Why National Building Regulations

We Rely on Regulations

House being builtBuilding regulations, and both international and national standards, are fundamental to successful building and construction projects, both big and small.
It doesn’t matter whether you are building a garden shed out of timber, a modest family home from bricks and mortar, a skyscraper made by pouring concrete into massive shuttering, or a building that incorporates a range of materials, if correct construction procedures are not followed, the structure could collapse with disastrous – if not deadly – results.

Every country in the so-called first world has building regulations, as do many developing countries, including South Africa.There are also international standards developed and published by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), a worldwide organisation that is based in Geneva, Switzerland.ISO

This web site has been established to provide South Africans with invaluable information about our local National Building Regulations as well as international building regulations, including those devised by the ISO.




sabsWe focus on the national standards that are developed and published by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and give information about some of the most important South African National Standards (SANS) that relate to building a house and building design in general.

There is also information about building regulations and building standards in other key countries including Europe, the United Kingdom (UK), the United States of America (USA), Canada and Australia.

We have a section for architects and builders, where a selection of advisory pdf documents may be downloaded FREE. These were produced by the Department of Public Works, and they provide information that both professionals and owner-builders wanting to self build will find useful.

NHBRCSouth Africa’s National Home Builders Registration Council (the NHBRC), established in 1995 in an endeavour to regulate and improve standards in the building industry, undoubtedly plays an important role in the local building industry. For this reason we have also included a section that explains their role, pointing both commercial and, in fact anyone building a house in the right direction.

Of course building regulations don’t only apply to new structures. If you are planning to alter your home, you will need building plans that will have to be approved by your local authority or municipality. So we also cover building alterations and home improvements in general. You will find invaluable tips for both indoor and outdoor improvements and additions, from swimming pools to patios and built-in braais or barbecues, as well as bathrooms and kitchens. We will help you ascertain which building laws and regulations you need to consider before either building or demolishing all types of structures.

Check out our link and our free downloads section which includes both web sites and publications that could provide you with the information you are looking for. We welcome your comments and will do all we can to answer your queries (which we try our best to do on a daily basis) – or at least help you find answers to them.



About Janek

Check Also

Is This Electric Fence Legal and Compliant?

Can you spot the electric fence violations in this picture? We spotted this electric fence …


  1. Hi there
    When submitting the new council forms (Form 1), we are taking responsibility for every aspect of the building. Do you have a template example of title block notes that cover all sections that we are signing for, but may not be on the plans per say.

    (great website by the way- very useful!)

  2. Gary we do not have local authority forms on file. There are sample forms that cover all sections in Part A of SANS 10400. As an architect you should have a copy of SANS 10400 in full.

  3. Hi there,

    I am trying to find out under which building regulations/codes did the Municipalities approved plans between 1960 – 1977 before the National Building Regulations Act 103 of 1977 came into force. Tried the INTERNET but could not find.

    Thanks for this platform to share info

  4. Hi there,

    A couple of phone calls to the older generation I found the answer. The previous regulations prior to 1977 were: Standard Building Regulations (Act 33 of 1962) Government Gazette No 2894 of the 23 October 1970.

  5. This Act was repealed when the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, 1977 (Act 103 of 1977) was promulgated.

  6. Andrew if you Google “Standard Building Regulations (Act 33 of 1962)” you will get to this page – http://www.greengazette.co.za/acts/standards-act_1962-033 – where you can download the old legislation.

  7. Roelie Rautenbach

    Could you please refer me to any law (National/Provincial) that indicates the time allowed for a municipality to either pass or not, building plans. I have been waiting for 14 months for plans to be passed, with no reason given for the delay


    I would like to know the regulation and specification relating to the building of a steel carport.

  9. Leonie Avenant

    How can we stop the cluster housing development 100 m away from the Lourens River on Stephan holdings,belonging to Hendrik Cornelius Scott.Want to build 33 houses on less than 2 hectar.

  10. Leonie, Public protest can be a powerful weapon! Also this is a good time to contact newspapers (e.g. the Argus and Cape Times – not just our local rags) and other media. Send a note to Carte Blanche and phone into John Maythem’s afternoon show on 567 Cape Talk (every afternoon).

