Document Downloads


Useful Building Documents all in One Place

RegsPic453B-sIf you know where to look, you can find an enormous amount of useful information, including legislation and official documents that will assist you with your building projects. We have accessed some of these for you and you can download them from this page here or on our downloads page “download-regulations”.

Just remember that if you are looking for South African National Standards (SANS) or standards prepared by the International Standards Authority (ISO) you will need to visit an South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) office, or buy the standards from their online store.

If you simply want to read through standards, you can do so at your leisure in a library at one of the SABS offices. Their head office is in Groenkloof, Pretoria, and they have regional offices in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban and Olifantsfontein, all of which are open between 8 am and 4 pm.

The National Building Regulations

The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (No. 103 of 1977) forms the basis of how buildings in South Africa should be constructed and developed to suit human habitation. The legislation became enforceable as law in September 1985, and two years later were published by the SABS as part of the original Code of Practice for The application of the National Building Regulations, SABS 0400-1987.

If you study the legislation, you will see that its intention was to “provide for the promotion of uniformity in the law relating to the erection of buildings in the areas of jurisdiction of local authorities; for the prescribing of building standards; and for matters connected therewith”.

The Act that governs the National Building Regulations has been amended several times, most recently in 2008 when some major changes were made.

In 1990, the SABS published its first revision of its code of practice, SABS 0400-1990, which later became known as SANS 10400-1990. While these standards are not free (you can only purchase them from the SABS), the 1990 version of this standard is now available FREE here. In each of the parts featured on this website, we have included a short commentary on how these have changed since 1990; some parts have changed little, others have been radically altered.

To update the building regulations that are published in this document you will need the 2008 amendment to the National Building Regulations. Note that when you purchase the individual parts of the building regulations from the SABS, they will incorporate the updated legislation in full. Previously, the SABS 0400-1990 document was one single publication.

There are also updates on certain sections of the standards, some of which are draft standards, that you can currently download, free. These include:

Even though the “new” building regulations have been mandatory since October 2008, mid-2011 the SABS was still progressively updating its lengthy code of practice. At last they are complete!

There are 21 parts that currently comprise SANS 10400. These deal with compliance, and they are available as stand-alone units from the SABS – each individually priced. See the SABS online store for details. Two additional parts of the legislation, Part E: Demolition Work, and Part U: Refuse Disposal, do not have “deemed-to-satisfy” codes of practice.

There are a handful of other documents that are available FREE from the SABS.

Browse these free downloads and feel free to take the relevant files:

8 Free Standards and 20 JTC1 Free Standards

Compulsory Specifications (CVs)

Department of Public Works Guidelines

The Government’s Department of Public Works has a range of documents that provide consultants – specifically architects, quantity surveyors, civil engineers, structural engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and construction project managers – with focused guidelines for Department of Public Works projects. Some of these may be useful to home builders and owner builders, simply because the standards are generic. They include:

  • Appropriate Development of Infrastructure on Dolomite: Guidelines for Consultants. Published in 2003, this lengthy 97-page document contains some important background information on dolomite land, as well as departmental requirements for developing any form of building site on dolomite.
  • Guide for Architects Concerning Drainage Water Supply and Storm-Water Drainage. Published in 2000, this 28-page document defines a good cross-section of terms relating to water supply and drainage. Installation methods are covered briefly, and there is a useful table for sizing gutters and downpipes in relation to the size of the roof of any building.
  • Drainage Details. Although published some time ago, in 1998, this 47-page document has some useful drawings, some of which show correct and incorrect methods of installing drains. Even though a qualified plumber must, by law, install your drains, this primarily visual guide will provide some insight into correct ways of constructing drains, installing gullies and so on.
  • Standard Electrical, Mechanical and Architectural Guideline for the Design of Accessible Buildings (Facilities for Disabled Persons). Published in 2001, this 52-page document covers general design elements (including changes in level and wheelchair turning space requirements), general sit elements (including parking requirements), accessible routes (from walking surface and stairways to handrails and lifts), plumbing facilities, communication elements, and some built-in furnishing possibilities.
  •  Hardware Sample List. A 24-page long document that was published in 1995, this is basically a notated description of master keys and locks, bolts, door and other types of hardware.
  • A “Norms Calculator” for quantity surveyors. This is an Excel tool that has been customised for quantity surveyors to estimate Department of Public Works projects. The categories could be easily changed to adapt it for use estimating and costing a home build.


