Boundary Walls and Fences

Strategic Planning of Boundary Walls and Fences

steel fence
A steel palisade fence on the street side boundary.

Boundary walls and fences are one of the most controversial topics facing homeowners. We are constantly contacted by people from all parts of South Africa who want advice – or have some sort of problem – relating to boundary walls and fences – often because neighbours have erected something that is offensive or clearly illegal.

There are laws that relate to boundary walls and fences, but more importantly, you need to check the boundary walls and fences policy followed by your local authority. Ultimately what you can and cannot do is up to them.

Boundary Walls and Fences and the Law

The two most important issues here are the position of boundary walls and fences, and ownership.

Positioning Boundary Walls and Fences

All properties are surveyed and pegged when land is zoned for residential use. But as soon as the land is built on, generally the pegs are removed. This is why it is so important to ensure that boundary walls and fences are correctly positioned in the first place. If there is a dispute between neighbours at any stage (and they could be completely different parties to those who owned the two properties when the wall was built), it may be necessary to get a land surveyor to resurvey the property according to the official diagram that is lodged with the Surveyor General in Pretoria.

If you decide to build a wall or erect a fence on the boundary, you may do so provided it is on your property. And this includes the foundationswhich of course will be wider and longer than the wall itself. The structure will then belong to you. [See minor building work for walls and fences that do not require plans.]

The law also protects the structure from any action that may threaten its stability. For instance your neighbour may not dig down next to your wall on his/her side if this is likely to wash away the earth if and when there are heavy rains. If he/she does some sort of excavation, they will need to erect a retaining wall (which will require plans) or some other structure that provides lateral support to the wall.

Ownership of Boundary Walls and Fences

Often, however, neighbours agree to share the costs of boundary walls and fences, in which case ownership is also shared.

In the absence of proof that a boundary wall is wholly on one or other property, ownership is usually presumed to be shared. Some local authorities state that each side is then owned by the property owner on each side; others say that the wall is owned jointly. If ownership is shared either way, neither owner may do anything to the wall – ie they may not raise it, lower it or break it down – without the other neighbour’s permission. If the structure is damaged in any way, both must share the cost of repair.

There are different laws that apply in agricultural areas (farmland).

Local Authority Boundary Walls and Fences Policies

While every local authority has its own policy for boundary walls and fences, there are many similarities. The information give here is based on the official policy of the City of Cape Town, drawn from a document that was published in 2009.

The official document Boundary Walls and Fences Policy acknowledges the fact that all fences and boundary walls that front onto public streets are “highly visible” and therefore have a direct bearing on the character as well as what they term the “visual amenity of neighbourhoods”.

Driven by an increased need for security, more and more homeowners are tending to install security devices on top of boundary walls and fences in an uncontrolled and haphazard manner. These devices take various forms and include different types of electric fencing, as well as razor wire, barbed wire and various kinds of ugly (though effective) spikes. Because of this, the City of Cape Town devised its policy in 2009, formally identifying which security devices may be utilized – and which should not be permitted.

At this stage, the City of Cape Town’s Building By-laws prohibited the use of certain materials including galvanized iron sheeting and asbestos sheeting (though it should also be noted that no asbestos materials may be used for building anywhere in the country), and barbed wire on street boundaries, but they did not make any provision for controlling security devices. While historically, the Occupational Health and Safety Act controlled the technical aspects of the installation of electric fences, there was no provision in the City’s Scheme Regulations to control the installation of security devices.

Their Boundary Walls and Fences Policy attempts to control the appearance of boundary walls and fences and the installation of security devices on top of walls and fences. They also point out that this policy precedes the formulation of a by-law.

The City of Cape Town’s Legal Mandate

As they state, boundary walls are considered to form part of municipal planning, which is a local authority competency in terms of Part B of Schedule 5 of South Africa’s Constitution. Note that this is why the decisions relating to boundary walls and fences are ultimately left to the local authority to decide.

In Terms of Section 156 of the Constitution, municipalities (or local authorities, including the various Cities – specifically Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban etc.) have the power to make and administer by-laws that will ensure the effective administration of all the various matters they have the right to administer – in this case, policies that relate to boundary walls and fences.

There is no provision made in the National Building Regulations to control the appearance and height of boundary walls. For this reason, control of the appearance and height of boundary walls has become part of municipal planning country-wide.

Rationale and Justification for By-laws Relating to Boundary Walls and Fences

Complaints Relating to Safety

In the absence of a standard policy throughout the city, or relevant by-laws dealing with these matters, The City Council stated that it was receiving complaints from members of the community concerning safety issues surrounding the installation of electric fences in particular. Specifically, concerns related to the safety of children and accidental contact with the live wires.

Complaints had also been received about the use of unsightly materials and the adverse impact that this has on the character and visual amenity of certain areas.

The document noted that the high crime rate was a concern to the community and that the protection of life and property had become a priority in most, if not all neighbourhoods of the City.

Boundary Walls and Fences Explained

A Definition of Boundary Walls and Fences

For the purposes of managing and assessing proposals in terms of their “new” policy, the City defined a boundary wall or fence as “any wall, fence or enclosing structure erected on or next to a property boundary and any other structures (including but not limited to security devices, for example spikes, electric fencing, barbed or razor wire) affixed to or on top of it.”

Specifications for Boundary Walls and Fences

There is now a list of specifications for boundary fences and walls that are:

  • located on street boundaries,
  • located on boundaries of public open space,
  • and lateral boundaries.

These must comply with the following requirements:

  • Solid boundary walls may not be any higher than shall 1.8 m on street boundaries, and no higher than 2,1 m on lateral boundaries.
  • Palisade-type fences may not be higher than 2.1 m on either street or lateral boundaries.
  • Fences may not be higher than 2,1 m on street boundaries.

[Note:  The National Building Regulations state that walls and fences to a maximum height of 1,8 m are regarded as “minor building work” and do not require plans. So whilst the City of Cape Town allows walls and fences to be a maximum of 2,1 m, unless they rule otherwise, plans will be required.]

  • The District Manager has the right to relax these height requirements at his/her discretion.
  • At least 40% of the surface area of any street boundary walls, including gates, if these are provided, must be visually permeable – ie you need to be able to see through close to half of the wall and gate.
  • Boundary walls and fences must be measured from the existing level of the ground that abuts the wall or fence. If the level of the ground on opposite sides of the fence or wall are not equal, the height should be measured from the higher of the two sides. If soil is retained by a boundary wall, the maximum permitted height of the retained soil is 2,1 m. This should be measured from the natural ground level in front of the wall. A balustrade wall not exceeding 1 m in height is permitted above the level of the retained soil.

[Note: Plans are required for retaining walls.]

  • Where two intersecting street boundaries of any property enclose an angle of less than 135 degrees, the maximum permitted boundary wall height above street level within 4, 5 m of the intersection of the boundaries is 1 m.
  • Electrified fencing and other forms of security fencing must also comply with these requirements.

Important Provisions of the NBR
and Building Standards Act

The provisions of Section 4 of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, No 103 of 1977 (ie the legislation), are applicable which means that prior written authority must be obtained from the City when erecting a boundary wall or fence. More specifically, Section 4 of the Act relates to: “Approval by local authorities of applications in respect of erection of buildings”, and states that people must:

  1. get written approval from the local authority after plans and specifications have been submitted to the local authority
  2. submit all applications in writing on the form supplied by the local authority
  3. supply the name and address of the person applying for permission to build together with the necessary plans, specifications etc. required by the National Building Regulations and Building Standards
  4. be aware that anyone who contravenes the Act will be guilty of an offense and liable (if convicted) to pay a maximum fine of R100 per day for every day spent erecting and building illegally.

The Building Control Officer has indicated that the provisions of Section 13 of Act 103 dealing with work of a minor nature are also applicable.

Note that this is not a reference to the section in the Act that refers to minor building work. 

Section 13 of the Act relates to “Exemption of buildings from national building regulations and authorization for erection”, and it states that any building control officer may exempt property owners from the need to submit plans or authorize erection of a building in accordance with specific conditions and directions.

Note that the City of Cape Town has seen fit to draw attention to this section in terms of walls and fences (not only buildings as such).

Sources

Boundary Walls and Fences Policy. City of Cape Town, Directorate: Strategy & Planning; Department of Planning & Building Development Management; Development Policy & Processes Branch. January 2009.

Reader’s Digest Family Guide to The Law in South Africa. The Reader’s Digest Association South Africa (Pty) Ltd. Cape Town. 1986.

About Penny

Penny Swift is a highly regarded journalist and author of books relating to homes and construction.

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447 comments

  1. Johan De Bruyn

    Hi there,
    I want to build a double garage that will form part of the Borderline
    between me and th neighbour. What is needed, do I have to get plans,
    approval from the neighbour etc.
    Regards,
    Johan de Bruyn

  2. Hi

    There is a precast boudary wall between me and my neighbour but he is dumping all kinds of building and gardening rubble against his side of the wall causing the wall to lean tawards my side causing plenty of damage. I tried to talk to him but he said if i want the walls fixed I must do it myself at my own cost. Please can you assist.

  3. Percy Modiselle

    My neighbour has agreed that I can build on the boundary.
    The city of tshwane has changed the plan.

    City of Tshwane say’s
    1.Garage can be build on boundary.
    2.Studio on 1st floor should be build 1meter away from the boundary.

    My question is

    1.If the neighbour agreed that we can build on the boundary,does city
    of tshwane have the right to change our agreement?
    2.Is there any bylaw that state that you cannot build a double storey
    on the boundary?

    Regards

  4. Percy generally one is not permitted to build on the boundary at all. There are specified building lines for every property that specify just how close to the boundary you may build – click this link to read more about boundary lines. If the municipality/local authority – in your case the City of Tshwane – allows you to build on the boundary, you will also need neighbours’ consent. But a neighbour’s consent alone is not sufficient.

  5. We have been living in Kuilsriver for 22years. Now the vacant plot next to us is being built on. Double story. We gave permission for them to build the garage over boundary. They building double story but have now thrown foundation on top of garage and have built a balcony on top of garage without plans for this. Now my problem is this balcony is only hip height and faces my backyard. We gave a pool so now this means that we have no privacy whatsoever in our backyard anymore! Is this right… Can we object? Because inspector is telling my husband that regulations have changed and they can do this. What happened to our rights and what will happen to our property value… No one will want to buy our house if we ever wanted to sell!!!

  6. When you say you gave permission for the garage to be built “over boundary”, do you mean up to the boundary?
    Generally the local authorities will allow this, but they won’t allow additional building on the boundary line. And a double storey structure is not simply a garage. Yes you absolutely can object. But do so in writing and hand deliver the letter and make sure somebody signs for it at the local authority.
    As far as the building inspector maintaining that the regulations have changed – you need to demand an explanation in writing in terms of what he says has changed. Certainly there is no change that allows people to blatantly build something that is not on the approved plans. You must be sure to object to the building inspector’s superiors – i.e. his boss or the head of the planning department – because there may be corruption/bribery here.

  7. We only have permission for the garage to be built against our garage. This was suppose to have a roof on they have now thrown foundwation on top of garage and changed the top of whoa bbalcony that is hip height. We have been in contact with the inspectors superior who was going to send them a letter asking where plans are for changes but now today the inspector for the property phoned my husband saying the regulations changed and thattthey allowed to do this without our permission because regulations changed 1 March or April.

  8. Can send you a photo of you give me email so you can see what I mean.

  9. Pauleen the National Building Regulations have NOT changed this year. If this is a change in the City’s regulations I would be very surprised. I have sent you a direct link to my personal email. Send me details and I will contact them tomorrow. I also need the name of the man’s superior.

  10. Hi Johan,
    Here are two articles that will explain what is needed when it comes to boundaries and erecting buildings: “boundary walls and fences” AND “boundary lines walls fences”/ Hope this helps.

  11. Dear sir/m’am,

    My neighbour is insisting on removing a lateral boundary pre-cast wall
    so he can construct a garage on the boundary. He says he has approved
    plans and is fully entitled to do it. CAn he not build the garagenext
    to the pre-cast wall without removing it? He also claims the boundary
    wall is in his property according to survey measurements.

    Kind regards
    Mike
    Johannesburg

  12. Hi Martin,
    The first question is: Who owns the wall? Have a look at this page: “boundary-walls-and-fences” and scroll down to “Ownership of Boundary Walls and Fences” it says: “If ownership is shared either way, neither owner may do anything to the wall – ie they may not raise it, lower it or break it down – without the other neighbour’s permission. If the structure is damaged in any way, both must share the cost of repair.” You can put him to terms in writing and if you do not get and satisfaction then you will have to get a lawyer involved as this is a civil case.

  13. Mike, If it’s his wall, he can pretty well do what he likes with it, but I am pretty sure that the City of Johannesburg requires neighbour’s consent in writing for anything to built on the boundary line. (This is no longer the case in Cape Town – the zoning by laws changed a couple of months ago.) You have every right to ask to see the approved plans, and if he refuses, call the City’s planning department and ask them what is going on. You can also ask for proof that the wall is on his side of the boundary. The other issue is whether he owns the wall or whether it is owned jointly. If it’s on his side it is likely that he or a previous owner of that property erected it. The position of boundary pegs should be on your site plan. Otherwise you can get this information from the Surveyor General’s office in Pretoria. Of course he could build the garage next to the precast wall, but remember that the foundations are wider than the wall itself, so there would have to be a slight gap between the precast and new garage wall. That isn’t a good idea as rats and all kinds of other creatures might start breeding here! There is another issue, and that is if he removes the wall, this will affect you in several ways until the new structure is built. e.g. It could be a safety or security threat if you don’t have the wall. I’m guessing here; but it might give you additional ammunition.

  14. Wendell van der Westhuizen

    I am currently residing in a double storey house.My current neighbours
    have got a flat dwelling(not a double storey).They want to make
    alterations to there house which will be a doublke storey house.This
    alterations will infringe on my privacy as there rooms will look
    directly into my dwelling and pool area.Is there any law that gives me
    the right to challenge these people from continueing with thiere
    alterations.

    Thank you

  15. We live on a small property bordering a large public Gardens. The wire fence has been in place for at least the 40 years we have lived here, and we’ve covered it with plants to give us some privacy. The fence is very close to our house, and the ground slopes down from it on the other side. The Gardens Management now plan to replace this with a palisade fence along their entire boundary. We have no problem with this in principle, but are concerned about them taking down the existing fence to do so, along with all our plants. Also the security issues of the fence being taken down and our property being totally unsecured before the new one is installed. We are suggesting that the new fence be positioned just on their side of the existing fence, and leaving this one as is. We have been advised that as this fence has been in existence for more than 30 years, they are not able simply to remove it, even if it is exactly on the boundary. Positioning the new fence a few centimetres in from the boundary line will have no impact whatsoever on their large property, whereas what they are planning to do will impact heavily on us.

  16. Wendell, although there are height restrictions for building, generally double-storey structures are allowed. There are also restrictions in terms of windows etc facing a boundary wall IF the building is on or very close to the boundary. You will have to check with your local authority, because these are found in by-laws rather than national legislation/regulations.
    Your best option may be to talk nicely to your neighbour and see if the two of you can come up with a plan that screens their view – and maintains your privacy.

  17. Mike have you discussed this with the “Gardens Management” (would this be the municipality Parks & Gardens?). A lawyer would be able to advise on whether they can remove the fence legally, without your approval. I think your proposal is very fair, and certainly not unreasonable. If they are unreasonable you’re going to have to get legal advice.

  18. Good day-could you kindly explain to me what rights we have with regards the control of dust and noise from the neighbour building. We have a guest house and is unable to do business for the past 4 years due to the building which still has not been completed. At times they stop all activities for 3-4 months before they resume building. Do we have any rights in this matter

  19. Martin, I can only tell you what the building regulations say – you may well have other rights, but you would need to get legal advice on this.
    Noise and dust control is covered in Part F (Site Operations) of SANS 10400. If you have a look at the link I have given you – scroll down to “Control of Unreasonable Levels of Dust and Noise” – you will see that anyone who is involved in demolition, excavation and building work has to take care not to “unreasonably disturb or interfere with the amenity of the neighborhood”. Specifically there are times that they may not use any machine, machinery, engine, apparatus, tool or contrivance that is noisy or makes a lot of dust. But that’s really all it says.
    The fact that this has been going on for so long, plus the stop-start nature of the job, and ultimately the fact that it is effecting your income, are issues that a lawyer will have to assess and advise on.

  20. Pauleen – while the Cape Town zoning regulations did change in March this year, one of our other readers has brought up an interesting point. Part T, Fire protection does NOT permit building on a boundary of any sort. You find a table HERE that specifies “safety distances” between walls and boundaries. The closest you can build to any boundary is 0,5 m – and then only where the area of elevation facing any boundary is not more than 7,5 sq m. The info you want is in the first and second columns of this table.
    I am wondering whether you could submit an objection based on this, because at the end of the day the NBR specify minimum requirements – and the local authority may not over-ride them unless the specific regulation states that they can.

  21. as stated in the article that “City Council stated that it was receiving complaints from members of the community concerning safety issues surrounding the installation of electric fences in particular. Specifically, concerns related to the safety of children and accidental contact with the live wires accordin”

    The City is concerned about the danger of Razor Wires and Electrical Fences at residential areas. According to the City of Cape Town’s Boundary walls and Fencing Policy, razor and electric fences are not allowed in residential areas due to Health and safety Issues. But although the City do have a policy around this issue, it cannot be enforced, and I do not know for what good reasoning.

    is there any way that this policy can be enforced, or which other legislations that can be used to ensure enforcement and compliance.

    Thanks

  22. Thanks will have a look. By the way they are now building the balcony wall higher as per our request 1.8m so they won’t have a view to any side.

  23. Well that’s a relief!

  24. Peter this is an issue you should address to the City of Cape Town. They have a really good website and will probably respond to your query. We have absolutely no idea why they cannot enforce their policies – or even if their policies can’t be enforced.
    I am not aware of other legislation covering this specific issue. It certainly seems it is the bylaws that govern the issue in Cape Town.

  25. Yes I agree. Will keep you posted

  26. Hello I need some advice on how high can I build a boundry wall,using
    standard m200 blocks in the durban area,I have tryd calling our city
    engineers/etekwini municipality,however they just put me on hold until
    it cuts off,its just the height I’m tryn find out,the legal height
    without a plan,I have spoken to 3 building contractors,2 of them told
    me 2.1m height,n the 1 guy said 1.8m height so I nw dnt know who to
    believe.please help.

  27. Good day

    I want to put up either vibracrete or a brick wall in front of my
    house and would like to know who to contact to get the relevant
    authorisation

    Regards,
    Keenan

  28. Sirish, The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act states that “any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil,” is minor building work and does not require plans. If you look at the link that I have given you you will see that you still do need to notify them (they probably have a standard form you can fill in and submit) that you will be building the wall.
    If you want to build a wall that is higher than 1,8 m, you should submit plans to the local authority for approval – and these must be drawn up by a competent person. Having said this, the local authority does have the power to allow you to build a higher wall without plans, but you would need to get such approval in writing. Unfortunately you are going to have to persist in contacting them – if need be visit their offices.
    Here’s another article on minor building work on this web site.

  29. Keenan your local authority – municipality or council – are the people to contact. There is information on this page that will help you. Here’s another link with information. If the wall is going to be 1,8 m high or less, then it is regarded as minor building work and you don’t need plans, but you do have to notify your local authority that you plan to build.

  30. I live in region B Johannesburg next to a single building corner house. The owners have build their extention of their house right up to our wall boundary that is to separate the two properties. Normally a metre is allowed, but am told because its a corner house it has the right to build the primary house right up to the wall separating the properties. There are no spaces from their side only the metre from our house wall to the boundary wall. They have gone further and installed brick air vents for their rooms showing on our side, again I stress this is the portion that forms the wall separating properties.
    There is further leakage which now seems to becoming from their side and JHB water told them to fix but the person fixing the plumbing as clean water with sludge was flowing from their back yard property to our back yard running right to the next and next neighbour .
    Your advise and aissistance would be appreciated

  31. Tyrone, you asked virtually the same question on our sister site, Owner Building, and I have answered you there. Here’s a link. Frankly the story you have been given about it being a corner house is nonsense! In addition to this, they have an obligation to get rid of both stormwater and waste in the correct manner. If it is sludge – which I read as toilet waste – contact your local Health Inspector at the municipality. And since they have been told by J’burg Water to fix the problem, contact them and let them know that they have not complied.

  32. Good Day Penny,
    We need some advice. About 2 months ago the boundary wall between our neighbor and us fell over due to a tree’s root in his yard that slowly pushed our wall over. He wanted no responsibility what so ever and during the time we argued about who is responsible, he said to us that if our dogs enter his yard he will shoot them. Since then we are not on speaking terms with him and eventually we paid for the wall to be re-build. About a week ago he started building his own boundary wall in his yard but this wall is about a meter taller than ours and he refuses to plaster the wall on our side. He said that he can build on his property what he wants. I think he purposely did this and the workmanship of the guys building the wall is sooooo un neat and it is really a eye sore. On top of that, they have messed so much cement on our paving while they were building the wall and refuses to clean it. There must be something we can do. Please can you give us some good news. Thank you very much.

  33. Bear with me please.
    I sold a piece of my property sometime ago. The owners of this property have started building on this plot.
    Being ignorant of the rules governing building etc (which I am) a friend of mine visited and made the comment that this building that is being put up has infringed on my property but virtue of the space between their building and my house.
    My question is- where do I go and who do I speak to, to find out what I should do.
    This is in the Umhlanga Rocks municipaly.

  34. Hi Penny,

    A quick question (and my apologies in advance if this has already been asked and answered):

    We’ve recently been burgled, and have noted several vulnerabilities in our perimeter security.

    We wish to install electric fencing on our side of a common (lateral) boundary wall. Our neighbour, in general conversation, has already expressly requested that we do not install the electric fencing (she believes that sending out positive energies will protect her..)

    Good neighbourly relations aside, are we required to obtain consent from our neighbour, if the electric fence is erected on our side of the boundary wall (and leans inwards, over our property)?

    I believe that the nature of the installation will required that several of the fence posts are pop-riveted through the vibracrete wall. That being said, our neighbour has already installed a latte fence on her side of the boundary wall, so any rivets will not be visible from her side.

    Your speedy answer to this question would be greatly appreciated!

    Kind regards,
    Maxine

  35. Maxine, This is not controlled by the National Building Regulations, but rather by local authority by-laws; so you should check with you local council or municipality to see what their requirements are. I have some information about the City of Cape Town’s approach which I have pasted below. They don’t appear to require neighbour’s consent.
    A Definition of Electric Fences
    For the purposes of managing and assessing proposals in terms of the City’s policy, an electric fence means “an electrified barrier erected on top of a boundary wall or attached to a boundary wall or fence”.
    Specifications for Electric Fences
    Electric fences shall conform to the following:
    • Electric fences may not be any higher than 450 mm.
    • They must be at least 1,8 m above the level of natural ground at any point.
    • They may only be erected on top of walls and fences, or attached to them.
    • They may not encroach over site boundaries.
    • Regulation 11 of the Electrical Machinery Regulations promulgated in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, No 85 of 2003 must be fully complied with.
    In addition, the policy document states that freestanding electric fences may not be erected along any boundary in a position that would allow people to “inadvertently come into contact therewith”.
    Essentially the reasoning is that while electric fencing is erected to keep intruders out, it must not be erected in such a way that a passer-by could touch it accidentally.”
    NB THis information is in the article on this page!

