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. I would like to know the building regulations on attaching a carport (52m2) to my garage. The roof is support by brick pillars and steel trusses. The total weight of roof sheeting on the trusses for this area is 420kg. The sides of the carport between the pillars is going to closed up with either glass or aluminium. Is building plans required for this.

    Thank you

    • Tony a carport with open sides is generally regarded as minor building work, in which case plans are not normally required. However because you are going to enclose the sides (or rather that’s what it sounds like), you WILL need building plans, and these must be drawn by a competent person.

  2. I have tried several times to download Sans 10400 document from your
    website without any luck. I have a high speed connection so I should
    not have any problems. I have been succesfull to download other docs
    from other sites. Not sure what the problem is but after about an hour
    my explorer just says “cannot access this site”!!!

  3. Hi there,

    I am busy building a home in an estate, and have applied for a building loan. The bank documentation indicated that there could be a maximum of 5 progress draws on the project. I would like to know if there is an average schedule on what percentage of the progress constitutes certain stages of the building?
    E.g. Casted slab incl. plumbing and foundations = 15%?
    This will help us with budgeting and planning the cashflow of the project.

    • Denver please don’t ask us to speak for the bank. Ask them. Generally it coincides with when they do their inspections – and give approval.

  4. I need information, like I have a new private company and I am want to do civil engineering. What documents required.

  5. Hi

    I am planning on buying property to build on in Port Elizabeth. What is the regulations on building with logs. How much and which of the building will I be allowed to do myself? What are the steps I should follow? Thank you in advance.

    Ryno Herselman

    • Ryno the building regulations apply to all forms of building. i.e. You need approved plans that must be drawn up by a competent person. If you are going to owner build you need an exemption from the NHBRC. You still need foundations that are adequate to hold the structure – and all materials should be SABS approved. Familiarize yourself with the basics first – there’s a lot of information on this site that will help you.

  6. Hi, I would like to know what the regulations are with regards to building a granny flat at the back of my property. I would like to know how far should the buiding be from the boundary walls.


    • Hi Mohamed,
      Yup we are also a bit chilly here in Cape Town. I hope that you are selling your customers lots more insulation and energy saving things so that they save some money this winter. You will have to go to the Durban/Ethekwini Metropolitan Municipality and ask them about rezoning and changing the occupation density for your property, this is a regional decision and not a National Building Regulations one. They will also let you know about height restrictions in your area, but be aware that the foundations of a single storey house might not be designed to carry the weight of a second storey. You might have to under-pin the foundations first BUT you will have to get a structural engineer to design/inspect and give you details and documents for council before they will approve of the alterations. The NHBRC allow people as “owner builders” to get an exemption when they build but the proviso is that they cannot sell the house within 5 years. As you are wanting to build 8 units I guess that you want to sell these asap so you will have to prove to the NHBRC that you are qualified to build houses or get a builder that is registered with the NHBRC to build for you. You will also need a “competent person” to do all your plans for the development. By Law you have to register all new houses with the NHBRC. I hope this helps. Regards, Janek

  8. What is the regulation regarding roof pitch?
    We bought a house with an extension added on to it. The size of the room is around 4m x 7m.

    It is a 0.33mm corrugated iron roof, supported by 3 wooden planks 2 m from each other, at a pitch between
    5 and 6 degrees.

  9. Hi, my landlord said that there is a legal size for signage on a building. We shared a large sign that is 2,3m wide by 1,95m high. This was on a sigle metal sheet with he occupying the top half, me the bottom. Both signs are made from the same stick-on vinyl that most signage firms use. He said that it was too large for the building as it was one large metal sheet. It was taken down and re-erected onto another building on the same premises, and another sign made up from individual letters,(but when combined is much larger than the single metal sheet sign) was put up in its place. I think he made up the excuse in order to move our combined sign to make way for his new and larger sign, or is this correct?

    • Hi Bill,
      Signage sizes and regulations for displaying them are usually covered by the Local Authority of your area and not by the National Regulations. Contact your local offices and ask them. The company who printed your sign should also have an idea about what is allowed as they are dealing with this every day.