  186 Responses to “Document Downloads”

Comments (186)
  1. If a plot has two road frontages, in this case Martin Crescent and Westville Road, and its address is on Martin Crescent:

    1. Can one construct a driveway on the road that it does not have its address on i.e Westville Road?

    2. What permission is needed for this?

    • In principle I don’t see why not. If you look at the site plan for the area, chances are there is a number of Westville Road as well. and there would be nothing to stop you from stating the address as “corner of….” There may, though, be a local council limitation in terms of access to the site. You will need to check with your local authority – they are the only body that could object.

  2. what are the precautionary measures against wall defects?

    • The building regulations and NHBRC guidelines give you the full range of precautionary measures against wall defects. In essence, if a wall is built in compliance with the regulations, it should not develop defects.

  3. what might be the cause of hire cracks on the wall of i building? And what are the applicable remedies to this defects?

  4. Hi penny

    I want to build two shops and a flat upstairs on my property in central pmb..

    Only 110 sqare metres and a pain simple rectangular building..

    Please advise where do i start and what will make this task easy for me

    Many thanks

  5. 1.Please assist what are the requirement for being a building inspector?
    2.what relevent question can be answered by person who si building inspector?

    • I don’t think you completed your question! I am not sure what the requirements are for being a building inspector, but one would assume that he/she should have the same type of qualification required for a “competent person“. When a local authority advertises for this position, they will state what is required. Here is a job posted for a building inspector in the Langeberg Municipality (Western Cape):
      “Std 10/ Grade 12 with 3 year appropriate qualification; 4 years appropriate experience; Code EB Drivers license; Thorough knowledge of the National Building Regulations and workable knowledge of Land Use Planning Ordinance”
      They don’t state what an “appropriate qualification” is, but clearly it would be a three-year diploma or degree of some sort.
      Here’s another example, an ad for a building inspector in Mossel Bay:
      An NTC III with a Trade Test within a building discipline or relevant tertiary qualification in any built environment discipline
      A valid Code B driver’s licence
      At least 5 years’ experience as a building construction foreman or a minimum of 3 years as a building inspector in a local authority
      Eligibility for registration as a Peace Officer (Law Enforcement Officer)
      Proficiency in MS Office l An own vehicle to conduct inspections
      Knowledge of outdoor advertising and signage by-laws will serve as a recommendation.
      I hope that helps.

  6. I have a house which is 22 years old. It would now appear that certain parts of it are not constructed in accordance with the approved plans. are there any prescription law which apply to this sort of problem

    • Bill it doesn’t appear so, and it is an issue that I am currently researching. Generally when someone buys a house utilizing a mortgage bond, the bank will check the plans against the dwelling (when they do the mortgage inspection), to ensure that the two tally. A problem emerges when people pay cash for a property and don’t call for plans. Also, I am finding, through this site, that lots of people – even those who have raised bonds – end up with a property where some degree of illegal work has been done.
      I am not a lawyer and can’t be sure what you can do, but I would imagine that you MAY have some recourse to your bondholder (if there is one) or to the local council, because they would have approved the building work in the first place. If construction was no done in accordance with the approved plans, the council inspector should have picked this up.
      At the end of the day, it probably depends how this situation affects you. If you are going to have to spend a substantial amount of money rectifying this situation, I suggest you get legal advice.

  7. Hi, i have a manhole in my yard, can it be moved and what will it cost to be moved?

    Parow West


    • Regan that’s a plumbing issue and you’ll need to call in a qualified plumber for a quotation. It won’t just be a matter of moving the manhole; all the pipes and drains will also have to be moved. Probably not a good idea.

  8. I’m trying to find out what the “Habitation rules” are when building a flat block, can you perhaps assist me with where to find this?
    Thank you kindly

    • I don’t know what you mean! Are you referring to occupancy and population? If so, it is in Part 1 of the building regulations.

