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




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

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  1. Will you be able to check for me who the builder of a specific house is?

    • Unfortunately not Francis. If the owner of the property cannot supply this information (or if you are the owner), you need to access the plans via the local authority/council. If there is no information on the plans regarding the builders, you will need to contact the person who drew the plans. This would be on the plans. Alternatively the council may be able to assist.

  2. Hi. We are about to start construction through a project management company called Vantage SA / Vantage Guaranteed Projects, based in Cape Town. I got their details through 1 Call ASAP. Have you heard of them?

    • Schalk I know nothing about them, but have just looked at their web site and they don’t even mention the NHBRC! They are also very vague about the contractors they use.
      And I had to giggle when I read this:
      Performance Monitoring
      Over the last six years they have developed web hosted software empowering themselves to monitor contractor service levels on huge volumes of projects and sites leaving no stone unturned.”
      I don’t know how software is going to help them monitor what is happening on site!
      Also, Vantage and 1 Call are connected – Vantage are described on the 1 Call website as “an associated partner”.
      And the Vantage website says: “As a key role player in the Vantage SA initiative, 1 Call ASAP facilitates….”
      ALSO NOTE:
      “Although 1 Call ASAP and their associated partners are unable to accept liability for workmanship,….”

      At the end of the day you need to be sure that whichever contractor is employed, that they are members of the NHBRC and have excellent contactable references.

  3. We are registered with the NHBRC. How do we download the NHBRC Logo ? We would like to include it on our company letterhead

    • If you are registered with the NHBRC, ask them to send you a jpeg of their logo. The images that are used on the Internet are generally to small for print.
      However, for the record, if you want to download a file from the Internet (presuming you have a PC and not a Mac), right-clock the pic. A drop-down menu will appear. Choose “save picture” or “save image” – depending on the browser you are using. You can change the file name and save anywhere you wish on your computer. You will be given a list of different pic formats. Choose jpeg (or jpg) – or whatever you prefer.

  4. i have been using my garage to put everything i normally keep in boxes. i build shelves and unpacked all my old books. etc. i am a bit of a horder. i am allergic to dustmites so i do not keep it in the house. i love diy and crafts so i bought old drawers and used it to pack all thing so its easy to find the glue gun, grinder, jig saw drill etc instead of throwing away all the old LPs i put that there aswell so while building a bookshelve i have some music. i am on speaking terms with most of my neigbours and they have never complained. just stopped for a chat as i think they find a female with a hammer strange. but a lawer told me its illegal to use a garage for anything else but a car. is this true. my car still get parked in it aswell thanks

    • If the lawyer persists, ask him/her to cite exactly which law states, “It is illegal to use a garage for anything else but a car.”
      In terms of the National Building Regulations, while rooms/buildings may only be used for the purpose they are built, when it comes to a garage, the point is that it cannot be used for human habitation. Millions of people use there garages to store things and often to double as a workshop. Lots of people also incorporate “office” space in garages. Very often people build garages that incorporate storage space, and this will be shown on the plans. There would usually only be potential issues relating to fire protection, specifically if an activity was a fire risk (e.g. welding).

  5. Hi. Will nhbrc be able to help me. I bought foolishly into a complex(silkwood)
    In midrand. There is a leak within my wall that floods the neighbours house.
    I am blamed for it and asked to pay all repairs to the neighbours house. The leak
    Is still not located. But insurance says its an ongoing problem. But this problem
    Could have been there when I bought without advise. Help me pls. If you can

    • The NHBRC would only be able to assist if an NHBRC-registered builder constructed the house. If it is reasonably new, then the builder should have been registered. So find out when the complex was constructed and by whom.
      I don’t follow the set-up here in terms of common walls. You probably need to obtain plans (from your municipality) and see where the plumbing pipework is located. If indeed it is your pipework that is leaking, you need to call in a registered plumber to sort out the problem.
      I also don’t follow the logic of the insurance company saying “it’s an ongoing problem”. Was it a problem prior to you purchasing the property? You need to ascertain this as well. If they are claiming you are liable for damage, you will probably need to consult an attorney. But first find out exactly what is going on.

