National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) - Building Regulations South Africa
Nov 192011
 

The NHBRC gives protection

against shoddy workmanship

The NHBRC was established in terms of the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act, 1998 to regulate the building industry and protect home buyers against shoddy workmanship.

Motivation at the time was largely charged by fly-by-night-builders who were conning people all over the country. There was undoubtedly a huge need to regulate the home building industry and improve building standards in this part of the construction industry.

The National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) – which is a Section 21, non-profit organisation – states that it has a vision to be “a world class organisation that ensures home builders deliver sustainable quality homes”. The way it set out to do this, was to establish a registration process for all home builders and contractors working in the domestic market, together with an NHBRC Defects Warranty Scheme for all new homes built by their registered members.

 

 

Registration with the NHBRC

Since December 1999, all home builders have been required, by law, to register with the NHBRC, and no financial institution is permitted to lend money against the security of a mortgage bond unless the builder is registered. As a further safeguard, conveyancers are not permitted to register bonds unless these requirements have been met.

However to register with the Council, builders must have not only the appropriate technical and construction skills, but also sufficient financial resources and management abilities to carry on a business without exposing “housing consumers” to unacceptable risks.

The NHBRC has a register of home builders who are members and they are in the process of establishing a grading system so that potential clients will get an idea of the quality of work to expect. Members will be able to use this information when they advertise their services.

In addition, the NHBRC keeps a database of any previous members who have been suspended or deregistered.

NHBRC Warranty Scheme

The primary concern of the NHBRC is “major structural defects” caused by poor workmanship. The warranty scheme was established to counter this problem, and because of it, the NHBRC is able to provide warranty protection against defects for all new homes: five years for the structure itself (foundations and walls), and a minimum of a year for roof leaks. Noncompliance and deviation from plans and specifications is also covered.

However, funding of the warranty scheme has historically been the most controversial issue relating to this organisation. Apart from the registration fees and annual levies, “enrolment” fees are charged for every building that is constructed. From the start fees were based on 1,3 percent of the price in the deed of sale or offer to purchase document, or the sum of the prices on the building contract and land sale agreement up to R500 000; thereafter a percentage scale is used.

NHBRC Manuals

One of the most valuable contributions the NHBRC has made is the publication of comprehensive home building manuals (which was a requirement of the founding Act). These are available directly from them at a very reasonable price.

Simple reference documents based on normal construction procedures and recommended practices, the manuals cover every aspect of building, including planning, design and construction. They contain numerous tables, definitions, diagrams and specifications, all of which encourage good building practice. Even though drainage installations and other belowground work is excluded from the NHBRC’s warranty scheme, relevant construction methods have been included in the manuals as a guide. Interestingly, some non-standardised construction methods not covered by the National Building Regulations are also included in the NHBRC manuals.

Comprehensive as they are, the NHBRC building manuals are not intended to replace existing building regulations and/or codes of practice determined by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act  remains in force and must be adhered to.

The NHBRC and Owner Builders

While the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act was promulgated to protect consumers, unscrupulous builders found a loophole in the Act. By claiming to be “owner builders”, they were able to get away with certain construction projects without registering with the NHBRC and paying the necessary fees.

In 2007 the Act was amended, defining an Owner Builder as”

“a) a person who builds a home for occupation by himself or herself; or

b) a person who is not a registered home builder and who assists a person contemplated in paragraph (a) in the building of his or her own home”.

The Act also introduced People’s Housing Process projects, or PHP Projects which are approved in terms of the National Housing Code: Housing Subsidy Scheme, and which are exempt from the Act if they use there own labour to build a home.

The updated legislation also gives owner builders the right to apply for exemption from being forced to register as a “home builder” if they wanted to build owner build their home.

You can connect to their website: nhbrc.org

You can search their database for registered builders on their website: builder-search

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  364 Responses to “National Home Builders Registration Council – NHBRC”

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  1. Hi

    I purchased a flat in a new complex and ownership transferred in December 2010. At the end of 2011 a crack developed in the bathroom. The developer fixed it. In January 2015 we noticed that the crack was back in the same position. I have spoken to the managing agents and they have basically said that it is my responsibility to repair. The complex is only 3 years old and this is a recurring problem that the developer acknowledged and fixed previously. Is this in fact the developer’s responsibility to fix or mine? Thanks!

  2. Hi i ve just built myself a house in 2010 and now i want to sell it to relocate to another house in town and i am not registered with the nhbrc, is there any disadvantage without being registered and the other thing i want to know the advantage of registering with nhbrc.

    thanks
    Aaron
    0721766978

    • Aaron there are a number of laws and regulations you should have followed when you built your house. First and foremost you should have had plans approved by your local council. Secondly, your builder should have been registered with NHBRC unless you were an owner builder, in which case you should have applied for an exemption from the NHBRC. It’s the law and has absolutely nothing to do with advantages and disadvantages – unfortunately

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