Planning: NHBRC enrollment checklist

NHBRC enrollment forms

Why do you need to do a NHBRC enrollment?

Officially, the NHBRC (National Home Builders Registration Council) mandate is to ‘protect the interests of housing consumers and to ensure that builders comply with the prescribed building industry standards as contained in the Home Building Manual’.

Their building inspectors inspect the construction of your home at major milestones to ensure that it is not exposed to structural failure.

In a nutshell, it’s a governmental organisation that ensures safe building practice in South Africa. The enrollment fee is a form of insurance against structural failure. Officially, if you followed due process, and your building still falls down, you can claim from them.

All new builds in SA require both certification of the builder and NHBRC enrollment of the property. Any bonds require a NHBRC certificate for payout.

A very bureaucratic, time consuming and strict organization you cannot get around.

Most importantly, don’t trust banks/architects/builders advise on this process. They tend to be ill advised and unsure at the best of times. NHBRC is also notoriously difficult to reach via phone. If you still have questions after reading the articles on this site, best to go there in person.

NHBRC enrollment Checklist

Firstly, you have to check that your builder is registered with this council. This means they’ve passed a basic building exam and pay a yearly subscription fee to the organization – R526.22. (It is not legal to build any house in this country unless you are registered as an NHBRC contractor.)

Secondly, as the owner you (with your builder) have to enroll your plans with the NHBRC 15 days BEFORE you start digging your foundations (new builds only, renovations do not apply).

Note: contrary to popular belief, you have to register regardless if you need a bond or not. Non-compliance can mean fines and project shut down.

The following documents have to be completed for an enrollment:

Supplied by NHBRC
(or download from www.NHBRC.org.za, but print in colour as they require ‘original blue copy’)

  • EF003 – This has to be completed by builder, owner and appointed structural engineer (‘competent person’ who will need to include an original bar code sticker and soil details) – all original signatures.
  • B1 (completed by builder, owner and competent person, with another original bar code sticker) – all original signatures.

Supplied by builder and owner

  • Approved council plans
  • Signed building contract with price breakdown
  • Title deeds of property
  • Letter from transferring attorney that includes land value and property details
  • Certified copy of builder’s NHBRC registration certificate
  • Certified copy of builder’s ID

In case of multi-storey building

  • Structural engineering drawings for foundations, stormwater management, wet services.

Extra (in some cases):

If the soil on the sites is deemed dolomitic
(FYI – A google search says that ‘about a fifth of the densely populated areas in Gauteng Province, some parts of the North West Province, and most of the gold-mining districts in the Far West Rand are underlain by dolomite).

  • Full structural engineering drawings
  • Geotech (completed by an independent Geotech engineer) or if you’re building on a sectional title stand
  • B4 certificate and CGS Recommendations

If you are developing a sectional title property

  • Marketing brochures
  • Feasibility study
  • Geotech (completed by an independent Geotech engineer) or if you’re building on a sectional title stand

All paperwork has to be handed in at your nearest NHBRC offices. Once accepted you will have to pay the enrollment fee, which is calculated on a sliding scale on the value of your build (labour and materials) and land. If your building budget and land cost anything over R5 000 000 your max fee is
R34 000.

Once all of this is completed, you will be e-mailed a form from the NHBRC building inspector that will verify inspection visits (likely within 5 working days). Inspectors will have to see at least foundations, structure and roof construction, so you are likely to have at least three or four visits and the builder will have to liaise with them.

NHBRC requirements for enrollment

NHRBC Late enrollment checklist

If your builder did not enroll your property before building started (15 days before foundation excavation starts), your enrollment is deemed late.

This is to be avoided at all costs as it requires much more paperwork, tests, costs and time. (It is ultimately the builder’s responsibility, because they are registered with the council and should know the regulations. They are also the party likely to be fined if they don’t comply, not necessarily the owner.)

The tip of the iceberg

The following documents have to be completed for a late enrollment:

Supplied by NHBRC
(or download from www.NHBRC.org.za, but print in colour as they require ‘original blue copy’)

  • EF003 – This has to be completed by builder, owner and appointed structural engineer (‘competent person’ who will need to include an original bar code sticker and soil details) – all original signatures.
  • B1 (completed by builder, owner and competent person, with another original bar code sticker) – all original signatures.
  • Appendix D1 for all completed stages of construction – This has to be completed by builder and structural engineer (‘competent person’ who will need to include an original bar code sticker and soil details) – all original signatures.
  • Annexure 15 – This has to be completed by structural engineer (‘competent person’)

Supplied by builder and owner

  • Approved council plans
  • Signed building contract with price breakdown
  • Title deeds of property
  • Letter from transferring attorney that includes land value and property details
  • Certified copy of builder’s NHBRC registration certificate
  • Certified copy of builder’s ID
  • Full Geotechnical report (including stand specific Geotech report) done by a geotech engineer
  • Test results undertaken by SANAS accredited Lab (soil samples taken from at least three 3m pits on site)
  • Full set of engineering drawings and details:

This must include (depending how far along you are with the build):

  1. Timber roof design drawings and A19 certificate
  2. Storm water layout
  3. Subsurface drains
  4. Foundation design, underfloor compaction results
  5. Waterproof installation confirmation (including DPM underfloor slabs and DPC in masonry work)
  6. Super structure drawings
  7. Concrete test results or core test results (from SANAS accredited concrete contractor)
  8. Drawing register (table indexing all site drawings, revisions etc.)
  9. Photographs of current construction status

Extra (in rare cases):

If the soil on the sites is deemed dolomitic:

  • B4 certificate and CGS Recommendations

If you are developing a sectional title property:

  • Marketing brochures
  • Feasibility study

All paperwork has to be handed in at your nearest NHBRC offices. Once accepted you will have to pay the enrollment fee, which is calculated on a sliding scale on the value of your build (labour and materials) and land. If your building budget and land cost anything over R5 000 000 your max fee is R34 000.

NHBRC Late enrollment costs

Once you have done all of that, paid for the extra soil tests and enrollment fee you have to wait for their inspection of the documents and a site visit. Then the sting in the tail arrives.

NHBRC estimate a value on all the work that was not inspected and you have to provide a guarantee to cover that value for five years from occupation. So basically, they cannot insure what they could not inspect, so you have to pay insurance, in the form of a guarantee, on your own future insurance from them.

Needless to say, if you are quite far down the line, this adds up very quickly. If they can’t see your stormwater pipes, they put a fee against it. If they can’t see that you used brick force in your walls, it’s another cost. They have a checklist they go through. If your ‘competent person’ and NHBRC consultant is willing, they can meet and discuss to try negotiate these items with any proof you can provide in the form for cube tests, photos, plans.

Cost breakdown

If, for example, they deem that value of the completed works to be R200 000, you have two options of payment:

  • Either pay NHBRC R200 000 to keep for five years as a guarantee against future structure failure (not advised)

or

  • Buy insurance from an insurance company to cover that amount, calculated as a percentage of the NHBRC guarantee – probably in the region of R35 000 for R200 000. They will then provide a guarantee on your behalf to NHBRC for five years. (For more information about this type of service see Leger.)

Banks can also offer guarantees, but they don’t seem to like providing it for five years.

So, for a late enrollment on an average house, you could be in for an extra R50 000 – R150 000 if all goes well. The Geotech report, lab tests, extra paper work and finally guarantee can ruin any carefully planned budget, never mind the time lost. A very frustrating business all round.

Again, banks, architects, builders often understand little of this process. If you need that certificate urgently, it’s likely that you’re going to have to get your hands dirty and direct this process yourself.

Read more about the other compliance issues here.

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