    As is the case here, I would imagine that as long as you are erecting electric fencing on top of a wall or fence that is on YOUR side of the boundary, you would not need to engage with your neighbour. Have a look at the top of the article – the sections on Positioning Boundary Walls and Fences and Ownership of Boundary Walls and Fences for further guidance in this regard.

  36. Umhlanga falls under the Ethekwini Municipality (City of Durban). Their regional office is ​327 Umhlanga Rocks Drive, Umhlanga Rocks TEL: 031-3116074/76
    Essentially the must have approved plans to build – so check this – and the distance between their new building and your boundary will be shown on these plans. You could ask them to send a building inspector to check that they are building according to the approved plans.

  37. Penny
    I think we should have at least 2.2meter height of wall to install the electrical fence because 1.8meter is too short for the sake hazards towards children,especialy in the resisdence area.It must be by laws regulating electrical fence in the counrty.To avoid conflict between the neighbours.

  38. Elvis, the information given here is quoted word-for-word from the City of Cape Town document regarding electric fences. i.e. This is quoted from the CT by-laws.

  39. Hi

    I am hoping someone can help me or direct me to someone we can contact. My parents turned our old garage into a 1 bedroom apartment many years ago which we rent out. This apartment is situated in the back corner of our property.

    Behind our house is a caltex garage and a neighbour on the adjacent wall.

    Now i am getting married and we want to build up on top of this one bedroom flat so only wanting to add 2 additional rooms on top of the exisiting flat.

    If it is a matter of privacy then we wont put windows on the side that faces our neighbour and the petrol station. Which i dont have a problem with. The windows will just be on the other walls that face the exisiting main house.

    In the past we have had intruders that scale the neighbours walls and even from the petrol station side and have jumped onto our flat’s roof which is a safety concern.

    But building a 2nd floor on the existinf flat would solve this problem as nobody would be able to scale our wall umless they are spiderman.

    Would the council reject such a proposal? Even if the neighbours agree.

    All we want is to build 4 more walls on top of our exisitng flat its not really asking too much.

  40. dear reader
    I am planning to install precast wall between me an the neighbor.
    Do i need plans for precast walls?
    When do i need to get the neighbor approval?(wall is on the boundary/ or on my property)

    can you please help

    Gregor

  41. Hi

    we are homeowners in randburg, would we need to submit plans if we are going to break down our existing front boundary wall which is precast 1350mm heigh and replace it with 1800mm heigh double brick wall?

  42. Hi Lukas,
    If you look at our page with the JHB Town Planning PDF here: town-planning-scheme-jhb Section 1, Part III, paragraph 6 it says that: “All erven shall be fenced and maintained if and when required, to the satisfaction of the Council. Boundary walls in excess of 1,8m in height required the written consent of the Council.” As you are changing the wall from a pre-cast to a brick wall you should, just to cover yourself, inform the council in writing that this is what you are doing. In addition the building regulations will class this as “minor building works” see the page here: minor-building-work

  43. Hi Gregor,
    A boundary wall up to 1.8m high is considered “minor building work” see the article here: minor-building-work and you do not need plans, BUT you need to inform the council in writing. You do need to check that the wall is indeed on your side of the boundary. See the paragraph on this page “Ownership of Boundary Walls and Fences”. If it is on the boundary or on their side then you will have to come to an agreement with them and I would suggest that you put any agreement in writing.

  44. Hi all,

    We live in Simon’s Town and renovated in 2011. We used a builder that told us that we didn’t need plans to raise sections of the boundary walls between us and our two neighbours, only that we needed written consent, which we obtained. We raised sections of the walls by a few bricks – nothing over 1,8m though.

    We were pretty naive to trust him and not double check, but my question is now – how do I go about getting plans, and then getting them approved at the council, since these walls have already been raised? I would like to do the right thing here, especially since we have just sold and the question has been raised.

    I don’t want my sale to fall through, so please could someone give me some advice?

    Thank you in advance!!

  45. Hi Liz,
    Don’t worry you are not in contravention of the regulations as long as the walls are not higher than 1.8m. The regulations for “minor building work” state: “Any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil” does not need plans. You can read more here: minor-building-works BUT you must inform your local council in writing that you have raised the height to the permitted height of 1.8m. You should also include copies of the neighbours consent as well. ** A quick update: “No solid boundary wall shall exceed 1.8m in height on a street boundary and 2,1 m in height on a lateral boundary” This is from the Cape Town Boundary Walls & Fences Policy – Jan 2009

  46. Hi Mishkah,
    Firstly you must contact your local council and get a copy of the plans of the house and establish if there were plans submitted for the conversion of the building from a garage to a habitable room. If it is still labled a garage on those plans then you will have to rectify this and get plans drawn up and submitted, you might be able to do this all in one go. Approval must be obtained under the SANS 10400 Part A20 “Classification and Designation of Occupancies”. The next thing that you must consider is that the foundations for a single story garage will have foundations only for that structure. If you try to put another story on foundations that were made for a single story then the building could collapse. You would not get approval for such a build unless you underpinned the foundations and had an Engineers report to back it up. You will need neighbours approval for any building on the boundary.

  47. Hi, where can I go to find out if we need to get approved plans in
    order to put up a boundary wall on our stand? The area is Sandton,
    Johannesburg?
    Thanks

  48. Bruce, “any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil,” is regarded as minor building work in terms of the National Building Regulations. So if it is no higher than this, you don’t need plans, but you will need to inform the council that you are building. You also need to be sure that the wall is on your property or you might need approval from your neighbour to build. Your starting point should be the planning department of your local authority – the City of Johannesburg.

  49. Thanks Penny. I am also being told that I will need an engineer to sign off the wall as it will be 2.2m high and that the wall needs to be drawn up and submitted as a revised set of plans, is that correct? We are going to build an extension on a bedroom anyway, so we will need to submit a new set of amended plans anyway for approval. Is there no where that I can look online that details what I need to do in what circumstances? thanks

  50. Bruce if it is 2.2 m then yes, you will need plans and they will need to be drawn up by a competent person. If your local authority says this person should be a engineer, then so be it. You may though be able to get drawings done by a draughtsman and then get the engineer to sign them off. You probably aren’t going to find the details you want on the Internet. There is some information in SANS 10400, Part A on this site. Part A is where the requirements for plans, info about competent persons etc is found. You will also find the forms that need to be filled in here. Since a competent person is required to draw up plans – and this person should know exactly what is required – I would consult with someone. If you want to see exactly what Part A says (it’s a 91-page document), then go to an SABS library and ask to see this section. Alternatively you can buy a copy online from the SABS. It costs R147 + VAT.

  51. H Danielle,
    We are sorry to hear that you have such an unpleasant dispute with your neighbour. Normally if the wall is directly on the boundary and there is no written agreement to say otherwise then the wall is a joint responsiblity and costs must be shared. You have taken responsibility for the wall by having it repaired at your expense. As he has built his own separate wall next to the old wall, chances are it is on his property and not on the boundary, in which case it is his responsibility and there’s nothing to force him to plaster your side. However, if he has damaged your paving you can claim damages – but that will mean going to an attorney. You do not say where in SA you are situated. The general by-law for most municipalities is the street facing wall can be 1.8m, and the lateral (neighbours) boundary walls can be 2.1m without plans. Any higher than this then plan approval is needed and the consent of your neighbour is also required. If your neighbour has built higher than this you should call the building inspector in your area and report what he has done. All municipal numbers are here: municipality-contact

  52. Hi Penny,

    We have a solid 2m virbracrete wall along our street boundary. I want to replace this with a brick/block wall of exactly the same height. Do I now have to have 40% visability in the new wall even though the wall I am replacing is solid ?

    James

  53. I need some clarity regarding a boundary wall. My neighbour just built his house. My house lies north of his so I expected him to be north facing. The problem is that his entertainment area looks over the 1.8m boundary wall into my front garden, driveway, garage and consultation room. My wife is a psychologist and this makes her clients feel uncomfortable. I spoke to the building contractor to lift the wall.
    This he did.
    who is responsible for the account?
    What is the minimum distance between walls and sliding glass doors?
    Regards
    Christo

  54. Brenda Michelle Smith

    My property is a double story,my neighbours on my right are below me,during the last heavy rain the bank collapsed taking with it the fence that was dividing my neighbour and i, the wire fence was erected on top of what i thought was a retaining wall,turned out to be car tyres to pack up the wall,and hold the fence, i have just recently purchased this property………..after doing some research on the internet and getting people out to view the damage,i have now learnt that my property is unstable,and this is very dangerous as the next heavy rain could wash away my property……….i have contacted the insurance and they do not cover retaining walls not to specifications………..my neighbour is reluctant to assist with the cost of securing the property,she has now moved and leased her property,and has also put it for sale,and says the new owners must attend to the damage…….what can i do? I need help urgently………i feel very unsafe

  55. Brenda I’m not surprised insurance won’t pay; and if the house washes away they won’t pay either! Is the “retaining (tyre) wall” on your property or on your neighbour’s property? And do you know who constructed it? If it is on your neighbour’s property, then you should take urgent legal action to force them to take immediate remedial action. It’s going to cost a bit of money on legal fees, but better than losing your home. Alternatively you could get in an engineer and have a proper retaining wall designed and built. A system like Terraforce would probably be ideal.
    Let us know what the outcome is. Good luck.

  56. Hi James,
    Yes you can replace the old vibracrete wall with a brick one the same height. To play safe send a written note to your local council and inform them. You do not say what “visibility” the present vibracrete wall has. If it is the same then you should be fine. By-laws differ from city to city but mostly they take the gates into account when they calculate the 40%

  57. Hello, We are wanting to replace the boundary wall on our property and build a 2.1m high wall between properties, and 1.8m wall on the street boundary. Do we have to submit plans or do anything before starting this project? We are based in Durban.
    When is a wall classified as a retaining wall?

    Kind regards,
    Kelsey

  58. Kelsey the NBR define a 1.8 m wall as minor building work. You will see from the link I have given you that you don’t need plans for minor building work, but you do need to notify the local council of the fact that you will be building. Check if there is a form they need you to fill in. Also some municipalities allow walls up to 2.1 m to be built without plans. Again, you will need to check with them. You will find contact details on their website.
    In Part K of SANS 10400, Walls, a retaining wall is defined as a “wall intended to resist the lateral displacement of materials”. Essentially they are built to retain earth behind them and there are specific requirements in terms of building design and construction.

  59. Hi Penny,

    I finally managed to get in touch with someone at the Municipality, they have told me that no matter what height the wall is plans need to be submitted by an Architect??

  60. Hi Christo,
    SA Legislation (though not the Building Regulations) states that when a house plan is being approved, the local authority must take into account the airspace that the house uses and that the neighbours privacy and the neighbours enjoyment of their respective properties must be protected. This is even though the house is built within the prescribed building lines. There is a precedent that was set in law, that I have quoted elsewhere.
    Unfortunately when it comes to the cost of the wall it does become more of a civil case rather than a building regulations issue and you will have to come to an arrangement with your neighbour about this. This should have been done before the wall was raised. Also, if it’s your wall, and you gave the instruction to the builder, I doubt that your neighbour is going to be willing to pay after the event!
    The minimum distances permitted between walls and sliding glass doors are affected by several Regulations and Standards, as well as your local council by-laws. For instance SANS 10400-T: 2011, Fire protection states:
    4.57 Single-storey category 1 buildings for H3 and H4 occupancies
    (Note H3 and H4 are Domestic Residence and Dwelling House respectively)
    “4.57.1 The minimum distances from an external wall of attached and detached single-storey category 1 buildings for H3 and H4 occupancies to the lateral and rear boundary of the site shall not be less than
    a) 0,0 m for walls with no openings and a fire resistance (stability, integrity and insulation) of at least 30 min;
    b)  0,5 m for walls with no openings, constructed with non-combustible external cladding and a surface area of not more than 7,5 m2, where such walls have a fire resistance of less than 30 min but which, when tested, comply with the requirements for stability and integrity for a period of not less than 30 min;
    c)  1,0 m for walls as described in (b) but with a surface area greater than 7,5 sq m;
    d)  that given in table 19 for walls similar to those described in (a), (b) and (c) above, but with openings, provided that the openings in walls at right angles to the boundary are at least 500 mm away from the boundary; and
    e)  4,5 m where walls have combustible external cladding, or non-combustible external cladding which does not have a fire rating of 30 min for stability or integrity, the entire facade should be regarded as an opening and the minimum boundary should be at least as tabled in table 2, column 2 (low fire load).
    Area of openings in elevation sq m ——- Minimum boundary distance meters
    up to 5 sq m—————————————1,0 meters
    5 sq m———————————————1,5 meters
    7,5 sq m——————————————-2,0 meters
    10 sq m——————————————–2,4 meters”
    In terms of the new energy regulations, his house has to be north facing.

  61. Kelsey we’ve been trying to find their bylaws – zoning etc and can’t. The thing is that the Building Regulations are minimal requirements and the local authorities have the right to demand whatever they want! Durban is clearly a law unto themselves. If plans are required, they do have to be done by a competent person, but not necessarily an architect. You can get them drawn by a draughtsman or anyone else qualified in terms of the National Building Regulations’ requirements. They can’t argue with that.

  62. Hi, after signing an agreement to purchase a house, I discovered that the neighbours boundary wall was erected on the property that I am buying.he has used up approx. 17 square meters for the wall but when
    i- questioned the seller, she saidd to me that she allowed and agreed on approx 2 squre meters. What are my rights as a buyer and what is the legal height of a boundary wall. Thanks

  63. Elvis, ask the seller for proof of what she agreed to. It must be in writing. If she can’t provide this you can cancel the agreement to purchase. I am pretty sure you can also cancel it on the grounds that 17 sq m of the property has been taken by the neighbour – and or reduce the amount of your offer. You will probably have to do this via an attorney.
    The National Building Regulations state that boundary walls up to 1,8 m in height = minor building work and so don’t require plans. Some local authorities allow building up to 2.1 m without plans. If any higher than this there must be plans and the local authority will need to approve them.

  64. hi i would like to know if i need a plan to erect a boundy wall at the
    back of my house to the height of 1.8mt from ground

  65. Hi Tino,
    The regulations say that any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil does not need plans but you will need to inform the council in writing what you are doing. Just be aware that they have the right to ask you for plans if they so require them. You must also make sure that you build on your side of the boundary, alternatively have a word with your neighbour and get his OK to build on the common boundary line. You should do this in writing so that there are no misunderstandings at a later stage.

  66. Hi. My street boundary is currently a metre from the road am I allowed to replace it with a solid wall regardless of the distance from the road? I’m trying to get a car port going in my yard but my neighbors are rejecting the idea of us building to the lateral boundary wall, anyway I can bypass this

  67. I AM PARALEL POSITIONED TO MY NEIGHBOURS HOUSE. BOTH OUR KITCHEN FACE EACH OTHER. OUR HOUSES ARE NOT VERY FAR APART AND WE CAN SEE INTO EACH OTHERS KITCHENS. I WANT TO EXTEND THE HEIGHT OF MY CURRENT WALL FOR PRIVACY REASONS. CAN I GO UP TO 2.1M HIGH. NOTE THAT THIS WALL IS AGAINST THE SIDE OF BOTH OUR HOUSES AND THE NEIGHBOURS HOUSE IS NOT FACING OUR WALL BUT THE OTHER DIRECTION. THEY ARE FUSSY PEOPLE, WHAT CAN I DO. PLEASE HELP

  68. Adrian it depends on several factors including whether the foundations are adequate, whose wall it is – if it is a common wall (i.e. not owned by either party) you will need your neighbour’s consent; and whether they local authority allows boundary walls to be built to 2.1 m without plans. Even if they don’t you will need to inform them that you plan to extend the wall. I suggest you check with your local authority first.

  69. Andrea there are bylaws that specify how close to the road you can build – so it depends where you live, and what the bylaws are. Your local authority will be able to advise.

  70. Hi There

    I am situated in Germiston (Ekhuruleni)

    My neighbour has built a braai lapa on the boundry wall with his braai chimney facing my property (which all of his smoke flows directly to my property), a number of years ago before I bought the property. There is no fire wall between the lapa and the boundry. I found out that the lapa is illegal and built on a servitude with no plans. I had the municiple inspector out and they seem not interested.

    They are very noisy and no compasion for others. Our property boundry wall is normal 1.7 m wall (non Brick.) We do not have privicay as they play their music to the late hours in the morning and will put their Lapa tv extremely loud that I can hear their noises from all over my property. As well as they can see in our property without difficulty.

    I want to errect a double brick wall on my side of the boundry wall of about 2.5 m to 3 m, meaning not replacing the old boundry wall but exactly next to the boundry wall (with no space).

    Per my title deeds it indicates that the side of the property where I want to build this wall has a servitude underneath of up to 0.85m where no buildings can be build on. So not sure if I can errect a wall on that side.

    I will probably in time if I can build this wall, extend it to all conjoining boundry walls except the wall facing the streat.

    Based on the comments My understanding is that I do not nead house plans for the wall just permision from the municipality and sign off by the municipality on the foundation of the planned wall. I could not find any restrictions of the height of the wall on the bylaws of Germiston as well as the Ekhuruleni website. So what is the possible hight restrictions.

    In addition, will I need permision from my noisy neighbour to build this wall even if it is on my side of the property, as I am sure he will not give it to me,

    Please assist me on the above matter

    Regards

    Gerrie

  71. First of all I would put in an objection to the Planning Dept of the local authority stating ALL the facts, including that the inspector was disinterested. If possible include proof of the existence of the servitude. In terms of noise, you do have legal rights – I can’t remember which legislation – but you can take action via the police and/or an attorney. You don’t say what the servitude is for. This will have a bearing on whether or not you can build a wall. The Building Regulations say you can build a wall up to 1.8 m without plans – but some local authorities will allow up to 2.1 m without plans. So you will definitely need plans. The fact that your neighbour has been allowed to get away with an illegal structure – and the fact that the council won’t take action – you have a head start on getting your plans passed. Since the wall will be on your side of the property, you don’t need your neighbour’s approval.

  72. Hi Penny

    Many thanks for your quick response.

    I was a bit of with my memory on the servitude on that side of the wall is not 0.85 m but 0.63m. Not sure if the electrical services servitude will have an impact on my plans and per your advice.

    Many thanks

    Gerrie

  73. Gerrie I am fairly sure that it will – because they might need access. Maybe the best thing is to go to your local municipal office – there is a list of municipal numbers HERE – and ask how the servitude will affect plans for a new wall. Start there before putting in the objection I suggested.

  74. Hi Penny

    Again many thanks.
    I was scared this will effect the answer.

    I will follow your suggestion as I do not want to give ny neighbour a leg to stand on

    Regards

    Gerrie

  75. Good luck Gerrie. Let us know what happens!

  76. Jacques van Tonder

    Hi there, I’m busy building a palisade fence for our house, front wall. All is in the law regarding the height. My problem is, the current wall is very crooked, and on the one side, it stands to the front of my neighbour’s fence, and on the other side it is backwards. And another problem is it is very dangerous in our area these days, so I can not be without a wall even for one night. So I want to know, may I build the new fence just outside (more to the road) the current one, then I can build the new one, and afterwards break down the old one. I’m talking about 30cm more forward, not more than that.

    What does the law says, how far from the road can my front fence be?

  77. Jacques you need to build on the boundary or on your side of the boundary. You can’t willy-nilly build closer to the road. Check where your boundary line is. If you aren’t sure, contact your local authority. Bylaws vary in different areas.

  78. Hi Penny.
    Please can you explain exactly what is meant when you state above “At least 40% of the surface area of any street boundary walls, including gates, if provided, must be visually permeable – ie. you need to be able to see through close to half of the wall and gate. ”
    We just want to raise our current street boundary wall, (solid brick and mortar), to max height as we want to put in a plunge pool in our front garden and this 40% (?) mentioned above is confusing.
    thanks
    Margot

  79. Margot I am simply restating what the City of CT’s walls and fences says. My interpretation is that as long as you have gates that you can see through and if necessary panels or sections that you can see through that equal 40%, there is nothing to stop you having a maximum height (in terms of the NBR this is 1,8 m without plans – though some local authorities allow up to 2,1 m) solid wall for privacy – e.g. to shield a pool. In reality I see a lot of homes where this is not followed, and this leads me to believe that the “policy” is not enforceable. But I am not certain.

  80. Hi, I see that my neighbour is building what looks like a garage right to the boundary between us. I seem to remember that when we wanted to build to some distance still away from that same boundary ,we had to ask his permission. He however did not ask or informed us of his plans. My question is ,should he have, or is the fact that he gave us his permission to continue on the same boundary he is now building on?
    My concern is that his plans will have a greater impact on us than was the case when we built our garage.

  81. Micheal, It depends where you live. If you are in Cape Town neighbour’s consent is no longer required.

  82. Hi Penny
    I am staying in Helderberg, A year ago a woman bought the house next door. Her dogs are a nuinance and is barking from 7 pm till 12 at night. She has a girl friend who is visiting her any time of day and night and they sit and talk loud and giggle the whole time. We did ask her to keep her voice down and the dogs without any success. I got someone out for a quote for a vibrecrete to make it higher at the back and then in front a little lower. The builder said I need her permission and I cannot get high with the vibrecrete in front. Is there any truth in it?

  83. Marietjie, First of all if the dogs bark constantly and this behavior happens regularly, she is guilty of being a public nuisance and you can (or can at least threaten to) lay a charge against her. at the police station.
    Helderberg falls under the City of Cape Town and you can download their zoning bylaws from this site. We have also quoted their walls and fences policy – though I am not sure whether this is in fact a bylaw – in which case they can’t enforce it.
    This policy states: “Solid boundary walls may not be any higher than shall 1.8 m on street boundaries, and no higher than 2,1 m on lateral boundaries.”
    If the wall is yours (and not owned by both of you) and you are not going above the maximum height allowed, you don’t need her permission. But if you want to go higher than this anywhere – you WILL need permission from the council and from her.

  84. I am applying for relaxation to Durban town Planning and presently getting permission from my neighbours .4 of the 5 neighbours have agreed to the 1,0m relaxtion from the boundary for buildng.However the 5th neighbour has been making excuses with regards to consent and fileing any objections as well. They are currently residing in johannesburg and I am unable to cantact them physically as I have just a cell phone number to communicate. What is my alternate route.
    Please help

  85. We live in centurion in security estate and with full title deed. We are currently building a extra room on top of our existing garage which is 2 m away from the boundary wall of our neighbor. We have followed every possible law we can from getting permission from all municipalities etc. as part of the security estate home owners association we need to get this neighbors signature. We have done so. After a discussion we agreed not to put any big windows as this will face onto his pool and he wants his privacy. Die builder said that we need windows there for cross ventilation. The neighbor signed these plans whereby we crossed out the big window and left the small window. We agreed that we will sand blast these windows. The neighbor has now turned around to say he never agreed to any windows. He wants to take legal action. The home owners association said that according to them he signed the document so they are no longer involved. According to the builder we don’t need his permission at all as we are not building on the boundary wall only upwards. Are we going to have a problem? Does the neighbor have a case and who can I contact that specializes in this type of law ? Thanks

  86. Mariaan, It is not clear what permission you neighbour has given – i.e. what that person initially signed. Unless that agreement was altered, this is your legal contract. You do though say that they neighbour signed the plans where there is a window indicated. So what’s the problem? He can’t renege at this point, especially as it sounds as if it is only the HOA that requires the signature and not the local authority. It sounds to me as if the HOA is quite happy; and provided the local authority has approved the plans, you won’t have a problem. Tell your neighbour to do whatever he wants. You have clearly done everything by the book. Don’t go running to an attorney unnecessarily.

