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 bought a house a house a couple of years back that is fenced off on three sides but the fron facing road is open/no fence. I want to build a wall but is not sure of the minimum legal distance from the road. pse advice.

    • This depends on the requirements of your local authority. They may also require plans, depending on the materials you choose to use. Give them a call and ask.

  2. jack du preez

    hi can you tell me what are the building requirement to build a deck 6x6m and 2.4m high

  3. Hi, the approved plan does not indicate a wall between garages in a complex. The plan indicates a dividing fence. Some owners have built a single brick wall in their garage with no plan submitted to the council. What is the regulation for garage walls and garages used as storerooms. Also, what is the regulation for a dedicated approved plan whereby the storeroom is used as a garage and not storeroom. The storeroom has a large window that can be opened.

    Thank you,


    • Ian the use of all structures must be indicated on plans that are submitted to council. However people commonly use garages for storerooms and even workshops or offices. Many garages have windows – big and/or small. In fact if you think about it, most storage lock-ups are garages! There would usually only be an issue if the garage was used for human habitation (so to speak).
      I presume the reason for owners building walls is for privacy? Technically they DO need an approved plan; and the local authority COULD demand demolition of the wall if a plan wasn’t submitted.

  4. where can i see the law about drainage and drain pipes that drian into the garden?

    • Kim, Part P of SANS 10400 deals with Drainage, including design and discharge details. If you go to the nearest SABS office library, you can have a look at what it says. I will also add to this section of the web site asap.

  5. I live in a block of flats. There 4 floors with 5 flats per floor totaling 20 flats. the width of the building is 38m.
    It has a staircase of 2.4m in the middle of the building.
    My question is; Is there supposed to be another fire escape staircase?

    • On the face of it I would think that your building WOULD need another fire escape staircase, but you should really consult with an expert.
      The regulations relating to fire protection (fire escapes, escape routes etc) are very specific – you need to refer to SANS 10400-T, Fire Protection. I don’t have a copy of Section T of the new regs,and I know there have been lots of changes – if anything they will be stricter. The old regs say that if any building is more than three storeys high then at least TWO escape routes must be provided. A four storey building would then need TWO escape routes.
      There is also a reference to the travel distance to the nearest escape door (or route). This is 45 m which is greater than the 38 m in your building.
      There are many other elements that need to be incorporated including lighting.
      There must be someone at your local municipality who will do an inspection for you.

  6. Samantha Edwards

    Hi there,

    I purchased a farm/shop some 6 months ago. The shop has been established for at least 27 years and I’ve just been told that someone is planning to build a shopping center on the land next door. How do I object to the project and do the company need to inform me if this planned project is definite.

    Kind regards

    • Unless the land next door is owned by the same people who own the farm/shop you have purchased, you probably have no comeback whatsoever. However, you should probably keep informed in terms of the newly planned project and make sure that if you have the opportunity to object, you do so.

  7. Fikiswa Mnculwane

    Good day

    Please indicate if the NHRBC certificate is not required for schools, to ensure proper compliance when one is building a school.
    What certificate must one have to ensure safety requirements when one is building a school.

    • The NHBRC was established to help regulate ALL forms of building, including schools. However there is nothing to stop someone building a school using other resources. There is a lot more at stake than simply a certificate! The NBR were drawn up to ensure that all building is safe and so builders should be guided by these regulations and the “deemed-to’satisfy rules” that have been drawn up by the SABS. Using an NHBRC-registered builder should ensure good quality building.

  8. Hi,

    We have purchased a duplex in a complex where two of the outer walls were built out of dry walling, as these units are 30 plus years old the dry walling has rotted. Will I need plans to remove dry walling and block up? The standard door will be removed and a Alu sliding door fitted?

    Many thanks, Tyrone

  9. Hi

    I need to know what regulation/s are there on building WIFI Towers, height, can it be build in residential areas ect….


  10. Hi I’m busy with an assignment based on the SA building Regulation and would just like to no what impact does the ragulation have on the quality management system in a building project for the public sector.

    • Give it some thought. The key to your answer is the fact that the building regulations have been devised to ensure that buildings are safer, more affordable etc.

  11. Hi,

    We are wanting to build on a farm. do we need to hand in plans or get “permission” in order for us to do so?

    Many people have told me that because it is on a farm, handing in building plans etc is unnecessary.
    Is this true?

    I don’t know if it matters, but it’s just outside Pretoria East.

