Every Room Must be Fit for Purpose-Part C

The National Building Regulations (NBR) are not prescriptive when it comes to the size of rooms and buildings. However it is vital that the size of any room or space is fit for the purpose for which it was intended.

In the case of a really small house – or “dwelling unit” – the floor area of the entire building must be able to accommodate a “habitable” room as well as a separate room with toilet facilities. This is more for sanitary reasons than for comfort, and it makes perfect sense.

That’s about it, though the SANS deemed-to-satisfy requirements do give a little more guidance.

The updated requirements, published by the SABS in October 2010, were compiled with the assistance of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering. You can buy them from the SABS, either from one of their offices, or online.

What SANS 10400-C Covers

In essence the section on Part C, Dimensions in the Code of practice for the application of the National Building Regulations simply establishes the requirements for plan size dimensions as well as room heights and overall floor areas. It’s that simple.


The National Building Regulations and Standards Act has a glossary of terms; however there are additional terms that are defined in the various parts of the SABS codes of practice.  In Part C, there is a new definition of category 1 buildings. These are specifically buildings that are classified as:

  1. Places of instruction (A3)
  2. Buildings used for worship (A4)
  3. Small shops (F2)
  4. Offices, as well as banks, consulting rooms and similar (G1)
  5. Dormitories where a groups of people are accommodated in one room (H2)
  6. Domestic residences with two or more dwelling units on a single plot (H3)
  7. Dwelling houses, which may or may not include a garage and/or outbuildings (H4)

But in addition to the classification there are several other parameters:

  • There must not be a basement in the building
  • The maximum length between walls or “members” that provide lateral support is 6 m
  • The floor area in the building may not exceed 80 square metres.

There are certain requirements and limitations that are imposed on category 1 buildings by other parts of SANS 10400. For instance, in terms of Part T, Fire Protection, they are restricted to one storey. The maximum number of people allowed in category 1 buildings is also regulated.

Supposedly this means that if a house, church, office, shop etc has a basement or is double storey, it is not classified category 1, and a different code of practice will apply.

Dimensions of Plans

When you see dimensions on plans, you will know that these are the horizontal dimensions between UNPLASTERED wall surfaces. Of course once you plaster a wall and re-measure it, the distance between the two walls will be slightly less, since there will usually be at least 10 mm of plaster on the wall (though no one coat should be thicker than 15 mm) – and up to 30 mm if three coats of 10 mm-thick plaster are applied.

The Height of Rooms

If you’re a keen camper, you may not mind bending down in your temporary canvas home. But homes and other buildings have to be able to accommodate people standing up! Very few people are taller than 1,8 m (most are shorter), and so room heights generally are set at between 2,1 m and 2,4 m. This doesn’t, however, prevent designers making ceilings higher than this, even though it does increase building costs.

Minimum heights specified relate to different rooms in homes and other buildings:

Bedrooms. 2,4 m above a floor area of at least 6 sq m with a clear
height of at least 1,8 m at any point that is more than
0,75 m from the edge of the floor space.
Any other habitable rooms in dwelling houses/units. 2,4 m above a minimum of 70% of the floor area, and
not less than 2,1 m above the remaining floor area.
All other habitable rooms. 2,4 m.
Passages and entrance halls. 2,1 m.
Bathrooms, shower rooms, laundries and toilets. 2,1 m above any area where a person would normally
stand upright.
Open mezzanine floor with an area no more than
25% of the area of floor immediately below it
2,1 m above and below the mezzanine floor.

Note that this specification has not changed since 1990 – so the existing table in the free downloadable version of SANS 10400 applies.

When ascertaining the height of a room, the minimum dimension allowed is measured from the top of the finished floor to either:

  1. the underside of the ceiling,
  2. the underside of the roof covering (if there isn’t a ceiling), or
  3. the underside of any structural element (member) that is below the ceiling or roof and is larger than 30% of the plan area of the room. In addition, if there is a structural element projecting below ceiling or roof covering level, the height of the projection may not be less than 2,1 m
How to interpret the dimensions relating to minimum floor to ceiling height

In the top section of the drawing, two levels are indicated. Normally the height would be taken at level 2, but if the total plan size of the shaded areas in the bottom part of the drawing exceed 30% of the total area of the room, the ceiling height should be measured to the first level indicated.

