August 30, 2019 7 min read

Local authorities have different requirements regarding the format in which building plans must be submitted. The number of copies required also differs amongst authorities. ­Please note that Plans123 ­provides paper copies only (one colour set, one black and white set – email us if you require more), and each ­customer should find out from his/her local authority which format is required.

Customers should also take note that most local authorities have a plan scrutiny fee payable. These scrutiny fee structures vary amongst the different authorities, but are usually based on the floor area of the building and in some cases on the number of sanitary fittings in the building.



Statutory information


Conditions of Establishment

When the township developer of a residential township establishes the town, one of the legal processes he/she must comply with is a list of special conditions of ­establishment. This procedure enables the developer to specify certain conditions to which all property buyers must adhere. In a particular township, for instance, it may be specified that no house will have a ­corrugated iron roof, or that no house should be smaller than 200 square metres.

It is therefore clear that conditions of establishment may (and will) vary for each township ­proclaimed, depending on the needs of the particular developer. It is therefore not possible to list such conditions here.

However, the conditions of establishment of every single township ever ­proclaimed are stored at the Town Planning Department of the relevant local authority. All ­prospective house builders should therefore check with their local authorities before making a ­final decision regarding the building plans for a future house.

The local authority may, under special circumstances, relax the conditions of establishment of a particular township once the township developer has agreed to such a relaxation. Applications should be submitted to the relevant local authority.



Title deeds


Each and every urban stand in South Africa situated in a proclaimed township has a title deed document stored at the central Deeds Office. Title deeds may, amongst others, impose general or specific conditions or ­restrictions of which the prospective homeowner should be aware. Such ­restrictions may, for instance, limit the height of a building in relation to its distance from a ­boundary fence, or may impose a building line on a specific property to prevent the building from being built too close to the stand boundary.

Restrictions laid down in a title deed are usually more ­difficult to relax, but the local authority may warrant relaxation in certain instances once approval has been obtained from the relevant provincial authority.



Town planning schemes


A town planning scheme is a document adopted by a local authority which governs any ­development under the jurisdiction of the authority. This may include broader issues such as land use (zonings) and the density of a development, or issues focused on the individual stand, ­including coverage, height restrictions, building lines, servitudes, and so on. Restrictions imposed by an authority’s town planning scheme are very specific to the relevant local authority, and may ­usually be relaxed by such an authority.

It is important to note that no local authority will approve a building plan or allow building work to commence, if the owner’s building plans show a contravention of ANY restriction imposed by ANY of the above-mentioned documents. After ­selecting a suitable building plan from the, a prospective homeowner, therefore, should first make sure that his/her proposed house does not ­contravene any restriction as described above.



National Building Regulations


The National Building Regulations are a set of regulations appended to the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (Act 103 of 1977) as amended. These regulations are applicable to all buildings erected anywhere in South Africa, and were promulgated to prevent various local authorities from announcing their own set of building regulations.

Although the National Building Regulations are perceived by many as being extremely confusing and involved, this is really not the case. They comprise two mainstream regulation types, namely functional regulations and deemed-to-satisfy rules.

In its simplest interpretation, the functional regulations simply state that every building must be suited for its intended purpose!

To achieve this simple requirement, any building is regarded as compliant with these regulations if a competent and suitably qualified person has performed a rational design.

Therefore an owner can do whatever he/she wishes to do, as long as all the decisions are based on a rational design. This is done to encourage innovative designs and the use of innovative building materials.

Because not all designers may be interested in implementing innovative methods and/or ­materials, and because such methods and materials may not always be practical or ­economical, the act provides for a complete set of deemed-to-satisfy rules, by means of which any part of any building may be judged for compliance to the regulations. In the House-building guide section (page 13), frequent reference is made to the relevant deemed-to-satisfy rules of the National Building Regulations.

Customers of Plans123 may rest assured that all building plans sold on the Plans123 platform fully comply with the relevant National Building Regulations. Because these regulations are national, they are applicable to every local authority in South Africa, ensuring that all local authorities in South Africa will accept all building plans available from Plans123.  Because all professionals, registered to sell plans on Plans123 are required to be SACAP registered professionals, clients can rely on the protection of SACAP, who’s main aim is to protect the public.



National Home Builders Registration Council


The promulgation of the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act (Act 95 of 1998) took place in June 1999. This made the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) a statutory body, and since 1 December 1999 it is compulsory for all home builders operational in the home-building industry to be registered with the NHBRC. This act provides protection against so-called ‘fly-by-night’ builders, that is, either builders who build to an unacceptable quality standard or builders who refuse to get involved in the rectification of built-in defects in the home. The council is mainly established to protect the interest of housing consumers, and to regulate the home-building industry.  For more information on the NHBRC, please visit their website on



Building costs


Determining the costs involved in building a house is no easy task, simply because of economic phenomena such as inflation and price escalation. The prospective house owner should ­therefore at least be aware of the various costs involved when building a house:


The cost of the property itself may vary considerably and many factors may play a role, including location, slope, view, zoning, etc. The fact of the matter is you pay for what you get.

Apart from the stand’s purchase price, the property must be registered in the buyer’s name. The central authority in the Deeds Office registers all property in South Africa, and transfer of ownership must also be registered there by means of a transfer deed. A competent person, usually a lawyer, does this and a transfer fee is payable, as well as a fee to the lawyer. If a prospective landowner cannot afford to pay cash for the property, he/she may apply for a bank loan, called a mortgage bond, because the financial institution offering the loan will take the property as security if the owner is in default of payment. This mortgage bond must also be registered with the Deeds Office as a mortgage deed, and a mortgage registration fee is payable.

Before building can commence, the stand must be provided with services connection points. These include points for water, sewerage and electricity. The costs for these connections vary amongst local authorities, and will be provided on request by the local authority.

The next cost is that of the building plans and their approval. The prospective home builder may appoint and pay a professional person to do it, or opt for the easiest, most cost-effective and quickest way, namely buying a full set of building plans of a dream house from Plans123.

The actual building costs are by far the main component of the total costs. These usually consist of material costs and labour costs, and may vary from city to city. They will also vary depending on the degree and quality of finishing required.

During the building process, you may also be required to make use of other professional disciplines that involve professional fees. For instance, an owner may have to use the services of a professional engineer to design and supervise a reinforced concrete slab, or a land surveyor to point out the exact stand boundaries.

Final costs may include extras such as fencing, landscaping, a pool and paving.


Apart from the actual building costs, and the above-mentioned extras, all other costs are mostly fixed. The only variable element where an owner can save is in the actual building costs. Even here the materials component is pretty much fixed, and you can possibly save on the labour element and the portion reserved as profit for the builder.

If an owner wishes to use the services of a building contractor, a profit margin will most likely be added to all material and labour costs. Although this is a safe way to go for the layperson, it is also more expensive. The safest way is to appoint an architect or building consultant to oversee the building process, but then the owner must be prepared to pay another mark-up on all costs.

If the owner has the necessary knowledge and skills, he/she can become an owner-builder and appoint subcontractors to do the job. By going this route, the owner cuts out all profit taken by somebody else, and only has to pay the material and labour costs of the subcontractors.

plans123 Admin
plans123 Admin

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