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 .

  194 Responses to “Boundary Lines,Walls & Fences”

Comments (194)
  1. I recently purchased a property in a HOA complex. Our perimeter wall between our neighbour and ourselves is ±3 rows of bricks lower than 1,8m and we need our privacy. The neighbour claims that the wall is entirely erected on his side of his property and will not allow us to raise it higher. After how many years does that wall legally become a 50/50 ownership in order to attach a gate or raise the wall. The wall was erected during 1999.

    Thanks for your assistance – I have read many of your replies and they are very informative as well as valuable.

    • Hi Hennie, This is more of a legal matter than a building regulations issue. It all depends on how your HOA agreements are set. My undrestanding of an estate is that the owners only have title to the building/dwelling that they live in and that all other surrounding land including walls, fences, driveways are “common ground” unless agreed to in writing by the HOA. This you will need to check up on. Further, is the claim made by the neighbour substantiated by any agreement in writing. And are the boundary/site surveyor pegs still in place that prove that this is so. If it is no to both the above then, firstly it is up to the HOA to allow the wall to be raised and secondly you might have to get the HOA to get the boundary between yourselves surveyed and pegs put in and see if it is on his side. What ever happens get an agreement in writing done between you and your neighbour so you both avoid future misunderstandings.

  2. Hi i stay in mitchell plain cape town and the house we bought,the vibacrete is 1.5 meters over the boundary line.can i buy that from the coucil??

    • Hi Shakier, I am not sure how you managed to do this as it sounds illegal. If you have occupied the piece of land for some time then you must put a request in writing with photos and reasons to the council to consider selling it to you. The only problem would be if it is a registered “servitude” then you will have very little chance.

  3. Hi Sir
    I stay in Bloemfontein where my neighbour has installed a wall right on the boundary to connect two buildings with each other. They also installed a roof with the over hang on to my property where all there water run off flows into my yard. What can I do and what is my rights.

    Please help.

    • You must inform them (your neighbour) in writing that there is an illegal discharge of water on to your property and they must rectify this immediately. At same time you must put it in writing and take this, together with a copy of the letter to your neighbour, to your local council planning department and give it in and get a reciept. They must send an inspector and he must advise the neighbours that they are breaking the law.

  4. Good day

    Kindly please help me with guidance, how far from your boundary wall should the trees be planted from the boundary walls according to the National Buildings Regulations.



  5. hi

    i want to build a boundry wall infront of our house, there are currently very low vibercrate.. will i need a plan to put up a wall

    • The NBR states that “any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil,” is minor building work and does not require plans. However you do need to let the local authority know you are building and the have the authority to call for plans if they believe it is necessary.

  6. Sorry for the spelling NHBRC someone by the name of gary was emailed.

  7. I recently extended my boundary wall between grumpy old neighbor with out planning permission as we live on hill his property is lower and wall looks higher on his side.. He has reported me and now demanding I lower wall to 1.8 m first question is this measurement obviously taken from my side ?

    Second question am I allowed to attach trellace onto a wall that is 1.8 and have it extend above the 1.8m and grow plants / creepers ?

    • Jay I think that the measurement must be done on the lower side of the wall – so if it is higher than 1.8 m on his side then you would have required plans. Since it is your wall there is nothing to stop you attaching a trellis to the wall and growing plants and creepers over it.

  8. I stay in Dinwiddie (Germiston) and our new neighbors are building a boma with the wooden beams of the frame resting on and hanging over our boundary wall. I’m worried that it would affect the integrity of the wall in the future. Is this allowed?

  9. Hi there, I live in Benoni Gauteng and I have recently seen buildings being built directly onto the boundary wall facing the street. Is this now allowed? I hope so, because I would like to build a granny cottage and this would give me more room on the limited area I have available to build.

    Thank you and kind regards, Karan

    • It depends on the zoning by-laws in the area and on the size of the erf that the house is built on. Mostly properties that are under 500 sqm are allowed to build up to the boundary but the best is to call the local council planning department and ask them about your property.

