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. Hi. What is the law with regards to storm water ie control thereof and accepting it onto your property. When I build must I accept all responsibility to cater for any storm water coming off the road/verges above my property?/ etc.

    • The law states: “The owner of any site shall provide suitable means for the control and disposal of accumulated stormwater which may run off from any earthworks, building or paving.” – and Part R of SANS 10400 – which covers stormwater disposal – gives guidelines on how to ensure this is done correctly. It is your responsibility to channel rainwater off your property in an acceptable manner – and NOT onto other people’s property. There is discussion on this page, or you can go to an SABS library and read the section for yourself.

  2. hi… i own a 1000sqm erf. more than half i reside on the rest vacant. Can u plz advise regards me wanting to a)brick build 2 small cottages or
    b)wooden chalet type on stilts (as ive heard if on stilts no plan or clearance from municipal required… is it true?)

    id like to rent these as accomodation per night or per month as out buildings

    Plz advise

    • You need to ask your local authority Ahmed. Zoning regs state how much of the land you can build on – as well as how many dwellings are allowed. The answer to your question re stilts is no. You need approval and plans for all structures, unless minor building works (which a chalet isn’t) or any structure that the council decides doesn’t need plans.
      When you apply to build a second dwelling on a property you will be asked why you need to build them. You might want to do some research to see what your local authority normally allows. They may not allow additional “dwellings” for rental.

  3. Good day, I am buildong a prefab office in my yard. Accodingg to law it must be a certsin height of the ground. Please can you assist?

  4. Is there a minimum requirement for ceiling insulation and if so when did it come into force?

    • Standards for insulation are not part of the NBR. You will need to contact the SABS to find out which SANS apply and when they were passed.

  5. I would like to know what the fire extinguisher requirements are for a labour camp facility where workers stay in kwik space quarters. Is it one or two 9kg DCP?

  6. Hi, we live in Centurion area. Centurion is also a dolomite area. We are doing building alterations. What is the requirements when doing 3 new doorways on the outside existing wall of the house and one internal single wall arch. It is all standard size doorways.

    • Hi Madeleen, Putting in new doorways and a new arch is seen as structural building work and needs approved plans before any work starts. The competent person who draws up the plans should know about the soil conditions and will design the alterations accordingly.

  7. Dear Sir,

    is there a size limit to domestic dwellings in South Africa cities (the developed areas)?

    The Japanese are allowed to build on very small parcels of land and have therefore learned to design accordingly resulting in dwellings of surpassing beauty and practicality.

    Can this be done in SA cities? Neighbours’ objections can be appealed against but what is the law that bureaucrats must obey?



    • Short answer: the National Building Regulations which has MINIMUM dimensions in terms of rooms, and the local by-laws that allow you (in terms of zoning bylaws) to build on a maximum portion of the land. You can, as you say, appeal against this if necessary.

  8. Hi Penny

    I am uncertain as to what fees the council will charge me in terms of Rands per sqm. Thing is we are breaking down an internal wall which is about 5 to 6 meters approx -only . Iam not sure if the council will be charging based on the entire sqm of my home floor plan or just for the demolished wall area about of 5 to 6 meters. Also this is a sectional title so I am not sure if an engineer will be necessary as the unit is on the top floor and does not hold up any supporting structures etc.

    • All the various councils have their own rates. If you are breaking down a wall even though it might not be a load bearing wall you will need council permission. You will also need to contact your HO and ask their permission as well.

  9. how much will i be charged fees for a residential building plan of 489m

  10. Is it permissable to erect a garden shed of approx 6 sq m against a pre cast boundary wall without plans . Regards peter

    • Hi Peter, No you just can’t put up a garden/tool shed next to a boundary just like that. Even though the shed is below the 10sq m allowed in the Regulations to be erected without plans, permission must still be applied for and approved by the local municipal planning department. In addition to this many of the local authorities will require neighbours permission to erect anything within the building line.

  11. Hi Penny

    I want to purchase a vacant plot between houses and build a small block of flats on it ( 3 x 3 bedrooms double story open plan kitchen type with under cover parking. What route must i take to obtain such approval of new development?

    There is currently a run down house on the property that needs to be demolished.



    • Gert your first step will be to ascertain what the zoning regulations are in terms of what may be built on the land in question. Your local authority will be able to advise.

  12. Hi, can a provincial department, say public works or human settlements, be exempted from submitting plans to the relevant municipality for the construction of new houses?
    Thank you
    P Gumede

    • I am not 100 percent certain but I would think that it would only be the owner of the property that could legally submit plans. Feel free to give us more info to see if what you have encountered is possibly illegal

      • Thank you for your response Penny. Let us take the situation where the provincial human settlements (DHS) is building several new blocks (for either rental or ownership). The provincial Public Works (DPW) is the implementing agent for DHS. So effectively, DHS is legally the owner.

        1. Must DPW (or owner) submit plans to the municipality?
        2. Can DPW be exempt from submitting any plan/design by doing it in-house with its own provincial architects, planners, etc. – perhaps submitting plan/design only out of courtesy to the municipality?
        3. If such an arrangements were possible (above 2), under what legal provisions would this happen?
        4. Can a government department (national / provincial), as an owner, be exempt from any of the provision of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act?
        Thank you

  13. Hi Penny
    I am trying to establish if there are minimum building requirements for a dormitory – with regards to space per person ,windows,doors,privacy etc.

    • Gwynne a dormitory is classified ask H2 in terms of occupation. This is contained in Part A of SANS 10400. The design population is also defined here – viz 5 sq m per person. I can’t answer the rest off the top of my head. You would need to do a search through each part of the regs for anything that applies specifically to H2. I don’t believe that privacy is defined in the NBR.

  14. Hi
    Not sure if you can help; I am looking for the warehouse ‘regulations’ which stipulate rack or storage height / roof height and when a warehouse must have a sprinkler system.

    • Avril, stoppage issues are details in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations – not the Building Regulations. Part T of SANS 10400, Fire protection specifies when and where sprinkler systems are required, however it depends on the building classification. If you check the second link and let me know which the warehouse fits into, I can try and help you further.

      • Hi Penny
        Thanx for your help so far.
        We are a D1 I think, cable distribution. So some cable is low smoke zero halogen but some is PVC and PE polyethylene which if burning would cause halogen gas.
        This I understand but there is a stipulation somewhere that says you may only use racks to such and such a height and then must stack a specific height from the roof. If these parameters are exceeded then you must have a sprinkler system. its these specs I’m looking for.

        • Apologies for the delay in responding. I do hope this has been resolved. Sorry I can’t help further. Contact a fire prevention consultant.

  15. Hello Penny, I’m planning on owner building a house in Howick KZN and need some advice on making up the trusses. I feel confident about the fabrication and assembly aspects but am in some doubt as to how one would obtain the Building Inspectors approval once done. Can you advise?

    • Roland, first of all you need to get an exemption from the NHBRC to be able to owner build. In addition to this, you will still need approved plans that must be drawn up by a competent person. This person (e.g. an architect or draughtsperson) may be able to supply plans for the trusses – sometimes specialized competent persons e.g. an engineer – might be required. The relevant part of SANS 10400 is Part L, Roofs. In addition, and more specifically, SANS 10243 provides guidance on the manufacture, erection and bracing of timber roof trusses. You won’t get council (building inspector’s) approval unless you follow the correct procedure.

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