  87. Good day.my neighbour erected an electric fence years ago and this fence is between our fenced boundary.the fence is about 1.2 metres from the ground.he also keeps it on 24/7.we experienced a terrible situation when a three year old who was visiting us was struck by electricity during broad daylight.my wife decided to be civil by visiting this neighbour so as to in form them but unfortunately the wife was very rude to my wife and told her the child show learn to read since its written danger.please help,our house is in a very safe secured estate and I think the neighbours are just trying to be recial on us considering the fence is only on our side and not on the other side were he has a boundary with a white family.please advice,we are a black family in pretoria

  88. What seems strange to me is, how any building legislation is enforceable? generally laws are intended to be applied to everyone. so a building regulation should be enforced( with in the same council district) for everyone. If the council does not take action against a large number of people for obvious building violations then why should we have to follow them at all. if you build a house in Constantia without plans you get taken to court, if you build a shack in Kayelitsha there apparently, are nor laws infringed apon . Doesn’t the lack of enforcement on one end of the scale create a precedent on the other. What legal recourse does the council really have if i just go ahead and build on my property without plans. they have a limited budget for legal cases, they cant really afford to take on the individual can they?

  89. Cheyne, First of all the local authorities have rights to waive plans (Part A of SANS 10400 details these). Secondly local authorities have different zones with different requirements as per their local bylaws. You appear to be in CT so have a look at the City of Cape Town’s Zoning Scheme (effective March 2013).
    But you are right that building regulations are often not enforced – and often this is due to a lack of manpower. So people “get away with” building or extending without plans. However, this can lead to problems when they want to sell, and they need to retrospectively have plans drawn up. A simple example: My mother-in-law did a minor extension to a porch area that included adding a door. When she received an offer to purchase, the local council did an inspection (I think due to a rates issue) and discovered this. Before the sale could be concluded she had to have plans drawn and approved – and there may have been a penalty payment. Often illegal work is picked up when a buyer applies for a bond. This can be both costly and time consuming, and can lead to the cancellation of an offer.
    Lastly, local authorities DO sometimes take action, and we have sourced a number of court cases that have resulted in people being forced to demolish homes. We will be adding these to our blog posts asap – so keep checking the site.

  90. Hi there!

    I had a really bad experience with a company who came to extend my fences so that I could put up electrical fences.

    I paid a R9000 deposit and what I got in return was the installation of rejects and leftovers and the workmanship was shocking. Part of the fence started breaking within 2 days despite a 5 year guarantee. I was advised not to pay anything further if I had sufficient photographic and email evidence.

    The guy took me to the small claims court, which ruled that it did not have the jurisdiction to deal with the matter and that it should go to the magistrates court.

    Low and behold: 3 months later I get demands from a debt collection agency.

    I have never had bad debts and I live within my modest means.

    I don’t really know what the best route is for me. In principle, I cannot pay the fence company any more money because the company was in breach of contract when installing rejects, defective material and unsuitable material on my property. I have hundreds of photo’s and emails backing up the unethical business practices of this company.

    Yet, I am being bombarded by the debt collectors, Credit Intel.

    Could you perhaps refer me to the right people?

    Kind regards

    Name Withheld

  91. Good day,
    We are building a new home and received a bank loan which pays the contractor out in increments.

    The building plans reflect boundary walls that fully enclose our home.

    The contractor stated that the cost for building these walls will be additional as it apparently not included in the overall quote. Yet nowhere did he stipulate it as an exclusion.

    This is apparently the rule. Is this true? We are building in Pretoria.

  92. Ask him whose rule Melanie! Essentially it depends on the contract you have signed with the contractor. If it is to build according to your building plans, and the walls are indicated on the plans, then this cost ought to be covered. Every contract is different – it is essentially a binding agreement in writing. To be 100% certain you may need to consult with an attorney who is experienced in contractual law, but from what you say, I agree with you that if there is no exclusion stipulated, then you should not be liable for extra costs.

  93. Hi Melanie, Were you asked by the bank to give the builders quote in to them so that you could get the loan. If yes then ask them what the loan was based on. Did it include the wall? If again, yes, then you have a case. It might help you to ask the bank for backup.

  94. Yes we had to give the quote. We will need to verify what was stipulated and what not. But thanks. We will be sure to follow up.
    In the contract the builder compiled a specific exclusion list which indicated what would not be included in the total quote. These included NHBRC fees etc. We had to build a retaining wall on the left as our neighbour decided to “flatten” his stand. Ours is thus higher now. Hence the retaining wall. This we had to pay for completely and it was on the exclusion list. However, no mention is made on this list of the other walls. What do you think?

  95. Melanie we think he’s shot himself in the foot, so to speak! The fact that he specifically excluded the retaining wall and not the boundary wall would surely stand up in a court of law. But I would get some backup from the bank if you can. Also watch him carefully when/if he does build the wall to be sure that he doesn’t cut corners to save money.

  96. I live and own a property on the Berea in Durban. In 1985 plans were approved for a boundary wall on the
    west boundary of my property. At this date the approx 7m deep x 17.5 meter area of the neighbouring
    property was at approximate natural ground level having originally been the drive way access for that
    property into the garages situated on that properties extreme western boundary. My property was built
    in 1947. At this date the same owner owned both my property and the neighbouring property. When I moved into my property in December 1983 the boundary markers between my property and the adjoining property
    was a row of concrete “sewer collars” into which was planted “wild banana/wild strelizia trees” and a wooden
    pallisade/picket fence. I wanted a more substantial boundary marker. The owners at that date of the adjoining property did not want to build
    any form of retaining wall at all citing that the area of their property was at natural ground level and there was no need for retention. My wall was built as a free standing one brick thick (with 4 x 2 brick columns at intervals) on the boundary. The approved plan for this wall was 2850 m high with approx 2500 visible
    above ground. The wall was certified by a civil engineer who still assists today.All went well. The neighbouring property was sold in 1990. Some years after that the new owners extended the south east corner of their property by bringing in fill and raising the ground level
    on the boundary over the building line and into the side space and placed 5 concrete blocks on the raised
    platform as a floor foundation for a fairly substantial thatched Gazebo . There are no footings or any form
    of retention for this structure – the floor of which is 2 meters above the original natural ground level which
    existed in 1985. In 2005 I saw that my boundary wall had rotated and was leaning in towards my property.
    I viewed plans on record for the adjoining property and noticed that there was no mention of this structure.
    The Ethekwini Municipality called for a geo civil engineering report and on the findings served a contravention on the owners of the adjoining property ordering them to
    demolish or submit plans. No plans were ever submitted to date and the structure still exists. The Ethekwini officials were eventually ordered by the Public Protector to enforce the Building Regulations.
    Finally in 2011 summons was served. Since then the defaulters have succeeded in successfully delaying
    Court action. The last trial date was 19th August 2013. There is an official letter on file addressed to the
    Ethekwini Building Control Officer and City Manager dated 4th November 2005 from the defaulters which they submitted on receipt of the above mentioned contravention in which they admitted that the structure was built in 1996 and asked that it be approved post facto. Now they are claiming that this unauthorised work was done before 1996 and that they did not require planning permission. As there are no plans, no stability certificates or any other documentation for this structure, the dimensions of it are in
    question. Suffice to say that an approximate visual calculation is that the structure measure 6 m left to right + 3 m deep with a thatched roof rising approximately 2.5 meters above supporting gum pole with
    a height of approximately 2 meters from the floor of the structure which itself is only 50 cms below
    my 2500 boundary wall. They are also claiming that my boundary wall is not a boundary wall as the
    west face of the 2 brick thick supporting columns is on the boundary (surveyed and accepted by both
    parties as to its position) and the “panel” of one brick making up the actual wall is, of necessity, one brick
    back from the actual boundary.

    Please can you tell me when the “side space” requirement of 2 m for the Berea/Musgrave/Essenwood area of Durban came into effect. Any other comments on the above would assist.

  97. Maria this sounds like a nightmare! First of all my opinion is that your boundary wall IS a boundary wall. Apart from which it is the boundary LINE that is important in terms of what can be built next to it – and how far from it. You talk about “a boundary marker” – pegs are what mark the boundary (inserted when the land is surveyed) – not a wall or fence. Boundary walls and fences are generally built either on or next to the boundary. But they are not relevant when it comes to surveys of a plot of land.
    Prior to the “new” National Building Regulations coming into affect in 2008, the regs of 1990 were in force – and I see that the neighboring property was only sold in 1990! I don’t see where 1996 comes into effect, unless there is a local bylaw that specifically stated this type of structure could be built – which I doubt very much indeed.
    You must continue to push the council to get the case to court. But in addition to this, it sounds like the structure has also caused damage to your wall – in which case you have a civil claim against your neighbour. Ask your engineer what he thinks, and go to an attorney – at very least send a letter stating you are going to institute a substantial civil claim.
    I have no doubt that they are 110% in the wrong.
    In terms of “side space” requirements – I have no idea. This would be something in the bylaws. Do you mean that no building is permitted within 2 m of the boundary?
    Not sure if this helps. Let me know what happens.

  98. Thank you for your reply. To clarify

    a) when I said “boundary markers” I referred to the structure which divided the two properties on the boundary. When I moved into my house in December 1983 the then owners of the
    property on my western boundary (referred to as The Developers who developed an old house into 2 back to back duplexes) already had concrete sewer collars into which were planted wild banana trees and a picket fence dividing the two properties. I wanted a more substantial
    boundary “divider” and had plans passed for a one brick thick 2500 meter high boundary
    wall supported by 4 x 2 brick thick piers. The wall is approximately 7 meters long. This
    boundary wall was built with approved plans and certified as stable by my civil engineer.

    b) the new owners of the western adjacent property purchased it in 1990. They have stated in a letter to Council that in 1996 the work they did on the boundary which was creating a soil
    platform approximately 1.3m to 1.5m without retention and constructing a substantial thatched gazebo on top of this soil platform on the boundary
    was done without Council approval or plans. The floor of this structure is approximately 2 meters above the natural ground level at the base of my boundary wall. No retaining wall was built by the new owners of this property to retain the approximate 1.3m to 1.5m of Berea Red soil which forms the platform required to elevate the floor of their structure level with the existing level of their propertyon the north side of their property.. The Developers left the southern side of their property to slope down gradually to the south boundary which was also
    a picket fence until replaced with approved plans in 1988 with a boundary wall which is described on the Developers plans for improvements done in 1988 as a screen wall. The only retaining wall built by these Developers was the existing retaining wall built on the eastern boundary of this property where that property and my property have a boundary.. However, this retaining wall was constructed to stop approximately 7.5 meters back from the southern boundary and then curve westerly across the property.
    The current owners, when constructing this unauthorised structure have taken down the
    westerly running section of this retaining wall to allow them direct access into this
    thatched gazebo from that section of their garden which was previously separated from the
    southern section by the said retaining wall. It is in this 7.5 meter section that the
    current owners (from 1990) have carried out this unauthorised work.

    These people are now claiming that, notwithstanding their confirmation in writing to the
    Council that this unauthorised work was done in 1996, the date is actually earlier and
    that they claim that they did not require plans for this work.

    It is for this reason that I am trying to establish what the Town Planning Regulations which are part of the National Building Regulations werein regard to “side spaces” and what
    sort of structures were allowed to be built on boundaries from 1990 to 1996 and what
    regulations applied to these stgructures

  99. Maria I cannot add to my previous reply. Town planning regulations do not form part of the National Building Regulations. As explained elsewhere on this web site, the NBR and Building Standards Act is the legislation and SANS 10400 (in its various parts) are a definitive guide to how one “satisfies” the law. i.e. They go hand in hand. Town planning regulations, on the other hand, are bylaws that are developed by individual local authorities.

  100. Hi,
    I am sorry to hear of all your unfortunate dealings with this contractor. You can contact the SAIEE (South African Institute of Electrical Engineers) They have a code – “All members are required to uphold the dignity of the profession of electrical engineering. In whatever capacity they may be engaged, they must conduct themselves in a strictly fiduciary manner towards their client, employer, fellow member or other with whom they may be connected and consistent with the established traditions of the Institute.” And you can report him there.
    The contact number in Jo’burg is Tel: 011 487 3003 or email info@saiee.org.za.

  101. Hi Andy,
    This sounds as though he is in complete breach of the Electrical Regulations. This Act is Regulation 11 of the Electrical Machinery Regulations promulgated in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, No 85 of 2003 as amended, and must be fully complied with. In short the regulations say:
    • Electric fences shall conform to the following:
    • Electric fences that are on top of walls may not be any higher than 450 mm.
    • They must be at least 1,8 m above the level of natural ground at any point.
    • They may only be erected on top of walls and fences, or attached to them.
    • They may not encroach over site boundaries.
    • Regulation 11 of the Electrical Machinery Regulations promulgated in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, No 85 of 2003 must be fully complied with.
    In addition, most City’s policy documents state that freestanding electric fences may not be erected along any boundary in a position that would allow people to “inadvertently come into contact therewith”.
    Essentially the reasoning is that while electric fencing is erected to keep intruders out, it must not be erected in such a way that a passer-by could touch it accidentally.
    Contact the Local Authority building inspectors and explain your situation to them.
    I would like to get feedback on the outcome so please keep in touch and let us know what happens. Thanks.

  102. I imagine that the municipality must have a contact address for the fifth neighbour – for rates and taxes etc. See if they can be of any assistance.

  103. Hi Penny, same problem as everyone else – “crappy neighbours”! I purchased a house recently in Randpark Ridge, Randburg. I did notice the home built garage wall of the neighbours being over the building line. It was only later that i discovered that strategic bricks had not been placed, allowing perfect peephole views of the property and residence. I have caught them at this on numerous ocassions.
    I am also positive that the construction does not comply with building standards regulations.

  104. Well Eugene you can always cover the holes on your side of their wall – just don’t fill them in with bricks and mortar without their permission. If you are concerned about the structure, ask the municipality to send a building inspector to look at it. If in fact it is over the building line, you can ask the council to force them to demolish the wall. But then you might end up having to build a new one. Quite why they would want to peep at you is a bit odd… though my son caught one of our neighbors peeping through our common vibrecrete wall the other day! I wished I’d been quicker and had been able to get to the wall and say “boo”!

  105. Thomas Geh Architect

    Good Day
    Can anyone confirm that the definition of a boundary wall also includes a retaining wall built to essentially hold back the ground as is usual on steep ground.. The title deed only permits boundary wall within the setback / building lines but no structures.
    Regards Thomas Geh

  106. Thomas, A boundary wall is any type of wall that is built on a boundary. If it is necessary to build a retaining wall on a boundary, then this would be a boundary wall. All walls are structures. When the title deed says “no structures” it means other than the boundary wall, irrespective of the type of wall built (or fence for that matter).

  107. Good Day,

    This may be a little un-related. But i am not sure where else to ask.

    I was looking at doing some renovations, and when looking at the plan and doing the measurements things just didnt add up…

    Long story short, i came to the conclusion that my boundary wall has been placed a meter closer then it should have been.

    basically my property on plan is 20 meters by 15 meters – 300 sqm. When doing the measurements is 19 meters by 15 meters – 280sqm

    It may not seem like a lot, but i bought the land for R300 000.

    Basically R20 000 unaccounted for.

    What do i do ?

    Thank you !!

  108. Kyle your best bet is to have your property surveyed by a professional land surveyor. But as a start you could do some measuring yourself from the site plan; the corner positions of the plot when it was originally surveyed should be noted on the site plan.

  109. Whose responsibility is the maintenance of a boundary wall if it happens to also be the wall of an actual house which runs along the boundary of a property?

  110. Pls help.built a new home but did not erect additional boundary walls as neighbors already had them in place. One neighbour is now demanding payment for the half of the cost of erecting the wall. Is this legal?

  111. Penny,
    Can a retainer boundary wall be built on the edge of a cliff? The boundary wall is severely cracked and was never approved by the municipality. Where would the building line be if the boundary wall is on the edge of a cliff?

  112. Hi. We are currently in the process of relaxing a boundary wall that was built 0ver 12 years ago.we have been told that clauses from the title deeds of property have to be removed in order to do this.pls advise on good motivational reasons for the allowing of this relaxation.

  113. Hi

    When is a neighbour liable to contribute towards the construction of a boundary wall?

    Thanks

  114. Hi
    I’m hoping that you can assist me, my neighbor is doing improvements on his house and I did not give my consent to build on the boundary wall, nor do I have any idea if he has had his building plans approved or not? I have taken pictures of the illegal extensions, but I cant upload them on this forum, do you perhaps have an email that I can send the pictures to? plus in my opinion he has gone above the stipulated 2.1 meters
    Kindest Regards

  115. Roderick you can upload pictures to us via Contact Us, however we won’t be able to tell from pictures whether it is legal or not. Who originally erected the wall? And is it on the boundary? If for example he built the wall, he wouldn’t have to ask your permission to change it. If you – or anyone else who previously owned your property – built the wall then he has no right to alter it. If it is a common wall (your local authority should know) then he would require your consent. However if he is raising it above 2.1 m he does need approved plans. You best bet is to contact the planning department of your local authority and ask for a building inspector to do an inspection asap. You can mention to them that you have photographic evidence.

  116. Sabeeha, since I have no idea of what the title deed states, I am unable to even hazard a guess. Sorry!

  117. Angela have a look at the section above under Ownership of Boundary Walls and Fences

  118. Marguerite, I have no way of knowing where the building line or true boundary of the property is. The cliff may be part of the property and the property may well extend beyond the cliff. All retaining walls are required to have approved plans. Apart from this, I find it very difficult to visualize a retaining wall on the edge of a cliff. What on earth is it retaining? The property would have been surveyed before it was sold originally, and if you don’t have a copy of this drawing, you get one from the Surveyor General’s office in Pretoria. This will show where the pegs for the property are, and therefore where the boundary is. The local authority should be able to advise in terms of the building lines.

  119. Good day,

    I would like to find out if one has to get plans approved to raise and extend an existing boundary wall.

    Regards
    Marlon

  120. Marlon it depends on many factors including the type of wall – the type of extension you are planning – the height the wall is now and the height it will be once raised… Zoning by laws will also play a role. I suggest you contact your local authority and ask them what their general policy is in your area.

  121. Anon(withheld)

    Please advise who actually owns a boundary wall , in this instance I paid for adding my own fence next to an old fence when I purchased my
    property , the wall technically is fully in my property , can a
    neighbour drill into the wall and add things without consulting and
    also partially damage this wall?
    Please do not publish my details or e-mail address. Thanks

  122. Subject:
    Walls
    Message:
    What is the requirement for boundary wall, Can it be a one brick wall or must it be a 9′ wall.
    Manu thanks
    Alan Knight

  123. Hi Alan,
    Technically what you mean is a half-brick wall (±100 mm). The thickness of a one brick wall is the length of a standard brick or two bricks side by side (±200 mm). Yes you should be able to but you MUST build supporting pillars. You can safely build a half-brick wall about 100 mm thick to a height of 450 mm without piers, and to about 700 mm if two brick piers are built at 3 m centers. A thicker one-brick wall may be built to a height of at least 1.35 m without piers and to 1.8 m with 400 mm square piers at 3 m centers. Never use half-brick walls to retain soil.

  124. If the wall is fully on your property and you paid for it, it belongs to you. (There are instances where a wall is built on the boundary and is common property.)
    If you scroll through the comments on this page, you will see that I have written quite a lot on the subject. The short answer is that your neighbour may NOT drill into the wall and add things without your permission. If he has damaged the wall he is liable for repairs.

  125. For the City of Cape Town: I want to construct a wall on the street side of my property. How far away from the street am I allowed to build?

  126. Hi Need some assistance. My neighbor suddenly decided to increase the height of our boundary wall. Even though they did not ask permission I have no issue with this except that instead of building the wall he has packed brick against the palisade and this is of grave concern to me as the slightest pressure from my side will bring it all down. As they have grand kids and I have a 3 year old my concerns are:
    1. This is seriously dangerous.
    2. If the wall comes down My dog or son could be blamed.
    3. This could cause serious damage and or Death.

    I have spoken to them and pointed out my concerns and hope they will listen. I am however drawing up an affidavit that I have spoken to them and voiced my concerns to cover myself if something should happen. I will also give them a copy

    Attached is photos that will scare the living daylights out of you as even severe wind will topple this lot.

    http://i777.photobucket.com/albums/yy51/Spy007_2010/20131104_130917_zps6670b944.jpg

    http://i777.photobucket.com/albums/yy51/Spy007_2010/20131104_130917_zps6670b944.jpg

    http://i777.photobucket.com/albums/yy51/Spy007_2010/20131104_130843_zpsf3adfc51.jpg

  127. Hi Penny,

    We have raised our boundary wall with the consent of our neighbours. After completing it our one neighbour is now demanding that we plaster his side as well. He didn’t mention it as a condition prior to our raising the wall, and we have met the full cost of the materials and labour to raise the wall. Are we legally required to plaster his side?

    Thanks in advance,
    Nash

  128. Londiwe Buthelezi

    Hello Penny

    I just bought a house in Summer Greens, Cape Town and due to the smaller plotsnature of plots there, a boundary with one neighbor on my left only exist from the street to my left wall. Essentially the neighbour is using my my left wall as a boundary. I haven’t moved into the house yet but I just noticed this week that the said neighbor has built, something, looks like of temporal nature and it’s touching my wall as if our houses are semi-detached which is not the case. Even my left side of the house is not painted in the same colour as the rest of my house or his/hers. I’m due to move into my new house in December and want to raise boundary walls between me and my neighbors. I’ve already been in contact with the Blaauberg Municipality before making an offer to purchase and it has gaveen me, or rather the previous owner , a go-ahead to raise the walls.
    But this was before I discovered that the neighbour on my left has a structure attached to my house. Can I build a solid boundary wall between us, next to my wall that does not touch my house? If not, can I ask them to demolish the structure touching my wall?

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

  129. Londiwe, I’ve not completely clear on your set up. Are you saying that your house has been built on the boundary? In any case, I suggest you contact the municipality and ask them to send a building inspector to have a look at your neighbour’s structure. If it is temporary you can demand he removes it – see more on temporary buildings here – if it is a permanent structure he needs plans or at least approval by the municipality. The municipality will also advise what and where you can build your wall.

  130. Londiwe Buthelezi

    Thank you Penny for your response. Yes from the look of things, my house is built up to the boundary or the previous owner didn’t build a boundary wall where he was supposed to, perhaps to save money, I wouldn’t know. You are right, my best bet is to contact the municipality.

  131. Nash, Frankly, if I was your neighbour I would expect you to plaster my side. Or put in a different way, I would expect you to finish my side the same way as your side – except for painting. If you had no intention of doing this, you should have specified at the beginning. You’ll save a lot of heartache and bad feelings by having the wall plastered – just make it clear that you are not going to paint.