Floor Areas for Buildings

Having said that the floor area of a small size home must be large enough to be habitable, plus must accommodate a separate toilet, there are other specifications in the regulations to consider. So while the minimum specifications are pretty tiny, they are not quite as small as you might be imagining.

For instance the regulations state that the floor of any permanent building that is used as a “dwelling house” must be no less than 30 m². Permanent category 1 building may be smaller, 27 m²; and temporary buildings can be as small as 15 m². So while a bedroom can legally be as small as 6 m² (providing no wall is shorter than 2 m) it won’t be sufficient to add on a bathroom and loo and claim that it is a house!

There are also minimum specifications in terms of the floor area allowed for a certain number of people using a room or building at any one time. This is based on the dimensions shown on the plans, but excluding the area that is taken by built-in cupboards, cabinets and so on (see drawings below).

How to measure floor plan areas

These references are specifically in terms of change rooms and dining rooms, and so relate not only to private dwellings, but to hostels and other establishments. If one to 15 people are going to be using a dining room, the minimum allowable area is 0,8 m² per person, but the room must still be at least 6 m² in size.

Not much space to party!

Main Photograph top © Janek Szymanowski



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About Penny

Penny Swift is a highly regarded journalist and author of books relating to homes and construction.

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  1. Hi there

    I wonder if you could help me with a garage question. I’d like to build a double garage on my property, what would be the absolute minimum size we could build to? We have the length but width is a bit of a problem.


  2. Hello Courtney,
    You should be guided by the size of the average car. You need to be able to park two cars side by side – and open doors without bashing the adjacent vehicle.
    A double garage may be built with two single doors, or with one double door. So you can also be guided by the size of standard garage doors. The length – or height – of both is generally 2130 (i.e. just over two metres). Single garage doors are 2440 or 2450 wide; and double doors, 3000 (roll-up) or 4880. Some double garage doors are as wide as five metros +.
    If you can’t accommodate a double garage width wise, perhaps you could build one that accommodates two cars tandem. It’s not ideal, but it might be a solution.

  3. Hi

    i just recently purchased a new car (average – Hyundai sonata) and realized that it does not fit my garage (3m wide, 4.3 m long). As i am a tenant, i would like to know if there are any legal building regulations that regulates the minimum size of a space deemed fit for use as a garage? SANS 10400 does not give any minimum dimensions for garages.

  4. That’s an interesting one Sylvie. Part C of the Building Regs gives minimum dimensions for rooms and buildings, but as you have probably realized, the focus here is on habitable spaces. The dimensions are small and intended to be guidelines for “affordable” housing – as well as “fit for purpose”. So if someone builds a “tiny” garage for their mini, I doubt that there is anything to stop them. Some local authorities may insist on a specific minimum size for a garage (you could check with yours); private housing developments might too. But anyone renting/leasing a property, does so knowing exactly what they are going to be renting. So I am going to stick my neck out and say you don’t have any recourse.

  5. Hi there

    What is the minimum width of a door way or door opening. And where can I find more detail in this regard ?

  6. Hi. You found the right place on the site for dimensions, but the National Building Regulations and NHBRC guidelines do not give specs for doors and openings. Generally designers base their plans on standard door frame sizes. Based on this, an opening wouldn’t be less than about 700 mm wide, which is more or less the opening size from the inside members of a door frame.

  7. Danie Jacobs

    Hi there.
    What is the minimum size of windows and doors allowed for a room?
    Is there a calculation formula?

  8. Hi

    I am in the process of buying a 550 square metre building site. What is the maximum size of house that I am permitted to build on this size stand?


  9. Hello

    What are the average building cost of a double garage ( double in lenght but not in width)

    Thanks 🙂

  10. The Home Owners in this estate require the height of my two lateral boundary walls on the excavation leading down to a marina to be measured from the “general height of the ground level, natural or engineered by the original developers, where the wall was built”.
    To alter the walls would cause me great expense as they are unfortunately already built. They say the relevant “Architectural Guidelines” for this development which state only “All heights measured from datum 3m above msl.” applies only to to houses. I think that “msl” is legally meaningless.
    If they are correct where can I find legal authority for the exact way the walls should be measured? My municipality is not prepared to lay out this information for me.
    Please help.