  10. Hi there, We bought a house in a complex while the complex was still being developed. We rented the house out for over 2 years and upon returning to the house only find a double story has been built less than 3 metres away from our front stoep. Their top bedroom window looks directly into our lounge and stoep and it blocks out the sun. Please let me know where I can find information on the legality of building a double storey house in such close proximity without our consultation or agreement, restricting our view and blocking out the sun which is now causing the wall to crumble as it is not being able to dry out after rain. On that, the house in front also built a retaining wall therefore covering up the holes made to drain water away now causing a dam in our garden every time it rains.
    Thank you for your time
    Kind Regards

    • Lindsay there is some info about boundary walls and fences on our sister call. Also an article on this site. Both mention legal distances that you can build to a boundary wall. But if you bought in a complex, there should be additional building requirements and guidelines that might include height restrictions. In terms of the building regulations as such, it sounds legal – double storey and distance. Your consultation would not normally be required. In terms of the retaining wall, they should have had plans. BUT – you mention covering up holes. If you were draining your excess water onto their property, you were in breach. You need to install a proper drainage system. There are a number of related comments here, mainly people who have the problem of people channeling their storm water onto their properties.
      Anybody buying in a complex where the site is small should make sure that they know what is permitted and how a neighboring building could affect things like privacy and view.

  11. There are duplex town houses being built in a complex. is it legal to build without architect and engineers supervision? Who can we report this to?

    • John it isn’t legal to build without approved plans; and these must be drawn up by a competent person – usually either an architect or an engineer. However that person is not required to be there to supervise the whole time. The competent person or persons takes responsibility for the build, and is required to check certain things during the build. These are specified in SANS 10400 Part A, General Principles and requirements. There are even sample forms in this part of the regulations. If you want to see them visit your nearest SABS library – or buy a copy of Part A from the SABS.

  12. hi

    My developer has the pipe running diagonally in/ across the back of yard instead while the plan shows that it is running along the border of the yard. He also mentioned that I need to dig around it and put concrete below, on sides and above it should I decide to extend the house. Is this legal and who can I take it up with?

    thank you

    • If the developer has placed a pipe somewhere other than where the plan shows it should be, take it up with the planning department of your local authority. You need to ask them to send a builder inspector out to the property as a matter of urgency.

  13. Good Day

    How many toilets are required for 100 office /call centre staff? Does the number vary for men and women?


    • Seelen, The number of sanitary fixtures to be provided in a building is based on the population for which such building is designed as well as the occupancy qualification – in this case G1. In terms of men and women, the Standard states: “where, in any particular occupancy, separate sanitary facilities are provided for each sex, the number of sanitary fixtures installed for them shall be based on the population of that particular sex for which such facilities are intended and, if the number of persons of each sex cannot be determined, it shall be assumed that they are in equal proportions”.
      So you will have to work out how many are required for each sex, depending on numbers of each.
      There is a table in SANS 10400-P: 2010 (Drainage) that shows what is required. If you download the 1990 version of the NBR free HERE you will see the relevant tables on pages 124 and 126 (they haven’t changed). For between 90 and 120 people, there should be three toilet pans, six urinals and five hand basins if all those people are men; and nine toilet pans and five basins if they are all women. If there are approximately the same number of men and women, you’d follow the requirements for less than 60, viz. two toilets, three urinals and three basins for men, PLUS five toilets and three basins for women. [You will see that the figures given are for less than 15, 30, 60, 90 and 120 people.]
      You will also see that “In any building where facilities in accordance with table 6 are available to both personnel and the public or visitors, no separate facilities shall be required for the public or visitors.” But if people from the public use the building, and they don’t have access to the toilets, then additional toilets are required.

  14. What is the law regarding Photoluminescent signs in a building eg: Hotel

    • Jonathon, this does not fall under the National Building Regulations. There is a Standard, SANS 1186-5, Symbolic safety signs Part 5: Photoluminescent signs that specifies the particular requirements for photoluminescent safety signs. It is available from the SABS at a cost of R72 + VAT. Here’s the link to their web store.
      This Standard covers the requirements for photo luminescent signage including colour and “luminance decay” of photo luminescent materials + inspection and methods of testing them + packing and marking. It doesn’t cover requirements for specific areas where they may be used.
      There are only three Standards that I can find that relate to hotels:
      ISO 18513:2003 Tourism services — Hotels and other types of tourism accommodation — Terminology
      SANS 1002 Semi-vitreous crockery (hotel ware)
      SANS 1291-2 Flexible polyurethane foam sleeping mats and mattresses Part 2: Foam mattresses for domestic and hotel use
      There may be by-laws that cover these signs; contact your local authority.

  15. Good Day

    What is the standard measurements for parking bays?

    • Nokuthula, As far as I know this is governed by by-laws rather than the Building Regulations. So contact your local authority for information.

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