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. Good day,

    To whom it may concern please do assist.

    I need safety pregenerative measures that applicable when building foundation floor of the building single story, aand also with relevent ergonomics.

    Trust that this communique finds you well and hope to hear from you and answers will be anticurated. Thanks

    Kind regards

    • Please kindly request you to note the mistake made on the 2nd line… that supposed to be written like this ” Safety preventative measures….”

      Hope you will note the correction on the above statement.

      Kind regards

    • I’m sorry I don’t understand the question!

  2. I live in Durban, KZN. how many meters must a double storey building be built from the boundary.
    Can I build a double storey building on my boundary with no windows on that side.

  3. Hi i just bought vacant land, unserviced in a suburb area. i want to build but my family tell me before i can go and talk to an architect i need to get inspectors to inspect my plot and give me certificate. Where do i get this inspector? Is the municipality doing the inspection? Do i need a soil inspector? Fumigation inspector?
    Thank you

    • Perhaps you should buy a copy of my book Owner Building in South Africa – it has all the information you need. You will find it at any good book store. You don’t need a certificate to be allowed to build. You need plans and you need a competent person to draw your plans. This person will guide you through the whole process and determine whether you need a soil inspection.

  4. good day

    I am in need of some help / advise please.

    My fiancé and I are looking to build a granny flat / cabin on his mothers plot.

    what steps do I take?
    financing from the bank?

    Am basically clueless in this regard .. all I have is the plans for the cabin

    thanks in advance

    • All the information you need is on this website – or you can buy my book Owner Building in South Africa – which is available from all good bookshops. You need plans approved by your local authority – you need a competent person (read the article on this site) and if you don’t have the money, you need finance.

  5. Hello dear Penny and/or Janek,
    I’m looking for a version in PDF of the south African building Code.
    Could you send me a link or send me the building code by email ?
    Many thanks

  6. Hi

    Was it always mandatory for a new building to be enrolled with the NHBRC. I was always under the impression that this was only the case for new buildings that was financed by a bank.

    Kind Regards


    • Hi Gert, Not so, ALL new buildings must be registered with the NHBRC. Even owner builders that apply for an exemption must register the build with them. Exceptions are the government low-cost RDP housing projects.

  7. I have had that a new building regulation will be in operational from the 1st of January 2016. If it is already in place, how can i access it?

    If it is already in place, will you please email it to me on the following email.


    • Hi Modigati, I am not aware of any new Building Regulations from 1st January 2016. Please give me more information about what regulations you are asking about and I will see if I can help you.

      • Hi. Janek and Modigati,

        I ma not sure if we are talking about the same thing, NHBRC manuals are no longer used for any site non compliance and supervision for site as from effect October 2015. There is on booklet that has been revised and is more of a reference book to the updated sans 10400.

        Please visit any NHBRC office for more information.

        • The NHBRC manuals are a guide to good building practice. They basically mirror what SANS 10400 says in different detail SANS 10400 is law. NHBRC manuals are used to train people to be compliant. I think you are confused! And yes the manuals have recently been revised.

  8. Is a solar geyser mandatory or what if I’m building a new house and can I still go for a old conventional geyser.

    • A solar geyser (water heater) is one of the options. In terms of hot water supply Requirements for water installations in buildings shall be in accordance with SANS 10252-1 (that governs installation) and SANS 10254 (2012) that governs geysers – “This standard applies to all water heaters that fall within the scope of SANS 151, including the storage tanks of solar water heaters that fall within the scope of SANS 1307, and the storage tanks for heat pump systems.” It details all the allowable options. But you’d be best off with a solar geyser.

  9. We are busy buying a house and want to convert the single garage into a 2 bedroom granny flat, we will need to extend a bit. What is the process i need to go through. How do i start the process?

    Also i have heard that if you build a shade cloth car port you dont need plans to be passed but you do need for a steel roof ,is that correct?

    thank you

    • Your conversion will require approved plans from the municipality, and these must be drawn up by a competent person. As far as carport structures are concerned, it is their size rather than the materials used that dictate whether or not you need plans. That said, the municipality can grant a waiver. See more here.