    • ALL buildings in SA require planning permission, even though the reality is that many people living on farms ignore this – probably because building inspectors don’t make a practice of checking farms. I have just moved out of a farmhouse where I lived for two years that was full of “illegal” elements – primarily electrics and plumbing. I also discovered that one of the early owners would hire laborers at weekends to build onto the house. It leaks like a sieve and parts are starting to collapse; in short a disaster. If you plan to sell the farm at some stage, you are likely to hit major problems. If neighbors object for some or other reason, you might also get yourself into a lot of trouble.

      • Penny, is it not so that if a farm is a certain square metres then you don’t need plans?


        • No it is not true – it’s a fallacy! All building in SA is governed by exactly the same laws and regulations – farms are no different. It is just that people in rural areas tend to do their own thing and get away with it. But it doesn’t make it legal.

  12. When does a pvc soil water pipe need to be encased in concrete

    • Colin, in addition to the Building Regulations (SANS 10400) which is what we focus on in this site, there are more than 130 other SANS that relate to plumbing! Since plumbing installations MUST be undertaken by a qualified and registered plumber, your plumber will be able to advise. SANS 10252-2 refers to many of the plumbing standards, so this could be a starting point if you want to find the info for yourself. If you go to your nearest SABS office, go to their library and ask to look at the standard. The librarian will also be able to do a search for relevant SANS that cover civil engineering construction relating to plumbing.
      I believe that uPVC pipes (for sewers and drains) and pipe fittings must comply with SANS 1791. In terms of encasing the pipes in concrete, usually they would be if laid in a concrete floor or ceiling. But there are also design factors that come into play. This is where a civil engineer would be able to help.

  13. Hi there! I am very interested in the window frame industry here in SA and why it is taking so long for people to adapt to better aluminium and uPVC frame designs? If I were to start a small business to supply such frames, and to adhere to these better themal ability guidelines, who would I approach to supply the frames to: for example, if for government, would I approach the construction companies that win tenders? If for private, who would I approach to supply them with better materials?
    Naiive – but- innovative, Liz

    • Liz I think a lot has to do with the fact that we generally have a “kind” climate and so people haven’t bothered with things like window frames with good thermal properties, double-glazing and so on. I am working on a book about sustainable living in SA and this is exactly the type of issue I am addressing. While aluminum frames have been popular for a long time, uPVC just hasn’t caught on. If you do start a business in this field, I’d love to know more about it (I have mailed you my personal email address). I would think that approaching construction companies would be a good idea. You could also approach specialist magazines and ask them to do articles about your products – and/or you could advertise. You should also develop a good Internet presence – with a comprehensive website that contains advice for prospective clients. Marketing is the most important aspect. And you need to consider whether you will sell directly, or whether you need to find an outlet that will distribute your products for you. Good luck.

    • We would like to take this opportunity to introduce our company and products, with the hope that we may work with Bright Ideas Imports in the future.

      We are a located in Guangzhou, China, Guangzhou Lingyin Construction Materials Co. Ltd. specializes in the development, manufacture, marketing and after-sales service of windows and doors. We have enclosed our catalog, which introduces our company in detail and covers the main products we supply at present. You may also visit our online company introduction at which includes our latest product line.

      Should any of these items be of interest to you, please let us know. We will be happy to give you a quotation upon receipt of your detailed requirements.

      We look forward to receiving your enquires soon.

      • I will approve this response in good faith on the understanding that anyone visiting our site is aware that this does not constitute any form of endorsement of the products.

    • Hi Penny, please forward me the email address for Liz, re uPVC frames.


  14. The owner of the adjacent home want’s to go up a story with windows on my side, despite the 2 m gap between the our boundary and his building, I am concerned with my compromised privacy and that he may have intentions of sub letting the upper level to tenants.

    Kindly advise if this would be considered an issue, what my rights are and what procedure should be followed if it is worth objecting?

    Our assistance/ advice much appreciated

    • The first logical step would be to check that the additions are being done in accordance with local regulations. Your local authority or municipality will be able to advise on this. If your neighbour plans to sub-let a part of his house, you can’t stop him/her. I think your only recourse would be to take action if your privacy is in fact invaded – but you can’t do this in advance … You would probably have to prove “nuisance”. Have you chatted to your neighbour and shared your concerns?

  15. hi i want to put a carport,”covering”,between my house and vibracrete wall in my yard,do i require a plan and also does the extending my wall require a plan?

    • It depends what sort of covering you use. If it is solid, then strictly speaking you should have plans. Also, if the wall is on the boundary, you might need permission from the local council. If a neighbour complains, you might have a problem.

    • Hi Alan

      By law you have to have plans for anything with a roof and for walls exceeding a height of 1,8 meters / 1800 mm high.

      Even a swimming pool needs plans.

      The larger local authorities have dedicated departments which sole purpose if to monitor construction without plans. This handled with final warnings to submit within 30 days architectural plans or face a demolition order.

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