Site Operations

Building Regulations that Relate to
Site Operations – Part F

Site operations building regulations
The building regulations relating to site operations are contained in Part F of the NBR.

Site operations must be carried out in a safe, responsible manner. It is for this reason that Part F: Site Operations of the National Building Regulations specifies how the public and property belonging to the local authority must be safeguarded. Other issues that are addressed include:

  • environmental conditions,
  • site preparation,
  • soil poisoning,
  • control of noise and dust on site,
  • demolition work,
  • waste materials on building sites,
  • cleaning of sites,
  • sanitary facilities, and
  • builders’ sheds.

Unlike many of the other parts of the Building Regulations, the legislated regulations (i.e. what is specified by the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act), is considerably more detailed than the SABS Deemed to Satisfy Rules published with the regulations.

Changes to Part F: Site Operations

The most significant changes to this section relates to Unstable Soil Conditions, a heading that has changed to Geotechnical Site and Environmental Conditions. Primarily, it is to ensure that the soil that we build on is not contaminated, and it is safe. Dolomite land in South Africa has proven to be particularly problematic, and this concern is reflected in this part of the building regulations.

Interestingly, definitions of both contaminated land and dolomite land were included when the regulations were altered in 2008. This followed a comprehensive report by the Department of Public Works Appropriate Development of Infrastructure on Dolomite: Guidelines for Consultants that was published in August 2003.

The New Definitions

This is the wording used in the building regulations:

Contaminated land means any land that, due to substances contained within or under it, is in a condition that presents an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of occupants of buildings constructed on such land.

Dolomite land means land underlain by dolomite or limestone rock directly or at a shallow depth less than:

a) 60 m in areas underlain by limestone;

b) 60 m in areas underlain by dolomite where no de-watering has taken place and the local authority has jurisdiction, is monitoring and has control over the groundwater levels over the areas under consideration; or

c) 100 m in areas underlain by dolomite where de-watering has taken place or where the local authority has no jurisdiction or control over ground water levels.

Protection of the Public

This section relates to the erection of fencing, hoarding or barricades that the local authority might require to protect the public from accessing a building site. If required, this must be safe (in keeping with the local authority’s requirements), and may not be removed without their approval in writing.

There are also regulations that relate to both erection and demolition activities on site. For instance builders may not encroach on adjacent land or on public space.

Damage to Local Authority’s Property

If a local authority believes that demolition or erection activities MIGHT affect local authority property adversely, it has the legal right to call for a deposit (or some other sort of security) that may be used to repair any damage caused.

Geotechnical Site and Environmental Conditions

Previously “Unstable Soil Conditions”, this section of the legislation has been substantial changed and is a lot longer than it used to be.

Previously the local authority simply had to inform anyone applying to build on suspect land that there might be a problem – specifically if it had reason to believe there might be “unstable subsoils or unstable slopes in the area in which a site, upon which a building is to be erected, is situated”. Clearly this was too vague.

The legislation now states that where a local authority “has reason to believe that a site upon which a building is to be erected” is:

  1. situated on contaminated land,
  2. situated on potentially unstable land where a risk could be reasonably foreseen, that ground movements caused by land-slip, slope stability or subsidence may impair the stability of the building or part of it, or pose a threat to the safety of future occupants of the building, or
  3. underlain by subsoils that have the potential to cause movement of foundations caused by swelling, consolidation, shrinkage or settlement, and as a result might impair the stability of the building (or part of it),

it must inform the person applying to build of the probable situation.

If the person applying to build IS aware of the fact that the land is either contaminated or potentially unstable, they are bound to “appoint an approved competent person to undertake an appropriate goetechnical site investigation”.

The definition of “competent person” also changed when the legislation was updated in 2008. Previously the term meant “a person who is qualified by virtue of his experience and training”. Now it means “a person who is qualified by virtue of his education, training, experience and contextual knowledge to make a determination regarding the performance of a building or part thereof in relation to a functional regulation or to undertake such duties as may be assigned to him in terms of these regulations. 

This person is required to determine – using accepted principles, methods and technical considerations:

  1. whether or not a building may be constructed or erected on the site, and if permission is granted, what conditions should be applied, and
  2. the magnitude of any potential and differential movements that the building (or part of it) might be subjected to.

Any geotechnical investigations should be conducted in accordance with the requirements of SANS 10400 Part B: Structural Design (in the case of dolomite lands) and Part H: Foundations.

Preparation of Site

Before any foundations may be laid, the area where the building is to be constructed must be properly cleared of all vegetable matter including tree stumps, timber and other cellulose material, as well as debris, refuse and any contaminated materials.

