing right – because we DID use a qualified and registered plumber. But ironically, the plumbing was one of the reasons the building project went horribly over budget and resulted in us “losing our socks” so to speak.  In a nutshell, our neighbour’s plumbing was illegal, and so we had to move the build downhill, adding to costs.

In those days we lived in a rather up-market area of what could probably be called rural suburbia. The regulations were tight when it came to building and a whole lot else, other than the squatters who, like the now much publicised British “travellers”, claimed areas for themselves with little regard for consequence.

We now live in a much more rural area which is, in many ways, wonderful. But not when it comes to the plumbing we have inherited. Since we don’t own the property, we can’t check on the building plans; but I’m willing to bet that, if any exist, they bear absolutely no resemblance to what exists “on the ground” – or in the ground – or even in the air (which would take in the telephone and other communications cables).

BurstPipe1197 s Burst Pipes

This was an easy leak to find, unlike the new one!

Pipes pop left, right and centre, and most are sub-standard. The fittings that have been used are too! (Sub-standard that is). Most are so far from the building regulation requirements, it’s scary. Every time a pipe pops we lose water and as a result we waste water. It’s borehole water, so we aren’t paying directly, but popping pipes affect sustainability in the broadest sense of the word, and it costs money to pump the water. That is another irony; electricity costs soar if a borehole pump has to work overtime to keep up with even minimal domestic demands.

The Most Recent Leak

While the boys have stopped the recently leaking water, there’s a hole in a pipe that hasn’t yet been found.

A qualified, registered, and I believe reliable plumber has been to check the leak. He is not keen to tackle the job because the best scenario, he says, is to bash a hole through the wall to access the faulty pipework. The worst scenario is that the bath will need to be removed, the pipes fixed, and then the bath replaced and new tiles laid. He has also identified scores of issues that do not meet building regulations in South Africa.

We can hear water running constantly when all the taps on the property are switched off. There’s a pool of water that has formed near to pipework that emerges from a bath in one of the bathrooms. Unlike most conventional plumbing systems, where the pipes would be encased in concrete under the floor, these pipes simply disappear into the ground (deep down into real dirt). Access is via a wooden lid that at first sight looks like a laundry bin!

An explanation from a former neighbour of the original owner of the house, sheds a little light on the manner in which the house was constructed. Like Topsy, the house just “growed and growed”, as he “owner-built” at weekends using local labour – presumably the ones who buy a spirit level in order to be categorised a bricklayer!

Who knows who did the plumbing? Since the former owner ran off with the former neighbour’s wife, we shall probably never find out.

However, we do know that more than a year ago a linked pipe, in an adjacent bathroom to the one now in question, was leaking. The floor of this “adjacent” bathroom had to be lifted and the pipe was “fixed”.

Now, without inspecting the property, and not prepared to pay a paltry max-R3000 (about US$430) plumbing bill, the property owner has decided that the “plumber” who did the previous fix, and whose credentials are seriously suspect, “knows” that the bath won’t need to be removed to fix the problem – simply because he did the previous repair! It’s odd logic, but typical in the minds of those who tend to ignore our mandatory national building regulations.

This same so-called plumber “repaired” a stop-cock just a year ago, by removing the plunger! While the fitting hasn’t leaked since, we haven’t needed to use it to isolate the water supply until this major leak. Now we discover it doesn’t work at all! So our confidence isn’t at a high.

Within a week we hope to be able to use the two bathrooms again. But with the standard of plumbing, and blatant disregard for the need to adhere to construction regulations, we am wondering whether this old house extension could ever be repaired to meet current building standards.

All I can do is promise to let you know! Please come back soon, and feel free to share your similar experiences.