Building Regulations (NBR) Introduction

  • Inspections when building
    1. During the building process there are a few inspections that most municipalities require. This will be of the building and the standard of work done, these are briefly explained in the following slides.

The Site That Tells You All About Building Regulations

South Africa’s National Building Regulations (NBR) were originally produced as a set of functional guidelines for anybody building any type of structure. They were not intended to be prescriptive in terms of what people should build, but they do stipulate important dos and don’ts – many of which are in fact mandatory. So if you are planning to build, this is a document you should familiarise yourself with.

While the NBR are only available from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), has a mission to make it easier for the general public to understand what these regulations are and how they affect us all. If you want to know more about these important regulations, have a look at the drop-down menu under SANS 10400-NBR (SA). Each of the regulations listed here is published as a separate document by the SABS. The size of each published document and its cost can be found at the SABS Online Standards Webstore.

Please be aware that while the topics featured on are those found in the regulations, we have not duplicated the regulations. Instead we have discussed the issues the regulations cover in easy to understand pages. Also note that we are in no way associated with the SABS.

Parts of the South African National Building Regulations (NBR)

The Building Regulations are divided into 23 chapters as follows: Part A: General Principles and Requirements, Part B: Structural Design, Part C: Dimensions, Part D: Public Safety, Part E: Demolition Work, Part F: Site Operations, Part G: Excavations, Part G: Foundations, Part J: Floors, Part K: Walls, Part L: Roofs, Part M: Stairways, Part N: Glazing, Part O: Lighting and Ventilation, Part P: Drainage, Part Q: Non-water-borne Sanitary Disposal, Part R: Stormwater Disposal, Part S: Facilities for Disabled Persons, Part T: Fire Protection, Part U: Refuse Disposal, Part V: Space Heating, Part W: Fire Installation and Parts X & XA: Energy Usage

We are constantly adding blog posts that relate to these chapter headings to provide our readers with further information. You will find these under the drop-down menu Construction Elements. Some of these posts include personal experience and/or case history-type articles that share what others have experienced in terms of the regulations. We have also included an A to Z Glossary of Definitions and Terms used in the NBR to help you understand the meaning of the various terms used in the context of the legislation and national standards.

We have a free downloads page where you can access various documents, including a variety of Department of Public Works Guidelines:

  • The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act. This is the original legislation published in 1977 that governs all building and construction work in South Africa. Various updates have been made since this time, and these are also available for download.
  • Guide for Architects Concerning Drainage Water and Storm-water Drainage.
  • Standard Electrical, Mechanical & Architectural Guidelines for the Design of Accessible Buildings including Facilities for Disabled Persons.
  • Hardware sample list (guidelines for the required finishes etc. of hardware when submitting tenders).
  • A “Norms Calculator” for quantity surveyors.
  • Drainage Details that provide guidelines in the form of technical drawings covering most aspects of drainage.

Feel free to browse the site. To help you get orientated, here are a few articles that you may find useful:
Building Extensions
Alterations & Additions
SANS 10400X & XA – Energy Use In Buildings
Boundary Walls & Fences

New Electric Fence Laws
Waterproofing Roofs
Stormwater Disposal
Download Regulations
NHBRC Questions & Answers
Competent Person
Concrete Mixes
Concrete Mixes – By Weight & By Volume
Owner Building – The Pros & Cons

In the drop-down menu under the free downloads you will also find Links to several local South African websites of interest including:

These contain some information about the NBR.

International links on our Links Page will take you to information rich sites such as the International Building Code (IBC)  and the International Code Council (ICC) entries on Wiki (or you can go directly to the ICC here).

If  there is something specific you need guidance on, please post a comment on the relevant page and we’ll see if and how we can help.

Please only use Contact Us if you want to advertise or if you have a suggestions on how we can improve your visit with us.

Regulations for all phases of building
We give advice on Regulations for all phases of building.

We Rely on Regulations


  1. Hi

    I am currently in the process of purchasing a renovated house, it has been built according to plan, however there are a few changes eg. the garage was actually turned into an additional bedroom and one of the external doorways was sealed off because there would have been too many external entrances to the property. I am aware that it does not really matter if the internal walls change according to plan but does this apply to the exterior walls as well?


    • Check it out with your local authority because it is their call. e.g. The requirements for a garage are NOT the same as for a habitable room! There are many other factors that also come into play including ventilation requirements and load-bearing walls. Play it safe now rather than be sorry and stuck with a major problem later.

  2. Hi Penny,
    I entered into an “offer to purchase” with a developer in April / May. I have the bond approval etc and received a call this morning to advise me that I have to contribute to the following due to changes in building regulations : 1) solar geyser and 2) insulation. Please advise if this is for my account. As far as I’m concerned the onus is up to the developer / builder to ensure that he remains within the building laws and regulations. I am besides myself as this is another R15000 I have not budgeted for!