    • You can’t be held accountable. It would have been another case if you did alterations and caused the flooding due to your actions, is the two properties shoulder to shoulder as in complexes how does you neighbour know it is your pipe that’s leaking, if he has X-ray eyes I will employ him in my home inspection business. One could locate the leak with a moisture analyzer in combination with an infrared camera. which I use on a daily basis.

  6. Hi Penny

    As per the answer you gave to Daniel, what is to happen if the NHBRC issued a notice of non-compliance?

  7. Could someone please tell me how much +- the NHBRC Manuals cost?

    • I bought the manuals years ago and tried recently to find out what they cost now. Nobody was able to advise me. Perhaps you will have more luck if you contact the NHBRC. You can only buy them directly from the NHBRC.

  8. So am i correct in saying that it is not compulsory to enroll a new house with NHBRC if i am going to be building it with my own Money and will be occupying it for more than 5 years? If so do i need to apply for exemption or can i just go ahead and start building once i have Local authority approval?

    • Yes, you are correct. You simply need local authority approval. Only people/businesses building houses for a living need to apply to the NHBRC. And even this is not enforceable unless their clients are needing a loan.

      • Hi Penny

        I have started building my own home with my own money, and I am intending to stay there for more than 5 years. The plans were authorised by the local municipality. I was also under the impression that I do not need to enroll my home. I have been issued a notice of non-compliance by the NHBRC. What must I do?

        • Marcel, I have discussed this with a very knowledgeable and helpful person at the NHBRC, and her interpretation is that anyone building a home must either enroll the home with the NHBRC (in which case they need to register with the NHBRC) or apply for exemption. While I appreciate that banks normally require an NHBRC certificate before they will provide any form of mortgage, I am not convinced that this is what the law requires. I have always understood that only those building for profit/as a business need to register and then enroll houses. There was an amendment to the legislation in 2007 that defines an “owner builder” for the first time, and states that an owner builder has the right to apply for an exemption from having to register with the NHBRC and enroll the house.
          The main law that governs the NHBRC is the Housing Consumer Protection Measures Act 1998 (along with the 2007 amendment), and this states that the “business of a home builder” DOES NOT INCLUDE “the bona fide building of a home by any person for occupation by that person”. Which should cover you. I need to check whether there have been any amendments to this Act; the original does not mention the words “owner builder”!
          It seems that since the amendment was promulgated, the NHBRC frequently issues notices of non-compliance to owner builders – I am assuming because they have neither registered nor applied for an exemption.
          I am going to write a blog post on the subject for my new site and will send you a link via email as soon as I have done so.

  9. I have a problem the builder who builded my fiances house is registered by nhbrc, there are so many proplems with him and the nhbrc didnt even to their final inspection yet. the builder got all they money he was supposed to get, but couldnt finish due to the fact he used the money for personal reasons he used as an excusse so in the end now he ows us R19000 extra cause there were work that needed to be finished and he said that he needed money to pay the ppl other wise the work would stand still, he was supposed to be finished by the house in June already, although we have move in already, there is still roof tiles that is not fixed up and the rain season is comming. We had to double pay also for some kitchen cubbords to be fixed by other ppl cause the ppl he use refused cause he only gave them a deposit and are still waiting for there money. We would like a formal investigation in to this man and his actions. He is the NHBRC builder for Fochville!!!

    • You need to take this up with the NHRBC. Are you sure he really is registered? If they have not done inspections, maybe he isn’t. It would also be a good idea to contact your local newspaper and suggest they do a story about the builder. This will ensure that other people don’t get ripped off by him. It sounds to me that you have been badly ripped off.