  11. To be honest, I had never heard the term mean sea level (msl) until now. I presume this has been used because the development is right next to the sea. But what is the issue here? Is it the height of the walls (are they too high)? It also isn’t clear from what you say whether you or someone else built the wall, and when.
    If there are architectural guidelines for a development, this is the “legal authority”. It over-rides anything that the municipality might require from builders outside of the development. If there is nothing about walls other than those of houses, I would imagine that there could be some sort of precedent that relates to what other home owners have done/been allowed to do… unless of course this is a new development. My advice is to get a copy of the guidelines and track down the architects who compiled them. They should be able to help you.

  12. It depends what you use for building. e.g. concrete blocks, clay bricks etc – the pitch of the roof and materials used for the roof covering. It’s the old adage, “how long is a piece of string!”

  13. SANS 10400-C specifies dimensions of minimum room areas and heights. Part O covers lighting and ventilation (both natural and artificial) – http://sans10400.co.za/lighting-and-ventilation/ – which relates to doors and windows. For the rest it really relies on design criteria rather than regulations.

  14. It depends on the building lines attached to the plot. You will be allowed to build x metres from each boundary and can probably go up a storey. So let’s use the old adage again, “How long is a piece of string?”

  15. Hi Penny

    Trust all is well. We are looking at building a 36 square/m garage (double garage) next year. If possible could you please advise what the estimate cost of such a project is. Looking at using normal bricks or blocks and a normal roof. So plain-jane… We looking at just getting the structure up and we can modify as we continue to live on the property. At the moment we have a carport which is not working for our needs. It would really be appreciated if you could assist. We’ve been searching the net but most blogs are out dated. Your blog is the most recent I’ve come across.

    Many thanks for empowering us with knowledge.

    All the best.

  16. Yolanda, there are so many factors that come into play – cost of bricks or blocks – cost of cement and sand (and crushed stone for foundations). Cost of timber. Type and cost of roof covering. Labour costs. Probably the cheapest route will be to use concrete blocks and corrugated iron sheeting (so that your trusses can be relatively lightweight). Remember that you are going to need professional plans to be passed by your local authority – and a “competent person” will need to submit these for you. A draughtsman is likely to be the least expensive option; and he/she would probably be able to give you a pretty accurate guesstimate of material and labour costs in your area. Here is a link to a story I wrote recently for an American website on small house building. It might be useful in terms of estimating. I also have a chapter on quantifying and costing in my updated book on Owner Building in South Africa.

  17. Indran Kistensamy

    Good Site -Penny, South Africans are getting ripped off by fly by night contractors. Building ventures must be well thought through your book will help many…
    Yolanda can enquire with a finanicial institute she uses for a estimate per
    sq metre pricing to build, tile roof or zink sheeting.

  18. Where can I find out how much of my property can be built on (R.O.C) is?

  19. Cheryl there are building lines that the local authority will impose. For instance you can’t usually build less than 1.5 m from a boundary. This will determine the area on which you can build. There isn’t a set %.

  20. Is there any scope for alternative building techniques in South Africa? For example earth bag, cob, strawbale etc.

    Also interested in the American “tiny house” movement. Looks like these buildings might be illegal in SA.

  21. Yes Tim there is, and there are examples of all three you mention that have been built perfectly legally in this country. I think that half our problem – in SA that is – is that we can build with blocks and mortar very cheaply. We generally don’t bother with energy efficiency either.
    I also love the tiny house movement – some wonderful examples of minimalism… our minimum dimensions are rather tiny, so I wouldn’t assume illegal …

  22. I have built a prefab wooden room in my yard …… it is above the ground and not anchored or cemented in place. It is 3m x 3m and has a door and a window. My neighbour said i need plans for it and said he is going to get it pulled down ….. i was under the impression that if it was smaller than 10 sq meters and if it isnt a permanent structure (like a wendy shed), that I wouldnt need plans? Please help urgently as Ive spent a lot of money and Im very worried now 🙁

