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”

Comments (502) Pingbacks (1)
  1. hi I am not a builder – but I wanted to know can one build in a resedential area over a weekend?

  2. Before going ahead with a building package from developers is there a book or person that can help us to understand what to look for in the contract to insure that what we are paying for we are getting as well as what we are expecting? Plz help!

    • You know what Hendri, developers have their contracts drawn up by attorneys, and so the only way for you to really understand what they have in the contract is to take it to an attorney. Yes it will cost a bit – but it shouldn’t cost more than a few hundred rands – and you could save thousands if things were to go wrong.

  3. hi my name is Denzil i am blacklisted i need my own house can you assist me in getting one

  4. I’m in the process of selling my house (wooden log home). My house was build in 2000, the building plans was signed off by the local authorities (Pretoria) and a engineer certificate was issued to confirm adherence to the SABS 082 standards.

    The financial institution now requires an NHBRC certificate from the builder. According to Stardoc the NHBRC certificate has expired and apparently the then builder suspended from the register.

    I urgently need your assistance to acquire a NHBRC certificate to be handed to the financial institution (ABSA) who has approved a 100 % loan to the purchaser of my house.

    Thank you.

  5. I used Graham from Build Solution to do Extensions and renovations at my house to the value of R256, 000. This all started in April 2011. I am still waiting for my COC, and he build my Kitchen over my main water pipe which caused a leak and cost me over R20,000 in water bills and repairs. I refused to pay and claim he did extra work for me without pay. The list is endless of all the mistakes and do I still have to fix them myself as I go along. What do I do to get my money back for the water leak? He is registered in a trust and is it difficult to take him to court.

  6. Penny, we learn by the mistakes we have made. I’m still trying to sort it all out. It’s become so stressful but have to move on.

  7. Thanks for your reply.
    In reply to your first question as to why I need these documents, the banks I have approached for a loan won’t sign-off on the loan without proof of a NHBRC cert or proof that the property is older than 5 years.

    As to your question that the house was built illegaly is a question that I was going to ask the Bond Attorneys that are dealing with this as I only found out about this problem yesterday.

    Thanks again for your reply

    • It isn’t clear whether the developer was an owner builder or a building company. But either way, I would be concerned about the reluctance to give proof of when the house was built. Good luck and let me know what happens.

  8. Good Afternoon

    I am in the process of buying a house, according to the records we as well as the bank can trace registration dates shows the property is about 4 years old. According to the current owner and as we understand the previous owner/developer the property is 9 years old. There is no NHBRC certificate available and the developeres refuses to sign an avidavit stating the property is older than 5 years and not covered by the NHBRC Legislation. Is there any action I as buyer of the property can take to obtain the relevant documents. I woukd appreciate a speedy reply as I am under pressure to vacate my current house as the deeds of sale for my house will be finalised by the middel of Dec 2012.



    • Johan,
      The council plans should show exactly when the house was built. And if you know who the developer/builder was, then what’s the problem? If you have a name, you can check with the NHBRC whether the builder/developer was registered with the NHBRC at any stage.
      In any case, why do you want then to sign something that states you won’t be covered by the NHBRC warranty? This all seems a bit strange because there is not a lot of recourse you have to the NHBRC at this point in time, even if they did have a certificate.
      1. If there are structural defects “caused by non-compliance with the NHBRC Technical Requirements” (and you have no proof of certification) found within 5 years of the date of initial occupation, they will take action
      2. Also if there are various other non-compliance issues and failure to follow plans, specs etc – but within three months (that doesn’t help you)
      3. Or if there are roof leaks within one year – which also won’t help you.
      Other than that, it means nothing.
      If “registration” documents show the house to have been “built” four years ago, perhaps it was built illegally and plans submitted after the fact. HAve you asked this question?
      Have I missed something? Let me know.

  9. Please can you offer me some advice on what to do with a builder registered with the NHBRC who has not adhered to a contract between himself & I (home owner). His registration expires on 12.12.2012 & no work has been done by him for 2 months. The building is at roof height & all we are waiting for now is the engineers certificate before building can continue. We contacted an engineer & asked the builder to meet with the engineer at our home but the builder did not show up. I keep on phoning him & he says he is sorting it out but nothing is getting done. He hasn’t even removed the rubble on the pavement. The address I have for him doesn’t seem to be legit & all I have is his I.D number & cell no. I have paid him most of the money & don’t know what else to do. Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thanking you.