  132. Perhaps you should check exactly where your boundary is. At very least get a site plan from the municipality (they should have one in your records) and measure according to it. If it comes to a dispute you might need to get a land surveyor to re-survey the plot though.

  133. Angela Woodward

    Hi I recently bought a small palisade installation company, and trying to do things by the book! We have been asked to quote on 100m of razor wire to be erected around a church. , what legal requirements as an installer do I have to comply with? Thanks

  134. Angela Woodward

    Hi also we are using a ‘400mm x .600mm foundation for 1.8m h new vibracrete walls, if permission is granted for higher what size foundation should we use, is there a formula? Thanks

  135. Angela it depends on the bylaws. Contact your local authority for details.

  136. Angela, this is the general Rule of Thumb used when building strip foundations. viz they will be 630 mm wide x 200 mm thick. I’m not sure whether you are saying yours are 600 mm wide and 400 mm thick – which seems like overkill to me. I guess if that’s what you are using then you could use the same foundations if you went up to about 2.1 m which is usually the maximum allowed – possibly even a little higher. An engineer would be able to advise.

    Foundation footing dimensions

  137. We have responded to this query on our Facebook page.

  138. Eugene, if you got to the lefthand tab at the top of our web site – Building Regulations Introduction – and scroll down to Cape Town Zoning Scheme and download the document, you should find the information you are looking for. If not call the City’s planning department, give them your erf number, and they will be able to advise.

  139. Hi how can I find out where my front boundary wall is in Durban?

  140. Hi and good day. What is the ruling on weep holes on boundary walls. I built a boundary wall on my property line as pegged. The neighbour failed to discuss shared costs etc. and subsequently plastered his side of the wall. I had weep holes installed at 4 points as the land does slope and water does flow through these weep holes. What is the ruling on weep holes and the relevant standard that applies. I have 2 on the wall at the rear and 2 in the front of the yard. The neighbour constantly blocks these holes causing flooding on my side and threatening the integrity of the wall.

  141. Hi Firoz, You do not say which part of the country you are in as all municipalities have their own bye-laws. So I am going to give you an extract from the Johannesburg by-laws and this should give you a good indication of the rest of the country. Here is the extract:
    “14. GENERAL CONDITIONS APPLICABLE TO ALL ERVEN

    2. Where, in the opinion of the Council, it is impracticable for stormwater to
    be drained from higher lying erven direct to a road, the owner of the
    lower lying erf shall be obliged to accept and/or permit the passage over
    the erf of such stormwater: Provided that the owners of any higher lying
    erven, the stormwater from which is discharged over any lower lying erf,
    shall be liable to pay a proportionate share of the cost of any pipe line or
    drain which the owner of such lower lying erf may find necessary to lay or
    construct for the purpose of conducting the water so discharged over
    the erf.
    d. The owner of the erf must make the necessary arrangements to the
    satisfaction of the Council to ensure that drain pipes convey water
    away from the foundations of buildings;
    e. Water shall not be permitted to collect on the erf and the erf shall
    be drained to the satisfaction of the Council.”

    I hope this helps.

  142. Hi,
    I have a question also relating to weep holes, I have a townhouse in Roodepoort, Weltevreden Park and there is a 110mm weep hole from my neighbour’s garden into my garden ( my garden is lower). What is the minimum height from ground to the bottom of the weep hole that is required? Currently it is about 50-75mm on my neighbours side

    thanks
    Niren

  143. Hi Lauren, If you have a copy of your house plans then the boundaries will be marked on there. There will also be measurements that give distances that buildings are sited away from each boundary so you can work it out from there. If you do not have a set, your local planning department will have your house plans on file and they will make a copy for you for a fee. If you are concerned then you will have to hire a land surveyor to come and re-set the corner pegs for you.

  144. cheyne Bodington

    Good Day

    I own a bottom story flat in cape town. we have an exclusive use area G1(garden) attached to our deed. our body corporate decided to allow us to enclose the boundary but now our chairman is refusing to let us as the top story flats walk trough our EUA as a more convenient route, can we deny access to our EUA to the top story flats if there is another access point for them?

    we have tried to be reasonable but have been met with extreme prejudice on this matter. your advice would be greatly appreciated

    Regards
    Cheyne

  145. Hi there

    My neighbor has built a boundary wall between our two properties which is visible from the street, he has done a wonderful job of plastering his side of the wall and half way on the top but has left our side which is visible from the street un plastered, which looks unslightly. This was done while we were away on holiday.
    Are we responsible in plastering our side? We live in Sunset Beach, Cape Town and the wall is 2m high.

  146. Hi there, I have 2 questions, If I would like to build a second story to my house do I have to get my neighbour’s permission? I am in Roodepoort Johannesburg, My neighbour has added a second story to his property but he has also included a balcony that overlooks my whole property and can look into every room in my house, I am still trying to find out if he has permission to build but is there any laws that protect me against this?

    Many Thanks
    Christian

  147. Subject:
    Security camera affixed to boundary wall

    Message:
    Our neighbour has erected a ten meter high pole to house a security camera affixed to his side of the lateral boundary wall. Our permission was not asked and they are also refusing to remove it. It is very unsightly. Is this against the City of Cape Town by laws regarding boundary walls?

  148. Reena if they wanted you to pay they should have asked in advance. If the walls were already in place when you built when you started building they don’t have a leg to stand on. They are clearly taking a chance. However, what this means is that the walls belong to your neighbour so don’t tamper with them in any way. You might also want to check that they are in fact built on the boundary (i.e. in the correct place).

  149. Elfrieda that’s an interesting one. If it’s a house then it belongs to your neighbour and maintenance is therefore his/her responsibility. You cannot be expected to maintain the house. However, I think that when it comes to visual maintenance, i.e. paint, and it’s important to you, then you would probably have to ask permission to paint the wall.

  150. Lindsey, there is an article HERE that discusses the City of Cape Town’s walls and fences policies. I’m not sure that they are bylaws though. I suggest you contact the City and ask who you can talk to about the situation.

  151. Christian this is a problem that many people face. Generally you do not need permission from a neighbour to build a second storey, and it is up to the local authority to make sure that neighbour’s privacy is not invaded. Here is a link to an article about one law that has been promulgated to try and protect people in this situation. I hope it helps.

  152. Liz I would say no you aren’t, unless your neighbour arranged with you beforehand that you would complete your side of the wall. Fact is that it is his wall and as such he should complete it. The fact that he has plastered his side and not yours is good grounds for complaint – and while you were not around. It is always best for neighbors to discuss this type of building project to avoid problems like this one. I would approach your neighbour and suggest he completes the job (on your side). If he refuses, put him to terms (i.e. give him a certain length of time and state that you will take legal action if he doesn’t comply). Then you will either have to go to a lawyer, or the small claims court. The latter is quite a good option, unpleasant that it is for all involved. Cheap(ish) and they are generally very fair.

  153. Thanks for the reply I have found out that my neighbour did not get plans approved and the counsel has issued a notice the problem we are having now is that the neighbour keeps invading our privacy by constantly looking into our property, I am thinking of seeking legal advice to help me while we wait for the counsel, thanks again for the information

  154. Cheyne for you to be forced to allow them to use your garden as a walking route, there would need to be a registered (and therefore legal) servitude. If there isn’t one, then you can deny them access. I presume they have another way they can walk?

  155. Christian unfortunately one is often forced to take legal advice in a matter like this. Good luck.

  156. Hello there,
    Need advice on the following:
    My neighbour gave me documentation to sign, requesting us to approve bulding plans ,
    1) is there a certain time frame required for us to sign and give it back as they want us to sign immediately.
    2) we found that the plans were not a true reflection of what was existing on there grounds.
    He prevoiusly told us he was only going to lift his roof by 6 layers of brick, when he was finished it was a double storey with a thatch roof on, closing most of our sunlight to the back of our property.(on the borderline to our property)
    3) with the previous experience with our neighbour , we have learnt that what he says and does are to different things, so our request to him was to put it in wrighting that he would never build another building on our side of his property single stracture or doulble and if he did the would be a penilty.
    Are we being unreasonable?

  157. No there is no specific time frame Vaughan, though in terms of common law it must be “reasonable”. It is not reasonable for them to expect you to sign immediately – without having time to make sure you really do approve. I trust that you didn’t sign the documentation, because if you do you will have no recourse. If he has not built according to plan you should notify the local authority immediately as it could negatively impact on the resale value of your home.
    And no you are not been unreasonable, but you are also not going to have much protection with a mere letter – though it is better than nothing.

  158. Thank you, for your response, We have not yet signed as we are awaiting the amended building plans , as well as the letter from the builder and neighbour that we have arranged to be proof read and amended by a lawyer.

  159. Niren I am not aware of a regulation that specifies this. There are regulations though that relate to drainage, and it is the property owner’s responsibility to channel rain water into proper channels.

  160. Hello there,

    I would just like to clarify something. You state that:

    [Note: The National Building Regulations state that walls and fences to a maximum height of 1,8 m are regarded as “minor building work” and do not require plans….

    Part A of SANS 10400 indeed describes a boundary wall of 1,8m as being minor building works, BUT only minor building works as contemplated under A2 (g) (iii) of SANS 10400 are exemplified from requiring plans to be submitted.

    I bring this up as we have had numerous clients requiring plans because they had built their boundary walls without acquiring the necessary plan approval as they were misinformed due to the misconception of minor building works and the requirement for plan approval.

    Home owners need to confirm with their local authority whether they are required to submit plans for boundary walls.

    We are based on the South Coast of South Africa and the Hibiscus Coast Municipality require plans to be submitted for plan approval before boundary walls are to be erected.

    Thank you for your website, it is a wonderful source of information.

  161. LIZELLE LEWIN

    My neighbours erected a Vibracrete wall infront of their hous, which is 1.8m in height. It is plain vibracrete. According to my knowledge only pebbled vibracrete is allowed when the wall is facing the road. I would also like to know about the 40% that is not allowed to be retained. If the gates is 40% of the wall, is that acceptable.

  162. I live in Bryanston JHB and wish to erect an 8ft boundary wall. Do I need permission/ plans for that ? Also part of the wall will be over a municipal servitude with a stormwater pipe underneath. Where should I get the clearance for that?

  163. Jan Fanoy Pr Eng

    Hi,

    Is there any safety regulations with regards to the installation and manufacturing of electric motor sliding gates?

    We have heard of sliding gates slipping of the rail and falling on people and even killing children.

    A response to my email will be appreciated.

    Thanks.

  164. Hi. My neighbor has put up a 2,3m wall between our properties. They have not obtained any permission from me for this. Is this acceptable?

  165. Hi. The original renovation plans for my home indicated a garage would be erected at the boundary between my neighbor and I. I obtained permission from my neighbor for this when the plans were submitted. However, due to financial constraints, I did not have the garage build at the time and instead put up a carport – I ensured that the steel structure was well away from the boundary. Should I have had the plans changed and resubmitted, or would the orignal plan that indicated a garage of the same length and height suffice?

  166. Srikesh Singh

    My neighbour took down our precast without our permission, and intends to build a wall in its place. She did not inform us that she would be doing this, and intended to give away our precast away before I confronted her. She will now return the precast, however the wall will only be built in the next two days, and there is worry for security now. Which laws regulate the removal of a neighbours walls without permission?

  167. I wonder if you could assist me with a query, we have purchased an off plan house which forms part of a duet. On viewing all other units built by this developer there was a full boundary perimeter wall.

    on viewing our property the other day we noticed that the developer intends to use part of our structure or house to join the wall on either end, in other words our house forms part of the perimeter. We were not informed of this until now.

    Is this allowed? Wouldn’t we run the risk if the neighbour waters his lawn whereby our house wall gets moisture etc into it?

    Many many thanks for the advise!

    Regards

  168. Hi Dawid, you are absolutely right. As each municipality has it’s own set of bye-laws we do advise everyone to check with their local planning department if they must submit plans or if a letter is sufficient. It would seem from many comments that local planners will try to cover themselves and ask for plans when this is not really necessary.

  169. Hi Ruby, there is normally a time limit to when the renovations should have been completed but in your case if you did get neighbours permission, you put up “temporary” structure and now you build the garage as it is on the plans then you should be fine. If you are concerned phone your local building inspector and ask his advice.

  170. Hi Ruby, I have just replied to your query about your garage, well in the same way that you had to get consent from your neighbour for your garage they must do the same for the wall and a 2.3m wall must have plans approved by council.

  171. Good Evening.

    Please can you assist. We were the first to purchase and have our house built in a new development.
    We had a full brick wall built in the front of our property. Our neighbour has a pan handle property which runs partially in front off ours. Please let me know if he is allowed to have electric gates hanging off my way that I paid for?

    I eagerly await your response, as I arrived home tonight to find that an electric box has been cut into the wall.

  172. Ettienne Deyzel

    My neighbor erected a Wendy house against the boundary wall. The problem is, he recently ‘renovated’ this Wendy and as part of this replaced the roof. The roof is now hanging over the boundary wall interfering with my electrical fence, and is obviously a security concern on my part.
    What is the regulation on this? How close is he allowed to erect any such structure to this boundary wall? Can I, legally, ask him to move this structure further away from the wall?

  173. George van der Walt

    Hi,
    A wall between ourselves and our neighbours has been threatening to fall over for a while. It is built in line with their fixed dwelling (garage attached to the house).
    Initially we had attempted to negotiate shared cost to repair the wall, but they refused.
    I then called in my insurance company to assess in case I could submit a claim, but besides saying that there could be no claim they also said that because the wall is attached to their garage, which appears to be built on the property line, it is in fact their wall and they should be covering the cost of repair.

    Does this sound correct?
    PS: the wall has since collapsed, which is causing problems for the sale of the property!

    Thanks in advance.

  174. My neighbour had built a wall between my property and hers without my permission. she is also building a structure ( looks like a cottage) off the wall in the corner of her property. The “cottage” uses the wall she has just built, and the boundary wall (on the street) as two of the main walls. Is this legal? Does she have to have plans, and should she have asked my permission as the cottage goes right up to the edge of the property.

    Is she responsible to plaster and paint my side of the wall – I was not consulted at all and do not have the funds to plaster/paint.

    Thanks

    Gayle

  175. Dear Sir/madam

    Read and understood your point that the local Municipality rules are to be obtained to address lateral boundary laws. Question though – May (acceptable practice) an existing lateral wall be used as a supporting wall for a roof, thereby enclosing a patio area, making it an additional room, attached to the existing dwelling? Can this be classed as a “minor building alteration?

    Would an objection to this be unreasonable?

    Kind Regards
    Alan

  176. Please could you advise me regarding regulations pertaining to plant screens above boundary walls. The neighbor adjacent to my property has a boundary wall which is also a street boundary wall which exceeds 2.1m. He has affixed poles to this wooden structure which are in excess of 3m. He runs wires along these poles and is growing Bougainville plants along and up this boundary structure. The plants are higher than 4m in parts and are starting to block our views. Is this allowed please?

  177. Hi Lizelle, In your municipality there might be a bye-law that deals with the finish of a front wall, in some areas the bye-law says: “Any freestanding wall shall be plastered, colour-painted masonry;” you must contact your local authority. The gate (for cars and people) opening is taken into the 40% formula.

  178. Hi Paul, Yes you will need permission and you will have to submit plans with a siteplan that shows the boundary pegs with surveyed co-ordinates. You will be able to build over the stormwater pipe with permission, but the inspector will want to inspect your foundation trenches before you place the concrete. Contact the local municipality in your area, we have a list here: municipality-contact

  179. Hi Jan, This is not covered by the SANS 10400 National building regulations that we deal with here. The SANS 60335-2-103 refers to electrical household appliances including electrical gates and doors. Your local building inspector should have access to these regulations and will be able to assist you. Or you can get hold of the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) for help: ecasa.co.za

  180. Your local building inspector must intervene and sort this out. It sounds as though she does not have plans as you would have to give permission. Contact your local authority.

  181. Hi Lawrence, This is certainly something that you must put the developer to terms about. Do this in writing as it does sound as though he conveniently “forgot” to mention it or to put it on the site plan that was presented to you. If at a later stage a fault should occur your insurance might not cover you.

  182. Hi Linda, If you paid for the wall then it is your property and he is not allowed to touch it. The least he could have done is ask your permission. You must tell him in writing that he has no right to attach anything to your property and that it must be removed immediately and that any damage done must be repaired. Include that if this is not rectified by a fixed time (maybe 3-4 days) then you will contract someone to remove and repair the damage and that he will be liable for the costs. At this stage you might call the local building inspector to intervene and present the documentation to them and ask for their assistance. Be aware that this could get nasty and that it could drag on for a while.

  183. Good day, do I require a plan if I intend to build a 1.5 m wall and remove my delapated precast wall. Thanks veez

  184. Hi Varsha, If you are replacing it then you should be fine. The only thing I suggest you do is put it in a letter to them that you have replaced the wall and keep a copy of the letter.

  185. Hi George, I am sorry to hear about your problem. Walls between neighbours is a constant problem and one that can not be easily sorted out. The common law is that “in the absense of proof that a boundary wall is entirely on one of two adjoining properties, it is presumed to be half on one property and half on the other. Some legal authorities state that then each part is separately owned by the owner of the property on which it stands. Other authorities state that the wall is owned jointly in common by the owners of the adjoining properties.” You might want to side with the insurance guy if it is attached to his garage, and call in the local buiding inspector to give a ruling as to whose property the wall is on and who is responsible.

  186. Hi Ettienne, The law is on your side here as he has no right to enter your property either physically or with any part of any structure. You can claim damages from him if any thing gets damaged. You must put it in writing to him that he is not allowed to encroach onto your property and he must rectify this immediately. You can call your local building inspector and report the illegal structure.

  187. Hi, my neighbour asked if he could highten the vibacrete wall by 2 slabs at his cost as he wanted more privacy. We agreed to this. However our original slabs/wall is smoothe & his is rough vibracrete, he has given us the rough side of his 2 slabs heightened by his builders, his slabs are a different shade, there are gaps in between the slabs where the pole extension was put on. Our poles ended in a triangle, they have just put their pole extenstion ontop of it like that instead of first flushing it straight, broken one or two of our poles and left the mess on our side of the wall, not to mention that at the the end of the wall they have left a a big gap. What is our rights on this, as this has created an eyesore for us and as far as im concerned it does not look very stable. They say that because they paid for it, they get to have the smooth side. We are not in a position to paint our entire boudary wall because of the mess they created. What can i do about this.

  188. Hi Gayle, Walls and boundary fences are a big problem here in SA. If there is nothing written into the title deeds then neighbours should get a written agreement between them where both parties know exactly where they stand. With no agreement then either party may build a wall and by rights ask the other neighbour to contribute. If they did not ask you it is their responsibility and then you have your privacy and security sorted. In your case they are not obliged to do anything to your side of the wall but you can paint it or plaster it but you may not damage it in any way. He is allowed to attach anything he wants to the wall so long as it is strong enough to carry the weight. Each city and town has their own zoning rules as to how close to the boundary an owner can build, you will have to phone your local building inspector and ask them.

  189. Hi Alan, Ideally neighbours should get a written agreement about the walls between them where both parties know who owns what and you both know exactly where you stand. He is allowed to attach anything he wants to the wall on his side so long as it is strong enough to carry the weight. As you have said each city and town has their own zoning rules as to how close to the boundary an owner can build, and what each council sees as “minor building work”. Unfortunately there is no consistency so you will have to phone your local building inspectors and ask them.

  190. How close to the street can I build my fence (wall)? I stay in Monte Vista. Cape Town.

  191. Hi,
    We’ve recently replaced a partly damaged hedge between our and our neighbours gardens with a 1.75 m wooden fence. We informed our neighbour prior to installation. it is about half a meter within our property and was fully paid for by ourselves. He now claims the fence is illegal because the less attractive side faces his property. Is this the case?

    Also, we are now intending to erect a 6 strand electric fence above this. Do we need his permission to do this? He is already complaining about what is a very attractive fence, we are wondering what his reaction will be to the electric bit. We informed him when we moved in 5 months ago that we planned to put up electric fence, but fear he may have forgotten.

    Help/ advice would be appreciated.

  192. please assist me I need to know what is exact meterage that should be left pavement for people to walk betwwen the egde of the road to the beginng of the boudry wall

    thanks

    Deva

  193. Bianca, I know this isn’t very helpful, but you should have discussed exactly what your neighbour was planning to do – including clearing up any mess. However, in terms of common law, I am pretty sure that you have a right to expect that whatever he was going to do would be to the same standard as the original wall. You can demand that he removes what he has done and replaces it with materials that match the original wall – i.e. no rough unsightly surfaces – and that it is erected without gaps – and that all mess is cleared with a certain period of time e.g. 10 days. The problem is that it is very unlikely he will do what you say; so I guess the best would be to get a lawyer to put the demand in writing and threaten to issue summons if it is not done within a specified period of time. Take photographs as evidence.

  194. My neighbour built a boundary wall and later I decided to extend the wall. I informed them of what I wanted to do and they agreed. Now they want me to plaster and paint their side of the wall because I decided on the extension. What are my rights on this?

  195. Tlhogi, In any instance like this, it is always best to talk through the agreement beforehand so that both parties know what is expected of them. You have no obligation to do this if it was not agreed to beforehand – but it might sour your relationship with your neighbour. My advice is to talk to them and come to a compromise. They are, after all benefiting from the wall you have built.

  196. Hi I have a problem with my back door noighbours the have pre casting walls on the boundry so in the one end of the wall at the bottom they have holes where all their dip water runs through mixed with dog poo and dog hair we had the health inspectors come out but they say the holes must be there and there’s nothing they can do about the mess running to my property… Help is seriously needed please!!!I can also be contacted @ 0844385152

  197. I’m sorry Brent but that is a health risk and the health inspectors have an obligation to do something about it. Try going into the council and escalating the case. But you must put it in writing – here is a link to the forms you need to fill in.

  198. This is generally covered in the local authority bylaws Deva. Contact them and ask.

  199. My neighbor want to start building but does not want to build a wall, i work late and i am worried about the security of my family. i also have big dogs. I asked to have the wall built first before the building but she says that this is not necessary. What must i do?

  200. Hi there. We currently have a wire fence between us and our neighbours, but want to replace this with vibrecrete for privacy. Do we need permission from neighbours? We are willing to pay for all cost. We live in City of Cape Town. Parow.

  201. We moved into our family home around 1962, and 20 years later, we erected a vibracrete wall; the neighbour on the right agreed to pay 50%, while the neighbour on the left was not interested; fast forward to 2014, the current renters tied their washing line to the two vibracrete poles behind our garage, and the poles are now leaning forward, into their yard (I was living in Pretoria when they moved in). This past week, we painted our home, and raised the height of the wall on the left, because the neighbours have small black stones in their driveway, and ‘somehow’ many of them have landed in our driveway…never mind, the children’s balls landing in our yard, their weeds growing through to our side, and them climbing and peeking into our yard – we had six slabs, and now raised it to eight.

