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. Good day,

    I was wondering if you could help with an issue.

    In February we found a nice 2 bedroom house that we liked so we paid the deposit and on the day of signing the contract we were notified that there was a problem with the roof and it was leaking in the one corner. The landlord had someone come out to look at the roof, who them continued to tear apart a part of our ceiling in the living room area, on the day we had to move in… They left a hole in the ceiling until they could do something about the leak, which took about 2 months with a leaking roof now affecting half of our house – living room and main bedroom. After notifying the landlord that we are considering moving because the leak was getting out of hand she contacted the same people to try to fix the roof a second time, which turned into a worse leakage once again.

    Having now gone from having only a small leak, to a leak running from one side straight through to the other side, to having the entire front part of the house – living room and main bedroom – leaking from everywhere and having the water run through the kitchen to the back door. Again she got someone to ‘fix’ the roof which also just lead to even worse leakage that before….which lead to the ceiling collapsing in both the living room and the bedroom with us inside.

    We then came to the agreement to only pay half the rent seeing as we can only use half the house, which the landlord agreed to. Now it seems the leakage is fixed but we still don’t have a ceiling and the landlord is demanding full rent.

    We are very unhappy regarding this and would like to know if we have any foot to stand on regarding the ceiling matter.

    • This is not an issue that concerns the building regulations. You probably don’t have a leg to stand on unless you had an agreement in writing that specified the ceiling would be fixed. That said, there may be other clauses in your lease agreement that cover you. For instance the lease may state (they usually do) what kind of repairs are the landlord’s responsibility. So start with your lease agreement.

  2. can anyone tell me where to get some information regarding the widening of a complex entrance and what the laws are?

    • There are no specific laws that I am aware of. If widening involves demolishing and/or building new walls, you will need approved plans.

  3. Good evening, we have a problem that residence build with out having their plans approved by the local authorities.
    Some of the residence was warned by the municipality without complying by the request. We did complained about the situation but without no success.

    can you assist me with contact details of the Building Authorities were we can forward our complain too.

    Appreciated your assistance.

  4. hi I live in a complex and want to enclose my verandah to match the existing there are already pillars and the foundation was designed for this purpose we will brick it up with three windows my question do I need to submit plans the BC will approve the request

    082 570 7392

  5. Who regulates the installation of burglar bars on residential properties? Are there any set standards available surrounding the construction thereof and specifically surrounding acceptable workmanship?

  6. i bought a stand for cash my brother is building the double storey house for me and he is not registered with nhbrc.i have a qualified engineer inspecting the house and municipality inspector and the architech who are currently inspecting the house.only today the person from nhbrc came to my property to stop the builder as he is not registered with them.i am bit confused ,is it a must for them to intefere in my property?i am just confused i need help

    • All builders must be registered with the NHBRC and all homes must be enrolled with them. If you want to owner build and take responsibility for your own construction you need to apply for an exemption from the NHBRC. This will involve a multiple question test. They might allow you to do this now but also might fine you.

  7. Hi,
    We have been living on our property for 4 years, our Neighbour has always hired out his property.
    We recently got new tenants which have started to move in slowly, when I came home the other night I saw that they have planted a huge tree, (there are a couple more lying down to be planted)
    I can see this tree causing problems in the future, what are my rights as a home owner?

  8. Hi
    I’m renting a flat on the first floor of a rather old building. I’ve been renting for the last 6 years now. I have become concerned about the safety of this building the last couple of months as it feels if the floor is moving when one walks around. I wanted to know if old buildings like this needs to be or can be inspected for safety purposes? If so how does one go about doing that?

    • You could try calling the council and asking if a building inspector can inspect. Otherwise you will have to pay an engineer or someone with a related qualification to inspect. Just be careful because unscrupulous people might try and con you into doing unnecessary maintenance work. Of course you could also contact your landlord and ask him/her to investigate.

  9. What is the minimum qualification/s for a Building Control Officer

  10. Are there specific standards such as SANS or ISO in respect of container conversion accommodation and ablutions etc. I would specifically be interested to see what standards will be applied when containers are being stacked. I know that 5 levels has successfully been done in other countries.

  11. Please help me, I’m a student in this field. What are the 3 avenues by which a developer can comply with the requirements of the NBR in terms of NBR and Bldg std’s ?

    • Hi Silas, Sorry but we have a policy of not answering students questions and doing their research for them, this you will have to find out.

  12. I was always wondering who is actually responsible for the setting out of the building? Is it the Architect or the Structural Engineer? On which plans should the building dimensions and coordinates be given?
    Does the code stipulates this responsibilities?

    • The builder. But the competent person – whoever this is (it could be your architect or an engineer) – is expected to check that everything is done according to plan. Part A of the NBR details all this and has copies of the documents that should have been signed.

  13. Hi,

    We bought our house in Umhlanga in 2008, which has a precast (Vibracrete) wall between us and our neighbours.

    When we bought our house, part of the precast wall was covered in a vigourous climber that completely hid about 10m of the wall and, as we were busy with renovations to the house, we only cut the creeper back about six months after taking occupation of our house, at which point we noticed that the wall was leaning over towards our side. The level of the ground on our neighbours side of the wall was (and still is) about 500mm higher than the level of the ground on our side of the wall. Furthermore, there is a growth of bamboo, wild bananas and various other large trees on the fence-line on our neighbours side which we are convinced is causing the fence to slowly fall over towards us.

    At the stage when we noticed the situation, we approached the neighbours and asked if they would cut back the trees and remove the soil lying up against the lower panels of the precast wall. They agreed to do so, however, a few months after our request, the sold their house and moved to another province.

    After giving our new neighbours a chance to settle in, we approached them with the same request and they quite happily trimmed the bamboo, bananas, trees and bushes back, but didn’t clear any soil from the wall. Plants also continue to grow and with last weekends heavy rain, the wall is leaning over even more.

    Yesterday (11 May 2015), I got a fencing contractor to come and quote to do repairs and his opinion was that the neighbours should be responsible for the damage.

    I would just like a second opinion on this before I discuss this with our neighbours. We are prepared to go 50/50 on the cost of the repairs, even if they are completely liable for the damage.

  14. Hi
    I want to build with facebrick and use a cement brick as a backing brick to keep cost down.

    Can I do that , and is there any requirements I need to adhere to ?

  15. Hi.Seeing that property is so bloody expensive,myself and a few other people are condering to buy a farm and build our own houses on it.How many houses can you build and what are the regulations regarding building your own compound,if you will.Thank you

    • The National Building Regulations apply to all construction even on farms. You will need plans approved by the local authority in the area. They will tell you how many houses you can build. I presume if you built “labourers cottages” you could build quite a lot.

      • Good Day Penny. Why does building regulations not apply in informal areas ? No plans are approved by the local authority. Near us in White River Mpumalanga a whole new nabourhood was build with no plans. Or even build using building regulations.

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