  9. Please forward me the Application Forms together with the enrollment fees

  10. Hi there, what are the closing dates in December for building and the reopening? Also, are you allowed to do internal work? Thanks 🙂

    • Generally the building industry “closes down” on the first Friday after December 16 and reopens about a week into January. In terms of internal work – I presume you mean can you alter the interior of a house? Generally you can do alterations providing they do not affect load bearing walls, plumbing or electrical supply. However some local authorities may require plans, so it is best to check with your municipality or local council just in case.

  11. I work for myself and do mostly small residential projects, I find it extortionate to have to pay such a large amount for the building regs, I used to work in the UK and it was free

    • Tersia, I agree wholeheartedly with you! It probably has to do with funding. You can access the regulations free at SABS libraries, and they will photostat a certain percentage of each standard for you (free). You can make as many notes as you like, and even sit and type on your laptop. This is what I have done on numerous occasions.

    • Thanks Penny,
      I will see if East London has a library.
      I have managed to find quite a bit for free on the net via other people.

      • Tersia, I am certain that what you will find free on the Internet will be the old SANS 10400-1990. You can download the whole document here: … and also the amendments to the NBR made in 2008. The latter will show you what has changed, though it doesn’t give the deemed to satisfy guidelines, which is what the SABS adds to the regulations. The first part of each section is the legislation, followed by the SABS guidelines.
        There are vehicle testing labs in East London; but I think your nearest library will be PE 🙁 tel 041-391 8400. Maybe they’d be prepared to organize for you to access the document in EL, though it may not be possible due to staffing.

  12. This page certainly has been useful to a returning expat.

    However, in the UK, both in Scotland and England, their National Building Regulations and Building Standards are available as free downloads. This is such an integral part to the professions work and they ensure such documentation should be made as freely and widely available as possible. So it should be here too, with the amount of building work that doesn’t always conform to standards. Over R1,000 for this as a download is extortionate!

    I wish SABS would check out the following two links to see how it is done across the oceans;

    But for now, I will have to stick with my antiquated hard copy of SABS 0400, and your free link above.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • I have to agree with you Dave… but you can go to one of their libraries and access the regs for free. Thing is, the standard of building in SA is soooo bad, the law now requires everyone to have a “competent person” involved from plan stage. So that person would have the regs anyways.

      • Hello Penny,

        Following on from the comments by David, I am a British Landscape Architect who has just moved to Cape Town. The information you provide on SABS is very helpful, but I wonder if you could tell me if South Africa has an equivalent to British Standards (BS)- these are not the approved building regulations that David mentions (Parts A-P released by government), but standards released by the industry covering all aspects of construction e.g. from a landscape perspective everything from the size and thickness of paving units to the methods of laying them. Any help would be appreciated.

        Many thanks.

        • Yes Mike, the SABS publishes thousands of standards covering every aspect of building, manufacture etc. In fact you will find that some standards used (not necessary the ones you are interested in though) are in fact BS and standards drawn up by the ISO. Our site focuses on the NBR (i.e. SANS 10400) which is what David wants, and which is just one of many. Having said that, SANS 10400 IS considered the Bible standard for construction (although it doesn’t cover manufacturing standards of things like bricks and other building elements). You can go to the SABS web site and do a search for whatever it is you are looking for, but in all honesty, you’ll do better to actually go to their Cape Town offices in Mowbray. You literally walk off the road into their library, and they are incredibly helpful. Let’s say you’re looking for SANS on paving, they will do an internal search and pull whatever you need. If they don;t have it, they’ll source it from Pretoria (head office). You can read the standards there and make notes (they even have power points so you can plug in your laptop if need be), and they will photostat a limited number of pages for you to take away. Or you can buy the full standard if you need to constantly refer to it. I hope that helps.

  13. Good day

    Please advise if the SANS code of practise indicates what temperatures the air conditioner should be set in the winter/summer time in a corporate environment.

    Lorraine Maimela

  14. I am looking for the latest version of the National building regulations which have just been updated.

  15. Good day .
    Please forward the Enrolment Fee Table or advise on where to access.
    Required for Estimate purposes.

    Arthur Hackney

    • Hello Arthur, I haven’t come across an “enrollment fee table”. Do you know which organization publishes it? And what sort of enrollment are you referring to?

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