  11. Kenneth there is no specific regulation that deals with carports. If it is an open-sided structure it will be considered minor building work, but must be built according any of the general elements contained in the NBR, e.g. structural design, foundations etc.

  12. Roelie I don’t believe there is a law covering this. I’m also not sure what you can do to rectify the situation. Perhaps you need to find a more senior person in the municipality.

  13. i want to build a house on a vacand land i need acertifcat for muncerpality i need the price and were are u cape town and time date classes please

  14. Peter I don’t have an idea what you mean by “time date classes”. We do not offer classes of any kind.
    You need to go to the municipality and also get an exemption from the NHBRC.

  15. Subject:
    Retaining walls

    Good day, whioch laws governed the contruction of retaining walls 35 years ago. I have a gravity type retaing wall built with hollow concrete bricks, the wall is 2.5 meters high and is leaning. i would like to know if the wall was built correctly and if this would be covered by insurance?

  16. Hi Penny
    I live in a complex in the middle of Sandton Jhb, a construction company is building a office park right next door, they are working early morning 0600 hrs until way passed midnight weekdays and over the weekend, are they allowed to do this, if not, what action can the BC take to stop the late hours, it is very disturbing for the tenants.

    Thank you

  17. Jeanette this is against the law. You can lay a complaint at the local police station and notify the local authority. Here is a link to the relevant regulation. Scroll down to “Control of Unreasonable Levels of Dust and Noise”.

  18. Subject:

    Good Day,

    I would lie to find out if a house build in South Africa using
    Australian or American precast building would it be accepted by
    Building Regulations.

    Thank You Nathan

  19. Subject:
    Compliance Inspection

    Am looking for advice in respect of arranging for an independent inspector to assess regulatory compliance of a structure that is the subject of a dispute.

  20. Rogan unfortunately we are not in a position to recommend people as assessors or independent inspectors.
    I hope you solve your problem.

  21. Nathan I presume you mean “like” and not “lie”? But yes it would be accepted, provided you get an agrement certificate. These are detailed in Part A of the NBR. You’ll need a qualified person to help you get it done.

  22. Jacques only the insurance company will decide whether it is covered or not! Specific construction methods are not covered in the Building Regulations, but they do say retaining walls must have plans, and they must be built according to the approved plans. The manufacturer of the retaining block system would probably be able to gauge if it was built correctly. There are not many in SA, so it should be too difficult to find out which system it is. If you email us a photograph we might be able to tell from that.

  23. Subject:
    Council approved Plans

    I am a director on our complex HOA. We have a builder in the complex who is building a new home. We have asked him to submit council approved plans prior to him starting to build however nothing to date.
    They are about two weeks into the project and are about to throw the ground floor slab. Is this legal to start building without plans? when we built our home the council rejected our plans because they wanted one servitude to be 2.0m (originally 1,5m on plan) and the other 1,5m.
    The house that is currently being built has both servitudes at 1,5m and my concern is that if council rejects the plans, then they will have to demolish on the one side.
    Please advise. Thanks David

  24. It is totally illegal to start building without plans. Notify the planning division of your local council.

  25. I am in the process of selling my house, but now the estate agent notified me that the previous owner extended the property without updating the plans. And I am unqble to sell without correlating plans… If the sale falls through, can I recoporate losses through estate agent that sold house to me or previous owner for extending the property without permission? I will have to incurr costs do have this done now.

  26. Hermann you can try, but it will need to be done via an attorney, and they might try and get out of responsibility using a Voetstoots clause. But my feeling is that the previous owner would certainly have known that the addition was done without plans – which is illegal. And the estate agent had at very least a moral obligation to check that everything was in order. Certainly report the estate agent who sold you the property to the Estate Agents Board, and if with a company (i.e. not a small own business) report him/her to the MD or CEO. Did you ask to see plans when you bought?

  27. Hi Penny

    I have much the same problem as Hermann – the same agent that is selling my house now sold it to me in April 2010. When was legislation about providing approved building plans passed – did she slip up on selling to me or had it only become compulsory afterwards?

