Nov 192011

The NHBRC gives protection

against shoddy workmanship

BuildRegsNHBRC1 s National Home Builders Registration Council   NHBRCThe NHBRC was established in terms of the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act, 1998 to regulate the building industry and protect home buyers against shoddy workmanship.

Motivation at the time was largely charged by fly-by-night-builders who were conning people all over the country. There was undoubtedly a huge need to regulate the home building industry and improve building standards in this part of the construction industry.

The National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) – which is a Section 21, non-profit organisation – states that it has a vision to be “a world class organisation that ensures home builders deliver sustainable quality homes”. The way it set out to do this, was to establish a registration process for all home builders and contractors working in the domestic market, together with an NHBRC Defects Warranty Scheme for all new homes built by their registered members.



Registration with the NHBRC

Since December 1999, all home builders have been required, by law, to register with the NHBRC, and no financial institution is permitted to lend money against the security of a mortgage bond unless the builder is registered. As a further safeguard, conveyancers are not permitted to register bonds unless these requirements have been met.

However to register with the Council, builders must have not only the appropriate technical and construction skills, but also sufficient financial resources and management abilities to carry on a business without exposing “housing consumers” to unacceptable risks.

The NHBRC has a register of home builders who are members and they are in the process of establishing a grading system so that potential clients will get an idea of the quality of work to expect. Members will be able to use this information when they advertise their services.

In addition, the NHBRC keeps a database of any previous members who have been suspended or deregistered.

NHBRC Warranty Scheme

The primary concern of the NHBRC is “major structural defects” caused by poor workmanship. The warranty scheme was established to counter this problem, and because of it, the NHBRC is able to provide warranty protection against defects for all new homes: five years for the structure itself (foundations and walls), and a minimum of a year for roof leaks. Noncompliance and deviation from plans and specifications is also covered.

However, funding of the warranty scheme has historically been the most controversial issue relating to this organisation. Apart from the registration fees and annual levies, “enrolment” fees are charged for every building that is constructed. From the start fees were based on 1,3 percent of the price in the deed of sale or offer to purchase document, or the sum of the prices on the building contract and land sale agreement up to R500 000; thereafter a percentage scale is used.

NHBRC Manuals

One of the most valuable contributions the NHBRC has made is the publication of comprehensive home building manuals (which was a requirement of the founding Act). These are available directly from them at a very reasonable price.

Simple reference documents based on normal construction procedures and recommended practices, the manuals cover every aspect of building, including planning, design and construction. They contain numerous tables, definitions, diagrams and specifications, all of which encourage good building practice. Even though drainage installations and other belowground work is excluded from the NHBRC’s warranty scheme, relevant construction methods have been included in the manuals as a guide. Interestingly, some non-standardised construction methods not covered by the National Building Regulations are also included in the NHBRC manuals.

Comprehensive as they are, the NHBRC building manuals are not intended to replace existing building regulations and/or codes of practice determined by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act  remains in force and must be adhered to.

The NHBRC and Owner Builders

While the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act was promulgated to protect consumers, unscrupulous builders found a loophole in the Act. By claiming to be “owner builders”, they were able to get away with certain construction projects without registering with the NHBRC and paying the necessary fees.

In 2007 the Act was amended, defining an Owner Builder as”

“a) a person who builds a home for occupation by himself or herself; or

b) a person who is not a registered home builder and who assists a person contemplated in paragraph (a) in the building of his or her own home”.

The Act also introduced People’s Housing Process projects, or PHP Projects which are approved in terms of the National Housing Code: Housing Subsidy Scheme, and which are exempt from the Act if they use there own labour to build a home.

The updated legislation also gives owner builders the right to apply for exemption from being forced to register as a “home builder” if they wanted to build owner build their home.

