Building Regulations South Africa - An Introduction

Building Regulations Introduction


  • Inspections when building
    1. During the building process there are a few inspections that most municipalities require. This will be of the building and the standard of work done, these are briefly explained in the following slides.

The Site That Tells You All About Building Regulations

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 23 chapters as follows: Part A: General Principles and Requirements, Part B: Structural Design, Part C: Dimensions, Part D: Public Safety, Part E: Demolition Work, Part F: Site Operations, Part G: Excavations, Part G: Foundations, Part J: Floors, Part K: Walls, Part L: Roofs, Part M: Stairways, Part N: Glazing, Part O: Lighting and Ventilation, Part P: Drainage, Part Q: Non-water-borne Sanitary Disposal, Part R: Stormwater Disposal, Part S: Facilities for Disabled Persons, Part T: Fire Protection, Part U: Refuse Disposal, Part V: Space Heating, Part W: Fire Installation and Parts X & XA: Energy Usage

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 to the legislation.

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.

Regulations for all phases of building

We give advice on Regulations for all phases of building.

We Rely on Regulations

  1,074 Responses to “Building Regulations Introduction”

Comments (1074)
  1. Tri 21 Panel Solution – Technical Benefits
    We are in process of joining hands with a Uk based company. There precast system has been commonly used worldwide; what makes our system special is that they use Fibresteel in lieu of rebar in the main body of the panel, with rebar embedded columns around the edges of the panels and any openings, such as windows, doors, etc.

    They can also pre stress each panel section, giving the panels added strength and enhancing their load-bearing properties.

    My question is where must I start to get such a system approved in south Africa whereby all banks would be willing and able to issue bonds with regards to the end product. If this system is as good as it promised to be it can have a huge effect in our low income housing solutions.

    Looking forward in hearing from you

  2. I live next to the R104 on a plot.How far from the boundary fence am i allowed to build?

    • Hi Buks, Aaaah! The R104 runs from Mpumalanga to Rustenburg, more than 200Km. How do I guess what area your plot is in. Contact your local planning dept and ask them.

  3. Do you need plans if you want to build a steel structured 2 bed flat in your back yard in south africa

  4. Hi, i have bought a plot and want to build a container house, i have done research but in SA it seems its a bit new! Who can i contact to assist me in the steps i should follow!

    • Hi Andre, They have been around for a while, you can contact one of the companies that do this here: AA Containers. They can advise you how to do it.

      Where the problem comes in is with the banks and finance, here is an extract from a MoneyWeb story:

      The bank will also require written proof of the following:
      The cost benefit of the alternative building method measured against that of bricks and mortar;
      That all unconventional buildings systems will be constructed under the supervision of a professional structural engineer; and
      That all alternative structures will be covered by comprehensive homeowners insurance by all the major companies in South Africa.

  5. I discovered after living in our house for a year and a half that the developer did not install any insulation in our roof even though it is clearly stated on the approved plans. He is refusing to do anything about it and the NHBRC says the time period after occupation is too long for them to do anything about it. Do you have any advice on the best route to follow?

    • Hi Steffan, That is why the NHBRC has a comprehensive “snag list” process and if you missed this then they will not get involved, as you have found out. This will now become a legal matter where you might have to hire an attorney, this could become costly so you must weigh up the cost of the legal route against the cost of installing the insulation yourself at your cost.

  6. We have theD Chinese developers building on our road and literally are building 24/7, the first thing you hear on Sunday at 6 in the morning is tools and steal dropping. Is there nothing we can do about that?

    • Hi Peter, This is a major problem all over SA. You have to report them to the local authority. In Cape Town there are forms to fill in and they are obliged to take action, I am not sure about the other municipalities. This is not only a National Regulation but noise is covered in most by-laws of SA so the Police are also obliged take action. Good luck!

  7. Our property has a COCT sewer manhole on it. We are planning on renovating and would like to move the manhole outside our boundary fence. Who pays for moving the manhole the City or the home owners?

    • As far as I know there can only be a CoCT sewer manhole on a private property if there is a servitude registered on the property. Are you sure this isn’t a manhole cover to the drains on your property? If it’s your manhole then you can get a registered to plumber to move it – but you’ll probably need to submit plans first. If it’s a CoCT manhole on a servitude, you won’t be able to move it. I suggest you contact the City and ask if a building inspector can visit your property to check.

  8. Good day

    We have purchased a piece of land in the Buffelsdrift area ( Pretoria North East) and we want to build a wooden house/ log home. The actual building takes 3 weeks to ‘build and set up’, but we now need to get approval from the the city for water and electricity, can you perhaps advise me on this process and do we need an architect or only a draftsman?

    Thank you!

    • There are two separate issues here – the water and electrical connections, and the laying in of services. You can apply to the local authority for the connections, but you need approved plans before the services can be laid in. A draughtsman or an architect can do the work, provided that person is qualified – see article on Competent Persons.

  9. Are there any regulations against the designing and construction of balconies that directly overlook onto neighbouring properties thereby compromising the privacy between neighbouring properties?

  10. I want to level part of a sloping drive outside my house so I can have a braai and table and chairs on it. Can I cast a slab (8m by 4m) without planning permission, raising the lowest point by about a foot?
    Many thanks

  11. Hi I have a purchased a house in a secured complex, my private yard is on a mountain slope, however it is level. I would like to build a small simple square splash pool in the yard, I live in Johannesburg. Do I require plans? engineer certificate or any type pf approval other than my body corp?

    • The City of Jhb has relaxed its bylaws regarding swimming pools and plans so the chances are you won’t need plans. But contact them directly to make sure. Here is some more info that might help you.

  12. Hi, Which kind of building do you do ? do you test lightning at companies or not? do you do environmental surveys?

    • We don’t do building; we don’t test lighting; and we don’t do environmental surveys. We simply provide information that relates to the National Building Regulations.

  13. Hi, 2 important questions…. I live in a residential area, a church that was 2 doors away bought the house behind us and now use some of the property for parking which means people park at the wire fence facing our back door and entire back yard. Is there rules of communication and approval that should have happened before they made the bought property public parking?

    Secondly they just bought the house next to us and I hear they want to run a driveway to exit their church down the new property, are ther rules to that as well? And if they do the new driveway and the road the exit leads from is so narrow that it cannot accommodate 2 way traffic, is there any ground to get council to intervene since it will cause a lot of traffic and a whole other issue.

    Appreciate any feedback

    • Parking and driveways etc fall under local authority bylaws and they will need permission from the local authority to do this. I would assume (not necessarily correctly) that neighbours’ consent would be needed. Contact your local authority as a matter of urgency and demand answers (in the nicest possible way).

  14. Hi. Do I need to approval to make a carport in-front of my garage?

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