  10. How do I know if the builder of a property is registered or not?

  11. Hi. My builder is building a studio for us and we decided to build a store room above it. It is going to be a double storey. He has built up to roof height with a single layer of bricks. Is that accepted? I was told that should you go double storey, after 2.1m you need double layer of bricks. Rather concerned. please advise. He says he is registered with the NHBRC, cannot finance it on his own, has taken more money from us than what has been built and has every excuse in the book. Was supposed to take one month to build, we are in the 3rd month. Thanks.Basil

    • Basil you have every reason to be concerned. First and foremost check with the NHBRC that he is in fact registered. If so, you can ask for their help here. Now here’s the punch: Did you have plans to build? You absolutely cannot build anything like this without plans, and the local authority would not have passed plans for a double storey with inadequate brickwork. When you talk about a “single layer” of bricks, do you mean that they have been laid so that the thickness of the wall is as wide as the width or length of the brick. It should be the full length, to allow for bonding. Do yourself a favour and buy a copy of our newly update Owner Building in South Africa. That will show you exactly what should have been done.

  12. For all the home buyers out there insist on a property inspection to be done on the property before signing a sales agreement this will help you to make an informed decision and also make sure that the inspection is done by registered professional independent company.You can contact us for assistance on 074 606 7344 or E-mail:

  13. hi I purchased my house four years ago and the boulding is aptouxmly 7 years side of my boulding have big cracks,ingeneur told us that the house was badly cinstructed and that the foundation was sinking in one area. Is our house covered by nhbrc? The insurance told us that they will not pay out.
    What can we do?

    Erf 4438 milnerton capetown 7441
    10 lolas place parklands



    • Henri, the NHBRC provides warranty protection against defects for houses build by builders that belong to the NHBRC – to provide protection to people who are building new homes (i.e. those who employ NHBRC builder members). Do you know who built the house? If you do, and they are members, you might have some sort of recourse – though it is unlikely to be a monetary one. If the builder is registered with the NHBRC and this has happened, they MIGHT be prepared to investigate – and may take action against the builder. But chances are the builder isn’t registered!
      The main problem is that you probably bought the house Voetstoots (i.e. as is), and because you have been there for four years you are likely to be the one who is stuck with the problems. It’s a tough one because insurance policies generally don’t provide insurance on this type of thing.

  14. Hi, we all know if a building plan are to be drawn up you will need to be SACAP REG.
    But why is it when plans are approved you can phone your uncle, grandmother, niece etc.. and tell them to come and build.
    Why are they so hard on ‘US’ and yes i also draw plans, why do we need to go and reg. @ Sacap but not builders?
    I think goverment must look into that also and stop all weekend builders!!!

    • Andrew, you do not need to be SACAP registered to be able to draw up building plans. Architects need to be registered with SACAP, and so it is true that if you use an architect, that person will need to be registered. The building regs state that when plans are submitted to the local authority, they must be accompanied by a declaration made by a person who is “registered in terms of a built environment professions council”. Draughtsmen/women, architectural designers who are not qualified architects, and engineers fit this category. If you are able to draw plans to the standard required, you could ask a registered person (also referred to in the Act as a ‘competent person’) to supply you with a declaration. They would need to be sure your work was up to standard and would undoubtedly charge a fee – which you could pass on to your client – or build into your fee. Builders do this all the time with electricians, who by law must approve electrical installations. (This is presuming your local authority accepts this approach – which I think most do.)
      As far as building is concerned, the NHBRC was established by Government in 1995 to try and stop what you call “weekend builders” – also known as bakkie builders. Financial institutions are not permitted to grant bonds to houses that are NOT built by registered builders. One problem that they hadn’t foreseen was that a lot of these people saw a loophole in the legislation and claimed to be “owner builders” who were not bound by the legislation. An amendment to the legislation in 2007 requires a genuine owner builder to apply for exemption from enrolling with the NHBRC (and paying their fees).
      If a property owner has the cash to build, and has the exemption, he or she may use anyone to build PROVIDED the workmanship is up to scratch and in keeping with the building regs. The onus then is on the local authority to make sure that this is done. They can order a building be demolished if it is not.
      An even bigger problem is illegal building, especially in more remote and rural areas. There are many people who don’t even bother with plans and because of a lock of policing by local authorities, they get away with shoddy, substandard building. I will be adding a case study to this site soon, that relates to this, so keep checking in.
      Your comments are always welcome.

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