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

  1,240 Responses to “Building Regulations (NBR) Introduction”

Comments (1240)
  1. I need a manual of SANS082 ,I think for timber frame construction.Does anyone know where can I get hold of it


  2. I we wane build a log house I have bean a draughtsman for 10 year but last 7 years strictly mechanical
    I am more than capable of drawing the correct planes but I am not qualified “civil” draughtsman, can I draw the planes myself and just have someone approve it? we are still looking for the perfect plot, So can I have the planes approved before we bought the property or would it be better to first get the property so that the location and direction could also be shown

    • All plans must be drawn by a competent person. The link explains exactly what the regs mean by “competent person.” You will see that you need a relevant qualification (which it seems you have) and you must be registered. The alternative would be to draw the plans yourself and get a qualified/registered person to sign them off for you. You could do the basic plans prior to buying the plot, but obviously site plans and so on would need to be done once you have the plot. You will also need to take levels into account – otherwise you will have to ensure that you buy a plot that is totally level.

  3. Hi

    Besides NHBRC and CIDB do you know of any other regulatory boards within the property development industry that a start up company would have to be registered under in order to be fully compliant in south Africa?

    • I guess it depends exactly what your new business is doing. You’d have to register with CIPC as well. Maybe the Master Builders Association.

  4. Hi,

    Im currently having my home built -For the roof , initially my builder said he builds his own trusses,however just last week he said by law you cannot build trusses- is this true?

    What cost implications am i looking at building trusses VS Bought Trusses- Please advise!

    I am in Cape Town

    • No it is not true. Your builder probably doesn’t know how to do this correctly… I have no idea of cost implications.

  5. Hi. I am in the process of starting a construction company (for home building) and currently trying to gain an understanding of all the required regulations. Ive done all the basics (register with NHBRC,SARS, etc). However in terms of health and safety, do you know what the requirements are? Do you need like a file on site? or is there a checklist etc somewhere?

  6. Please could you advise on a neighbour who has built a 3 metre wall at their own cost (between the two properties to which we agreed but have no idea if this height complies with regulations) and has since rebuilt his garage and added a loft above the garage which will overlook into our property. Do we have any grounds to object to this especially since it may well have implications for anyone wanting to buy our property? Appreciate your advice.

    • You need plans for any freestanding wall over 1.8 m. And the garage also requires plans. So yes you can object and the local authority does have the power to make him demolish if need be.

  7. I want to build a wooden house in my backyard its within the building lines,wendy house tipe,do I need plans etc

  8. I have all the necessary building plan approvals for an extension on existing property in place, but after listening to some bad advice, failed to have the building inspections done. The building work has been completed (by NHBRC builder). I want to get this rectified. Any idea how?

    • Strangely enough it is not mandatory to use an NHBRC builder for extensions – though it is usually advisable. In terms of building inspections, these must be done mby the municipality – so contact them.

  9. Hi would like to know if I should have a plan if I want to close up my front yard with sheeting.

  10. Is it legal to build external stairs on or over the boundary lines???

  11. • 11 500 x 10 mpa standard size cement stock bricks length 220 mm width 110 mm and height 75 mm
    • 1 350 x 7 mpa cement building blocks length 390 mm width 190 mm and height 190 mm
    • 8 m3 19 mm crush stones
    • 8 m3 river sand
    • 120 x bags of high strenth cement
    • 24 running meters of 114 x 38 mm SA pine structural timber, SABS approved 5 mpa
    • 108 running meters of 75 mm x 50 mm SA pine strctural timber, SABS approved
    • 300 running meters of 38 mm x 38 mm SA pine structural timber, SABS approved
    • 114 running meters of 838 wide with 762 mm cover width 0.5 mm galvanised mild steel corrugated roof sheeting
    • 850 x flat double roman concrete roof tiles
    2 x 6 m2 loads of ready mix concrete

  12. Good day – we have a property with a number of houses on it which are rented. There is a pool on the property. What are the regulations regarding this type of situation and people using the pool. The area is large and cannot be fenced in.

    • There is no regulation at all. As the owner of the property it is up to you to decide who can use the pool. If there are existing lease agreements that allow tenants to use the pool you will though have to honour these. A pool areas BTW SHOULD be fenced!

  13. Dear Penny,

    We have a wooden log cabin that stands on poles about 2m high. Are we allowed to build walls of 1.8m underneath right around to make the poles less visible and hide the junk that we store underneath?

    My thinking is that if it is allowd to build a wall of 1.8m without plans around a property, why not underneath the cabin? (minor building work).

    Thanking you,


    • I guess so Nick – though the regs do say you need to notify the municipality of your intention to build. The only other issue could be that the wall would create a “room” which would have a different function.

  14. Hi there

    could you please let me know the regulations around turning an existing portion of your house into a separate entranced granny flat with a kitchen, what approvals do you need as there is no new building as such?

    Many thanks

    • If you are converting a room into a kitchen you will need plans. If not I don’t think you need any “approval” as such.

      • i need a kitchen small dinning room&a lounge with 3 bedrooms but i need to know the price first7 thank you

        • Then you must contact a building company that can give you a quotation. Make sure they are registered with the NHBRC (and therefore operating legally).

  15. Dear Sir/Madam,

    I would like to build a elevated wooden deck at my house which will hang over a steep slope in the garden.
    What building code should one follow to make sure i build the deck according to a certain standard.
    Im especially talking about the maximum span of the beams depending on the beam sizes, the loads to be taken into consideration, ect.

    Your help would be appreciated.

    • You will find all the info you need in the National Building Regulations. In addition, you need plans that must be drawn up by a competent person, and they will ensure that the deck is properly designed. You can only build once the plans have been approved by the local authority.

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