If the site is waterlogged, seasonally waterlogged (in other words not necessarily waterlogged all the time) or saturated with water, or where any building will be situated so that water will drain naturally towards it, drainage must be provided so that the water is directed away from the site or building to a storm water drain, or disposed of in another “safe approved manner”.

Soil Poisoning

The section was also expanded in 2008, and a reference to termites included. Essentially the regulations now insist on protection from subterranean termite activity if the local authority deems this to be necessary (which would be in areas of high termite infestation). Treatment must be in accordance with SANS 10124.

Control of Unreasonable Levels of Dust and Noise

Owners of land where excavation work is in progress, or where a building is being demolished or erected, must take precautions to limit the amount of dust that makes its way to surrounding roads and footways to a “reasonable level”.

Anyone involved in demolition, excavation and building work has to take care not to “unreasonably disturb or interfere with the amenity of the neighborhood”. Specifically there are times that they may not use any machine, machinery, engine, apparatus, tool or contrivance that is noisy or makes a lot of dust.

  • Before 6 am and after 6 pm any day of the week.
  • Before 6 am or after 5 pm on a Saturday.
  • On Sundays or public holidays.

Previously the legislation only applied to a handful of public holidays: Good Friday, Ascension Day, Day of the Vow, Christmas and New Years Day.

This prohibition is waived if the use of machines etc. is required urgently to:

  • preserve the life, safety or health of any person,
  • preserve property,
  • execute work on behalf of a public authority, or
  • the work has been authorized by the local authority.

Cutting Into, Laying Open and Demolishing Certain Work

This all-important section of the National Building Regulations specifies when a local authority can demand that building stops or a structure must be demolished.

This might be because the local authority believes that the work has not been carried out in accordance with the NBR, or because approval was not granted. If this is the case, the local authority must give notice in writing for the owner of the building to:

  • supply proof that the work is in accordance with the regs and/or it has the approval of the authority,
  • cut into, lay open or demolish the building (whatever the local authority deems fit),
  • insist that tests are carried out.

If tests have to be demanded, then the owner is obliged to supply a written report to the council that states (amongst other things) what was used for testing, who did the test, and what the results of the test were. If the officials are not satisfied, they may take further steps in terms of the regulations – possibly to insist on demolition.

Waste Material on Site

If owners of building sites allow excessive rubble, rubbish and other debris – or combustible waste material – to accumulate, they can expect to receive written notice to have it removed within a certain period. If they don’t comply, they will be regarded as being “guilty of an offence” and the local authority then has then right to remove the materials and make them pay the bill.

Cleaning of Site

This is essentially the same regulation that applies to waste material, only here the regulations refer to “surplus material and matter” that has accumulated on site, or on adjoining land or a public street.

Builder’s Sheds

Builder’s sheds are legal on building sites as long as they are properly maintained and only used for building purposes. When building ceases, the shed has to be removed. You can’t for instance, decide to keep the shed and use it for your garden tools.

Sanitary Facilities

It is against the law to do any demolition or construction work if there are no approved sanitary facilities for workers and other personnel. If sanitary facilities are not provided, the local authority can halt the building process.






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  1. Hi,
    I am currently building on my property and the builder has left the rubble outsideto be removed as soon as they have completed the building. Building work has only been going on for 3 weeks and I have a JMPD officer calling at my house everyday to insist that the rubble be removed. The building works will be complete by 9 October. Is there a time limit in which rubble has to be removed?

    • Yasmin, SANS 10400 Part F, Site operations states:
      “F8 Waste Material on Site
      (1) Where in the opinion of the local authority, excessive rubble, rubbish, other debris or combustible waste material is allowed to accumulate on a site before or during building operations, it may, by written notice, order the owner of such site to have such rubble, rubbish, other debris or combustible waste material removed within the period specified in such notice.
      (2) Any owner who fails to comply with such notice shall be guilty of an offence and the local authority may remove the said rubble, rubbish, other debris or combustible waste material from such site and may recover the costs of such removal from the owner.
      F9 Cleaning of Site
      (1) Any owner or person erecting or demolishing any building shall remove any surplus material and matter arising from such erection or demolition from the site and from any other land or public street or public place affected by such material or matter during or after the completion of such erection or demolition, failing which the local authority may, by written notice, order the owner of such building to have such surplus material and matter removed within a period specified in such notice.
      (2) Any owner or person who fails to comply with a provision of subregulation (1) or a notice served on him in terms thereof, shall be guilty of an offence.”
      I really don’t see where the JMPD fits in – unless it is creating a hazard – or perhaps a neighbour has complained.

  2. Hi, I am a neighbor to a house being renovated.. The builders are busy from very early to late also on week ends.. Pls can you advise the regulated building times as builders by law, thanks you.

