A guide to house building in South Africa

A guide to house building in South Africa

Planning: Compliance regulations

Building red tape

Once your NHBRC enrollment is complete (click here for more information regarding NHBRC) you have to be aware or other site compliance issues, including the paperwork required at the end of a build.

Safety files

All building sites (including major renovations) in SA now require a Health and Safety file on site at all times, which is monitored and inspected by a private safety officer. Council can shut you down if you don’t comply. This can have major cost implications as you have monthly time and admin fees from officers. Officially, PPE gear is also essential at all times.

All risk insurance

This is non-negotiable during any build. Also check if your building contractor and his labour is covered. Even if you’re building without a bond, it’s necessary to cover possible damage to anything or anybody on site. Building sites are dangerous – life threatening injuries could occur at any moment. Rain can also create havoc on a building site, especially if you cut ground levels as collapses can occur.

Building Rubble

Make sure any removal contractors legally dump your rubble in the allocated landfill sites (building rubble, soil, plant matter can have different sites). You can insist on proof of deliveries.

Some areas also require permits for keeping building rubble in a public space, i.e. pavements.

Property estates generally have strict regulations on leaving any concrete or building rubble behind and impose hefty fines.

Occupation certificate on completion

This certificate is the final council issued document that deems your build legal and complete, i.e. necessary if you want to sell it. Most estates also require an inspection and all certification before you hand over to council. An occupation certificate is also required to claim the last installment of your bond. To get it you are required to submit a number of certificates.

(This does not cost extra money, but means you have to hire professionals at the beginning that are registered with various institutions and can provide you with necessary certificates at the end.)

You will require the following (especially stringent in estates):

  1. Structural completion certificate (Form 4 provided by council, signed off by your structural engineer)
  2. Roof loading certificate (structural engineer)
  3. Electrical compliance certificate (provided by your electrical contractor)
  4. Plumbing completion certificate (provided by your plumbing contractor – all plumbing works and storm water drains)
  5. Gas compliance certificate – if you have any gas connections/bottles for stoves or heating (provided by a registered gas installer).
  6. Glazing compliance certificate (provided by your window installer). As mentioned earlier, this means you need to make sure your glass supplier is registered with SAGGA or a number of other local bodies. Imported windows generally do not come with this certification and it can be a problem.
  7. Surveyor completion certificate (from registered surveyor)
  8. Energy efficiency certificate (Form 4 provided by council and signed by either architect or organization that completed your energy plan)
  9. Roofing certificate (A19). This can be completed by your engineer, or the roofing company.
  10. Photos of storm water and sewer connections (provided by plumber)

When city council or estates collect these certificates, they will inspect your property for the following, amongst other things:

  • Legal balustrading on any internal/external staircases, first floor doors, decks or patios (any flat roof with door access is deemed a balcony).
  • Restricted access to pools (any pool must be fenced off from public access).
  • Fire door into the garage (this is a special, heavy duty door that delays fire from entering the house through the garage).

Do not expect your architect, builder or project manager to be 100% up to date with these requirement – they seldom are. Some inspectors can be sticklers. If you want to get your house legal, and want to have an uninterrupted build and bond application, you have to carefully stick to these rules and regulations. Failure to do so will incur expensive penalties and delays.

For more about the stages of a house build, click here.

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