A guide to house building in South Africa

A guide to house building in South Africa

Blog: Security Estates

Estate facilities

I’ve seen the future of estate living, and it’s happening on the KZN north coast! With Zimbali leading the way many decades ago, the addition of the King Shaka airport has meant the coastal estates are now gold and going up everywhere.

A whole lot of options.

Living on the beach, but 20 minutes from a main airport (that can get you to Jhb in 50 minutes) is pretty special.  Add schools, hospitals, warm weather, and plenty of open farm land and it’s clearly a winning formula, if the developers can pull it off.

They are certainly promising a lot – long stretches of semi-private beach, eco areas with bird hides and trails, sports facilities – including cricket ovals, stables, eventing courses, beach clubs and top notch security to an area the size of a small town.

Check out there sites to see some of what I’m talking about:



What I’ve learnt about estate living

If living in an elitist, semi-secure, rule bound enclave is for you, this is what I can share with you.

  • There are many rules, and if you don’t like someone telling you how to build, plant, access or live in your house, this way of life is not for you. Many estates limit or don’t allow pets, short term lets, non-indigenous planting or noise of any sort.
  • Levies can be a real sting in the tail, some already being in the region of R6000 per month. There can also be special levies instituted, based on home owner votes for, for example, extra security measures.
  • The home owner meetings are always fun and games, but if you want your opinion or vote to count, you have to attend once a year to look after your investment. Politics is inevitable. If you take things personally, estate living can become stressful as there will likely always be one difficult, rude resident that can impact you.
  • Building guidelines can be very strict (check the heights, footprints and building ratios). Unfortunately, many estates have not left enough space around homes and they start to look like cheap housing developments. If you want to not be on top of your neighbour, choose an estate that has plots starting from at least 1000m2. Pre-determined building lines also help for planning of future homes that might be in your view line.
  • Planning stage will be longer as you will need approval by the estate to check on compliance with building guidelines before you go to council.
  • Building will be more expensive as you will likely need to fence a site, pay a building deposit (for possible damage) or pay spot fines for spillage or messy trucks (and it’s going to happen). Some estates also provide a list of preferred contractors that have to be used, so price negotiation is limited. Estates also tend to be further from suppliers, so transport costs will be higher.
  • Some estates stipulate building completion deadlines. So you can be penalised if the build is not completed in a certain time frame.
  • Even if your estate does not allow fencing or walls, you will still have to enclose any access to your pool area for council safety regulations.
  • Many estates go bankrupt (or the developer does), which means your investment can be lost entirely if you’ve bought off plan. Check the credentials of the developers. Better still, wait a bit before investing.
  • Estates are starting to set rules on short term lets, like Airbnb. It appears that many won’t allow any rentals for less than seven days, to avoid the ‘party crowd’.
  • Most of these estates can give a false sense of security. They all have their issues, and in some cases all it takes is one gang renting a house in the estate to rob everyone blind. It took an estate I knew about half a year before they traced the culprits.
  • Similarly, beware of what your kids get up to. I’ve read a report from a child care advisor that kids can get in to terrible trouble or danger in estates as the parents give them much more freedom and assume they are safe in other homes.

Of course, if the lifestyle options appeal to you, nothing can really beat estate living in South Africa. Less traffic, security access control and outdoor spaces that allow for walking, running and ball sports are a winning combination. Just be a decent neighbour and don’t push the rules too much!

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