  28. You have ALWAYS had to have approved building plans Martie. This is not new at all. Until the National Building Regulations were introduced in 1977 (when the regulations were standardized), each municipality/local authority had its own requirements. But plans have always been required. What often happens with renovations and extensions is that people just don’t bother – this eventually causes problems down the line because the building is illegal.

  29. Do you know if the Pmburg muniiciplity require plans for a pool , is see Jhb has relaxed the requirement ?

  30. Hi Peter, I just called and put the question to the head of Planning in PMB (Umsinduzi Town Planning) and their requirements have not changed and plans need to be submitted.

  31. We are moving into a house & will want to be doing some alterations, we have acquired the plans from the municipality & they have obviously been drawn up to do major changes which have never been carried out & there do not appear to be any plans which show the property as is at present, will we run into problems when we submit our plans ,& is the present owner obliged to provide us with new plans of the house as it stands at the moment

  32. Desmond Dantu

    does one need a plan for a pool if the size is fairly small. Im referring to a splash pool that does not harm any of my neighbours or my family

  33. Hi there,

    We live in Gauteng and bought a vacant stand, how difficult will it be to get plans approved if we want to erect log cabins, 1 bachelor, one 1 bedroom and one 2 bedroom units?


  34. Lida if the plans are drawn up so that they comply with the National Building Regulations, and you have permission to build multiple units, then you shouldn’t have a problem.

  35. You do not need plans for pools in Jhb (you just need to let them know what you are doing and you must adhere to building lines etc), but you do for most other local authorities.

  36. karin burmester

    what distance must a co2 fire extinguisher be installed from your db board?

  37. Hi Karin, The SANS 10400 Part W-Fire Installations deals only with the water based installations of fire equipment. You will have to check with the local council inspectors what the minimums are. Most times it comes down to common sense, so the CO2 extinguisher should not be mounted too close so that if a fire occurs then you might be in danger of being burnt when you try to get to the extinguisher.

  38. If you have already signed all the documents for the purchase of the house then you have bought the house with all the problems attached. You could ask your attorney to request that they supply the as-is plans. Having said that, if the new approved plans for alterations were never started then there should not be a problem to submit new plans with the alterations that you want. Most councils “should” not have archived the original plans until the completion of any renovations so they must still be available at council. If you are still a prospective buyer then you can insist that the correct approved plans are supplied to you before you purchase the house.

  39. Must my home builder, who is constructing a garden shed of 9 square metres (which structure has foundations), together with an outdoor toilet, which is integrated with the shed by means of a connecting roof – all of which do have the necessary approved plans – be registered with the NHBRC as a home builder? Furthermore, do home builders, effecting minor building works, have to be registered with the NHBRC?

  40. Only NEW homes must be registered with the NHBRC. Alterations and additions do not need to be. The NHBRC builders list is a good place to find out if the builder is reputable or not. The other place to check on a builder is the Master Builders Association.

  41. richard bailey

    In the introduction above it states that alterations are also covered by the NHBRC. How does your reply gel with this?

  42. Richard, I presume you mean Janek’s response to John, that you only need to register new houses with the NHBRC. The introduction above DOES NOT state that alterations are also covered by the NHBRC – it states “Of course building regulations don’t only apply to new structures.” Building regulations … not the NHBRC rules and regs.

  43. Hi.

    I’m looking for a copy of the full National Building Regulations (not the Act).

    How do I get one?

    I have searched everywhere and cannot seem to find one to download or buy.

    Help is appreciated. Philip

  44. Hi there ,is there a regulation that states that the supply to your distribution board has to be underground if you only want to move your distribution board from one wall to another in your kitchen after expending the kitchen.

  45. IF we bought a prebuilt home with thatch and it has a lightning conductor – what do we need to do to ensure it is safe?

  46. This article has some useful information.

  47. Electricity doesn’t fall under SANS 10400 but rather SANS 10142, The wiring of premises. So either get a copy of this (buy or read in an SABS library) – I unfortunately don’t have a copy – or ask a registered electrician.

  48. Hi Philip, Only the SABS are allowed to sell the Standards, go here: http://store.sabs.co.za/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *