Document Downloads


Useful Building Documents all in One Place

RegsPic453B s Document DownloadsIf you know where to look, you can find an enormous amount of useful information, including legislation and official documents that will assist you with your building projects. We have accessed some of these for you and you can download them from this page here or on our downloads page “download-regulations”.

Just remember that if you are looking for South African National Standards (SANS) or standards prepared by the International Standards Authority (ISO) you will need to visit an South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) office, or buy the standards from their online store.

If you simply want to read through standards, you can do so at your leisure in a library at one of the SABS offices. Their head office is in Groenkloof, Pretoria, and they have regional offices in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban and Olifantsfontein, all of which are open between 8 am and 4 pm.

The National Building Regulations

The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (No. 103 of 1977) forms the basis of how buildings in South Africa should be constructed and developed to suit human habitation. The legislation became enforceable as law in September 1985, and two years later were published by the SABS as part of the original Code of Practice for The application of the National Building Regulations, SABS 0400-1987.

If you study the legislation, you will see that its intention was to “provide for the promotion of uniformity in the law relating to the erection of buildings in the areas of jurisdiction of local authorities; for the prescribing of building standards; and for matters connected therewith”.

The Act that governs the National Building Regulations has been amended several times, most recently in 2008 when some major changes were made.

In 1990, the SABS published its first revision of its code of practice, SABS 0400-1990, which then became known as SANS 10400-1990. While these standards are not free (you can only purchase them from the SABS), the 1990 version of this standard is now available FREE, here. But to update the building regulations that are published in this document you will need the 2008 amendment to the National Building Regulations. Note that when you purchase the individual parts of the building regulations from the SABS, they will incorporate the updated legislation in full.

There are also updates on certain sections of the standards, some of which are draft standards, that you can currently download, free. These include:

Even though the “new” building regulations have been mandatory since October 2008, mid-2011 the SABS was still progressively updating its lengthy code of practice. At last they are complete!

There are 22 sections in SANS 10400-2011 that deal with compliance, and these are available as stand-alone units from the SABS – each individually priced. See the SABS online store for details.

There are a handful of documents that are available FREE from the SABS. Browse these free downloads and feel free to take the relevant files:

8 Free Standards and 20 JTC1 Free Standards

Compulsory Specifications (CVs)

Department of Public Works Guidelines

The Government’s Department of Public Works has a range of documents that provide consultants – specifically architects, quantity surveyors, civil engineers, structural engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and construction project managers – with focused guidelines for Department of Public Works projects. Some of these may be useful to home builders and owner builders, simply because the standards are generic. They include:

  • Appropriate Development of Infrastructure on Dolomite: Guidelines for Consultants. Published in 2003, this lengthy 97-page document contains some important background information on dolomite land, as well as departmental requirements for developing any form of building site on dolomite.
  • Guide for Architects Concerning Drainage Water Supply and Storm-Water Drainage. Published in 2000, this 28-page document defines a good cross-section of terms relating to water supply and drainage. Installation methods are covered briefly, and there is a useful table for sizing gutters and downpipes in relation to the size of the roof of any building.
  • Drainage Details. Although published some time ago, in 1998, this 47-page document has some useful drawings, some of which show correct and incorrect methods of installing drains. Even though a qualified plumber must, by law, install your drains, this primarily visual guide will provide some insight into correct ways of constructing drains, installing gullies and so on.
  • Standard Electrical, Mechanical and Architectural Guideline for the Design of Accessible Buildings (Facilities for Disabled Persons). Published in 2001, this 52-page document covers general design elements (including changes in level and wheelchair turning space requirements), general sit elements (including parking requirements), accessible routes (from walking surface and stairways to handrails and lifts), plumbing facilities, communication elements, and some built-in furnishing possibilities.
  •  Hardware Sample List. A 24-page long document that was published in 1995, this is basically a notated description of master keys and locks, bolts, door and other types of hardware.
  • A “Norms Calculator” for quantity surveyors. This is an Excel tool that has been customised for quantity surveyors to estimate Department of Public Works projects. The categories could be easily changed to adapt it for use estimating and costing a home build.

Other Freebies

Many companies in the building industry have free “how to” and product pamphlets, brochures, and even sometimes some quite comprehensive documents that you might find useful at this link below:

Owner Building Download link Document Downloads

Click the thumbnail above ^








  81 Responses to “Document Downloads”

Comments (81)
  1. can a person build a fuel depo and external workshops on a small holding just outside a residencial area without tecnical specs storage facility aprox 10.000.000 l deasel

  2. Are there any regulations regarding objections to proposed (and even approved) building plans where additions/alterations are contemplated?

    • Your local authority will be able to tell you what to do regarding objections. Any objections will need to go to them and they will be able to tell you what process you need to follow.

    • Before you swear and make disgusting comments Naude … THERE ARE NOT REGULATIONS okay!? I will this time refrain from reporting and/or publishing your comments. Good luck.

  3. Is there anywhere in the SANS 10400 where it states the height restriction for a non-domestic buildings without a lift?

    • Philip, Height restrictions are normally covered in by-laws.
      Part S, Facilities for Disabled Persons of SANS 10400 covers lifts, which must be provided in public buildings etc. This does not deal with the heights of buildings.
      Part T, Fire Protection states:
      4.44 Lift shafts
      4.44.1 Any building of more than four storeys above or below the level of escape doors shall have
      at least one lift, accessible from all the floors.”
      However this does not specify the height of each storey. But from this you can gauge that if the building is three storeys “above or below the level of escape doors”, then it does not require a lift. The local authority would approve the height at plan stage.

    • I’m in the fire safety business for the last 30 years
      I would like to assist with any fire related questions – regarding the national Building regulations etc
      We also provide fire plans in accordance with the SANS 10400 building regulations as well as rational fire designs that include plan submission etc (Fire suppression systems / Fire detection systems)
      I would gladly assist with clarification / interpretation of regulations


    • Yes, as indicated by Penny – SANS 10400 4.44.1 states that any building of more than four storeys above or below the level of the escape doors shall have at least one lift, accessible from all the floors

      (i.e a building comprising of ground floor, 1st floor, 2nd floor and 3rd floor does not require a lift. Any building that exceeds that must be provided with a lift

  4. Hey I’d like to purchase the SANS document but I’m unable to access your online store, where else could I purchase this from? thank you

    • Charline we do not have an online store. You can buy SANS from the SABS online store, or from the library at any of the SABS offices. This second link will take you to the SABS where these are listed. You may also be able to order telephonically, though you would need to pay in advance.

  5. I bought land about 2 years ago and are now ready to build. The land is located in a golf estate in Gordon’s bay Cape Town. I have contacted the local municipality for advice. I was told that I need to see a land meter company first before I go see an architec. Are you able to give me step by step guidelines in building a house? Looking at everyone I need to contact to everything required in terms of paperwork etc.
    Many thanks

    • Sorry it’s taken a while to answer your question. The plot should already have been surveyed and should have been pegged. Otherwise how did you know what you were buying? My book Owner Building in South Africa (Struik) will give you step-by-step instructions from buying the plot to finishing the house and garden. All paperwork is also covered. What isn’t in that is on this website.

 Leave a Reply


(required but will remain confidential and not be published)