  10. Good day,

    We recently moved into a new house in Pretoria – we have a long driveway which is part of our property, we want to install a sliding gate but this means that it will have to slide past the neighbours boundary wall facing the street (are we allowed to do this ?) – the neighbour has a lot of reeds planted next to the boundary wall facing the street and if we install the gate some of these reeds will get damaged – can this cause problems for us, if the neighbour does not want to allow this and we go ahead and do it anyway? Is the reeds planted next to the wall on the street side not part of the municipality ground?

    • You are not allowed to have anything that goes across the front of any of your neighbours. You could get their permission and the council permission as well. There are other type of gates that open inwards and are made for driveways like yours and avoid this problem.

  11. hi

    I have your book,but all is not a cavity wall,should the foundation have a cavity to be filled later or not necessary.and should I use wire ties every 2 courses but what about brickforce?
    lookink forward to your reply


    • Hi, Depending on the type of soil that is being built on the foundation wall should be a cavity wall but the cavity must be filled with either mortar or concrete. Brickforce must be used as well. The finished level will be the level of the foundation brickwork and the concrete floor slab. The cavity wall built above this must be a cavity wall with a minimum 50mm gap and with wall ties.

  12. Hi, I have a common vibracrete wall which separates my property with my neighbours. They now raised the vribracrete without consulting me and in addition to this they have also cut holes and put windows into the vibracrete wall. These windows now look directly into my property. Are they allowed to put windows on a boundary wall which in also a common wall?

  13. We have a palisade fence between properties. The new neighbours have cut down all the foliage on their side of the fence and we can now see completely into their property as we are slightly raised. Are we allowed to attach trellising to this wall and grow plants etc up it.

    It is such a stupid thing they have done as we can see everything that goes on including their patio and into their house.

    • Fences that are up to 1,8 m are considered by the National Building Regulations to be minor building work – and therefore do not need plans (although some municipalities do call for plans). So if the fence is lower than 1,8 m you can add to it without plans. BUT – this is only if the fence is yours. You need to ascertain whether it is on your property or theirs – or exactly on the boundary. You should also find out who paid for the fence in the first place. Our current neighbours did something similar though we have a vibrecrete wall in-between the two proerties; they cut down a gorgeous fruit-bearing plumb tree because it had thorns! Doesn’t worry us cos they overlook our washing line – but we can see right into their garden now. As you say – stupid :-)

  14. Good day,

    I stay in La montagne, Pretoria. Simon vermooten road is right behind my house. The municipality decided to widen the bridge. This caused the bridge to move closer to my back wall. It also cuased the wall to be lower on the outside of my yard than it is from the inside. If you stand on the outside, it is about 1,6m tall and should be 2m or a bit higher.

    Is there any liability on the municipalities side to extend my wall so it is higher again to about 2m when you stand on the outside.

    • Hannes I know a fair bit about the National Building Regulations, but this falls outside of this particular law. There must be some law that governs this type of thing though I imagine it would be the Roads Agency – the dreaded SANRAL. If you click on my link you can download the Act. Alternatively go into your local authority office and see if anyone there can give you some good advice.

  15. Hiya my nan has lived in her house for over 70 years and has a neighbour who wants to put up 5 inch insulation and 1 inch rendering on the wall of their property which is then coming over my nans property they even have the guttering close to her window and the builder says he is allowed to do so. I don’t think this is allowed as my nan is now losing 5 inches of her property? Could you advise me is this allowed? Many thanks

    • Samantha I really don’t know what you mean by “5 inch insulation and 1 inch rendering” – render is plaster and this should not be applied in layers that are more than half an inch (0.5 mm) thick. So that implies two layers of plaster. Insulation? Is this an existing wall?
      Anyone if whatever it is they are doing is encroaching on her property it is illegal. If there is guttering involved then it sounds more like a building than a freestanding wall, in which case they MUST have approved plans from the local authority. My suggestion is for you to go to the local authority offices and ask them to send a building inspector to investigate asap.

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