  23. Minor building work [CLIK HERE to read more about this] does not required plans. BUT – and this is important – the National Building Regulations say that you must still notify your local authority that you are going to undertake minor building work.
    Like all other structures covered in the regulations, a “prefab wooden room” would have a purpose or function – and it needs to be built for this purpose. Minor building work does NOT cover living quarters. It does, though state that if a tool shed is smaller than ten square metres, it qualifies as “minor building work”. So you would be within your rights if you erected the “shed” IF it was under ten square AND you notified your local authority of your intention to erect it.
    There is another issue, and that involves “temporary buildings” which may be erected without plans and used for a specific period of time – agreed by the local authority. However in this instance the regulations say that you need to submit SITE PLANS and general LAYOUT DRAWINGS as well as state what it is for and how long it will be used. It doesn’t state how long you may have a temporary structure for – but builder’s sheds are precluded.
    My suggestion is that you submit a letter to your council to say that you have undertaken “minor building work” and have only now realized that you should have notified them of your intention to erect the shed. Specify what sort of structure it is – you will see what is allowed in the link above. If you are using the shed as a dwelling, it is very likely that your neighbour could have it pulled down. If you are using it as a tool shed (or garden shed) you shouldn’t have a problem. Good luck.

  24. I would like to know if the municipality can insist that the dimensions of a toilet inside a house be at least 2m in lebght irrespectively of the width?

  25. Adri they probably can, depending on the local authority’s interpretation. The NBR deemed-to-satisfy rules state that the minimum plan area of any “habitable” room must be at least 6 square metres and have no linear dimension that is less than 2 m. The only exceptions are kitchens, sculleries and laundries. But they don’t specify minimum size of toilet spaces.

  26. I thank you for the response.
    Habitable room description does not include a toilet according to what I read.
    Does this then mean that the mun. can not actually do this.
    I await your responce.

    Thank you

  27. You are right in terms of the definition of “habitable room”. The legislation defines this as “a room used or designed, erected, adapted or intended to be used by persons for sleeping in, living in, the preparation or consumption of food or drink, the transaction of business, the rendering of professional services, the manufacture, processing or sale of goods, the performance of work, the gathering together of persons or for recreational purposes”.
    And the legislation states only that, “The floor area of any dwelling unit shall not be less than that necessary to provide one habitable room and a separate room containing toilet facilities. So I think you have a strong argument.
    As a matter of interest, I just measured the guest loo in the house where I currently live and the room measure 1,7 m x 900 mm!

  28. Thank you very much for your assistance.

  29. Adri, if they are dog-headed about the issue, put in an objection in writing. Good luck.

  30. We have people building a new house on the raised stand behind us. They have requested permission to build the double story house to less than a 1 meter from our boundry wall, behind the boundry wall is our small paved entertainement area that flows into our house. I am concerned about the rain water flowing off the roof into our patio and damaging our house. What is safe distance for the double story house to be built to prevent rain overflowing.

  31. I would also be concerned that they would look straight onto your patio!
    But to answer your question… It is not so much a safe distance that you need to worry about, but an assurance that their drainage will be properly designed. We have recently been inundated with messages and queries from people whose neighbors blatantly build and alter boundary walls and then take zero responsibility for damage caused when they collapse or there isn’t proper runoff. Rain water needs to be channelled by gutters and downpipes into suitable storm water drains that run off to a municipal drain – and NOT onto your property.

  32. You seem competent. I see many garages built directly at boundary wall and not leaving 1.5m. Is it old rules? I would like to extend/move my existing garage to the boundary wall. Can I use it for other purposes, must the “garage” not have any windows and a maximum height or what regulations apply?

  33. It varies and depends on the building line for the property. This should be indicated on the site plan for the property, and on the original drawing when the area was surveyed (which you can get from the Surveyor General’s office in Pretoria). But the local authority can give permission for a garage to be built on the boundary, though you would need to get permission from neighbours if the building line is changed. To extend or build a garage, you will need plans. All the NBR apply in terms of H4, which is a “dwelling house – occupancy consisting of a dwelling uni on its own site, including a garage and other domestic outbuildings, if any”. Plans will have to be drawn up by a “competent person” (CLICK HERE to read more about competency) who will advise what is required in terms of height, light and ventilation, fire walls etc. If the plans state that this is a garage, technically this is the only purpose it may be used for. However many garages are built either with additional space for storage, or are in fact used for storage. The two issues are “habitable rooms” and probably also rates payable to council. e.g. You cannot “live” in a garage, because it isn’t built for that purpose.

