Owner Builder Requirements – NHBRC

What Are You Required to Do with the NHBRC as an Owner Builder?


All new homes, by law, have to be registered with the NHBRC, some RDP houses are exempt from this. As an owner builder you may apply for an exemption from the Housing Consumer Protection Measures Act with the NHBRC. There are certain questions that they ask and have to be satisfactorily answered before the exemption is granted.

There is a link at the bottom of this post so you can download the questionnaire.

The NHBRC’s Nomawethu Maqetuka has published a letter outlining some of the requirements:

Thanks you very much for enquiring about the owner builder process.

Owner Builder

It is a legislative requirement that anyone who wishes to be exempt from the provisions of the Housing Consumer Protection Measures Act on the basis of being an owner builder must make submission to the Council prior to the commencement of construction.

Further is a requirement that the applicant proves, inter alia, that he displays the appropriate financial, technical, construction and management capacity to construct the residential unit.

A commissioned motivation by the Applicant:

The following information must be included in the motivation:

  • Will the applicant be employing a contractor (“a person appointed by the owner builder to assist in the construction of a home or installation of subsidiary services to a home”) / skilled artisans to assist him? If so, the names of the contractors must be confirmed together with the terms of conditions. Include a copy of the contract/agreement;
  • Is the Applicant the owner of the property? If so, provide the title deed.
  • If the Applicant is not the owner of the property, but will only be assisting the owner in the building of the latter’s home (as per the definition of owner builder), provide the Title Deed and Power of Attorney (Annexure D) authorising the Applicant to bring the application for exemption and to build the house on his behalf.
  • Details of any experience in or knowledge of the built industry (include any certified copies of the qualifications, past experience, knowledge of Home Builders Manuals etc.);
  • The applicant must agree to write the Technical
  • Who will be occupying the home;
  • Has the applicant applied for owner builder exemption on any other property previously, or does he intend to do so in future? Provide details of property and circumstances.

Kind Regards

Nomawethu Maqetuka


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  1. good day

    do wooden homes need to be registered, no foundation , on stilts no brick or cement only wood log cabin ? as a consumer , not a business.

    and what if the home is already built?

    • Yes they do. We have just built a little wooden cottage on stilts, and the NHBRC was vigilant in their inspections. They are looking for reasons to fine people! If the house is already built and you try to sell it without an NHBRC certificate, you will have to get a cash buyer. The banks won’t mortgage houses of any sort that don’t have an NHBRC certificate.

  2. Christa Strydom

    Hi, I am confused, just found this site . Over the last few years guys/ architects etc told us that Owner Builder is not allowed. Can we work on this info on this site as legit? We are looking to move to the West coat.

    • Hi Christa, Of course the info is legit! However, there are legal requirements. eg You have to apply for an exception from the NHBRC – and it is vital that you comply with the National Building Regulations (SANS 10400) and other SABS specifications. Different local authorities also have their own requirements. If you are applying for a bond it is highly unlikely that a bank will allow you to owner build, though there are ways you can work with a registered builder and do some of the work yourself. Admittedly it’s become more difficult over the years! So you need to know what is required and depending on what you physically plan to do yourself (eg lay bricks) you will need certain skills!

  3. I am interested in purchasing an unfinished “Owner Builder” home. The project has been built on an add hoc basis for over 7 years. It is roofed and glazed and needs the internal finishes. It has never received an Occupation Certificate.
    The main structure is some six years old and appears in very good condition, the general quality of the build is good.

    1. In your opinion, what are the likely pitfalls/risks that I will encounter in taking over the project?

    2. The seller believes that the banks will grant a mortgage because “the house is more than five years old”. When does the five year period, during which an owner builder can not sell the property, begin – on commencement of the build or on the issue of the Occupation certificate?

    3. The building plans were submitted by the current owner, will I need to resubmit them as the new owner or do the municipalities simply transfer them to my name?

    • Hi Graham, Last question first: The plans are related to the house and as a new owner they automatically are yours. The “five years” only starts when the house is “finished” and a house is not finished until the final approval by the council inspector is given and an occupation certificate is issued. How the NHBRC and the banks will view this situation will be up to them as this is an “out of the norm” situation. You will have to contact them and ask.

      • Just to add to my previous comment, if there is no NHBRC certificate then the banks will more than likely refuse to give a loan. You might add a clause in your offer, if you do make one, that the offer is subject to a bond being grated to you by the bank. Yue can specify the bank here if you wish or leave it open for all banks.

  4. If a project has a registered Professional team of Architect, Structural Engineer, Mechanical Engineer and Electrical Engineer, then what value does the NHBRC add for their fee over and above what these professionals provide? These persons are all defined as Competent Persons under the Building Regulations.

    • Hi Ryan, That is a good question. Whereas your “Competent persons” I am sure are totally professional and will do the checks, inspections and approvals to the highest standards. Unfortunately, you are being penalised for the unscrupulous operators who try to cheat the system. This has been seen often with failed projects and at times with loss of life. The NHBRC was formed to protect all homeowners and builders.

  5. I need NHBRC CERTIFICATE for my company i am based in eastern cape in Butterworth any assistance I can get from you ?

  6. Willie v Rensburg

    I inherit some money from my late father. I used it for building (owner builder) to build a house from my inheritance. The plans were drawn by qualified / registered person and was approved and signed off. I believe I need a NHBRC certificate if I want to apply for a home loan . I didn’t know about all these regulations, NHBRC etc.My house is finished, what am I suppose to do? Thanks

    • Hi Willie, You must contact the NHBRC and explain to them and maybe ask for an “Owner Builder” exemption. They will more than likely impose late registration penalties that you will have to pay. You could also ask your “qualified person” to assist. In fact your “qualified person” should have told you to register or if you used a registered builder he should have done this as part of the contract. Here is the link: http://www.nhbrc.org.za/

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