    This past Monday, the contractor approached the neighbours (now owner) next door, and asked if he could enter the yard to straighten the poles, and he flatly refused (twice), and told the contractor, he wants nothing to do with me (**I called the former owner in 2012, and complained, when a woman came and swore at me.**) On Tuesday, I called some friends in the legal field, one suggested I get an interdict, another recommended that the contractor remove the lines and straighten the pole from our side, which he did, and this morning, the line is attached again).

    [**the one time, some woman came over to retrieve a ball from our yard; I told her I had guests, I would get back to her…by the time I did, she swore up and down at me as I kept her waiting, and I walked away…I was surprised at my restraint! As for the ball-there was no ball**.]

    Looking forward to hearing from you, and thank you.

  202. Monica, since you erected the wall it belongs to you, and if they are tying something to it that is causing damage they are liable to repair the damage – or cover the costs you have outlaid. You also have a right to demand that they stop doing this.
    Getting an interdict is all very well, but it’s going to cost you money.
    I would start by writing them a letter stating the above, plus that you reserve the right to take legal action against them if they ignore your request. I would also say that you object to them peering into your yard and add this to your demands. i.e. that they stop. And to be bloody minded I would say that you are tired of balls being thrown or kicked into your garden and from now on will not return them, but will pass then on to less advantaged children. Also state that under no circumstances will you give them access to your property.
    If you were to get a lawyer to write the letter for you they are more likely to take it seriously.
    I would also contact the owner of the property and put them to terms, because ultimately they are responsible for the behavior of their tenants. I know that in my own lease agreement there are clauses that specify things like noise etc that might affect neighbours.
    Just one question, did you check with the local authority whether they needed plans to raise the height of your wall? Over a certain height you DO need plans, depending on the requirements of local bylaws.

  203. I don’t think so Susan. Here’s a link to the official Cape Town policy regarding boundary walls and fences. As long as you comply with their requirements and the National Building Regulations, and build just your side of the boundary so there is no dispute regarding boundaries, I am reasonably certain that you don’t need their permission. If you go over the standard height allowed you will need their permission. Check with the council and also check whether they need plans or not. Freestanding walls and fences that do not exceed 1.8 m are considered to be minor building work.

  204. Clayton, they are not obliged to build a wall. Perhaps you could erect some type of fencing. Of course the ideal would be for you to come to an agreement with your neighbour that you go 50:50 on the cost of a wall or fence. If you start having disputes at this stage, life is not going to be very neighborly in the future.

  205. Justine, absolutely nonsense. First of all freestanding walls and fences under 1.8 m are regarded as minor building work, and do not require plans. And the fact that it is on your side of the boundary line means he has absolutely no rights. In terms of the electric fencing, local bylaws cover this. Here’s a link to the City of Cape Town policy. And here is a link to an article I wrote last year about electric fencing legislation. I would contact the local authority and check what their requirements are just to be safe.

  206. Thank you, Penny, and would certainly follow your advice…and hopefully, get a ‘decent’ response from these neighbours…for all the many years that we have lived here, this is the very first time that we have such ‘drama’…would keep you posted.

    Thanks again!

  207. Hi – our neighbour has unilaterally raised the height of the boundary wall between our property and theirs. Neither of us built the wall (we both bought our respective houses with the wall up already) and we assume it is on the boundary line between our properties – ie, 1/2 on ours, 1/2 on theirs. The neighbour is raising the wall by a considerable amount – the wall will be in excess of 2,5m when completed. We had installed electric fencing affixed on the inside of the wall – ie the face of the wall looking into our property and now with the neighbour raising the wall, the fencing has become pointless as one can climb the wall from their side and jump over without coming anywhere near the fencing as it is about 2 feet below the top of the wall now. What advise do you have for me please?

  208. Good morning, I am in the process of getting quotations for the erection of palisade fencing with an automatic gate to fence off the front of my property. I live in the norther suburbs of Cape Town and last week a house in our street was broken into. As my daughter and I live alone here we want to be as safe as we can. The contractor who has given me a quote tells me that I have to have this fence “put onto the plan”,
    I don’t have a copy of the plans and she has told me that once I have the plans they will have the necessary additions done on them, after I have paid R2 500 upfront for this service. Is this in fact a requirement under the by-laws of the City of Cape Town?
    Thank you.

  209. romeo jameson

    HI i have a problem with my nabours wall on my left boudary the wall is loose an busy falling apart ,im afraid it mite fall on my kids .Do i nead a plan to build a new wall advise please

  210. Lynn Hakkesteeg

    Hello we live in a town house complex and we are wanting to move the complex boundary wall to where it should have been, but looks like the builder took short cut when the complex was built. We have the building plans and building lines that prove this is our land. Do we need a building inspector to first survey to make sure we are within the law before we go ahead. Many thanks Lynn.

  211. Lynn the key is that the pegs must still be in place. If they aren’t then you will need to get a land surveyor to verify their position according to the official documents. Building inspectors are not qualified to do surveys. If there aren’t pegs in place, you could try pegging the area yourself and ask the local authority to check and approve new wall position based on this. It could work, but I can’t be 100% sure.

  212. Many thanks Penny

  213. Hi Penny,
    First got to come clean/admit: My original reply was with regard to a retaining wall built by my neighbour on the side-walk/pavement.

    No plans were submitted – only after the wall was built/finished and then approved “provisionally” (Is something like this?). A surveyor had to submit details of the position of the pegs and showed the wall was built on the pavement – exceeding his erf by2 meter and leaving only 900mm for pedestrians using the pavement!

    The municipalty are now going to advertise and ask for objections.

    How should I handle this case?

  214. Good Afternoon: We live on a pan handle and are in the middle of three properties.
    1) The property at the ‘back (on the road)’ put up a wooden fence along our driveway boundary and this as per plans was supposed to have been a ‘retaining wall’. 5yrs later our driveway is cracking, leaning towards the wooden fence. This fence was put up whilst we were abroad and did not contribute to the cost of it. Do have any recourse.
    2) The property in ‘front, when building the house, cut back quite severely on our boundary line. We discussed the matter with the owner at the time and I jokingly said….if we have continuous heavy rains the bank will wash away and we will end up living on your property’….he eventually built a low retaining which does not hold back the entire ‘bank’ and with the rains we have had over the past two years we can now see our property is sloping down towards the fence. Part of the ‘fence’ is palisade, which we erected and this leaning over quite a bit. Our concern is that is the palisade goes the fence will possibly go as well and who then is responsible with replacing it. I have a feeling that they may be selling and for that reason we need to deal with this matter ASAP. Your advice will be greatly appreciated. Many thanks in advance, Yvonne

  215. Subject:
    Regulations with regards to distance from neighbouring borders

    Message:
    Dear Consultant

    I’m planning to build a double storey house on a rather small sub-divided plot. I’d like to know how far from the neighbouring border I should erect the house.

  216. Subject:
    Building lines

    Message:
    Hi,

    I would like to build a house in an estate in Kyalami, Johannesburg, and would just like to understand what is the applicable building lines for a double storey residential 1 house. The estate guidelines say 5m but I would like to know what the legal limit is.

  217. Subject:
    building lines for pets

    Message:
    HI I would like to find out what is the building regulations for building a pet shalter. we life on a small holding and build in the corner of our property from the boundery wall 2 walls that connect with a gate just to keep dogs inside during the day the walls are1.2m high is it legal our not we life in Pretoria thankm you

  218. Bernadette Valentine

    Subject:
    Gate

    Message:
    Hi there. can you tell me if I need plans to erect a gate. the poles are placed in the inside of the property.

  219. Hi Penny
    Is the height of the boundary wall measured from the interior or the exterior
    of the property?
    The property in question has been back filled, and the height of the garden
    on the interior of the property artificially raised, probably by a meter or so.
    From the interior of the property, the boundary wall may just comply with the 2.1 meter regulation, but from the exterior of the adjacent stand, the wall is a lot higher than 2.1 meters.
    Will the council take the measurement from the interior or the exterior of the property?
    Thanking you in anticipation for your advice.
    Peter

  220. Good afternoon
    I stay on the Cape Flats
    Who can I approach to remeasure my property as I think my neighbour is encroaching on my property?
    What is the maximum height of vibracrete wall that I can erect without their permission?
    Do I need to serve them with notice of my intention to remove the current structure, which they initially erected (mixture of galavanised sheets off street view and vibracrete at street view) or can I go ahead and remove?
    Many thanks

  221. We moved into our house about 4 years ago in JHB. We are on a hill and Our neighbor that is higher than up approached us recently to say that if anything happens and damage is caused by our boundry wall collapsing we are responsible? Is this true? I was always under the impression that the person higher was the one responsible for damage caused if the insurance does not cover it. Can you comment on this. Who is responsible in this case? We have not done any of the said building so can only assume an architect was consulted before building commensed. Would appreciate some advise. Thanks

  222. Brett Schneider

    Hi, my neighbour has build a lapa right against our boundary wall and his thatch roof hangs over the wall. He has also heightened the boundary wall under the thatch, enclosing the lapa. Is what he has done legal and if not what shall I do.

  223. Hi penny

    I live in green point and my neighbour in front om me never cuts his trees so for 8 years we have had it done which we dont mind because if we don’t it blocks out are view really what I want to know is are you allowed to let your trees grow as high as you want .

    Ty diane

  224. Hi

    Need some advice desperately.

    We moved into a house 1 year ago which was built some 24 to 26 years ago

    The boundary wall (double wall) on our side is a single brick wall of 15 running meters, 3 meters high, and on our neigbour’s side of the wall is rock and plaster up to just above ground level on his side.

    The natural slope of the ground must have been disturbed when our property was developed at the time as the wall from ground level to the neighbours ground level is 1,2 m

    The neighbour recently started cutting down a tree on his side which was growing close to the the boundary wall . Subsequently the wall started cracking horisontally and is bulging where the tree stump is still in the ground.
    Our insurance company declined our claim and said the wall was not errected according to building regulations. The neigbour’s insurance subsequently rejected his claim as well. Should the wall collapse it pose a serious risk should the wall colapse as it endangers my property

    Question: (The neigbour said he has no money to re build the wall ) Who is responsible to rebuild the wall and possible future damages

  225. Hi,

    i recently purchased a house as a rental income. The neighbor did, whilst i was renovating, update me to the fact that the previous owner and him had had a fallout over the erection of a boundary wall and sharing costs incurred. He then decided to build it on his property at his own expense. But there was no problem he just wanted me to know…

    When the new tenants started moving in on Wednesday they packed some goods against the vibracrete fence. The neighbor was quick to read them the riot act and state that they may not lean anything against the wall and the water from the sprinklers may also not touch the wall.

    What is the law on this?

    Thank you for your time.

  226. Grant if the wall is on their side of the boundary – and they erected it – then the wall belongs to them. So if there is damage to the wall your tenant would be liable. However I don’t think there is any legislation that states specifically that a neighbour may not touch or wet the wall! A couple of thoughts: Depending exactly where the wall has been built, there could be a small strip of land on your side of the wall that MIGHT belong to the neighbour (though chances are they actually built ON the boundary). You would need to find surveyors’ pegs or have the land resurveyed to be sure. My point being that if there is even a few cm of their land on your side of the wall then they technically would have a right to demand that nothing touches the wall on your side. By the same token they could not then demand that you maintain that side of the wall and you could demand that they paint it etc. Not one of the fights you want to get into though. At the end of the day I think that it all comes down to what is reasonable. Packing things up against a vibracrete wall could destabilize it and potentially damage it. So I would think it would be deemed reasonable to ask them not to lean things up against the wall. We’ve had several comments from visitors to this site where this type of wall has collapsed because bricks or soil was banked up on the other side. As far as sprinklers are concerned, my personal feeling is that this is totally unreasonable. However, as I said at the outset, if the tenants damage the wall, or do something that leads to damage, they (or you as the owner) could be held liable.

  227. Hi

    We have an existing vibracrete wall (4 panels high) and would like to either increase this to 6 levels or put up a new wooden fence. We live on a fairly busy road and would like the added security of a higher wall as well as the noise reduction a higher wall may bring.

    Having read the building regulations it says that 40% must be visually permeable, would this then mean that we would not be able to increase the existing wall?
    Also, do we need to obtain approval before commencing any work?

    Thanks for your advice.

  228. Thomas, the best is for you to contact the local authority in your area. They have different policies. The National Building Regulations as such do not specify what is and is not allowed in terms of boundary walls and fences. They will also tell you whether they need plans. You will, in any case. need approval.

  229. Last year I built a triple garage on the boundary line or so I thought it was the boundary line. There was a old wall from probably 30 years ago which divided my property and my neighbors. The previous owner and I agreed I could take this old wall down and erect a new one at my cost in order to build the garage. The garage shares the boundary wall. The plans was approved at the local council to build like this. A new neighbor has now moved in and it turns our where the old wall was and where the new one is, is not the boundary wall. 1 metre into my property actually belongs to the neighbor. I am not sure now what to do? I looked at the plans that was approved and we have built to that specification, however the architect if he had measured the size of the property he would have seen my property is 1 metre bigger. This could have been resolved then before any building took place.

    Looking for any advice.

    Regards
    Brandon

  230. Brandon you have a problem, but I really don’t believe it is the architect’s fault. It is not the responsibility of an architect to measure boundary lines – this would be the function of a qualified quantity surveyor. However, a few things come to mind. Firstly, did the new owner have the property surveyed? Or what is this revelation based on? Did you have a written agreement with the previous owner, and do you have proof that there was a boundary wall in that position for several decades? The latter could probably be used to prove that it was reasonable for you to assume that this was the boundary. If I were you I would first establish exactly where the corner pegs of your property are. You will need a surveyor for that, though you might try first working off the original surveyor general’s plan. If you had a written agreement with the previous owner and the plans were approved by council, there may be a legal loophole – but you will need to consult with a lawyer. Otherwise you may need either to demolish the wall or comes to an agreement with the new owner in terms of the land. But if that one metre is in fact your neighbour’s land, you would have to have the two properties resurveyed and the title deeds changed. Let us know what happens.

  231. Elsa, that’s a tough one, apart from which I am a little confused as to which wall might collapse. I also can’t visualize the ground level in relation to the two properties. Not having seen the walls it’s also impossible to gauge whether the insurance companies are in fact correct when they say they have not been built in accordance with the building regulations.
    However, if your neighbour’s tree has damaged your wall, it is his responsibility to rectify the situation. If it has caused damage to his wall and the wall now poses a threat to your property, it is also his responsibility to rectify the situation – because if he doesn’t, and his wall collapses, then he’ll be liable for the damage.

  232. Hi Penny,

    Thank you for your reply. The new owner has not had the property surveyed, it is what his architect is saying, that we have built 1 meter onto the neighbors property. I did a quick measurement of my property and it truly does seem +- 1 meter more. I have to come back to my architect who drew up plans for the entire property with the existing building and of course the new construction. If he truly measured he would have seen a discrepancy between what he measured and what council has on record.

    In terms of proof of the wall I have photos showing the old wall and where it was. The size of the trees will establish the age of the wall. The trees have subsequently been removed. The agreement I had with the previous owner unfortunately was a verbal one. I offered to remove the old wall at my cost and erect a new one also at my cost. To remove the wall would also mean breaking down the garage, which of course I don’t want to go there. The garage was in excess of R180 000 excluding the carport and paving.

    I am in the process of seeking legal advice to see what can be done. If I need to purchase this land, then maybe that is the way to go, providing he is willing to sell. The neighbor says he wants to settle this amicably, so I can only hope.

    Thank you once again for replying. This I must say is very stressful.

  233. You absolutely cannot just measure the property. It must be surveyed by a professional to ensure that the pegs are in the right place. You are not obliged to do anything until this has been done. So this is something that your neighbour should do. Maybe the boundary line was at an angle, or maybe another boundary wall or fence is in the wrong place. Those pegs are crucial.
    The starting point is probably to access the title deeds. You can get the original surveyor general’s drawing from Pretoria if you don’t already have them. The other factor is that you had plans passed by the council, and they would normally cross refer to a site plan that is based on the original surveyor’s drawing. In fact they won’t accept plans without a site plan of the property. It really was not up to your architect to measure your property. He should have worked from the site plan (i.e. the surveyed plot) and then measured from the boundary – which was his/her starting point. And I can’t imagine how else he would have worked. Have you asked?
    As I said before – or kind of intimated – if you buy the land, there will be all sorts of registrations etc and changes to the title deeds that need to be done. It might be the only solution … but please check thoroughly first. Good luck.

  234. Hi
    My boundary wall has lights fitted, one light did not work as the cable is damaged so the builder has just connected a cable to a working light and connected the cable to the non working light and strapped the cable to the wall, all the other cabling is cemented into the wall, is the strapping of the cable to the top of the wall legal

  235. Probably not Phil. Apart from which a qualified and registered electrician should be sorting out the problem for you, not a builder. The law is very strict on this one.

  236. Diane I am not aware of any bylaws that prevent you from allowing trees to grow as high as you want. If they get in the way of telephone lines or Eskom power lines then you would have to allow Telkom or Eskom access to cut them. In terms of blocking someone’s view… “Unless he is restricted by a servitude, your neighbour may erect buildings or grow trees so that your view is obstructed or the amount of sunlight which you receive is greatly reduced.” Reader’s Digest Family Guide to the Law in South Africa (which is a little dated, but contains some very useful information that is still valid).

  237. Brett if the lapa overhangs your wall it in encroaching your property and you can demand that he removes the section that is encroaching. But this must be done within a year and a day of you being aware of the encroachment. It sounds as if by increasing the height of the wall he has made an enclosed structure for himself, and this would require plans. So no I don’t think what he has done is legal. You could start by contacting the planning department of your local authority and asking them to send a building inspector to investigate.

  238. Laura it would depend on the cause of the collapse. If your neighbour was discharging water into the foundation of the wall, or stacking bricks up against the other side of your wall, he would be responsible for it collapsing. But if it collapses for some other reason that has nothing to do with his property or actions, I guess it would be your responsibility. What puzzles me is why the neighbour is bringing this up. Was there a previous issue about the wall? Is it a common wall or does it belong to you? If it is a common wall (i.e. not owned by either one party), then you would share the costs if insurance refused to pay. And new assume anything! An architect might have been used, but a large number of walls are simply built by contractors, bakkie builders or even by DIY owners themselves.

  239. Charmaine you will need to get a land surveyor to measure your property according to the original Surveyor General’s drawings.
    There is some useful information in this article about the City of Cape Towns walls and fence policy.
    In terms of the National Building Regulations, “any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil,” is considered to be minor building work – and you therefore do not need plans to build it. This in turn means that you can build a vibracrete wall that is no more than 1,8 m high.
    If the neighbours erected the original structure it is theirs and you cannot simply remove it. Go and talk to them and tell them what you intend to do. There could be security issues, and they may want you to demolish it in sections (I would). My guess is that they will be only too happy to have a decent fence around the property. But it might be a good idea to get the land surveyed first as this could be an issue.

  240. Peter if the property has been back-filled, then an even more important issue will be, is the wall strong enough to retain the soil? Requirements for retaining walls (which this becomes) are not the same as for freestanding walls. In terms of height I imagine they would take the higher side of the wall.

  241. Bernadette, no you don’t need plans.

  242. Yvonne, if the fence is causing your driveway to crack up then you definitely have recourse to the owner of the fence. They should be liable to rectify all damage at their cost.
    Similarly if the “damage” to your palisade fence is being displaced due to cutting away the ground and an ineffective retaining wall, he should firstly improve the retaining wall and second deal with the damage at his expense.
    However persuading neighbours they are liable is another story. If they are not cooperative you will have to go to a lawyer. So you will need to weigh up costs overall.

  243. Pieter I’ve a little confused. Am I right that your neighbour has built a wall without plans that encroaches on municipal land, making the pavement very narrow. If so, and you object, then object officially.

  244. Johan there are not any regulations that apply specifically to pet shelters. To know whether it is legal or not you will have to find out from the local authority (Tshwane) whether you are permitted to build a structure on the boundary. Here is a link to the Tshwane Town Planning guidelines. There may be something in there that might help you.

  245. Hi Penny,

    Correct, the wall was built without plan and it encroaches on municipal land (pavement). According to the street map of the Surveyor General the “street” is 13 meter wide with the actual tar 7 meter and the pavement average 3 meter on both sides.

    I did object and is now waiting for the municipality to advertise the encroachment inviting objections.

  246. Go for it. People can’t just claim municipal land for themselves…other than perhaps planting on it, provided it doesn’t deprive others of their rights 🙂

  247. Denny, you can download the City of Jhb Town Planning Scheme here. It should specify this information. If not contact the City and ask. However, bear in mind that you will need to comply with the estate guidelines even if the City allows people to build closer to their boundaries in your area.

  248. Hendrik this is specified in the municipal bylaws. It varies. Contact your local authority to find out.

  249. Peter you can download the CT zoning scheme here. It gives all the relevant information you need.

  250. Romeo if it is a freestanding wall and no higher than 1,8 m then no you don’t need plans because it is regarded to be minor building work (see link). But the wall must be built in accordance with the NBR and you need to let the council know that you are going to be reconstructing the wall.

  251. I don’t think so Sharon. Here is a link to an article that discusses the City of Cape Town’s policy regarding walls and fences. There’s a lot of info there so have a read. For instance, “Note: The National Building Regulations state that walls and fences to a maximum height of 1,8 m are regarded as “minor building work” and do not require plans. So whilst the City of Cape Town allows walls and fences to be a maximum of 2,1 m, unless they rule otherwise, plans will be required.”
    I doubt that the fencing is higher than this. You could always call the City to double check, but it sounds like someone is trying to take you for a ride!

  252. A wall may not be raised to this height without plans. And if this wall is considered to be a common wall, your neighbour needs your permission to raise the height. Then there is the issue that he has in fact compromised your safety! You could take legal action against him, but before you do so, report the issue to the local authority planning department. They have the authority to make him demolish what has been built!

  253. Lucy, I know that the City of Cape Town has a policy in terms of walls and fences, and there would be no problem if the screen was solid and up to about 2.1 m. I don’t think that there is anything to stop one from using poles and wire and plants to add height. FOr instance you can let trees grow as high as you like: “Unless he is restricted by a servitude, your neighbour may erect buildings or grow trees so that your view is obstructed or the amount of sunlight which you receive is greatly reduced.” Reader’s Digest Family Guide to the Law in South Africa (which is a little dated, but contains some very useful information that is still valid).

  254. preggy govender

    My home is below road level,our driveway entrance comming into the yard has a sand on the left handside,im raising a wall alongside the bank inside the property,what kind of requirements do i need?Its just over a metre in height only visible to me.looking for some advise please.

  255. Preggy you probably should get a professional on site to give you advice.

  256. Hi

    My neighbour has built his braai place right on the boundary wall, where there is trees, scrubs as well as my bedroom. When he makes fire all the smoke comes in my room, even when closing the windows. I don’t think this is legal. Where can I get more information on this.

  257. Karen this becomes a case of “public nuisance”. Also, if it is a substantial structure then he may have required plans. The best advice I can give is to contact the planning department of your local authority and ask them to send a building inspector to investigate. Alternatively you could send a letter (preferably from a lawyer) to the neighbour to say that the smoke is adversely affecting your home and your health and demand that he demolishes the structure.