You can read more about NHBRC >>HERE<<

You can connect to their website:

You can search their database for registered builders on their website:


  309 Responses to “National Home Builders Registration Council – NHBRC”

Comments (308) Pingbacks (1)
  1. Is it an obligation for every house to enrol at the nhbrc? who must pay the enrolment fees? the owner of the house or the homebuilder?

    • Jo Ann all new houses (to be built) must be enrolled and it is the responsibility of the builder – who MUST be registered with the NHBRC to be able to build legally – to pay the enrollment fee. In reality most builders either recoup this fee from the client, or they build it into the contract price. If you are owner building – i.e. not employing a contractor to build for you – you can apply to the NHBRC for an exemption from enrollment. Unfortunately the banks make this difficult for many people, insisting on an NHBRC certificate for their own protection via the NHBRC warranty scheme.

  2. Subject:

    I have build new Home with Facebrick. Builder messed up my Corobrick Firelight Travertine brick with mortar and I am told I will just not get this off. We have tried! Corobrick has no idea either.
    I build like this for low maintenance… It seems I am now forced to plaster my complete house. Have you got any ideas of what can be done as alternatives, it is a huge house? NHBRC is involved as I have structure problem too and they only look after structure defects and no other mistakes from my builder. I am lost, spend huge money and seems like contractors get away with their poor workmanship. I welcome any ideas.

    • You can hold the builder liable Robert – which he clearly is – but it will mean lawyers and probably a court case. The mortar should have been cleaned as the bricklayers were working, or at very least at the end of each day. In terms of Corobrik, you need to talk to a technical person in a senior position. There may be some type of chemical that will help. But I have to agree that it is extremely unlikely that you will get it off if it has been left for any length of time.
      NHBRC should be taking all forms of shoddy workmanship into consideration, particularly since there are structural defects. I do realize that their warranty won’t cover that though.

  3. Subject:
    nhbrc approved building

    my name is Linda, i am about to build a boarding house for school children in one of the kzn villages. i would like to make sure that it is safe, legal and NBR(SA) approved. please let me know how do i go by doing this starting from a correct foundation, wall, roof etc.


  4. Hi
    How long after a house was built can you still claim for poor workmanship when it shows


    • Dennis it is clearly specified on the NHBRC web site. Specifically, “Complaints and conciliation
      The complaint procedure aims to resolve disputes between housing consumers and builders by ensuring that builders meet their obligations. The NHBRC deals with three types of complaints:
      1. Three month non-compliance period
      Complaints relating to minor structural defect identified within three months of occupation of the home.
      2. One year roof leak period
      Complaints relating to roof leaks identified within one year of occupation of the home.
      3. Five-year major structural defects period
      Complaints relating to major structural defect identified within five years of occupation of the home.”

  5. I have a case off damn sloppy building and im looking for anyone to help me regarding this matter.
    My Mother had some renovations made to her house and now its leaking water all over also causing damage to walls.
    The builder in question is full or stories re this matter and now want to charge my Mother to fix his sloppy work. Its now over a year and its still a mess in her house.

    Please contact me with help or who to contact ?

    Callie Kruger – [email protected]

    • Callie this is always a tough one and it happens all the time. You can take legal action either via a lawyer or small claims court. Or you can check with the MBA to see if he is a registered builder; he doesn’t have to be by law, but if he is they might take action against him. Legally all builders must be registered with the NHBRC. If he isn’t, report him. They won’t get involved because they only worry about new houses, but they may take action against him. You could also report him via Hellopeter. Unfortunately this isn’t going to help your mother get the bad workmanship fixed. But frankly if he has done such sloppy work, rather get someone else in. We had a similar situation some years ago when a “friend” built a house for us. Shoddy wasn’t the word – it was appalling workmanship. We called in someone to arbitrate, and he made a feeble effort to fix things, but it was still shocking and we lost a lot of money.

  6. Hi Penny
    Refer your response to Louise above.
    I do not believe that the NHBRC is concerned about sub-standard workmanship.
    Please open my complaint file reference 1-72512031 and see for yourself what I mean

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