What is “Minor Building Work”?

two barbecues

“I only want a braai on my patio.” you might say. Well these two are both on a patio and both have braais but the one on the left will be minor building work and the one on the right is not.

Whatever you construct on your property needs plans, unless it is defined as “minor building work”. Even so the Act states very well in Part A: General Principles and Requirements (this was previously Part A: Administration), that any structural building work that is defined as “minor building work” requires approval by your local authority’s building control officer before you can commence with any work . So long as you make an application to get the proper approval from the local authority, you DO NOT NEED PLANS . But the law is also very clear in terms of compliance with the regulations; minor building work must adhere to the regulations.


Temporary Buildings

Short-term structures also need permission from the local authority. This includes builders’ sheds, on-site toilets, and any other structure you may want to build (or be obliged to erect) for the building project.

The local authority will not give you approval to build a temporary building until you give certain information, so they are able to evaluate it. At very least they have to know:

• what the planned use and life span of the building will be
• the space in which it is to be built (in other words where you are intending to put it)
• the availability of proper materials from which it may be constructed

The Definition of “minor building work” in Terms of the Law

a ) the erection of poultry houses (hoender hokke or chicken coups) that are no more than ten square metres in size, aviaries that are no bigger than 20 square metres, solid fuel stores (for storing wood, coal, anthracite or similar) that are no more than ten square metres in area and no higher than two metres, tool sheds that are smaller than ten square metres, childrens’ playhouses that are no more than five square metres, cycle sheds no more than five square metres, greenhouses that are a maximum 15 square metres, open-sided car, caravan or boat shelters or carports that do not exceed 40 square metres in size, any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil, any pergola, private swimming pool (although most local authorities do insist on plans), change room at a private swimming pool not exceeding 10 sq m in area .

b ) the replacement of a roof (or part of a roof) with the same or similar materials,

c ) the conversion of a door into a window, or a window into a door, without increasing the width of the opening,

d ) the making of an opening in a wall that doesn’t affect the structural safety of the building concerned,

e ) the partitioning or enlarging of any room by the erection or demolition of an internal wall, as long as it doesn’t affect the structural safety of the building,

f ) the section of any solar water heater not exceeding six square metres in area on any roof; or 12 square metres if the water heater is erected elsewhere,

g ) the erection of any building that the local council doesn’t believe plans are necessary for.

In the last example , it is up to the building control officer to make this assessment.

How This Affects You

We have had quite a few inquiries on this site relating to when and where plans are required. As you will see, there are some exceptions, but in the end it is up to the local authority to determine whether or not you need plans.

It also makes sense that the structures defined as minor building work will all need to be fit for purpose. So you can’t say you are putting together an aviary (which can be 20 square metres in area), and then build a brick building with windows, suitable for human habitation!

Read more about this here:  Plans & Minor Building Work, A Garden Structure

  139 Responses to “Minor Building Works”

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  1. Hi

    I have a stoep next to my house. It has walls all round. The one is the boundary wall. The walls and stoep are on my existing plans. The boundary wall is the street wall. I have a conner yard. The foundations is also on the drawings . It is shown as Prop Walls on the existing plans. Do I need plans or just approval to put a roof over it.

    Regards Stephan

  2. Good day we have erected a tree hous for our son 2 years ago. We got a notice to take it down within 21 days from local inspector after neighbour lodge a complaint. We took it down well within the 21 days even cut down the tree. Now almost a year after we have received a summons in criminal case contravening section 4 (1) of the national building regulation. What are we to do please help!

    • Hi Vanessa, I seems like you did not notify the council at the time that you had complied with the order. Mistake. What you can do is put it in writing and include a photo or two and personally take it to the council legal department and tell them that you complied 2 years ago and ask them to withdraw the charges. Please ask them what they mean by “section 4(1)” as this does not tell me what Part (A to XA) of the regulations they refer to.

  3. HI
    I’m currently busy with drawing plans of existing structures for council approval. We have the approved plans of the house from way back but additional buildings has not been approved yet.

    There is a carport open on all sides that is over the building line, do we have to apply for a building line relaxation if it qualifies as a ‘minor building works’ structure?

    The covered patio attached to the house has a concrete floor with two walls(openings at the top) and extends over the building line to the site boundary. does this patio area still qualify as a ‘minor building work’ structure? and is it also necessary to apply for building line relaxation?

    • Hi Marie, This all depends on the municipality, some do and some don’t consider it “minor building work”. Many municipalities base their rates on “covered area” so they will need any covered structure to be approved. You will have to give them a call to find out.

  4. I want to add a sloped roof at my entertainment area which is detached fr my house. It will be built in a corner, and attached to my boundary wall and a current existing wall (which will be the back wall) this is what i refer to when i mention corner. There is a braai area and brick floor in place already. No walls or doors will be added just a roof that is 7×3.5 and at its highest 3m’s and will slope. Gutter to be added and electrical/lights. Must i get permission for this?

    • Yes Tanya you must – and you will, in all probability, require approved plans. There is a good chance they won’t allow you to attach a roof to your boundary wall unless you get a waiver signed by your neighbours.

  5. hi
    we are in the process of selling our home and relocating to the cape.
    all plans are up to date (it was built in the 40’s).

    however there is a carport (steel and corrugated roof – open all sides which measures 25 square metres) that isn’t on the plans. the buyer and his bank are refusing to grant the bond as they say we need council approved plans.

    i am so devastated as we thought this process was almost over. what can we do?