  34. Thanks. Surely I won’t do it alone but knowing options beforehand helps alot. So a workshop, garage or hobby room would be allowed as long as you don’t live in them? I have just heard that those rules are going to change in March 2013. Do you know about that?

  35. That’s not quite what I said. Basically plans include a description of “purpose” or function. And technically that is what the structure or room is for. Which rules have you heard are due to change? Let me know and I’ll find out. The NBR has only just been updated, and unless there are new parts, I doubt that there will be changes at this stage.

  36. I recently purchase a 3 year old free standing house inside an Estate
    in Greestone. My question is what is the standard size of a Double
    garage? We are battling to park 2 cars, a small car and Suv with and
    be able to walk around cars with the garage door closed. I’m sure the
    buider short changed me. Branden

  37. Hi, I need to know what the dimensions of the first floor should be in thickness… considering that all the rooms in the house of the ground floor are 220mm thick , and not exceeding a room area of 60m^2?

  38. Tiaan this information will be specified on the approved plans.

  39. Generally a double garage will be 6.5 m wide. But the size will be on your plans. Measure what you have and compare the dimensions. You’ll soon see whether your builder scammed you!

  40. Hi there Penny

    I’m planning a new build and was thinking of having a flat concrete roof. My question is would the municipality charge for that concrete roof as living space? I realize that the municipality calculates the rates based on the square meterage of a dwelling, so would the flat concrete roof be included?

    Thanks for a brilliant site!

  41. Lance, A concrete roof would only be defined as “living space” if the roof became a floor. i.e. If you were to use it as an elevated patio, they could include the area as “living space”. If you are concerned, give their planning department a call and double-check.

  42. Hi

    What is the minimum room size for accommodation?

    * For one labourer
    * For two labourers


  43. Charmaine the minimum sizes for rooms is given in SANS 10400, Part C Dimensions, which is explained on this page. But your question is a bit strange. Are you wanting to provide temporary accommodation for laborers? If so you will have to get permission from the local authority. If you are going to accommodate a labourer in a servant’s quarter or similar on your property, the minimum size is no different to the minimum size required for you!

  44. Hi Penny

    Thanks for the reply. We have built accomodation (approved drawings etc). But an inspection done by our client says the room sizes are too small. The rooms are 12 square metres for 2 people.
    They ablutions, entertainment, dining etc are in separate buildings.

  45. Your client? Surely if you build for someone else you know what they want you to build? And then he/she would also have approved the plans prior to them being submitted to council for approval. Or am I missing something? If your plans have been approved, I have to assume that they comply with NBR otherwise they wouldn’t have been approved.
    The regulations (Part C) say that the minimum plan area for any habitable room other than a kitchen, scullery or laundry (and this applies to ALL occupancies) is “6 m2 with no linear dimension less than 2 m”.
    Floor area of any “dwelling house” may not be less that 30 m2 in the case of any permanent building other than Category 1 building which must be at least 27 m2 in size.
    Part A, General principles and requirements, gives a table of different classes of occupancy. I assume this will be either H2 Dormitory Occupancy where groups of people are accommodated in one room.
    H3 Domestic residence Occupancy consisting of two or more dwelling units on a single site.
    H4 Dwelling house Occupancy consisting of a dwelling unit on its own site, including a garage and other domestic outbuildings, if any.
    Part A also specifies maximum “design population” for rooms. i.e. It can’t be smaller than this.
    H2 = 1 person per 5 sq m
    H3 and H4 = “2 persons per bedroom” … obviously this is read with the 30 or 27 sq m minimum for the house, and min 6 sq m for any habitable room. While not ideal by any means, you could fit a double bed into the min size – (if the room was square) with 1 m x 3 m along one side – and 800 mm on either side of the bed! So legally the rooms you have built are not “too small”.
    But then in Part P, Drainage, there are additional regulations that relate to the provision of sanitary fixtures. There are exceptions for shops in terms of these not needing to be in the same building, but I am not sure about exemptions for H2, H3 and H4.
    H2 depends on the number of people using the dormitories. H3 and H4 must have at least 1 toilet, 1 bath or shower and one basin. But again, if you have approved plans, I don’t see the problem.

