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 H: 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 
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 bought a house a year ago with a flat roof. I see now how much maintenance it is going to take and would like to convert to a single pitch. Can I not just cut back the sheeting and put trusses on top of the existing beams to convert? I have been warned it may be a fire risk. How can I find out if this idea is feasible without paying someone to draw up plans and submit, just to possibly get rejected…

    • No you can’t just convert one type of roof to another. You will need to consult with a roofing specialist to ascertain feasibility.

  2. Hello Penny,
    We have a Commercial Office Building with two storeys.
    The Ground Floor has a Common Reception Lobby with hardwood slatted panelling against a plastered brick wall.
    Are there any specific rules relating to Fire for the panelling?

  3. Good day

    I bought a house two years back. Now there are cracks all over. The seller doesn’t want to take any responsibility. I mean it is clear that he knew about those cracks as there are even signs that they have worked/patched this cracks before. What is my recourse?

    • If you can prove it is a latent defect (i.e. that he knew about the cracks) you can hold him liable. You can try the route of getting an arbitrator to intervene, otherwise you will need a lawyer.

  4. Hi Penny
    Are you aware of any safety regulations for first floor and above windows and doors regarding child safety?

  5. Hi, Please advise if one needs municipal plans approved for an external concrete slab 100mm thick with tiled finish and an adjustable louvred awning over, similar to the Weathermaster type. Thank you.

    • This is likely to qualify as minor building work, in which case you won’t need plans, but it’s best to check with the local authority.

  6. I have bought a house with 3 kitchens or kitchenettes and the bank says that I may not have more than 1 kitchen in my house but the municipality says nothing about the amount of kitchens or kitchen zinks – is this illegal

    • As long as you have council approval it isn’t illegal at all. They would be the ones to be concerned because the house could be being used to house three or more families! Why do you think the bank is objecting?

  7. Why are building Regulations not followed in townships ? All now fall under a municipality , if you build in town inspectors are there before you even start. I have spoken to people who build in the townships who do not even have plans or any inspections was done. When are inspections going to be carried out on houses build in townships or even when houses are being build illegally ?

  8. Good day, I bought a house 2years ago. Two weeks ago I received a notice to obtain written approval for the unauthorised building work which are my double garage and a carport. I bought the house as is, now I need to spend another R8000 just to get plans. Can you please help me

    • This is a common problem. You may be able to hold the previous owner liable, but to do this you will probably need the assistance of an attorney.

  9. Nana Motsoane

    Hi we asked one of your members to build a house for us. After the house was completed we were informed that we need to notify them with the things or items we were not satisfied with within 3 months and we have done that and nothing was done about those things.

    The house was handed over to us last year August (2015) the walls have cracked and the wall next to shower is licking.

  10. Hi

    I need guidance.

    We are busy with an addition. We have had the foundation and floor (damp proofing) inspections done by a
    municipal building inspector. This inspector indicated to us that he would do the roof, sewage and final inspection. He has since moved to a new area in the last couple of weeks. During the approval process the municipality never indicated any requirements for engineer involvement. When I reached the new inspector he now insists that they have not done roof inspections for years and he is referring me to an
    engineer to do so. According to information I can find municipal inspectors can do the inspections? This is a single storey residence property. Can anyone refer me to the specific regulation on who is required to do inspections (municipal inspector or engineer). Please advise so I can have the correct information when dealing with municipal officials?

    • If the engineer is the competent person he/she would be doing inspections all the way through. The council is responsible for inspecting the site, then foundation trenches, roof and roof trusses, and plumbing. Their approval is required for the occupation certificate to be granted. However if the council says you must use and engineer, I presume they would accept an engineer’s approval.

  11. who do I complain to about noisy builders working on a Sunday in a residential area?

  12. Johan van der Merwe

    I want to sub-divide a piece of land into 3 separate pieces +- 410m2 each. Each will get his own house. Now my layman’s question is, does each house have to have its own entrance from the public road, or can I have one road going from the public road through to the back of my land, and each house’s entry road branches off from this “shared” road? This is in Potchefstroom just in case it makes a difference. Thanks

  13. Hi,

    We recently bought a place in Johannesburg, we want to extend by building extra room on the roof of the garage

    What are the steps to follow, should neighbors giver permission? Please advise


    • Your extension will requires plans that must be approved by council. Neighbours will only have to give permission if you deviate from the regulations.

  14. if you had to use a reusable sorce of energy what would the most effitiant equipment to use

  15. hello

    i’d like to contact to you with e-mail.

    is it possible?

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