Useful Building Documents all in One Place
If 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:
- Draft proposals relating to environmental sustainability and energy usage in buildings, available HERE; SANS10400 PART X: Environmental sustainability and SANS10400 PART XA: Energy usage in buildings DSS3.
- Download the amendments to the SANS10400 PART X and PART XA of 9th September 2011 here.
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.