    • You need to lay a formal complaint with the NHBRC, following their complaints procedure. But if this is a fly-by-night builder, you might have a problem. If you have paid him for more than he has done, then you have an even bigger problem. If he hasn’t been doing work, chances are his business has gone down the tubes.
      My question is how the NHBRC can protect people from people like this who manage to successfully register and then rip off the public.
      As a last resort, since you have his ID, you could lay a criminal charge against him … at a police station.

      • Thank you for the reply Penny. Much appreciated. I think I need to get in touch with a lawyer too but that is also going to be costly. I agree that the NHBRC need to do something about just registering anyone who could be a “fly by night” builder. That was one of the first questions I asked him before signing the contract & he produced his registration number. I don’t have any more money to get another builder to complete the dwelling & just feel so hard done by. Also I wouldn’t want this to happen to someone else too. The builder should not be able to get away with this & I am hoping that something can be done about this matter. Thanks again for your reply & advice.

        • It really worries me that you have paid out so much before the building is complete. But these things happen. We once “hired” a “friend” who was a “builder” … if you get my drift … to build a house for us. It started with him asking for the first draw just before Christmas (builders’ holidays) and ended in arbitration. We lost the house, which was in a prime area and should have been worth more than a million about 20 years ago. This is one of the reasons I will do whatever I can to help other people. Been there done that and I really don’t want other people to be hurt.

  10. We have a resident in our estate who is claiming to be a owner builder.
    The home owners associations, specifically the aesthetic committee
    has serious concerns that he is not suitably qualified to build a home
    of this size with a reasonable sense of quality.
    Are there any qualifications required as a owner builder.

    • There is no need for an owner builder to have qualifications James since nobody is permitted to build without a “competent person” in charge of the build. The previous link will take you to a post I wrote recently for our sister website, Essentially plans must be prepared and submitted to council by a competent person; and this person must follow through the build.
      There is, however, another issue which I am currently researching and that involves demands that the NHBRC makes on owner builders, forcing them to register with the NHBRC as a builder! I will post the article in the next week or two and will email the link to you.
      In terms of aesthetics, I would suggest that good building practice does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with an appreciation of aesthetics, although I cannot be sure what you mean by this term, in this concept. At the end of the day people building in most “estates” MUST abide by all the requirements of the home owners association. So if you are afraid that he won’t take sufficient care to plaster neatly, the HOA probably has the right to make him redo the job.

  11. Hi there. I recently had a major problem with a nhbrc registered contractor. He dug up trenches around my house in order to construct a boundary wall but encroached into council property. The construction was stopped immediately by the inspector. The builder in question at that time took fulll responsibility and guaranteed us that he will sort it out as he knows many inspectors that are on the” take”. My husband chose to get our beacons marked and resubmit plans. Upon the plans being passed the builder in question kept making promises to commence work but never pitched. We submitted a detailed email to nhbrc outlining his criminal activity wrt flouting building regulations and the fact that despite doing no work he refused to return our deposit of 25 000. The builder thereafter called us and gloated that people from nhbrc guaranteed him nothing will be done and that he will make us cry for our money. True to his word nhbrc did call and said they can do nothing. Now, what is the purpose of the nhbrc if they perpetuate corruption since despite not helping us they did not even address the serious allegations we levelled against a nhbrc registered builder who claims to put up huge buildings without plans being passed. Such a shame that they don’t set. Out to do what they claim to do.

    • I am busy working on a post about the NHBRC and I plan to list some of the complaints people have about the NHBRC. If you would like to forward the email you sent to the NHBRC with some more information, I will ask them for a comment that we can then publish.

  12. Hi Penny,

    I have purchased a unit in a complex 6 months ago. At the time of purchase I was concerned about foundation issues because of large cracks that I noticed. The owner satisfied my concern by stating that underpinning had been done (he did not have any certificate to prove this but I could see areas where they had dug the ground to perform the underpinning, I am not sure if the underpinning was even done to standard) and then cosmetically repaired the cracks. Since then I have noticed smaller cracks appearing throughout the house. I have also gone in to my neighbours house and noticed that it is really in bad structural condition (Cracks, Dampness). He is currently engaged in a court battle with the developer claiming that the building was not constructed properly based on expert geo-technichal reports that he obtained. I am now extremely concerned that maybe my house is also at structural risk and that I will have to spend thousands on proper underpinning and foundation repairs.