  258. Hi. I need some advice please. About 13 years ago we purchased our property which had a wire fence separating our property from the neighbour’s at the back. About 4 years ago the neighbour approached us about sharing costs to erect a precast fence which we agreed to do. He said that the old fence was already on the boundary line and based on trust we went ahead and installed the new fence. About two years ago he sold the property but the municipality said that one of the structures on his property was too close to the boundary so he appealed to us to relax the boundary which we did and the sale went through. Recently we decided to extend our home and when we got the property plans from the local municipality we realised that the new fence is actually 6 metres into our property and not on the boundary line at all so a good 138 square metres or our property is actually on the neighbour’s side.. When we approached the new owner to negotiate with him he says that we agreed to put up the fence so it really is not his problem at all. We requested to move the fence back to the boundary line but that would mean the demolition of his kitchen which we indicated is a drastic measure that we would not like to do. To complicate matters his soak pit is in that disputed 6m area and he quite arrogantly told us that we should we glad that he is maintaining our land. He also questioned why the municipality had not red flagged the disputed area when he purchased the property. As far as he is concerned he purchased the property with the fence as is and he sees no reason why things should change. We want to get a land surveyor to measure our property but what are our rights as the owners of the disputed area? What does the law say in such matters?

  259. Hi
    Whilst walking on the Alphen Trail in Constantia this morning, my dog cut herself badly on a razor wire fence of one of the properties that back onto the trail. Is this kind of fencing legal when it is on a public pathway? Thanks. Kim

  260. Subject:
    neighbourly problems

    Message:
    My mother in-law is having problems with her neighbour for she has blocked the holes at the bottom of the wall where storm water is suppose to pass so that storm water does not enter her yard. as far as
    I know regarding regulations that is not allowed. do you perhaps have regulations for me to print out to show the neighbour its not allowed?

  261. i am planning to build a boundry wall, there is a electricity box outside my property. My question is can i lay the foundation over the electrical supply cable running to my property.

  262. Hi

    I’m currently having palisades put up infront of my house and to my knowledge you don’t need building plans to have these erected as we arn’t doing any brick work. But a municiple representitive came to our house and said that we do need plans.

    I have tried to find some information on the matter,but I do hope that you can help me with advice on the matter.

    Thank you
    Lindy

  263. Hi,
    I am hoping that you might be able to help me w.r.t. some issues concerning building work on an an adjacent erf to our home.
    1. Our neigbour subdivided his plot and excavated a pan-handle alongside our property. The excavation is deepest at the back end of our property – it is hard to determine the exact depth as we cannot get onto the property. Judging from the retaining wall that has been built on the neigbour’s own property we estimate the excavation to be at least 2m deep. Our property has slipped by approximately the height of one brick next to area excavated. We asked the relevant building authorities in CT how the neighbours could have had plans passed for a retianing wall on one side of the excavation without being asked what was happening on the other side of the excavation. The authorities have no explanation, the building inspector says no problem and City says it is a civil matter between us and the neigbour.
    2. It would now seem that the sewage pipe is going to pass close to our boundary along the pan handle – as the excavation for the manhole touches our boudary. Is there not some minimum distance that this should be from our boundary? We have a second panlhandle on the other side of property and the manhole is in the middle of that panhandle and a fair distance from that boundary.

    I would appreciate any advise which you might be able to offer. Many thanks, in advance.

  264. Anna, First of all, the relevant authorities are the City – and the building inspector is employed by the City, so if you are getting conflicting answers, you may not be talking to the correct people. You should probably talk to the relevant town planner in your area – i.e. the branch of the City that is in charge of planning. Here’s a link to another page on this site where you can download the City of CT zoning scheme. This will show you that one no longer requires neighbour’s consent to build on a boundary – but I am not convinced that it would allow manholes right up to a boundary. There are many plumbing regulations that come into play, and I don’t believe that any local authority can change these. I may be wrong. Try phoning IOPSA on Tuesday, their contact numbers are on their home page. They should be able to answer all plumbing-related queries and give you some advice.

  265. Lindy, In terms of the National Building Regulations, minor building work – which includes palisade fences up to 1.8 m in height – does not require plans. However, as you can see from the link, you are obliged to notify the council of your intention to erect such a structure. The local authority does also have the right to demand plans. If I were you I would go in to the local authority and ask for clarification from another person … someone in the planning department. Start by saying that you intend to erect a palisade fence that is xx m high which, you understand in terms of the NBR is minor building work.

  266. If it is the supply cable this belongs to the local authority and you should therefore get their permission before doing this.

  267. Hi

    We recently moved into a house and the vibracete wall at the back of the house has a section which is higher than 2.1m . At the end of the wall on the last 2 sections, the height was increased by two slabs each. To me this looks very unsafe as the metal rods where the join is, is exposed. I am concerned that this wall my collapse. Is the stability of the wall compromised when the height exceeds 2.1m.? Apparently
    This extension was done by the Neighbour.

  268. afternoon i hope u can help me urgently the neighbours ground level is higher than our ground level and thier were many trees and stuff up against the wall and now the wall has fallen over into our almost damaging our car and now he wants to replace the whole wall and wants retaining walls and he wants a 8 foot wall 3 bricks wide and the costs of this is over R50000.00 and then he wants us to pay for it while his trees and soil has pushed over the wall and we dont have the money to pay for this please help me with some advise

    thx

  269. Hi. I live in a highly rated housing estate in Fourways jhb with my home on the boundary. It has electric fencing. My concern is that the area is sloping and on the one side of the property the electric fence is high however on the one end it is less than 1metre high. I have two small children and the electric fence is within reach. I have tried to address this with my home owners association but they claim it’s my fault that my house is built too high. I question why is it that the rest of the yard is fine except one corner. They don’t want to take responsibility nor have they tried to come up with a solution. I am also aware that some of my neighbours have the same issue but have not complained. I am worried about my children touching the fence and getting injured as it is a high voltage fence. Please help as I am aware it’s illegal to have electric fencing that low.

  270. Subject:
    Boundry Wall

    Message:
    Hi there, I recently had my boundry wall topple over due to all this rain. The wall is on a plot which meant alot of the building bylaws were never applied. The wall is 1.8 m high single brick and for this reason my insurance have rejected the claim. Where can I find regulations on how thick walls must be as per their hight?

  271. Subject:
    Double Story on the boundary

    Message:
    Good day,
    My neighbour wants to build a double storey structure that will reaches our boundary wall. Is this correct?? Shouldn’t there a space between our wall and his structure?? What are the regulations?

  272. Boundaries are covered by local bylaws Masabatha. In most areas (except the City of Cape Town) neighbours’ consent is required. Your neighbour will though need approved plans before he/she starts building. You can always object to the council if you have reasonable concerns.

  273. A freestanding brick wall up to 1.8 m is considered to be minor building work and single brick is quite adequate. However the important part is the foundation – this should always be wider than the wall, generally the width of the foundation should equal the thickness of the wall (222 mm for a one-brick wall) plus twice the thickness of the concrete foundation – about 620-630 mm. i.e. the depth should never be less than 220 mm and at least 620 mm wide.

  274. Ikraam, The legislation (National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act) states that the owner of any site “shall provide suitable means for the control and disposal of accumulated stormwater which may run off from any earthworks, building or paving.” If necessary, the local authority may (according to the Act) insist on a “rational design prepared by an approved competent person” e.g. an engineer. They may also insist on plans for this. Part R of SANS 10400 covers stormwater disposal – which is the “deemed to satisfy” part of the regs – gives guidance on how stormwater should be disposed – e.g. gullies, drains, downpipes and gutters etc
    So you will see that the owner of a property is obliged to take care of his/her own drainage of stormwater – and this does NOT mean that you must expect your neighbour to take the flow of water onto their property (unless there is a registered servitude for this purpose).

  275. Hi there,

    Our business is located in a gang ridden area with blocks of flats on the one side of the business (a street leading to the apartments separate the business from the flats). Our front entrance to the business is fine but the bigger 2nd entrance which is used on a daily basis numerous times is located in that street going past the flats. The municipality want to put up fencing enclosing the flats and that road completely with there only being 1 possible entrance right on the far, other side of the flats where that road eventually ends up. This means, our clients won’t be able to use our large entrance with their trucks and due to the gang related activity they also won’t want to make use of the far off entrance and then have to drive past all the flats with the risk of getting cornered there & robbed. Which legislation of rights can be look into about this to see what OUR rights as business owners are with regards to this matter? The business has the correct zoning for that area and has been running there since 1992. This is in the Western Cape. Thank you!

  276. Kim the City of Cape Town has strict policies in terms what is and what isn’t allowed, and Razor or barbed wire is “Not permitted in any form in residential zoned and commercial zoned areas but will be permitted in industrial zoned areas”. It’s not even allowed on top of walls or fences. I would report it to the City if I were you. My only concern is that the trail might be zoned agricultural and the document I am quoting from does not specify agricultural zoned land in this regard.

  277. Sharm I think you are going to have to consult a lawyer on this one. First you should check though – with the municipality – what the implications of allowing the previous owner to build the wall. I doubt very much that you were “giving” him a portion of your land. To do that you would need to go through a legal process. The other possibility would have been to register a servitude – again there would have had to be a legal process. Oddly you say that the neighbour has acknowledged the fact that the 6 m area is your land. My take on this is that the land is yours and you have every right to demand it back. At most you would be obliged to re-erect the fence on the boundary. It would be wise to get a land surveyor in to mark the position of the land. At the end of the day the land – as originally surveyed – is yours, unless you have sold a portion or a servitude was registered. Municipalities do not take responsibility for this type of thing so his argument that it should have been “red flagged” is irrelevant.
    But please do go to a lawyer.

  278. Janine I am sorry I have absolutely no idea. The only thing I can think of is putting in an official objection to the City of Cape Town (or whichever local authority you fall under). Or phone John Maythem at Cape Talk and see if he will get hold of the authorities for you.

  279. This article on our sister website may be helpful. You will see there is a link to a booklet with further information. From what you say it is illegal.

  280. Who’s wall was this Des? If it was yours and they did not maintain their side causing your wall to collapse, your neighbour should be liable not only to replace the wall but to also foot the bill for any damage that may have been caused. If it is your wall then you can decide whether or not to fix it, replace it, or demand he repairs or replaces it. If it is his wall, then it’s entirely his problem. In either instance there is no way that he can force you to pay one cent unless you make an agreement to do so – or unless there are issues you have not mentioned. If it is a common wall – i.e. owned by both of you – then you will have to a) agree on what is built and b) agree to pay 50% each.

  281. Yes Candice it is and they would have required approval. The building regulations state that walls under 1.8 m do not need plans and are minor building work; some councils allow walls up to 2.1 m without plans. But certainly above that they would need approval.

  282. My boundary wall also double up as my wall for my granny flat.The wall/boundry wall is at back of my yard and also serves as a boundary wall for my neighbor at the back.Recently the house was demolished at the back and a new structure/house was erected.The new house is much bigger then the original house approximate twice the size.My problem is that during the heavy rains experienced the water from the back property has found its way through my walls and into my granny flat causing major damage to my items in the granny flat.On investigation i found that there is no way for water to escape or run naturally.The problem is that the water has noway or nowhere to go and it just gather to form a huge mass of water behind my wall of the granny flat.This water seeps through my walls into my place.Please HELP ME AS I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO.I spoke the new owner twice but he has not taken concrete steps to resolve the issue.Does the responsibility lie on me to put in counter measures to prevent it from happening or do i take legal action to resolve the problem which i am not comfortable with. Please help as i do not have any solution to the problem.Thank you

  283. First question Wezza, was your granny flat built legally? If it wasn’t then you won’t want to involve the local authority. Secondly, was your neighbour’s house built with approved plans?
    The legislation (National Building Regulations and Standards Act) states that the owner of any site “shall provide suitable means for the control and disposal of accumulated stormwater which may run off from any earthworks, building or paving.” If necessary, the local authority may (according to the Act) insist on a “rational design prepared by an approved competent person” e.g. an engineer. They may also insist on plans for this. Part R of SANS 10400 covers stormwater disposal – which is the “deemed to satisfy” part of the NBR – gives guidance on how stormwater should be disposed – e.g. gullies, drains, downpipes and gutters etc
    So you will see that the owner of a property is obliged to take care of his/her own drainage of stormwater – and this does NOT mean that you must expect your neighbour to take the flow of water onto their property (unless there is a registered servitude for this purpose). So it really is his problem – and you may need to take legal action to force him to resolve the problem.

  284. Hi, Awesome site, thank you guys so much for that.

    I would like to build a garage and granny flat (single story) in the back of our property, one of my neighbours has a double story which is on his boundary (perfectly legal as it was built years ago).

    My question is, can I use that boundary wall as one wall in my garage or granny flat?

    regards
    Deon

  285. Hi, please can you let me know who is responsible for water flowing from one property to another. My property is on a slope so therefore I take the rain from the left side property and the right hand side takes water from my property. Do I have to build up my property to stop the natural flow down the gradient?

    Many thanks

  286. Elizabeth, the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act – i.e. the legislation says: “R1 Stormwater Disposal Requirement
    (1) The owner of any site shall provide suitable means for the control and disposal of accumulated stormwater which may run off from any earthworks, building or paving.
    (2) Such means of stormwater disposal may be in addition to or in combination with any drainage works required in terms of regulation F4(2). see below
    (3) The requirements of subregulation (1) shall be deemed to be satisfied where such means of stormwater disposal is provided in accordance with SANS 10400-R: Provided that where a local authority is of the opinion that the conditions on any site render it essential for stormwater disposal to be the subject of an acceptable rational design prepared by an approved competent person, such local authority shall, in writing, notify the owner of such site of its reasons for the necessity for such design, and may require such owner to submit for approval plans and particulars of a complete stormwater control and disposal installation for such site and for any building erected thereon, based on such design.”
    SANS 10400-R (the deemed to satisfy SANS) describes acceptable ways of dealing with stormwater – e.g. gutters, downpipes, drains etc. So your neighbour needs to take steps to ensure that it doesn’t flow onto your property (within reason of course).

  287. Deon the fact that your neighbour’s house was built years ago does NOT necessarily make it legal! Even prior to the NBR, plans needed to be approved by the local authority.
    For you to build now, you will need plans drawn up by a competent person. The City of Cape Town has changed its zoning regulations, and as a result it is unlikely that you will need neighbour’s permission. But there are restrictions in terms of size and the length along the boundary that you may legally build.

  288. North facing property. Who owns which perimeter fence. Facing North, Easet fence erected by my neighbours many years ago. Fence is now collapsing onto my property, as a result of their indigenous gardens overgrowth. Back fence erected by agreement paid for by that neighbour. West fence erected by us, expense of section shared with neighbour on that side.

    Problem and question is east wooden fence which is rotting and becoming an eyesore hidden by neighbour due to their overgrowth.

    Hope you can help.

  289. Good afternoon
    I see there is a lot of unclarity surrounding storm water between properties, but my query is regarding ground water. We recently purchased a house in Centurion, and both the property behind us and the property next to us have drainage into our property. To add to the problem, we have a very high water table and our property is lower than the neighbour’s, hence our property and lawns are constantly water logged. Even weeks after rain we can not walk around the house as water remains around 5cm deep. We are now considering putting in french drains under our lawn, but where are we allowed to go with the water drained? The land is not sloped towards the road so we can not have it flow towards the street. Do we drain it to our neighbours lower down? Is it the problem is the neighbour higher than us? Your advise would be greatly appreciated as we have no idea what else to do.

  290. I just want to know if you want to build a wall around your house what do u need to do must you go to city if council with your house plan.Pls tell me where to go and what I must do.

    I live in Mitchells Plain.

    Thank you
    Regards
    Bonny

  291. Bonita, freestanding walls up to 1.8 m are regarded as minor building work. This means you don’t need plans, but you do still need to notify the council of your intention to build the wall. They MIGHT ask for plans.

  292. Ruan, you will need to consult with a qualified plumber who is also registered. If there is a possibility of linking a drainage system to the municipal stormwater system you will need their approval. You cannot simply drain it onto a neighboring property.

  293. Ray if you read through the many answers I have given via this page, you may find answers. If a fence was erected by your neighbours, it is their fence. If you shared the costs, it is probably a “common” fence, in which case ownership is shared. Generally it is best to come to an agreement with your neighbours.

  294. Hi, i would just like to find out about my wall facing my neighbours. it has been plastered and is roughly 400mm from the boundary. I have offered to paint it and they refused stating that the wall is not “smooth” enough. The wall plastered looks much better than the rest of their house by the way. Am I in my right not to paint and redo the plaster?

  295. Hi,

    My neighbours double garage and my double garage are joined at the boundary “wall” i.e. right next to each other. A previous owner for the neighbours house built a “granny flat” on top the garage. In doing so the built a sloped roof which slopes down towards my property. The roof overhang is over my garage. Is this allowed? Is a neighbouring roof allowed to overhang onto your property?

    I was not the owner of my property when this alteration was built. Do I have any recourse?

    kind regards
    Trevor.

  296. Hi Penny. I live in a sectional title complex. I have a ‘back’ balcony off my main bedroom. Behind the balcony wall is the neighbor’s patio. My balcony always seemed to me that it is a little small and I decided to do some investigation. I found the sectional title plans signed by the surveyor general and also the building plans submitted to council when the block was built. It became very obvious that behind my balcony wall is a large part of land (about 14-17 sqm) that is registered in the deeds office as common property belonging to our sectional title. The plans also show that a wall should be surrounding the common property. We approached the neighbor and informed him that his patio is on our land and that we plan to build the wall to comply with the approved sectional title plan. He refuses to give our contractors access to the patio area in order for them do measure up where exactly the wall must be build and says him and the developer of our building had an arrangement that he can take that piece of land even though it is registered on our body corporate name. Would it be legal for us to break through my balcony wall..onto our common property…and build the wall where it is supposed to be? Has he got any right to that piece of land? And who can I contact from the city of Cape Town to do an inspection and inform the neighbor that we are the owners of the land and he has no right to keep us off our own land? Thank you.

  297. Hi. I’m currently building a house in an estate in Tshwane. I shared costs with all neighbours in the building of boundary walls. One neighbour that is still in the process of applying for a building bond is unwilling to commit to sharing the cost of our boundary wall. If I build the wall (1.8m high and double brick) solely in my property I assume the wall is mine and he would not be allowed to plaster or paint the wall on his side (without us coming to some form of monetary arrangement to share costs). Would this still be the case should I build half the wall in my property, and the other half in his property? In other words, would my legal rights be the same irrespective of whether the wall is only in my property, or on both our properties? But I still paid for the erection of the wall? Thanks.

  298. Joe, If you were to build the wall on your side it would indeed belong to you. However, it would be unreasonable not allow your neighbour to plaster and paint his side of the wall. It would also be unreasonable to leave that side unsightly. But I would think that if that side was finished neatly, and not plaster, he would not have any type of claim against you.
    As soon as you build the wall on two properties, you are going to need to make a formal agreement in terms of costs etc. For instance, you could agree to build the wall at your cost, but state that he needs to plaster and paint his side. It would then, I think, become a common wall.

  299. Wouter this is a tough one. I am not sure who is supposed to have built that wall in the first place. But certainly he and the developer had no right to come to an arrangement where he took land that is registered as common property. You should get hold of the Planning Department of your nearest branch of the City of CT, preferably the local town planner. The only one I know is in Somerset West, but if you have difficulty finding the correct person to contact I can ask her. Let me know.

  300. Are you saying that they are wanting you to replaster the wall? If it is on your property you have absolutely no obligation to redo the plaster.

  301. Trevor this is really a legal question – and I would think that it is tantamount to encroachment. The problem is that one has a year and a day to demand removal of an encroachment (as far as I know) – and it sounds as if it’s been this way for quite a while. Having said this, if the roof is causing problems – drainage or whatever else – then I imagine you could make a legitimate demand in terms of rectifying the situation. But I really am not certain.

  302. Good day,

    Thanks for the great website, it provided me with many considerations and guidelines with regards to building.

    I would like to know with regards to neighbour consent, is there a specific consent form which must be completed or is a signed written agreement sufficient.

    regards

  303. David Drummond

    Dear Penny

    Recent heavy rainful led to a build up of storm water behind a partition wall that separates our property from our uphill neighbours. The neighbour employed contractors to drill large drainage holes drainage the wall citing local bylaws allowing for stormwater drainage across neighbouring properties. In drilling the holes the contractor took out all our telkom, gate motor and intercom cables. We now have water draining from the neighbours property directly in a line to our front door. We had asked the neighbour to rather drain their stormwater down their driveway and not to touch the wall. Does our neighbour have the right to act in this way ? Our postcode 2191.

  304. Hi David, What bylaws did they quote? Because the NBR specifically state that it is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure proper drainage. My guess is that if the bylaws do state that stormwater is allowed to drain across neighboring properties that this would not require approval of this by council, to ensure that it was done correctly and did not simply drain the way it seems to be doing. If they have damaged your cables etc. they are liable to repair them. If you can let me know what bylaws they quoted and confirm which part of Gauteng you are in, then I will see what I can find out for you.

  305. David Drummond

    Dear Penny

    We live on Dainfern, RSA 2191.
    The specific bylaw has not been stated.

    Regards
    David

  306. David I suggest you demand to know which bylaw they maintain allows this. I will though call the City tomorrow and try to get through to someone who can give me some guidance.

  307. Darron I think each municipality has its own forms.

  308. David, I haven’t managed to get through to anyone useful at the City of Johannesburg, but we have spoken to a local (WP) building inspector who confirms what I told you. What your neighbour has done is definitely highly suspect!
    I have also ascertained that the City’s legal dept would be able to supply a copy of the by-laws – they don’t answer their phone (if it’s the correct number I have been given 011-4077372) – and that stormwater in general falls under JRA (the Road’s Agency) – constantly engaged 011-2985000.
    I have a copy of the City of Johannesburg’s Stormwater Draft By-laws – referred to as the Stormwater Management By-laws. It’s the most recent version I can find, and a good starting point.
    These state that responsibility for complying with the by-laws is with the developer, contractor, or if the property has been developed, the owner.
    “owner of property which has been developed, is responsible for compliance, and for ensuring compliance, with any provision of these By-laws which is applicable in respect of that property after conclusion of that development.”
    Chapter 5 of the document relates to stormwater management, but mostly focuses on the development phase. It does though stress the importance of taking expected/possible flooding into account at the design and building phase – specifically 50-year and 100-year flooding.
    During development (or construction), the by-laws state:
    “Any property and watercourse downstream from a development site must be protected from erosion due to an increase in the volume, velocity, and peak flow rate of stormwater from that site by the utilisation of an appropriate best management practice to minimise any adverse downstream stormwater impact.” And essentially this will remain the case once the property has been developed.
    “48.(1) Any owner of a property on which any stormwater drainage facility or other measure based on a best management practice has been constructed or provided, before or after the date of commencement of these By-laws, is responsible for the continual effective operation, maintenance and repair of such facility or measure, in accordance with the provisions of these By-laws and the manual.” And of course the facility should have been designed to be able to cope with the stormwater on that property.
    The by-laws also talk about the responsibility of property owners to ensure that stormwater facilities are being properly maintained – and the council can give notice to property owners to take steps to rectify things that are wrong.
    But there is nothing that I can find that relates specifically to neighbouring properties – they seem to be more concerned with road stormwater. This is rather like boundary walls and fences where the focus is on the roadside fences/walls.
    I think your best bet would be to go into the nearest City office and ask to see someone who can help you. I have to contact our local town planner this week – and I will also ask her for her opinion and let you know if I find anything more out.