    • Darrell, this falls under SANS 10400, Part F, Site operations – this page! If you read the article you will see exactly what the times are. Scroll down to the heading: Control of Unreasonable Levels of Dust and Noise

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  4. Hi,
    Would you be able to tell me if it is a legal requirement to put up a
    project notice board stating the proposed work and contractors
    involved or if this is purely a form of advertising and not

    thank you

    • Colleen I think that it is, but it will probably be governed by your local authority bylaws rather than the building regulations. Give them a call and find out what their requirements are.

  5. I am about to undergo renovations at my property. I have a double garage with a servants quarter attached to it which includes a toilet and hot running water and shower. Am I able to have some of my key labour sleep on site during the renovation period in this area? My neighbor has expressed concern over crime matters and does not want anyone sleeping on site.

    • Guy, This is an interesting one. I think the key here is “some of” – how many people are you wanting to sleep on site? Legally I don’t think your neighbour can stop you – after all these could be “friends”. If you have a servants quarter and these people are working for you, I would think that you could have people stay in the quarters. But if it is intended for one person, you could have a problem if you had three or four staying there. At the end of the day they are on your property and I imagine you are going to be careful about whom you employ.
      People building or doing demolition work (and I assume major renovations) are permitted to have a builder’s shed – and security personnel are permitted to use the shed. I posted a new article yesterday that deals with temporary structures. Have a look at the end – this states exactly what the regulations say about builder’s sheds. It might be helpful. If you are in any doubt, contact your local authority and ask their advice.

  6. Good day. I would like to know about the sanitary facilities for builders. Is it legal to have the chemical toilets for the builders on the side walk in front of my property ( i.e. municipal property) or should it be inside the boundary wall of my house/ erf where alterations are being made?

    Thank you

    • Hi Jan,
      The Regulations state that “…..are available on the site or, with the permission of the local authority, at some other place…..”. If there is limited space on your site to place the toilets then the local authority should allow you to temporarily put them on the sidewalk until you have finished the alterations.

  7. Hi. What are the regulations behind building work on Sundays or Public
    Holidays? We are living next to a house undergoing renovations and are
    often being woken up early on a Sunday am with lots of shouting,
    hammering etc. And who can we go to if the builders are disinterested
    in our please for peace?
    Many thanks in anticipation

    • Hi Alex,
      Have a look at our “Site Operations” page and you will see that there are strict rules about this covered in Part F of the Building Regulations. They are not allowed to and it is up to the local authority to take action, contact your local Municipality and request they send out an inspector.

  8. Gooda day
    I would like to know if a building site must be secured with a fence
    to pretect people from getting injured within a Estate?

    • Hi Thinus,
      The section of the National Building Regulations that deals with fencing is Part-F Site Operations, we have a page that has some info here buildingregulations-site-operations. Each site has its own features and the Local Authority in your area will need to assess the site and they must decide what they require to make the site “Safe”.

  9. Elizabeth Watson

    We live in a block of Flats at Blue Heights, Westville Road,
    Westville, Durban. They are demolishing the shopping centre beneath
    the flock of flats and although we accept and understand the noise
    that this has and will generate, is it legal for them to work and
    generate drilling and other noise 7 days a week. We would like to know
    if we can expect some peace and quiet in our block of flats on
    Saturday afternoons and Sundays all day. Many thanks for your urgent

    • Hi Elizabeth,
      The Building Regulations certainly do address the working hours, noise and dust under Part F of the regulations. This in part states that builders and contractors may not “unreasonably disturb or interfere with the amenity of the neighborhood”. The working hours are also given as – “Before 6 am and after 6 pm any day of the week. Before 6 am or after 5 pm on a Saturday. On Sundays or public holidays”. You can read more on our page – Site Operations

  10. We are a construction company and would like to know if there is a law
    that stops us from working over the holiday period.

    • Hi Wikus,
      This information is found in Part F- Site Operations of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act. If you follow the link to our section on Site Operations page, you will see exactly what times are one is NOT permitted to work. This section of the legislation was changed slightly when the new Act became law in 2008.

  11. Robert Kuhlmann

    To whom it may concern,

    Is there country wide standard for what colours of hard hats different
    people on a building site must waer? For instance the safety officer
    will wear a red hard hat, while crane operators will wear yellow hard

    If so where can I find it?

    Kind Regards,

    Robert Kuhlmann

    • Hi Robert,
      I have contacted MSA Africa senior head, eye-, face- and hearing-protection product manager Loren Pearson. She tells me that in South Africa whereas hard hats are mandatory on any building site, the individual colours and designations are determined by the company, contractor, site manager or builder. It would seem to follow the trend set in Europe and the USA.

  12. Good day are there any regulations regarding dust control while building ?

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