    1. What recourse will I have and against whom should my foundation require repair.
    2. A boundary wall in the complex recently collapsed and the insurance co. refused the claim stating that according to their engineer report the wall was not constructed correctly and the insurance contract specifically excludes liability for any damages or loss arising out of defective construction.
    They have also now removed cover for slippage and subsidence for all units.
    Body corp needs to get structural engineers in to inspect and draw corrective plans, then get those corrections done and for stability reports to the insurance co before cover can be re-instated.
    Any advise for the body corp?
    What happens now if my house falls down tomorrow due to settlement? do I have any recourse. It does not look like insurance will be too accommodating as well.
    3. I have absoloutley no idea what underpinning costs, my house is single story, 193 sq metres, can you provide any ranges?

    Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

    • Faizal,
      If the previous owner knew that the problems were greater than they were, you might have recourse against him/her in terms of latent defects. There may also be some recourse against the developer, especially if your neighbor’s legal action is successful.
      I am busy trying to assist another visitor to our site with a related problem – building specifications and materials not up to standard. This particular developer is well known and has been operating for decades. This builder/developer is registered with the NHBRC and my question to the NHBRC is will they intervene in terms of non-compliance with the National Building Regulations. In terms of the time frame, their warranty is no longer valid, but somebody needs to take issue with the developer.
      I can’t help with an assessment of costs, you will have to get an engineer in to quote you.
      I doubt that the insurance company is liable.
      I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful – it sounds like a nightmare.

  13. If a registered builder build a house and all rules and regulations are followed as required by NHBRC, then cracks in the wall develop in the 4 year, home owner report to builder, builder appoint a engineer for inspection and recommendations and its discovered that its not the builders fault that the house is cracking. What is the way forward?

    • Two questions? 1) Whose fault is it; or is it simply due to the soil settling (or something similar)? 2) What were the engineer’s recommendations in terms of remedial action? I presume he would have made some sort of recommendations. On the face of it, it looks as if it is the home owner’s responsibility to repair any damage.

    • The engineer has noted that when the house was build, the foundation should have re-inforced as the soil test shows high clay content and we should remove the plaster and put a chicken mesh with nails, plaster then paint. The first engineer that completed the NHBRC forms never informed that the foundation need to be reinforced and he even came on site to inspect after we digging of the trenches.

      • Then I would think that the original engineer should be held liable. If the builder constructed the foundations as required on the plans, then as you say, it wasn’t his fault. I think you should approach the NHBRC and ask for advice – though I doubt if you will get much joy – although they should not accept documentation from so-called “competent persons” who make this kind of dreadful mistake. You will probably have to take legal action against the engineer.

        • Thanks.

          We need the NHBRC to amend their rules that when a home owner lodged a complain, they must investigate by appointing a competent person, who will investigate, if it’s a structural defects then make a ruling who will fix the problem and also they must have engineers within their offices to check and have the engineer be accountable for their work.

  14. Please can you assist in who should be contacted to register a complaint of workmanship against a contractor in West Rand GP?

    Repairs was done on our house after water damage and their work is not much to talk about.

    • By law all building contractors should be members of the NHBRC, so contact them to check whether this is the case. If the contractor is not a member, they might take action.
      Also, since this is water damage, is it an insurance claim? If so, has the contractor been paid? If it is not an insurance claim, have you already paid the contractor? If not, don’t do so until the work has been done to your satisfaction.
      Apart from these factors, the Consumer Protection Act which came into force relatively recently, has made common law more favourable to consumers. For instance, by default, you now have certain warranties and indemnities that come into play, and so therefore should be covered in terms of shoddy workmanship.
      This is the number of the Department of Trade and Industries Customer Contact Centre: 0861 843 384 and their Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) : (012) 394 1436 / 1558 /1076

  15. Good Day
    I am resident in a newly built complex in Ballito. There are serious complaints from all residents as regards inferior workmanship revolving around poor plastering, damp walls and painting of the entire complex.

    How do we go about registering our dis-satisfaction and initiating action against the developers?

    Thank you

    A. Whyte

    • Since this is a complex – and newly built – it is mandatory that the contractor was registered with the NHBRC. So the NHBRC should probably be your first port of call. If the builder was NOT registered, then the NHBRC will (should) take action. If the builder IS registered, they will take a different type of action.
      If the developers employed contractors who were not registered, they will (should) be in big trouble.
      Please keep me in touch with what happens. If I can help in any way I will, but I’d need a lot more information.

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