  309. My neighbour just put a container very close to my boundary wall, claiming its their property. It is so long it goes over their yard to the pedestrian pavement. Is this legal

  310. My mums property has no dividing wall between her and her neighbour. Recently the neighbor decided to erect a wall between they house. They did so without her consent. After the wall was erected, my mum feels that the wall is more in her yard.

    What can she do to find out if the put the wall on the boundary, or if its in her property what are her rights to make them remove it

  311. Cindy, If the survey pegs have been removed, the only accurate way to find out exactly where the boundary is is to have the property resurveyed by a land surveyor. You could do a rough measure yourself if you have the surveyor general’s plan of the property. This should be with the title deeds; or you can get a copy from the Surveyor General’s office in Pretoria. This will indicate more clearly if in fact they have encroached on her property. But to take action or make demands you will need a surveyor’s report. Then you or she can take the report to your neighbour with written notice for the wall to be removed. If they refuse, you will have to go to a lawyer.

  312. No Malunga it is not legal to place a container or to build any form of structure on council property (the pavement). Contact your local authority and report them.

  313. Suzanne Hofmeyr

    Many properties have gardens planted on the pavement outside their boundary walls or fences. Please can you tell me what the regulations are in this regard?

  314. Gardens are not generally built structures Suzanne, so there are no building regulations that relate to payment gardens. Most local authorities seem to welcome them since they improve the neighborhood. Some local authorities may specify limitations in their by-laws.

  315. neville matthews

    Are plans needed for a precast wall of 1,8m around my property in Durban?

  316. Hi,

    What if the boundary wall is only on my property? I contacted the contractor that is building next to me and wanted to discuss the options of sharing the cost that I already paid 100% for the wall with him at a reduced rate. He originally agreed to this.

    His response now when I follow-up on payment is plainly NO he will not pay part of the wall? What rights do I have to then either force him to pay the 50% cost or to build his own wall on his property?

    Looking forward to your feedback.

    Kind regards,
    Shawn

  317. Neville this is considered to be minor building work, however sometime municipalities do demand plans. The link I have given you explains it in more detail.

  318. Shawn, If the wall is on your property and you discussed sharing the cost after the wall was constructed – and he agreed – it becomes a civil matter to do with an agreement. You would need to sue for breach of the agreement via a lawyer. If you don’t have a signed agreement you will have difficulty in proving the agreement.
    I don’t see the point of trying to force him to build his own wall. If you really want to be bloody minded you would need to demolish your wall – in which case he would have to build his wall (or not). I don’t see the point of that either. 🙂

  319. Thank you for the reply.

    I do not have a signed agreement as I just trusted his word. So you learn from your mistakes 🙁

  320. Hi there , my neighbors put spikes up on the wall that separates us , we have asked them to pay half to raise the walls but they said the wall is on our side so we must pay to have it raised. If the wall is according to them on my side are they allowed to put spikes on the wall. As I believe it could harm my dog as he likes to jump up against the wall and look over from time to time. But has never gone over. Thank you

  321. If they mean by on your side that the wall is on your side of the boundary, then they absolutely cannot put spikes on the wall without your consent. Even if the wall was owned jointly (because two parties had paid 50% each and the wall was on the boundary) then neither party may, without the consent of the other, remove or raise or lower the wall – or add spikes etc. Further neither may tamper with the wall in any way – e.g. by making a hole in it.

  322. neville matthews

    Is there a tolerance on the wall placement around the boundary line or does it have to be 100% exact.

  323. Neville if you knew how many battles there are between neighbours about boundary walls and fences you wouldn’t even ask that question. If you encroach on a neighbour’s property without a formal agreement you are inviting trouble. A section of the foundation may, however, be on the neighbour’s side, so long as it is underground.

  324. neville matthews

    in 2002 this property was subdivided, and a weldmesh fence erected as part of the deal and the panhandle part remained undeveloped. I bought the major part in 2006. The owner of the open panhandle stand would not contribute to a wall, so I had it erected inside the fence, and left the fence standing. He sold it undeveloped in 2006. The new owner built a house and removed the fence. Now in 2014 he claims my wall encroaches. What now?

  325. Neville the only way to check this is from the pegs. If the pegs have been removed you can re-measure the property using the original surveyor general’s drawing. For this to be done accurately, you will need to use the services of a qualified surveyor. The question is whether your new neighbour has done this. You can certainly challenge him and ask for a certified surveyor’s drawing that shows where the encroachment is. I’d love to know the outcome of this one … will you let us know?

  326. neville matthews

    This obnoxious little p$#@k arrived at my gate this afternoon and told me that I will take the wall down. I told him that I will do nothing until I get a decision from the housing inspectorate. He told me that he was going to his lawyer, and that “You are not going to like living here”. I asked if he was threatening me and he just walked away.

    I have already reported the matter by e-mail to the police and will follow up in the morning.

  327. Neville don’t ever rely on emailing the cops. You should be at the police station reporting his threats.

  328. Hi there

    Our neighbors build a retaining wall as the house they buildt is lower than the ground of ours.
    In the process, the undercutting took away from our soil and as a consequence the entire front and left foundation gave way that produced a crack through the entire house. We had a verbal agreement with the owner but he has since suffered a stroke and his son ad wife who now have taken over the affair say that they will not take responsibility. Do I have any legal precedent to persue this?

    Thanks
    Tyron

  329. Tyron, the law is very clear that retaining walls may not be built without plans. If your neighbour had had a plan drawn by a competent person, this would not have happened. It is 100% their responsibility to rectify the matter. Contact your local authority and/or an attorney.
    Part A of SaNS 10400, General Principles & Requirements details what is minor building work – i.e. the work that does not require plans. In terms of walls it states that “any free-standing wall constructed of masonry, concrete, steel, aluminium or timber or any wire fence where such wall or fence does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil,” = minor building work. Furthermore, Part K of SANS 10400, Walls is very specific in terms how retaining walls must be built.

  330. Thanks Penny
    I am happy to hear this, as now I can persue it legally.

  331. Tyron, the other factor is that they have damaged your property, so it isn’t just a case of them building what I suspect is an illegal and substandard structure. They are legally liable to pay for damages. If I were you I would start with a lawyer’s letter pointing out their obligations – and put a figure on your damages. Going to court will be costly – but it sounds like you have an excellent case, so you might be able to avoid it.

  332. Good day Penny,

    My parents neigbour have an unsightly wooden extension to the boundary wall, as the boundary wall is not very high. My father has asked him to either fix, replace or take it down as he never got permission to put same up. It really does look very bad as worn down.

    Please advise what steps can be taken?

    Kind regards.

    Sanet

  333. Sanet if the wall is on their property they don’t have to ask permission, provided the local authority does not object. If the wall, including the extension, is 1.8 m or less they didn’t need a plan to erect it either. Your father should go and talk to them and see if he can either persuade them politely to improve it – and/or offer to pay 50% for same. If they refuse, he could offer to pay the whole lot. If the wall is on his property then it would be his responsibility to fix it. If it is a common wall – i.e. owned 50:50 then the neighbour have required his permission.

  334. Serge Gaboreau

    we have a building boundary witch is 3 metre away from our property boundary .
    My question is are we alowed to erect a retaining wall parcialy in to the building boundary ?
    thank you
    Serge Gaboreau

  335. Serge you are allowed to build on the property boundary. However you will need plans for any retaining wall.

  336. Hi Penny, as you rightly said it is a contentious issue with all the posts. I have a neighbour who extended the boundary wall to 2.3m high. He has no approval from me or plan approvals. When I approach Parow municipality, they blankly told me it is a civil claim (even though it is in excess of their parameters?!). Is this right? The neighbour said he knew few people in municipality and was builder some years back so wasting my time. Now, he is building a boundary wall right to street edge. Is the front part of property not owned by municipality or is boundary walls allowed to street edges?

    Appreciate your insight as municipality is of no support to to me.

    Steven

  337. I own a free standing townhouse unit as per sectional title.My unit’s main bedroom and 2nd bedroom suffice as the boundary walls separating unit mine and the unit next to mine. My neighbour has drawn up plans for renovations and one of them being a recreation room is to be erected against my main bedroom wall which according to my assumptions, my bedroom wall will serve as one of the walls for this new room.
    My primary concerns are as follows:
    – this new addition will devalue my home from being a free standing property to a semi detached home
    – an addition to increased noise levels to the current serenity of a free standing property

    Another option that they have discussed is to build a secondary wall a metre or so away from my property to serve the new boundary wall so that my property is not attached to their new room. To ensure no dampness builds up, they will erect a drainage od some sort so that the water from my room slides back onto their roof to drain away. This seems that my home will still be inadvertently attached to their new room via this attachment.

    I am truly concerned about the new wall and any damp occurring here seeing that the distance will not allow any repairs to be made being such a tight space as well as the new roof attachment that will join our homes and devalue my property.

    What are my rights- how should I correctly address this without legal implications?

  338. Hi Penny

    I have a brick retaining wall at my house that is approximately 1m in height.

    With regard to point 9 of minor building work “any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminium, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil”.

    * firstly, given the height, would I require building plans for my wall or can it be considered minor building work.
    * secondly, for the 1m height of the wall would I need an engineer’s certificate
    * I have a 220 mm Collar-jointed wall without any pillars (piers). Part K specifies pier sizes for 1.7 and 1.8 maximum heights. I am unsure how to interpret Table 16 given my 1m height wall. Would it be required to have piers for this height.
    * lastly, what would base material be referring to for the context of the retaining wall? Is it the foundation?

    Thank you

  339. Riaan, ALL retaining walls require plans. The key is: “… and does not retain soil.” I have just added an article that will give you more information. You need a competent person to draw the plan – preferably an engineer.
    My interpretation of Table 16 is that low collar-jointed retaining walls (viz 1 m and 1,2 m) do not require piers, however they need to be thicker than 220 mm. So if it’s 220 mm it would presumably require piers even if the wall is low – for stability – unless you have an engineer’s certificate.
    I can’t find a reference to “base material” in Part K. I doubt this term would be used instead of the word foundation. Perhaps it means the compacted ground beneath the foundation?

  340. Thank you Penny for your reply.

    The term base material was used by the ABSA assessor to reject my claim for damages to my retaining wall. I asked them for a definition which they have not given to me. I can only think it refers to the foundation. The sad part is that the foundation is 100% in line with regulations and still 100% in place. Even the ABSA contractor commented that they will re-build using the existing foundation. I will continue my fight with them 🙂

  341. Hi Penny,

    I bought my house 5 years ago (a property the previous owner had built, including boundary walls). The walls are very high on the neighbours side. My neighbour has now built walls on the other sides and was told by his neighbour that he needs to plaster and paint both sides; as a result he now has come to me to ask me to pay for the wall to be plastered and painted on my side. Firstly, I never built the wall – it was there when I bought the house and secondly, it is 5 years on; does he still have to ask for payment to have the wall plastered and painted and is there such a law?

    Grant

  342. Grant no it really doesn’t work like that! There is absolutely no law that covers this. I have gone into the issue of ownership of walls to the best of my ability on this page. Essentially the NBR state that any free-standing walls up to 1,8 m = minor building work. If you want to build anything higher you must have plans approved by the local authority – and the bylaws kick in. If you build on the boundary or on your side of the boundary, there is generally nothing that states you need your neighbour’s permission. In terms of plastering the wall, this should be indicated on the plans if it is required. There is no doubt that common walls between neighbours are a huge issue – people fight about them all the time! If I was building a wall that needed to be plastered, and my neighbour wasn’t contributing to the building cost, I would expect him/her to plaster their side and paint it. But this has to be agreed to in advance. If there was no agreement and no argument at the time, there can be no issue five years down the line… apart from the fact that you bought the house with the wall already in place. This would be a common law matter – I’m not sure what the time period for an objection would be, months rather than years I would imagine. I am pretty sure that in common law it is up to each party to maintain their side of a common wall, so if your neighbour now wants it plastered and painted, he needs to take care of it.

  343. Riaan if I were you I would get an independent consultant to give an opinion. It seems to me that insurance companies try every loophole to get out of paying claims! If you have approved plans, and the wall was built according to the plans then they wouldn’t be able to get out of it. But if you don’t have plans you are likely to be hitting your head. Good luck – let me know what happens.

  344. We have wooden fencing between our next door neighbours house and ours. According to them it is built on their property, therefore we have the ugly side of it. All this is ok but now, without letting us know, they have put up a further fence in front of the existing one that is about 1 1/2 to 2 metres taller than the first one. We have the back of that one too. It is very unsightly and, I feel, brings down the value of our home. It is completely uneven on top and very upsetting. Are they entitled to do this?

  345. Steven I thought I had answered this question, but maybe I just thought about it! If a wall is 2.3 m high it requires plans – unless a building control officer has officially issued an exemption. And you are absolutely right in terms of the boundary wall. It sounds to me as if he is encroaching on the pavement, which will affect anyone wanting to walk there? Have you considered getting neighbours to sign a petition. Alternatively contact the City’s legal department and lay a formal complaint. Don’t just talk to building inspectors. In fact it isn’t clear who you have spoken to at the municipality. You could go into their offices and demand to speak to a town planner.

  346. You can certainly object Jill – to the municipality or via a civil claim that they are reducing the value of your property. Also check that the fences are in fact on your neighbour’s property – if they encroach on yours you can demand that they take them down. If the fences are on their side, the best way to overcome the problem would probably be to erect your own fence – even if it’s wire mesh that you can grow plants over to hide their structure. The other factor to investigate is whether they had plans approved for the higher fence. In terms of the building regulations, only fences 1,8 m and lower are minor building work and therefore do not require plans.

  347. Hi Penny,

    According to sectional title- who is liable to install proper drainage for rainwater that falls off my roof onto the neighbours property as well as to prevent damming – will it be my accountability or the body corporate?

    Regards,
    Aruna

  348. Aruna, in most sectional title schemes large areas including common gardens, the roof, any common corridors and staircases are seen in law as common property and the body corporate has to maintain and keep them safe.
    Essentially common property in a sectional titles scheme comprises all the land on which the scheme is situated and all exterior parts of buildings. Roofs, the exterior (outer portion) of walls and foundations also form part of the common property, as do gutters, downpipes and boundary walls. Therefore responsibility for fixing problems in these areas rests with the body corporate. As you are probably aware, maintenance and repair of the common property is organised by the trustees appointed by the body corporate.
    Trustees are the people who authorise repairs and maintenance to common property but may not carry out improvements without referring the matter to the body corporate. They use the money collected from levies to do this.

  349. Aruna there are two issues here. One is what the body corporate allows and the other what the local authority allows. You need to check with both regarding allowable distances between free-standing homes in the development as well as the percentage of land each “plot” can be developed.
    I am pretty sure that a new extension can only be built with the consent of both the body corporate and consent in writing of all the owners of sections and holders of sectional mortgage bonds etc (which would include you). Changes to the existing sectional title plan will also need to be approved by the local authority.

  350. Adrian Williams

    Good Day Penny

    I purchased a house from a developer 2 years ago and have taken occupation more than a year ago. Subsequently the developer has come back to me telling me that the original pegs were put on the wrong spot, hence my property boundary back wall is 1 meter further to the back than it should be. The back wall of the house is 1m distance from the virbracrete wall as per the plan. The problem is that they also built the house 1 m to the back. If they had built the house in the right place and there was a 2 m space, no problem, that extra meter does not belong to me but;

    The developer now wants to move the back vibracrete wall against my house which essentially changes what i purchased as i will then not be able to walk right around my property as per the plan. It seems they are trying to make there mistake my problem now as they having issues with the person who purchased the house behind me, ie the property is now to small for the proposed plan on that plot.

    What is my recourse. I have refused to allow them to move the wall. What is my legal right and recourse.

    Thank you.
    Adrian

  351. Adrian I can’t offer legal advice, but I would also refuse to allow them to move the wall. And I agree that they are making their problem yours. If they were to somehow force you to allow them to move the wall, I imagine you would be able to claim some sort of compensation. Essentially,from what you say, it was the developer’s responsibility to ensure that the pegs were in the right place and if he’s messed up then it should be he who has to rectify the situation by possibly negotiating a servitude with the person who is the legal owner of the land he sold you! … at his cost. Alternatively he could have the land resurveyed and officially included on your title deeds and/or redraw the neighbour’s plan. I think you should get a lawyer to put something in writing stating that you will not allow them to move the wall under any circumstances. If they simply go ahead and move it while you are away from home, then you could have a major problem. So get a lawyer involved sooner rather than later.

  352. Adrian Williams

    Thank you for the advice. They want to have some meeting with the Cape Town city planning. But im concerned this might end up being me force me into doing something i refuse to do. But I have in writing clearly stated in March already that i am not open to the idea and have recorded telephone call with the developer stating that i will not allow this to happen.

    I will be taking the matter to a lawyer asap. Thanks again.

    Adrian

  353. My neighbor across the road from me has extended his street boundary fence, a palisade with approx 1.8m onto the sidewalk. This means his gates are now installed on the sidewalk almost 2m from his boundary and he has enclosed this area with palisades. He has also built flower boxes (Brick) on the sides of the boundary fence that extend right up to the street.

    Is this legal?

    The result is that his guests cannot park on his sidewalk and driveway, and cannot turn around there either. Thus they park and turn on my paving and front lawn.

  354. My next door neighbours carport is build next to our Dench construction it borders our Dench
    is it legal
    can I get a building inspector out
    what can I do

  355. Hi Penny. Thank you for your advice. One more question if you don’t mind. I know that you don’t have to draw up plans when building a wall of 1,8 m or less but you still have to inform council that you are building the wall. My question, the wall is already on the approved plans but was just never built. Now we are about to build the wall as per approved plans, do we still need to notify council?

  356. I wouldn’t bother if the plans are approved …

  357. CAN YOU SUGGEST WITH SPECIFICATION IN LAW THAT WHAT IS THE ACTUAL RULES IN WEST BENGAL TO BUILD UP A LAND BOUNDARY WALL BY LEAVE THE SPACE FROM ANOTHER LAND?

    JYOTISKA PANJA (ADVOCATE)

  358. Unfortunately we don’t have the building regulations for West Bengal. I suggest you contact the local authority for that particular region.

  359. Chrisna, I have no idea what you are talking about! What is a dench?

  360. No it isn’t legal, but the local authority needs to take action. I suggest you make a formal complaint in writing to the local authority.

  361. I am building a new home in the Western Cape / Sedgefield/ Myoli Beach area and have submitted plans for a 1.8 meter high perimeter wall which was rejected as the maximum street wall height is 1.2 meters or an application is to me made on a standard form to lift the restriction to anything under 2.1 meters. I
    have written consent from three neighbours to build a 1.8 meter high perimeter fence.

    The one neighbour however has indicated that he does not have a objection to me having a 1.8 meter rear and side wall but is not approving the application for a 1.8 meter front wall. Will this mean I am then forced to have a front wall of 1.2 meters high which apparently is a Western Cape maximum street wall height? or will the other three applicants approval be enough. There are 10 other properties in the area that have walls above the 1.2 meter max limit.

    This is now delaying my building project.

    You advice and guidance is appreciated.

    Kind Rgds
    Mike Pieters

  362. Mike this is clearly a bylaw – it is not governed by the National Building Regulations that state any wall up to 1.8 m does not require plans. The sad fact is that the municipality can do this. It is also NOT general to the Western Cape though. However, if there are other properties with walls above 1.2 m on the street side they have established a precedent. Why would your neighbour worry if the street wall was higher – this surely would be a security factor for you? You might need to get a lawyer to help you fight this one. I would get a copy of the local bylaws and read these thoroughly first. See exactly what they say a) in terms of height restrictions and b) in terms of neighbours’ consent.

  363. Hello Penny I bought an existing house about 4 years ago, the house was build in the mid 80’s with its boundary wall. Behind my house was an open plot that the owner now erected a house on. I received a letter stating that my boundary wall was build 1.2 meters into her plot. This was done when I was 13 years old, I bought the house not knowing who or when this wall was erected. Is this my duty to replace the wall? (that is what they are asking me to do) I suppose they used a surveyor and I am not contesting the claim regarding the exceeding onto the other plot. My question however is, as this wall was erected years ago is it my responsibility to move it? I do not care if the other party wants to move it but they are trying to force me to carry all costs.
    Regards
    Bernhard.

  364. Hi Penny<

    I live on sectional title property. My house which is plastered forms part of the face brick boundary wall splitting the two properties. Does that mean the wall of my house now belongs to my neighbour and I. As he has now drilled onto my main bedroom wall and installed a clothing line.

    kind regards,
    Jaya

  365. Absolutely not Jaya, he doesn’t own it. Even a wall that is owned jointly by two parties cannot be altered in any way without agreement between both parties. I think issue at the end of the day will be whether “damage” has been caused and/or whether what he has done will affect the integrity of the wall. If not, there’s probably no point in fighting about it. But the wall does NOT belong to your neighbour.

  366. Hi Jaya. Actually the outside of the wall belongs to both of you. In terms of the Sectional Title Act, this is Common Property and belongs to the Body Corporate (All of the owners), unless either of you have registered exclusive use. I strongly suggest you take this up with the trustees. Chances are that he is not allowed to install a clothing line anyway. He will need permission from the Body Corporate, agreed on a Special General Meeting.

  367. Juanmari Kruger

    I have a question and not sure who are the people I should ask about it. my neigbour recently installed an electric gate and when iy opens it runs across the front corner of my property. . . is that allowed? or should it be running the other way in front of their own property?

  368. cynthia msongelo

    My neibour build the house in to my yard iwas waiting for the inspector longtime they don’t help me

  369. Hi Cynthia, You need to call the inspector again and make a time for them to meet you at your house so that you can show them the problem.

  370. Hello, I am not sure if this is the right platform to seek advise or not. Our neighbourhood is trying to introduce ENCLOSED NEIGHBOURHOOD. My neighbour agreed that the security firm could put their guard room outside his palisade fence from the our boundary wall. This is 7 meter away from our main bedroom. They are currently using traffic cones which they don’t even pick up but moving them by their feet to allow cars to pass and stop not too far from our gate. All this were done and we were not consulted. My issue is the noise (being made by cars slowing down etc. as well as the guards who chats all night) and its like our privacy has been violated. Is there anything I can do in this regard? Thank you

  371. Hi Maureen, I am sorry to hear that you are having a problem with your new security arrangements. Unfortunately that particular issue does not fall under the National Building Regulations. The noise problem is a municipal bye-law issue and you could ask your local council to investigate and make a ruling. You should also approach your neighbourhood watch people and ask them to intervene.

  372. Good day,

    I bought a house in the Amanzimtoti suburb under the eThekwini Municipality (Durban), I want to get rid of my concrete fence on the front of the house and build a boundary wall with palicades in between, the lenght of the walls wont be taller than 3m and wider than 2m. Would I still be required to submit a plan and seek municipal approval?

  373. I live in Durban North. My neighbour has decided to put a bright red container right next to our boundry wall (not even 20cm away) Not only is it ugly for us to see as we drive up our driveway or look out our lounge window but it is also a security risk. They have constant attempted break ins as they front wall is low and now these thugs jump on this and over our electric fence and gain entrance into our property. What can I do about this? is this legal and who can I contact?

