Boundary Lines,Walls & Fences
Nov 132012

How far from the boundary wall must I build?



We get a number of questions asking “How close to the boundary am I (or my neighbour) allowed to build?” The site plan above is a sample and is only a guide to the approximate building lines and distances that the Building Regulations allow a house as well as other out-buildings to be built. All the measurements on the plan are in metres and show the distance from a road at the bottom and at the top, from a public open space. You will also see that the side measurements that go on to the neighbours properties is less than that for the road and the open space.


We must point out that this is just a guide. All properties have their own characteristics and features and the boundary distances may vary. You MUST check with your local authority even before you have plans drawn up to avoid having to re-draw and re-submit the plans again and incur extra delays and costs. There are roads, public open spaces and servitudes that all have their own unique set of boundary requirements. If you want to build within the specified building lines you will have to apply for a waiver to the local planning department. They will, more than likely, require you to get your neighbours consent in writing before you can get approval .

  239 Responses to “Boundary Lines,Walls & Fences”

Comments (239)
  1. My Neighbour has agreed to subdivide her property and allow somebody to build a house between their house and mine. They just informed me that they plan to build on my boundary wall. I strongly object to this. They were unfazed and asked me to sign that I object “to speed up the application process”. I live in Cape Town. You mentioned in one of your previous replies that “Cape Town is the exception”. What does that mean? Can they go ahead with this building without my agreement? I will never agree to that. Thank you.

    • Yes, CT has changed its zoning scheme and you no longer require neighbour’s consent to build on a boundary, providing all the regulations are adhered to. There are restrictions in terms of how much of the boundary they can build on plus they can’t have windows looking directly onto your property +++. Once they have their plans approved they can go ahead and build. You can probably delay this by waiting until the last moment to lodge and objection. You can also look at the PAJA Act…this can sometimes help.

  2. If I find that my neighbour had already erected a perimeter wall between my plot and his, am I supposed to pay him some money as a later contribution to the wall I found erected?

    • Absolutely not! There is not law (or obligation) that states walls must be built between properties other that those in estates.

  3. Hi, I own a panhandle property on an estate. Along the side of my panhandle driveway the neighbour has built less than a metre from the boundary line. The land sloped up the panhandle, this owner filled sand along that boundary to create a platform in order to build soo close to the boundary line, as he has a small plot and I suppose wanted to make use of all land that he could. I queried this with the estate and was told they gave him permission to do this. However my big issue is that he filled sand on that boundary to build his house and retained it with sand bags and created a bank. When it rains those sand bags have collapsed into my property in the past, and each time he puts the sand bags back. He now says that it is my responsibility to retain the bank he created as I am the “lower neighbour” which doesn’t make any sense. My understanding is that if you cut, then you retain. If you fill, then you retain. Please can you advise what the actual regulations are regarding this. He created this bank with the permission of the estate and now they have put my property at risk and put me in a position where I should pay for a bank he created.
    This guy is a developer and trying to steam roll over me. Please can you advise the rule regarding building lines and the responsibility of retaining.

    • It is absolutely NOT your responsibility to retain the bank Fiona. Apart from anything else ALL retaining walls of any type – and “structure” that is intended to “resist the lateral displacement of materials” (which is what they are using the sandbags for) need plans – because of the implications of the retaining soil collapsing onto your property. As an aside we had a similar query a couple of weeks ago – where a developer built up the land alongside a vibrecrete wall and built on the fill. Not surprisingly the wall collapsed and the builder is facing charges in court. I have no doubt that he will be forced to pay all damages and remove the fill.
      In terms of boundary lines, as I understand it, when an estate is developed, they get permission from the local authority to develop in a certain way. Boundary lines would be approved at this stage. But if any waiver is required I am pretty sure that neighbours’ approval would be required, and quite probably approval of the local authority. So you need to find out what the approved rule (in terms of the development) is regarding how close to boundaries people can build. As a property owner in the estate, you have a right to demand to see the approved site layout for the estate (i.e. what was originally approved by the local authority). I would also appeal for assistance from your local authority.
      Let me know what happens.

      • Thank you so much Penny, will contact the Kwadukuza Municipality tomorrow and advise their feedback!

  4. Hi Penny, thank you for all your great answers. Unfortunately I still need your advise regarding car ports – how close to a boundary wall may a carport be erected? (We live in Jozi.) The reason for asking is our neighbors’ car port is built within 10 cm of the boundary wall between us. Due to this the electrical fence ‘leans’ across the boundary wall. I would appreciate your feedback since we would like to have the structure moved further away from the boundary wall.

    • Flakie, All properties have building lines – and these show how close to a boundary you can build (3 m is common, but they do vary). Chances are there building lines are in keeping with yours. In most areas, if anything is built closer to the boundary than allowed (as per the building lines), then they need permission from neighbours as well as from the council. Cape Town is an exception. If they aren’t prepared to move the structure, then you will need to complain to council.

  5. I stay in Secunda my neighbor has built a wall that joins our houses ( as I have built my garage’s wall on the boundery). She had built a wall from her house to my wall that’s on the boundary, she claimed to be building a carport and in addition to that also erected still bars that attaches from her house to my house. Basically our houses has become one house. Is this allowed? On the relaxation application which I signed it stated carport. What is definition of the carport? When applying for relexation isn’t the neighbor suppose to signal of building plans too as an indication that it has been clarified what they are signing for and what is the role of municipality?

    • Thabile I don’t understand what your neighbour has in fact built in place of a carport. If you look at this link, you will see that carports generally do not require plans because they are considered to be minor building work – as long as they are no bigger than 40 sq meters. The definition of a carport, according to SANS 10400 is:
      “building intended to provide shelter for a motor vehicle, caravan or boat and having a roof but having walls on not more than two sides”
      I am also not sure what “relaxation application” you signed. Was this for the wall? Unless you gave permission for her to put the steel bars into your wall, she cannot do this and you have the right to make her remove them.

  6. I reside in Tulisa Park and would like to add a out building to my existing garage and convert it into a granny flat. this will take the new addition 1.5 meters away from my palisade fencing in the front of the house. Is it possible to apply for a building line relaxation from the council.

    • Bert it may be possible, but your best bet is to contact the council. It will depend largely on the zoning regulations of council.

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