  46. Hi
    What is the definision of floor area? Would the patio of a flat in a sectional title unit be considered floor area? The patio has no outer wall or rail and is on ground floor level. The roof of the patio is the floor of the 1st floor Unit?

  47. Hi Penny. Please can you tell me what percentage of the area of a residential plot is one allowed to build on. Thanks

  48. Mika it depends on the local authority by-laws and zoning of the property. Usually it’s about 60%, but I suggest you check with your local council.

  49. The “floor area” is defined in Part A of SANS 10400 as the “total area of a building, or a storey thereof, enclosed within its external walls, exclusive of the area occupied by any lift shaft”.

  50. Thank you. Great website!

  51. Thanks got that floor are definision.

    Am i correct, that the dimentions is taken on the inside of the unplastered walls to calculate floor area?
    Is the minumum size of a sectional titel unit 30m?


  52. Yes Jurgens it would be the inside measurement. I am not an expert regarding Sectional Title but can’t find anything in the Act that specifies size. I imagine it would either be the local authority and/or the body corporate that decides on minimum sizes.

  53. Hi Penny
    Thanks for the help. I would imagine the minumum size for a flat must be defined. Does not matter if it is part of a complex or sectional title units. Does the min size of 30M apply to alone standings dwelings only?

  54. Jurgens I assume that the minimum size would be exactly the same as the minimum size for any other dwelling. The regulations state that the floor of any permanent building that is used as a “dwelling house” must be no less than 30 m². Sorry I got hooked on sectional title – and then just thought it’s pretty obvious that the National Building Regulations apply to ALL buildings irrespective.
    See more HERE.

  55. Need to know where one could get information on the various height regulations for taps that are wall mounted above a hand or wash basin?
    Are there standards for shower head heights ect?

  56. Ben I am not sure. These are not specified in the National Building Regulations but might be within other SANS. Since you are required to use a qualified and registered plumber for all work, he/she will be able to answer that question.

  57. It also depends on the building lines for that particular local authority or locality. Hope you understand wat we mean by building lines, that is the space or distance where you are not supposed to put any dwelling structure from the boundary wall or stand boundary and is usually stated in metres or feet with differences between front, back and sides.

  58. Abel there is quite a lot of information about boundaries and building lines on this website, and on our sister website, Owner Building.

  59. Hi
    Could you please tell me, what percentage of the overall plot area maybe constructed on? In other words, the floor area of a house should occupy no more than what percent of the land/plot area?

  60. Cassim this is governed by the local authority by-laws and not the building regulations. So it depends where you live. I suggest you contact your local authority and ask them.

  61. Hi there, is there a spec / standards that depicts the minimum entrance width for a single garage entrance? About to build again and want to check

  62. Hi Scott,
    The minimum size is more a practical one than a legislated one. So long as you can safely drive your car into the garage and get out comfortably then that will dictate the size. I would look at standard door sizes that are available so that you have a choice and will be reasonably priced. There the recommended size is: Opening – 2440mm wide X 2135mm high with brickwork of 220mm on the sides and 400mm above the opening. Measure your car and see if this will do. The average width of a medium size car or bakkie is no more than 2000mm.

  63. Stewart Pegum

    Are there any minimum standards for office space ?

  64. Stewart this is covered in Part A of SANS 10400. A20 covers Classification and Designation of “Occupancies” and specifies how different functional areas are defined. G1 = Offices
    “Occupancy comprising offices, banks, consulting rooms and other similar usage.”
    This also specifies “design population”, and for G1 the requirements are “1 person per 15 m2”
    I hope this helps.

  65. Morning, can you please tell me what the maximum height is for a single storey residential house?

  66. When calculating the maximum size of a double storey house on a plot, do you consider the sizes of both the ground floor and the 1st floor, or only one of these? Comparing the size of a single storey and a double storey house on the same plot size how do these differ?