      • Hi Penny,

        I bought a house about a year ago and decided not to have a garage built as part of the purchase as the price asked for the garage was ridiculously high and I was planning on building one possibly in the near future and I was wondering if you could please give me some guidance:

        1. Do I need pre-approved plans before starting construction
        2. Do I need an architect and/or an engineer to be involved in the process
        3. Can the building work be done by myself or do I need to have a registered builder do the work

        • Yes you do need approved plans before you start building. As this would be regarded as an extension you don’t need to enrol the structure with the NHBRC and so there is nothing to force you to use a registered builder. But you do need the involvement of a “competent person” and Council will check foundations, roof etc and give you a completion certificate.

      • Hi penny

        I have an outbuilding it has water and electricity a front door and a toilet there was two steel doors used as a garage on the one side..I want to convert this into a granny flat I will put a new roof on . Does anyone need to get involved?

        • Check your existing plans to see if the plumbing is on the plans. If you are incorporating a garage into living space you probably do need plans. Check with the local authority because they are the ones that can fine you.

  10. Good day, is an emergency fire exit, in the workplace, which is lockable with a key legal? The fire exit is locked at night time and over weekends.
    We have inquired from our security management and their response was: “Fire escape doors should always be locked and only be accessed when we experienced an emergency situation.
    In such a situation, staff can call any of the security rooms on xxxx and state the following: your name, department and office contact number; describe the incident to the security control operator – any injuries; get the name of the security control operator who in return will call for the necessary help required.”
    I understand the need to have restricted access, but a key-locked fire escape? Surely that cannot be legal? Rather something like an alarmed exit to restrict access, but to have to wait for someone to come with a key while the building is burning, is ludicrous.

    • I agree with you Estie. Here is the only section from Part T of the building regulations: Fire Protection that I can find that relates to locking emergency fire exits in general.

      4.16.9 Every locking device fitted to an access door or escape door in any escape route shall be of a type approved by the local authority, provided that in any building where an electronic locking device is required for security purposes, such locking device shall be of a type which unlocks automatically when any of the fire detection equipment or electrical fire protection equipment of the building is activated or when there is no power to the locking device.
      NOTE Locking devices that are unacceptable include keys in break glass boxes. Locking devices that are acceptable should be capable of being operated in a single movement without the use of a key.

  11. Hello Penny / Janek

    I have a question about new building products specifically the use of polystyrene blocks with concrete pour was walls. The literature in South Africa is rather sparse on the topic and I was wondering if you have any further information on the topic as it relates to relative pricing, available builders etc.


    • Sorry Darryl we don’t. It falls under, the Board of Agrément South Africa, a body that operates under the delegation of authority of the Minister of Public Works. And if you build using this or any other non-standarized product where there aren’t SANS that apply to them, you need an:
      “Agrément certificate
      certificate that confirms fitness-for-purpose of a non-standardized product, material or component or the acceptability of the related non-standardized design and the conditions pertaining thereto (or both) issued by the Board of Agrément South Africa”

  12. Hi must the builder be able to install window and door frames as well as the doors?

    • Absolutely – otherwise he isn’t a builder. He certainly wouldn’t be accepted by the NHBRC and you must use an NHBRC registered builder.

  13. Dear Penny,

    Thank you for your answer a while ago.

    4 Months ago i bought a wooden house 100m2, two levels. Approved plans and structure was apparently correctly supervised and inspected, erected 10 years ago.

    When it is windy the complete house moves and when the wind is severe it feels like you are on a boat in the wild Atlantic.

    I decided to look at the building plans, 400 x 300 foundations are stipulated for all poles, there are about 30.

    Desperation and my wife not wanting to stay there anymore, made me remove the soil around one of the
    “main” poles and you won’t believe it: ABSOLUTELY NO FOUNDATION. Just poles stuck in the ground about 800 deep in clayish soil. When it rains, all is muddy, including around the poles.

    I have had a professional engineer onsite and will recieve a report soon.

    Your comments will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you and kind regards,


  14. There is a game farm in Limpopo area and the owner wants to build a Lodge on the farm
    If he get a architect to draw up the plans
    Who needs to approve it
    It is going to be eco friendly

    Thank you


  15. Hi,

    We want to add a Iron/louvre roof over our patio floor. What is the requirements? Do i need building plans for it? It is 3500×3640.

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