    • Zelda I am not a lawyer, and you may need to get legal advice on this one. But the building regulations changes several years ago, so I doubt very much that they can claim anything linked to this. Sounds to me like they are taking a huge chance. If I were you I would refuse and threaten legal action… but then I don’t know all the facts. You might be able to get advice from your bank/or their lawyers. Good luck, keep me posted. BTW there are lawyers on the Internet that will give advice for about R250…

  3. I had some plans drawn up to do Some altterations 6 years ago I did not build all the additions due to finances. I now have to delete the unbuilt bits off of the plans. I originally did the plans myself, but now I am being told that I need to have a draftsman to delete the unbuilt parts. Am I not allowed to do this myself and resubmit the plans?

    • No Collin, the new Building Regs require a “competent person” – this term includes engineers, architects, draughtsmen … – to submit the plans and oversee the work. Maybe you could simply label the “unbuilt parts” as … still to be built? As a matter of interest, why has this issue arisen?

  4. Gordon Chunnett

    Dear Sir, I want to build a deck with a glass fronted balcony front, I have heard all sorts of stories as to the required height of the glass and the specific thickness of the glass. Are these specified? I have searched the usual places without success so far.

    I understand that one regulation is that a child should not be able to get its head through any opening, but in my design, this is not an issue, its just the height and glass thickness, none of the spans of glass will exceed 1,200mm (1,2m) most less than 1,100mm.

    I had planned a 1m height.

    • Gordon, there are requirements in terms of glazing in general, mostly to ensure that if someone falls against the glass it doesn’t break.
      The SANS that relate to the building regulations are 10400… and there are lots of them. When it comes to designing a glass-fronted balcony front, these would be, at very least, Structural Design – Part B, Stairways (which includes balustrades) – Part M, and Glazing – Part N.
      The minimum height of balustrades is specified, and unless it has changed while I blinked, it is 1 m. So you shouldn’t have a problem.
      The only regulations I have come across that relate to a child’s head are for swimming pool fencing. That stands to reason, doesn’t it?
      Your local glass merchant should have a resource that shows how thick the glass should be in terms of the sections of each of your balcony sections. This will depend on the area of the glass. The greater the area, the thicker the glass will need to be. And it MUST be safety glass. Imagine if someone was to skid across your balcony and hit the glass… Trust me, it happens. So don’t skimp.
      But to answer your question, I think that if your “panes” of glass are around 1.2 square m you will need glass that is 4 mm thick.
      I hope this helps.

  5. Hi
    Do we need plans and inspection for a steel structure covered with plastic/galvanised sheeting for a carport based on existing 9″ brick pillars a metre high for an off road carport parking area encrouching onto the verge which been fenced on local authorities approval for safety and security

    • Yes Raj I believe you do. But whose land is it? Since the local authority appears to be implicated in the issue I would assume that you would be communicating with them? It would be the local authority, I think, that has the authority to waive plans.

    • ever structure which has a roof requires plans.

  6. Hi

    I have a double story free standing house with a balcony, i wish to enclose it would i need plans to do this. The balcony is on the original plans is reinforced correctly and falls under the roof of the house.


    • Paul it might depend HOW you enclose it. But the fact that the area is beneath the roof, you probably don’t need plans. The same would apply to internal alterations including sub-dividing a room, or even removing an internal wall (which can be done provided it isn’t load bearing). If you are worried, check with your local authority.

  7. Good morning
    I would like to enquire if it is neccesary to have plans drawn for an additional garage which will mainly be used as a woodworking workshop. The size will be less than 30 square metres.
    Thank you in advance.
    Yours sincerely
    Robert Smith

  8. Hi are there any specifications for the erection of a carport

    • Raj the Building Regulations don’t specify anything for carports as such. What sort of carport are you wanting to build? Penny and I produced a book about carports some years ago (unfortunately out of print), but there might be something in there that would help you.

  9. Hi

    I live in a block of flats that do not have any ventilation. As a result of this, mould is building up in the flat. I would like to know if it a fundamental requirement for any residential building to have ventilation? If yes, is there any regulatory body that I can report this to?


    • The National Building Regulations cover ventilation requirements for habitable rooms. This includes both natural ventilation (e.g. windows) and artificial ventilation. If there isn’t adequate natural ventilation, it is mandatory that artificial ventilation is installed. But this must be done with the approval of the local authority (excluding air conditioners, heaters etc that are installed for comfort rather than basic ventilation needs). If you feel that there isn’t adequate ventilation, then I suggest you contact your local authority health inspector.