  67. Jean in terms of the allowed area on which you are permitted to build, it is only the ground floor area that is taken into account. I think though that the local authority takes the full floor space into account when assessing rates and taxes.



  69. Hi, I am not sure what you mean, but if you want to copy the plans that your architect has supplied then there are photocopy stores in most cities that can do large plan copies.

  70. Louis this is usually specified in the zoning regs of each local authority. So check with them.

  71. What will it cost to build a 6 x 7m double garage in johanessburg

  72. Hi Richard, I suggest you get hold of the Master Builders SA and ask them for a list of names of reputable builders in your area and get quotes directly from them. The MBASA website is here: http://www.mbsa.org.za/

  73. Hi,

    Referring to G1 offices, I would like to find out when should a workplace need an emergency exit door (excluding the entrance door). Is it required or do we work on the size of the workplace?. Your assistance and guidance will be highly appreciated.


  74. Kevin Mambwe

    what are the south African standards for door frames and window frames?

  75. Kevin, The SABS will be able to tell you which standards (SANS) are relevant. The SABS webstore is temporarily unavailable, so I can’t do a search for you, but there are probably several depending on the materials used – e.g. wood, steel, aluminum etc.

  76. Louis you probably need to access Part T, Fire Protection of SANS 10400. This is where emergency exits are covered. viz.
    4.16 Provision of escape routes
    This relates to the size of the building as well as the number of people occupying it. e.g. “Any building of a height of more than three storeys shall be provided with not less than two escape routes and”

  77. Hi, What is the minimum width of a double garage?

  78. Leonard this is not specified in the National Building Regulations, however rule of thumb is no smaller than 6 m x 6 m. You need to be able to park two cars comfortably and be able to open the doors.

  79. Hi

    Please I need your advise on the standard sizes and measurement of the doors in South Africa?
    I want to import steel doors and below is some of the sizes and measurement

    Steel board thickness to be 0.3/0.7mm for 50mm door,. And i0.4/1.0mm for 70mm door,

    Please advise me the require sizes.


  80. Clinton I suggest you contact the SABS because it isn’t just sizes – there are a lot of other specifications that need to be complied with in order for doors to be SABS compliant.

  81. Hi,
    where am I able to find plaster thickness tolerances and room size/dimension tolerances?


  82. Hi Louis, On this dimensions page you can see the size can be “So while a bedroom can legally be as small as 6 m²”. If you want some guidelines on plastering please go to our sister site and download “Your Guide to Plastering” here: http://www.ownerbuilding.co.za/document-downloads/

  83. What are the minimum sizes for bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchens? Please need help urgently.

  84. where do you find the zoning regs of the local

  85. If you go to our “Municipalities” category and scroll through you will see Zoning schemes for Cape Town, Johannesburg and Tshwane. I am waiting for some from KZN to happen and will put them up as soon as I can get them.

  86. Good day,

    Can you please advise on the legal requirement around having a fire hose reel inside an office.

    History: It was part of an open space, and the demand for office space increased. The space was converted into an office with the fire hose reel staying with the original design, now inside the new office.

    I can not find any requirements that should be adhered to, except for notices & signs, inspection and clear from obstruction and lockable doors ect….

    Can you please direct me to the requirements if needed.


  87. Cathy Wright

    Is 5metres x 5 metres big enough for a double garage in the Western Cape ? does it comply with the latest building regulations ?

  88. The NBR does not specify sizes of garages. In my book Build Your Own Carport I specify a MINIMUM of 5.5 m x 5.5 m – and that would only suit small sedan cars.

  89. Jaco, Part W: Fire Installation of SANS 10400 specifies how fire fighting equipment – including fire hose reels should be installed. Part T: Fire Protection specifies the number of hose reels required as well as where they should be installed. e.g. the reel must be installed so that the end of the hose will reach any point in the area to be protected. Also, you need one hose reel for every 500 m2 or part thereof of floor area in any storey. In addition, hose reels installed in buildings must comply with the requirements of SANS 543; should be installed in accordance with SANS 10105-1 and SANS 10400-W; and must be maintained in accordance with the requirements in SANS 1475-2.

