Building Plans

Updated: Mar 24

When do we need building plan approval?

- For all new buildings,

- For all additions/alterations/extensions to an existing building that changes its structure or external appearance,

- Any change to a building over 60 (sixty) years old,

- For boundary walls higher than 1.8m,

- New swimming pools, and

- Structures that infringe on a building line.

Building lines or setbacks are invisible lines that start from your property line until a specified distance. These lines state where your building can start. For example, you may have a 5-meter building line on the side of your property facing the street which means that your house can only be built 5 meters away from the street boundary. These lines can be on any property side and the specific requirement for your property can be found on your title deeds and zoning certificate.

Why do we need approved building plans?

- It is a legal requirement in the Republic of South Africa.

- The Planning Department at the Local Authority will check that your proposal is in line with all the countries building regulations.

- The approval process protects consumers as there will be a compliance check made on the building’s structural compilation (foundations, walls, roofs, etc) as well as whether it is complying with the latest energy efficient regulations.

- Once your buildings plans are approved and the building is complete then a Building Inspector from the local authority will also perform an on-site inspection to ensure work has been constructed to the correct standards.

What happens if I build without approval?

- The local by-laws of the Republic of South Africa make allowances for certain representatives of local authorities to stop buildings works if there are no approved building plans. Construction would only be allowed to continue once the proposal has been approved.

- Under certain circumstances owners of illegally built structures may be instructed to demolish such work at their own cost.

- When selling a home, a buyer has the right to cancel the sale if there are no approved building plans or if the approved building plans are not up to date.

How do I obtain building plan approval?

- Appoint a registered professional with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP). SACAP is a regulatory body that governs the architectural profession.

- A SACAP registered Professional Architect will be able to facilitate the building plan approval process for you.

What documentation do I need for a building plan approval?

- Property title deeds obtain from the Register of Deeds Office,

- Surveyor General (SG) diagram obtained from the Surveyor Generals Office,

- Zoning information obtained from your local authority,

- Architectural drawings indicating your building proposal (plans, sections, elevations, various details),

- Energy calculations stating that your proposal complies with the latest energy regulations,

- Application forms completed by yourself, a SACAP registered professional (Architect), and an engineer.

Depending on the complexity of the building proposal the council may require additional information such as a geotechnical report or a storm water management plan. Your appointed architect will be able to advise if any additional information is required.

How long does it take to obtain approved building plans?

- The application process varies between municipalities, but the average time is between 1 to 3 months.

It is important to be aware that being a property owner does not imply that you can build or break at leisure. The Republic of South Africa has numerous laws and building regulations pertaining to construction and many of these regulations are intended to protect consumers.

To have peace of mind hire a SACAP registered professional to guide you through the process and ensure that your building is legally compliant.

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