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:

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




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

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  1. Hi I want to build a house in Jhb and I am really struggling to get a decent and a reliable builder that is registered with NHBRC and is also familiar with banking regulations. How can you help me pls.

    • Unfortunately we can’t help you Raj. The best is to get referrals from friends and colleagues and then check with the NHBRC to ensure the business is registered.

  2. I need to register the nhbrc for my company

  3. Hi,

    I bought a vacant land two years ago and have just finished building a house. Can I still register this newly built even if my builder was not registered with NHBRC?


    • You have broken the law already because the law requires all new houses to be registered with the NHBRC BEFORE building starts or as an owner builder you must apply for an exemption. The builder needs to be reported as he is operating illegally. I suggest that you come clean and approach the NHBRC and ask for leniency. The laws in South Africa apply to EVERYONE not only when you think it applies to you. This is exactly the reason that the laws were made to prevent houses being badly built and endangering peoples lives with below standard building methods. You broke the law now go and pay the fine!

  4. What is it that i need to register

  5. I wanna register

  6. Hi, my property was built in 2004 and registered with the NHBRC. In 2008, I have registered a claim with the NHBRC for structural damages. The claim was never effected and I was referred from pillar to post. Please advice if I can take this still up with the NHBRC and if they will still be able to deal with the claim.

    • In 2008 you were within your 5 year warranty that the NHBRC covers you for. It is now 2014 and that is 6 years later. I am not sure if they will look at it so long after the initial claim. You should have finalised this back then. You must contact them and follow up. If you have a valid claim then you might have to send them a lawyers letter to get a response.

  7. Dear Penny, Just to know – As the purchaser of the newly built house by a developer, do I have to pay transfer and registration costs? Secondly, why am i paying the NHBRC levy fees?

    • The NHBRC is your insurance for the next 5 years against any structural defects. Yes those costs are normal for all buyers.

  8. Hi,

    I have bought a land and building a house out of my pocket using a private builder. I have started with the foundation and it is about to be completed. The inspector from NHBRC came to stop the construction.

    The problem is that I don’t have the money to register my property with them. I am not going to sell this property in 10 years to come.

    What rights do I have? If I continue with my building, what will they do, demolish the house or arrest me?

    • You are breaking the law and the inspector has the right to stop you. You can not go and drive a car on the road without a licence and when the cops stop you say sorry I have not got the money to pay for lessons and the licence so do not stop me. If you continue they can get court order and demolish the house unless you negotiate a way to put this right. Maybe the NHBRC will let you get an exemption as an “owner builder” that does not cost any money. But because you went ahead without finding this out I am not sure if the NHBRC will now let you do this.

  9. Hi!
    I have just completed a basic course for Construction Masonry (Bricklaying) and I want to start building houses can I as a person register with NHBRC as a home builder or do I have to have a registered business for me to be able to do that, If I have to have a registered business can I be registered competent person in the same business or will I have to appoint someone though I am competent.

    Thank you

  10. I need to lodge a complaint against your member who has done terrible job on my house and is not responding to my calls. What must I do? Should I go to court straight. His name is mzukisi siyepu.

    • Mtobeli we are not the NHBRC – you need to contact them directly. We cannot help you. If your builder is a member of the NHBRC they will be able to help you.

  11. I need to register the nhbrc for my company

  12. I bought a freehold cluster in 2010. The builder was registered with NHBRC but I was a cash buyer and the builder never paid funds across to the NHBRC. I spent 6 months fighting with thedeveloper who eventually paid the funds across but the NHBRC refuseto provide me with a certificate. I now need to sell the property but cannot because the purchasers lender is wanting the certificate……..i have no idea where to go with this because the NHBRC have told me there is nothing they can do.

    • Karen unfortunately I don’t know what to suggest. I think you should take it further with the NHBRC. Is the developer still registered with them and why did they allow him, as a registered builder at the time, to get away with this? I think you may need the assistance of an attorney, because the NHBRC is the only body that can provide you with the certificate. The only other way would be to negotiate with the lender – because in any case the NHBRC warranty is only for 5 years – and that only covers major structural defects. Their other warranties (e.g. roof leakage which is only valid for one year after completion) are no irrelevant. So if you were to get an independent person to verify that there are no structural defects, then I don’t know why there would be a problem. Unfortunately the banks don’t seem to follow how/why the process works and dogmatically demand the paperwork, often long after the warranties have lapsed.

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