  90. These dimensions are not specified in the National Building Regulations.

  91. Can you tell me what is the required/norm lip from door frame to floor. Not sure if that is making sense – door frame seems to be too high and when they put the tiles in, there might still be a 20mm gap leading outside – should it not be flush with the floor?

  92. 6m x 6m is enough

  93. Yasmin Ahmed

    Can you please advice the ratio for toilets in a home

  94. Good day

    Can you tell me what maximum size of a granny flat is allowed, and can i make a double story granny flat

  95. Your local authority will advise – and they are the people who will need to approve your plans. This isn’t covered by the NBR as such.

  96. At least one basin, one bath or shower, and one toilet per dwelling unit.

  97. What is the maximum building height for a log house on mountainside??

  98. Celia Coates

    Our local authority e.g. adds a R25 thousand “levy” if such granny flat has a kitchenette with a zink in it. Enquire about that from the building inspector at your local municipality. A zink in a kitchenette implies a “separate” dwelling so to speak. Something you “can rent out” I was told.

  99. Celia Coates

    The standard size recommended for a double garage is 6 x 6 m.

  100. Good day

    Could you please let me know what the min stand size should be to build 4x80sq townhouses (flats) should be? It’s would be a double story so 2 first floor and 2 the second floor..

  101. can you please advice if is it legal to build a double story flat/house with a balcony facing my naibour and within how many meters you allowed to build such closer/far from the naibour’s wall

  102. Hi . Do I need approval to put up a 40m2 nutec house on my property to house my parents?

  103. Hi. Where is the mean height of a stand? The stand is in a estate.

  104. Danny Vermeulen

    Hi there. When home are advertised they refer to the square meter size. Does this typically include the garage/s as well?

  105. My ceiling height from the floor is 2.36m. The builder says that this is acceptable.
    Is it acceptable?

  106. Hi
    What is the minimum land/plot size that you can build a house on?

    I have a house and i am considering subdividing the land to either sell or build a small house on.



  107. This depends on local authority bylaws

  108. Yes it is. In terms of Part C: Dimensions, the minimum height for ceilings is 2,1 m.

  109. All houses require plans

  110. No idea? It depends on the position of the stand, altitude etc.

  111. This will probably be governed by local authority zoning bylaws. It is not the sort of thing covered by the NBR.

  112. That is a minimum size.

  113. I think you mean sink!

  114. This is not specified in the NBR

  115. If it is within the building line the is relevant to your property. Your title deed and the zoning regs will determine distance.

  116. Hi

    where do you measure the Floor Area of a room? for the FAR calculations?

    from internal wall to internal wall

    or from the center of shred walls, and external of non shared walls

  117. The SANS definition of floor area is:
    “total area of a building, or a storey thereof, enclosed within its external walls, exclusive of the area occupied by any lift shaft”
    In relation to plans, it states:
    “4.2.2 A floor area shall be based upon the plan dimensions but shall not include any area occupied by a built-in cabinet or cupboard or any dividing wall or partition erected in terms of 4.2.4 (see figure 1).”
    See Part C, Dimensions

  118. The correct size of a staircase of a double store house, mine is 4 breaks, and the inspector say it must be 2

  119. My double store staircase is 4breaks high and the inspector says it must be 2breaks high.

  120. Hi what is the prescribed window size per sqm floor space.

  121. Hi Hendrik, here are the guidelines you can download: http://sans10400.co.za/fenestration-calculations/

  122. Hi Hulisani, please read our post here: http://sans10400.co.za/stairways/

  123. Hi Hulisani, please read our post here: http://sans10400.co.za/stairways/

  124. Hi

    what is the prescribed size for a gate for fencing and to allow cars in, if it were a swing gate

  125. There is no prescribed size.

  126. Penny,

    Do building line restrictions apply to a first floor wooden deck (no street facing) with no roof?



  127. Good day are Shipping containers allowed to be used as short term accommodation in the KZN coastal arer

  128. No. They need plans like all other structures. If they are used during building operations, the municipality will need to give at very least informal approval. If anybody sleeps in the container there will need to be ablutions and running water + ventilation AND approval.

  129. I would think so, but check with your local authority.

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