  10. Hi
    I bought a 4 bedroom house with a wall infront 5y ago.the wall was old untidy and some of the facebricks had started falling out.I rebuild the top part of the wall and started making it neat.I am now being summonsed to court by the municipality as this house has no building plans and the counsil still has it registered as a 2 bedroom house.what do I do now

    • If your local authority has summonsed you, you will need to go to Court. Ideally hire a lawyer, but in any case take your offer to purchase the house and any documentation you have regarding the sale with you. I can’t give you legal advice, but I would think from what you say, that you have a claim for damages against the previous owner. You might also have a claim for fraud if the previous owner did not declare that the house had not been added onto legally, with plans.
      I presume you didn’t need a bond, because if you had, the bank would have sent inspectors to check the building, and they would have picked up the fact that the plans and the building were not the same. It would have been the sellers responsibility to have plans passed before transfer into your name was finalized.

      • Hi Penny

        I am in a similar situation. I bought a house 8 years ago, and have just received a copy of the building plans as I want to add on a bedroom. About 60% of the current house is not reflected on the plan. How would I proceed with the bedroom addition in this case. PS, I do have a bond, and the bank did not pick up any discrepancy

        • Because of the timeframe, you will probably have to have the plans altered to show the new bedroom as well as reflect existing building that isn’t on the plans – i.e. you won’t have recourse to hold the previous owner liable. On the positive side, you will probably find that you have been paying much lower rates than you should be paying! Before you do anything, double check that they have given you the most recent set of plans. It is quite possible that they have pulled an earlier set by mistake.

  11. Terence Pillay


    I would like some assistance in trying to establish if it is a requirement that all buildings in South Africa be fitted with Lightning protection.

    • Hello Terence,
      There is no single requirement regarding lightening protection. Some local authorities have requirements that they enforce – and insurance companies have specific requirements in certain areas. e.g. thatch homes in Gauteng.

  12. What are the building requirements for a retirement village ? Who is responsible for checking if all standards are implemented? If there are any irregularities how long after the establishment has been built can the builder be held responsible.?

    • Hilda, the building requirements for all buildings are essentially the same – except where local authorities have additional requirements, or where the owner of a development, including most retirement villages, have their own rules and regs. e.g. If you build in one of these developments you might have to follow a particular style. The owner or a body corporate would usually check these specifics – The checking of implementation of general building standards (as per the building regs) is the responsibility of your local authority – e.g. the building inspector, health inspection etc. depending on what it is that needs to be checked. Where bonds are involved, banks will often send their own inspectors in to check. If there are irregularities that are found after a builder has been paid, you would have to probably take him to Court and charge him with bad workmanship or doing things incorrectly. That’s a difficult one.

  13. Hi
    I am looking for standards for water used in the production of cement bricks and blocks. Can you help please.

    • Hello Jan. Standards for the manufacture of concrete masonry units – i.e. bricks and blocks made from concrete (not just cement) – are detailed in SANS 1215 which you can purchase from the SABS. As for all types of concrete, water used must be potable – i.e. I should be suitable for drinking. If it isn’t don’t use it. They do not specify how much water should be used, and the standard does not specify water absorption qualities of units. As for any type of concrete, the mix should be pliable. PPC advises: “The mix is correct when it form a ball when squeezed in your hand.”
      We do have several documents that detail concrete brick and block making which I will make available on this site within the next 48 hours. Please check Document Downloads under Links & Downloads later in the week.

  14. Good day Chris

    I have battled as yourselves you can send an e-mail to or you can phone 012 428 6666.


  15. Chris van Vuuren

    Good day,
    Please advise as to where one can purchase the complete ‘book’ = SA building regulations/standards.

    Thank You.


    • Hi Chris,
      The building regulations and standards are published as SANS 10400. There is a link on this page to the old version of the regs published in their entirety. But as explained on this web site, these have been progressively updated. Most sections are now available for purchase at any office of the SABS. Or you can buy online from the SABS – the link is on our links page. However they do not currently sell a complete set. Please note that the SABS lists telephone numbers for all their branches on their web site.

      • Hi, we have rented a office block which has stairways 3m wide. When it rains or the stairs a wet the floor becomes slippery that might lead to an accident. We have spoken to the Landlord about erecting hand rails but refused and emphesised that we put it ourself. What is the law saying about this?

        • Have a look at Clearly all stairways MUST be safe and if they are not, then the owner of the property is contravening the law. As far as I am aware, “Handrails are also an important element. If a flight of steps continues for more than about five risers, there should be a handrail of some sort.” So if he has no stair-rails and the stairs comprise more than five risers, your landlord is in trouble. I suggest you report this situation to your local authority as it is a health and safety issue.

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