    • They DO NOT require plans – It is regarded as minor building work. Go in with guns blazing and tell them you know what the law requires. Good luck

      • Sorry was browsing the comments to knowledge myself more about ‘Minor Building Works’ – My opinion on this situation ….i feel that irrespective if the carport falls under ‘Minor Building Works’ and does not require approved building plans according to SANS. You may require to submit plans for Municipal approval as the carport will definitely affect the ‘Town Planning scheme’ – F.A.R and Coverage.

  6. I have a lean too tiled roof attached to the side of the bungalow on wooden poles it is not of good construction, this I want to replace with a thatch structure to allow more light into the room and give a more pleasing look to the building. Does this need approval.

  7. hi ,i have approved plans ,on those plans it shows one big entrance gate for entrance and exit , i was wondering if i could put two gates (entrance and exit) instead of one ,and if so would i need to re submit plans ? thanks

  8. Hi, I would like to know if it is legal to build your braaiplace right next to the boundary wall of your neighbours, where there are trees and big shrubs that reaches your neighbours roof??

    • The braai place is just the standard one build from bricks with no chimney.

    • Unless the local authority decides that this is minor building work, they need plans to build a braai anywhere. Plus in most parts of SA neighbours’ consent is required to build against a boundary wall.

  9. Hi Janek

    Kindly advise, I had a precast fencing on the road side of my property that was becoming unstable, Due the high accidents in my road where motorist crashed into 3 houses, smashing through their boundary walls and fences, I had the fencing removed and built a boundary wall with the highest point from ground level being less than 1.2m,the boundary wall doesn’t seperate any neighbours property but provides a barrier from reckless drivers crashing into our property.As the level of the ground declines towards the entrance of the property, the height of the wall increases to 1.6m. and the highest column is 1.8m.

    Is this considered “Minor Building Works”? Do i need to submit a building plan now that the wall is completed?

    • Devan this does qualify as minor building work, but you are obliged to notify the council that you are doing the work. Perhaps you should contact them and make sure they don’t want plans. If they do (and it is their call) then you would have to supply “as built” plans. Indicate that you built the wall as a matter of urgency, for the reasons you have given here. There shouldn’t be a problem.

  10. We would like to convert a wooden garden shed into a domestic worker’s quarters. Do we require councils’ permission to install the plumbing and lights?

    • Hi Lauren, Yes you will need to get permission and according to the regulations you will have to have both a registered electrician and a registered plumber do the work and to issue certificates for the council.

  11. Hello Janek,

    I am a new trustee on our complex’s Body Corporate. One of the owners wants to put up a metal roof carport next to his unit to protect his vehicles from sun/hail etc.
    – this parking is not next to another unit
    – it will be affixed to his garage on the one side and a double wall on the opposite
    – THe work is to be professionally
    My question is what is needed to approve this?
    – Do we just need to inform the local authority in terms of materials and cost
    – I cant find any resolutions that this isn’t allowed in our complex
    – All 3 trustees approve
    – Similar structures have been erected at units (at the back over their patio’s)
    There is one person objecting to this erection, what is his/her rights and ours.

    I know this is a mouth full but appreciate your input as I am very unfamiliar in this territory.

    • Hi Gideon, depending on your municipality but with most municipalities for this extent of “addition” the owner would only have to inform the local authority in writing that they intend to erect the “carport”. The law puts the onus on the local authority to decide if plans are required for any extension or addition. A word of advice, if the owner wants to sell at a later stage and plans are called for and the addition is not reflected on the plans, or if there was no written notification relating to the addition, then there could be fines levied and they could lose a sale because of the delay this could cause.

  12. I would like to put up a 4m X 2m Chromadek carport type roof on a balcony for the rain.
    Raw bolted to the 4m wall and the front two poles raw bolted to a base plate with 4 raw bolts on the floor.

    • If you are worried about whether or not plans will be required ask the council. In any case you will need to get an okay from them to do the structure.

  13. Hi, I have recently bought a house which has an entertainment area on the outside of the house. It is directly on the other end of my dining room wall. I wish to know if I will have to re-draw my house plans if I want to make it accessible by means of an aluminium sliding door? Kindly help me please 🙂

    • I wish to break the dining room wall and insert a sliding door to access the entertainment area.

      • Be careful before you take out any walls inside your house as they could be loadbearing and essential to holding up your roof if you have a single storey or walls above if it is a double storey. Get on site advice from an expert. If it is loadbearing then you will need plans, if not then you may do this without plans but you should inform the council in writing that you have done the alteration. You must keep a copy of the letter for your records so that if you sell at a later stage you are covered when the buyer sees that the house and the plans differ.

    • This exterior wall sounds as though it is a loadbearing wall so any alterations to this wall will need plans to be approved before you do any work.

  14. I live in plumstead and want to have a braai 2m long x 75 deep by 3m high with chimney build against the back of our shared boundary wall which is 3.5 high – does this need plans?

    • If you are building a braai like this against your neighbours wall then you will need to inform them in writing. They might object as the smoke might interfere with their enjoyment of their own property and by law you are not allowed to do anything that will affect your neighbour badly. The best is to discuss this with them in an open and friendly manner. You will have to inform the council in writing as well that you have have carried out “minor building work” and built a braai. Read this as well: minor-building-works

  15. I want to put up a covered patio structure, similar to a car port. 4 or 6 steel columns dug into the ground and concreted in. IBR sheeting for the roof. Less than 40 square metered. Does this require building plans.

    • Probably not but you still need to contact the local authority and let them know what you are planning. Officially they need to approve the project

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