  374. Hi Dorianne, No one can just put a container on any property without getting permission from the local council first. Any structure closer to the boundary than the normal building line allows will also need the neighbours permission. A normal (standard) container measures approx. 6m X 2.4m, this will be 14.4 sq m. A garden shed is, in most municipalities, allowed to be max. 10sq m without plans but the one next door will need plans.. If I were you I would quietly take a photograph and take it along to your local Town Planning Department and ask them to get the inspector to visit the neighbour.

  375. Hi Nomfundo, Replacing an existing fence/wall will be allowed without plans. Phone them and check on the height allowed without plans, most municipalitie will allow up to 2.1m high, if you go higher then you might need plans and permission.

  376. Hi,

    My neighbour has requested to build a boundry wall. I understand that any wall less than 1.8m may not need plans. My question revolves around the following:

    – Our property is stepped i.e. neighbours property is about 0.5 meter higher than mine. He will be building the boundry wall on the boundry but within his property. Will the 1.8m height be measured from my side of of the wall (lower property0 or his side?

    Regards
    Kreasin

  377. Hi There,

    I have a two bedroom house, and we looking at getting a do, we have a back yard and a front garden, there is a side gate from the front of the house that leads to the back yard. We are wanting to put up a fence in the front of the house, just so that when we get our dog we can let him/her run all the way around the house and not be stuck at the back.
    Please advise if i have to have blueprints for this?
    Thanks a mil.

  378. My neighbor has built an outhouse out of brick and is using the wall separating me and my neighbor as part of their outhouse. ie their building sits right against the wall between us. Is this legal?

  379. Hi, i have a low wall around the front perimeter of my house, about 1m high. Is this considered as a perimeter/boundary wall? I was asked this question on a household contents insurance question. My backyard has a vibocrete wall.

  380. Hi Penny
    my neighbour built an enclosed braai area on the boundary. The perimeter wall was extended with glass bricks from 2.2 to 2.8 meters, a roof was added up and gutters are on my side over the wall. Could he have build it without my permission ?
    Thanks
    Marco

  381. I live on a panhandle property in Westville, Durban. My left neighbour’s property was built first and fenced by them. Due to the topography, their property is higher than ours by about 1m. The fence, and the retaining wall on which it sits, that they have constructed along the driveway is now starting to tilt. Also, the fence further further towards the back of the property is starting to tilt because of trees on their side.

    I have asked them on serval occasions to remedy the problem but they have not responded. I have recently learned that they secretly sold the house. I’m unsure as to whether the property has been transferred. How do I now address the situation and do Indo that with the new owners or the old?

  382. zane mc dermott

    i recently moved into a home, there is a watcrete fence between my property and next door. the neighbor
    complained to me that the previous owner had back filled soil against his watcrete fence and it is bowing. his fence is at max hight from his garden but my land is about 1m above his. he now wants me to remove the soil against his fence. if I do this there will be a gap of about 0.5 m. can I request that he move the fence off the boundary line and put it on his side of the line

  383. Hi,

    Thank you for graciously giving your advice. I stay in Durban and overlook the sea. Both myself and my neighbour have decks facing directly out to sea. Its in a complex so we are reasonably close to each other. About 3m. I would like to erect a wooden screen between us, that will be 1.8m high from their ground level. This is for the purpose of privacy.Their deck is probably about half a metre higher than their ground level. Would this be fine/legal?

  384. I have an existing vibracrete wall on my corner property and the wall is about 2 meters high with an electrical fence on top (800mm). I want to remove every 4th vibracrete pole and replace it with a sturdy brick pillar and then connect the vibracrete to those pillars.
    The current perimeter wall (facing the street), which came with the house, does not comply with the 40% visually permeable bylaw I read about above. I am assuming this law came in after the original wall was built. If I make these alterations will I have to comply with the 40% law and must I get council approval to make these alterations ?

  385. Hi, I purchased a house where we a 1.5m boundary wall that is collapsing towards my side. It has separated from the a joining neighbours wall. I have had my insurance asses the structure but has been informed that the wall is collapsing due to the neighbours tree that’s against the wall. I spoke to the neighbours, since last year December 2013, and made numerous calls to them, last I was told their insurance has approved their claim but they don’t have the time to take off from work to get it repaired. I have kids and pets, and IU am very worried that this could be life threatening and they I not taking this seriously. What can I do, to get this urgently repaired. I stay in Gauteng, Centurion.

  386. Hi…we are in the process of moving our garage to the boundary and the neighbour didn’t want us to remove the vibracrete…which we accepted, but now it turns out that the vibracrete is on our side of the property…the peg is clearly on the right of the vibracrete…What are our rights now? can we take down the vibracrete even if they have objections?

    They are not happy at all…I have told them that they are welcome to put the vibracrete back up, but on their property…

    Appreciate any feedback.

    Thanks Naeema

  387. morning,

    I need some advise I live in Witpoortjie Johannesburg and my neighbour has put up a store room against my boundary wall. Isnt there a restriction on this? How far from the wall is he allowed to put up this store room.

  388. Hi,
    I live in Amanzimtoti and wish to add a 1.8 m concrete block boundary wall between me and my neighbour. My neighbour has no objection and my contractor advised that I do not require any municipal or other approvals. Is this correct.?

    I also wish to do a retaining walls within my property. How high can I build it without municipal approvals.?

    Your kind feedback will be appreciated.
    Peet

  389. Hi Penny

    I have a twofold question: 1. Two years ago I had building work done to convert existing domestics quarters and the adjacent garage into a garden cottage. A doorway was created in the shared wall to link the two spaces. Also the garage door opening was bricked in and a wooden front door fitted. The former garage is now a kitchenette (with sink) and lounge area. 2. At the same time, a garden shed was built by bricking in an alcove created by the existing exterior walls of the house and placing an IBR roof on the structure so that it forms something of a ‘lean to’. A toilet was also installed in the shed using the shared waste pipe that leads out of the adjacent bathroom inside the house. Do either (or both) of these building renovations require council planning and permission? Many thanks in advance.

  390. Good day Penny! I built a boundary wall of up to 1.5m high around the yard. I only have 1 neighbor for now. They requested to build a garage from our wall and we refused because is close to our kitchen door. They did anyway. They built a garage on top of my wall. The wall is about 1.8m away from my kitchen door. And above 2.1m high. Is this legal… Kindly advise

  391. My neighbour is busy removing the fence and has gone to the extent of removing shrubs that are my side of the fence. I assume he should have told me if whatever he wants to built would reqiure him to remove the fence. This is a new neighbour and I have fears he could entrench into my property due to lack of knowledge of regulatory laws pertaining to building walls and fences. I wish to get an advice on this issue.

  392. Hi I want to extend my garage so we can fit my wife’s car in behind mine. This will bring the new garage 500mm past my boundary wall but not onto the pavement or anywhere near the road. Do I need to get plans passed or can I go ahead?
    Regards Derrick

  393. Hi Derrick, All alterations and building work need plans and if you are crossing any boundaries and or building lines you will have to get further permission from the surrounding neighbours as well.

  394. Dre from Gauteng

    If I did read correctly, you are saying that if you want break down an existing boundary wall to build a new wall, then you can do so without a plan. As long it is no longer then 2.1m

  395. Hi Dre from Gauteng, It depends what the original plans had on them. Usually no plans are required when you rebuild what was on those plans. If you change what was on the original plans then just a note to them in writing could be all that you need, this you should call and check with them. The height in most municipalities now is 2.1 meters.

  396. Hi Nokuzola, You must try and find the pegs at the corners of your property so that you can see where your boundary lines are. Without this you cannot guess if he is building on your property or not. If you cannot find any pegs then you might have to call in a surveyor to reset the pegs for you so that you are sure. One other thing is that he is allowed to have his wall foundations that are underground extend into your property so long as the wall itself does not go over the boundary.

  397. Hi

    I have a neighbor who bought the house next door, and because he was building up we did sign the plans, so that a wall could be built to Secure our privacy. I am not happy with what they have done, as you can see by the pictures I have attatched it was a haphazard job, There are big gaps in the wall where they never followed through with the double wall, Some of the double brick work is 3 layers, some four layers and its an absolute abortion. I would really just love some advice as to what I can do as I am really in the dark here.
    I cant even plaster this, nor do I have the money to fix it. I have approached them but to no avail. The owner just keeps telling me we need to compromise. I still don’t know what he means.
    I would really appreciate your assistance in this matter
    Kind regards
    Charesse

    AND

    Subject:
    Walls

    Message:
    Its just very sad, that I have sent 4 emails, and I have yet to get a response. Its really shocking and disgraceful. I really expected better service than this from you.

  398. Hi Naeema, The first thing is to make sure that the peg is in the correct place. Sometimes the peg can get moved when builders think that it gets in the way of their work. You can try and find the other pegs on your boundary and if you have a site plan, you can get this fron the council, then you can measure out to see if it is possibly in the right spot. The only other way is to ask a surveyor to come and reset the pegs for you. Then when you know this there can be no arguments. You must also check who paid for the wall and when it was built. If it is your wall then you can take it down and offer them the option of putting it back up.

  399. Good day Penny

    The one side of my property the vibracrete wall is 2.7m high, I want to raise the back and the other remaining side of my property to the same height, my neighbours are happy with this, Do I require a building plan or do I have to get permission for the City to do this?

    Thanks

  400. Hi

    I Just bought a Townhouse situated in Goedemoed, Durbanville, in a small estate. The plot size is approximately 360 sqm. On the left there is a single garage (separate from the house), the garage also forms part of the boundary line. The neighbours have there garage next to mine. On the right is the 2 bedroom townhouse and the neighbours have there house right next to mine. So the two join at the boundary.

    My Question: I would like to extend the single garage to the back for about 6 meters. This will be for a separate single bedroom with a bathroom and small kitchenette for when parents come and visit. If the neighbours and body cooperate gave the thumbs up, Can I thus extend the garage on the boundary wall as it currently is, will the local Authority be ok with it? I have seen many house and flats build like that in Boston, Bellville.

  401. ridwaan docrat

    I recently had a incident where my boundary wall at the rear of my property collapsed, I only moved into this property 4 months ago and the boundary wall has been there for the past 20 years upon inspection from my insurers they say it does not meet building standards.
    what are the standards ?
    when were these standards established ?
    when insuring a property can you repudiate a claim on this basis ?

  402. Would I need planning permission to replace a very large bedroom window with a French door?

  403. Hi Charesse, This is not a paid service so you cannot expect “service” from something that you get for free. We do this in our spare time to assist people, like yourselves, who end up in a situation that seems not right. We also got caught by our telephone and ADSL service not being moved when this was promised so we are way behind on our responses to everyone.
    To get to your problem, it is definitely not acceptable what your neighbour has done. The “NATIONAL BUILDING REGULATIONS AND BUILDING STANDARDS ACT NO. 103 OF 1977 ( as amended )” states very clearly that any building or structure approved by councils shall NOT devalue neighbours property in any way. I give you the clause 7 that has this:

    7. Approval by Local Authorities in Respect of Erection of Buildings
    (1) If a local authority, having considered a recommendation referred to in section 6(1)(a)-
    (a) is satisfied that the application in question complies with the requirements of this Act and any other applicable law, it shall grant its approval in respect thereof;
    [Para. (a) substituted by s. 4 (a) of Act 62 of 1989.]
    (b) (i) is not so satisfied; or
    (ii) is satisfied that the building to which the application in question relates-
    (aa) is to be erected in such manner or will be of such nature or appearance that-
    (aaa) the area in which it is to be erected will probably or in fact be disfigured thereby;
    (bbb) it will probably or in fact be unsightly or objectionable;
    (ccc) it will probably or in fact derogate from the value of adjoining or neighbouring properties;
    (bb) will probably or in fact be dangerous to life or property,

    I have put the subclause that relates in bold for you. You must put your objection in writing and include the pictures so that it is on record.
    If you do not get any satisfaction from the council you can have a look at our page about the PAJA where you will find two forms that you can download. There are some instructions on the page that you must read that will help you.

  404. Our neighbour is putting a new layer of grass on his existing lapa
    The grass extends the boundary wall by about 30cm

    Is this allowed?
    All the rain water will now run into my erf.

  405. We live on a small holding in the Boland Area which is zoned agriculture, although the small holdings are mostly used for residential purposes. The properties are however located in the urban edge. A new neighbour moved in about a year ago and put up cages for wild animals right up against the boundary fence. These cages are constructed from wooden poles and wire mesh with electric fencing on the upper edge, extending roughly 4-5m high. The bottom section is Vibrecrete up to about 2.4m. Plans were submitted and approved for the Vibrecrete fencing. My question is would plans have been required for the animal cages that they erected?

    At the time we were concerned that they were placing these cages on the boundary and so close to a residence (about 3 m from the residence). I have recently been informed that these animals are dangerous but the owner is not willing to consider our issues. in addition, the cages are unsightly and the animals a nuisance. We are now exploring options to require him to move the cages off from the boundary. Do you have any advice for us and thank you for the time you put into a service like this. Much appreciated.

  406. ridwaan docrat

    Hi once again
    I bought a house in the roodepoort are ( Johannesburg) I’m occupying the premises for approximately 4 months and recently my rear boundary wall fell over due to heavy wind.
    we had a claim submitted to our insurers who rejected the claim on the basis that the wall does not meet building regulations standards ( at the time of being built ), I would like to know when the standards came into place and what they specify the requirements are regarding boundary walls
    i.e height mortar thickness brick force etc

  407. We currently residing in a complex, the challenge we are facing is that our neighbour fence is an easy access for criminal to gain entry into our property. we put up proposal to the owner and they refuse us to be install anything on their boundary wall. should we build this futures into our property 200mm away from the actual boundary will that be acceptable.

    Johannesburg.

  408. Hi
    I wonder if you could help. I live in Mouille Point and recently had an attempted break-in. I used to feel very safe as my tiny courtyard was surrounded by other properties and nobody had direct access to my house. Now the house behind me is empty and will soon be demolished so building can start so I’m no longer ‘safe’.
    Following the break-in, I had a company come round to discuss security requirements and they suggested spikes between myself and my neighbours and razor wire at the back where the new building will be. When I told my neighbours (just one side) what I was doing, they weren’t happy. The lady has a fear of fire and feels that the spikes will stop her being able to escape (though it is a very high wall anyway and my courtyard has no exit anywhere). I asked the security company if there were any options and they said no, and they will do as the original quote said. I don’t want to have issues with my neighbours but I also need to be able to sleep at night – which I’m not at the moment. I have read the document from Cape Town municipality that discusses the legalities of walls and as far as I can see, spikes are legal and I can have them put on the wall – though this would have to be without the permission of my neighbours.
    I would appreciate if you could confirm.

    Thank you
    Lorna

  409. I just want to know if my street boundary wall needs to be double or single brick

  410. neville matthews

    1 High Street
    New Germany

    Good day,

    My neighbour cut back his property next to the boundary wall to within 500mm of the wall (mine as I paid for it and it is on my side of the boundary line). He has not erected a retaining wall. That bank is almost 2 meters deep at the deepest end, and I fear that with the rainy season the remaining bank will collapse and my wall with it.

    What do I do about this please. I have spoken to him several times but he simply ignores me.

    Thank you.

  411. Hi there.

    I have purchased a property that has precast boundary walls already in place. The property is on a downhill slope and the walls facing the street are +-1.5 metres high whilst on the inside of the property they are +-2.1 metres high. My intention is to remove the precast walls and put in proper brick walls. The questions i have are 1) What is the height that i can build up to in the northern suburbs Johannesburg area without need to submit anything for approval? 2) Should i wish to build higher than is allowed and need approval, who do i need to contact for the same? (address and telephone will be brilliant). 3) will the wall height (from a building inspector point of view) be measured from the inside or outside of the property given that i am losing height due to the slope and need to build higher purely for that reason?

  412. Hi
    My neighbour and i both have boundry walls.
    he has a brick wall and i have vibracrete. i would like to know, do i need his permission to remove my vibe?

    Envor

  413. Good morning I would like to find out what is the border line distance from road for my wall as I want to install sliding gate and fence in front of yard. Some people say 1.5m and some 2,5m away from road. I stay in Protea Village, Brackenfell

  414. That he has not erected a retaining wall is cause for concern. You are quite entitled to contact your local authority and point out to them that “excavations” were done and without a retaining wall there could be a danger of damage to your property. Boundary walls fall under the local authority by-laws and not the national regulations. No property owner may build, erect or excavate anything on their property that could damage a neighbours property.

  415. Most municipalities have boundary wall height restrictions of 1.8m for the street boundary and 2.1 for side boundaries. Any heigher than this will need plans approved before starting to build. You can read more here: boundary-walls-and-fences

  416. Hi,

    We are in the process of purchasing a property in Randpark and have come across two concerns, which i have now got contradictory advice on.

    The first is that the approved plans do not coincide with the actual building, nothing major except that one interior wall has been removed. Would this potentially cause any council problems in the future? or should the current owner get new approved plans

    The second is that the front boundary wall, which is a palesade fence encrouches on municipal land. The seller says it has been like that for the last 15 years and they haven’t had any problems… Would it be wise to just accept this or bring it to councils attention before the liability becomes mine once the place is registered.

    Look forward to your response

  417. Absolutly, they are not allowed to encroach your property. Contact the building inspector and put it in writing, with pictures, that they must order the neighbour to reposition the gate.

  418. You have every right to be concerned as we get this question every day from visitors. Firstly if it was a load-bearing wall and the removal had an effect on the structure of the house then they are at fault and in breach of the regulations as they had to get plans approved before the alteration. If the removal did not have an effect on the structural integrity of the building then they were obliged to inform the council

      in writing

    of their intention and get the ok to continue from them in writing as well. The other aspect is that if you are applying for a homeloan bond the bank should ask the estate agent for a copy of the registered plans from council and these must match the house as it stands

      before

    they grant a bond. Many people have been caught with having to pay costs of architects, land surveyors and penalties later on as they purchased a house with “illegal” alterations and additions. Secondly boundary lines and walls are a major cause for problems later on and I suggest that you get this sorted with the council or roads agency before you purchase the property.

  419. Yes this is a boundary wall no matter what the height is.

  420. This sounds like an illegal building. Depending on what area you are and the size of your erf. Below 500sqm building up to the boundary is allowed. But any building needs plans and the council would not approve plans for a building built onto a boundary wall without the other neighbours permission. Write to your local council planning department and ask them to investigate.

  421. Most municipalities will allow a fence along the front boundary up to a height of 1.8 m without plans. You should just send them a letter with your address and erf number and let them know that you are putting up the fence.

  422. Normally this is measured from the lower part of the wall. This sounds as if he will be using the wall as a retaining wall for the 1/2 meter or so of soil on his side. Any wall that retains soil must be designed by an engineer and plans must be passed by council he cannot just go and put up a wall and pack the soil back.

  423. Distances from the road to a property is different in all areas. You should have pegs that mark the boundary line on the road side of your property try and find these first. Look at the siteplan of your erf and you can see the distances there. If you do not have a siteplan it is easy to get a copy from the local council.

  424. If the vibe wall is on your property then it belongs to you and you can remove it. You are not allowed to do anything to his wall if it is on his property but if it needs plastering or painting then this would be for your cost and you should, as a good neighbour let him know that you are going to do this. This should be done in writing just for the record.

  425. This is a legal matter and the only way to get this done is to put the neighbour to terms in writing giving him a deadline to rectify the problem. If you do not get any response then you will have to ask an attorney for assistance.

  426. All municipal areas have different rules when it comes to building lines. Please read this post it will give you some idea: boundary-lines-walls-fences

  427. The specs for boundary walls can be found in our article here: boundary-walls-and-fences

  428. Absolutely! Each and every one of the alterations and additions that you have done need plans and approval before you start to build. You are going to have to negotiate the plans with the council as you are certainly going to get a fine. You should do this because if you maybe want to sell at a later stage they will find out about the illegal alterations and fine you then.

  429. Each suburb has its own by-laws as to how close to the boundary you can build. They are certainly not allowd to just use yourwall to build on. Contact the local building inspector and ask them to inspect this.

  430. Our article on Boundary walls states: “Solid boundary walls may not be any higher than shall 1.8 m on street boundaries, and no higher than 2,1 m on lateral boundaries.”You can read more here: boundary-walls-and-fences So yes you will need plans.

  431. So long as the width of the opening stays the same. If you make it wider then it may mean putting in new lintols and this then becomes structural changes and then you have to submit plans.

  432. Apologies for the delay in answering your question Bernhard. Hopefully you have already resolved the problem. First of all I would ask them to get the surveyor to replace all the pegs in terms of their survey. Ultimately it is important to know that the pegs are now in the correct place. If it was resurveyed this should not be an issue – in fact it should have been done as a matter of course. Otherwise they might simply have got someone to remeasure – and if that person was not qualified, the measurements may not be correct.
    As far as rebuilding the wall; there is nothing in the building regs that says you have to have a wall around your property. You do not have to rebuild anything. Tell them to demolish it – or at worst, offer to have it demolished.

  433. Vikesh you will have to deal with the current owners of the property – and this may now open a huge can of worms. The main problem though might be that whoever developed your house may not have complied with the law. For instance, you may not dig along the land along your boundary if it is likely that this will result in the soil on your neighbour’s side being washed away by rain. Also your excavations must not threaten the stability of any part of any building on his land (according to the Reader’s Digest Family Guide to the Law in SA).
    Re your neighbour selling “secretly”; there is no load that says a neighbour has to divulge a sale.

  434. No Zane you can’t. You need to dig away and build some sort of retaining wall which will, technically (and legally) require plans.

  435. It sounds okay to me, but you should get your neighbour’s consent PLUS make sure the complex regs don’t disallow this.

  436. Not all municipalities have this bylaw as far as I know. But if you are changing a vibracrete wall and replacing it with brick in parts, and it is above 1,8 m you are going to need plans.

  437. You will find the standards for freestanding walls in Part K Walls, which is part of SANS 10400. If the wall was no higher than 1,8 m then no plans would have been required for it. If there were plans then you can check these (they should have been lodged with the local authority) and see if the specs were followed.
    There is a full history of the building regulations on this website. They were initially introduced in 1977 and have been updated from time to time, most recently in 2008, although Part K (the deemed-to-satisfy regs) was only updated in 2011.
    Chances are when the wall was built it did comply with the regs. And they have no right to demand that the standards must be retrospective.

  438. You need body corporate and local authority approval – including plans

  439. It can be either as long as all the spec are complied with. See Part K of SANS 10400 under the subheading freestanding walls. It depends what you are building with (it size of bricks or blocks), whether you are including piers … and much more.

  440. Best if you confirm with the local authority to be sure Lorna. You probably also need to reassure you neighbour that jumping over your wall in case of fire – into a courtyard might be a very bad idea. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  441. Ridwaan it depends what was used to build the wall – i.e. size of brick or block, and whether there were piers included in the design.

  442. I presume you mean thatch? If this results in water running onto your property then no it is not allowed. The law states that the “owner of any site shall provide suitable means for the control and disposal of accumulated stormwater which may run off from any earthworks, building or paving.”

  443. The owner will probably have to give permission for this as well.

  444. Totally illegal. Contact Carte Blanche and the SPCA! And please let me know what happens.