Renovation Rules in South Africa

Tackling your own home renovations can save you a bundle if you take the do-it-yourself route, but you need to be aware of what you can and can’t do to your property and buildings before you even consider such a big step.



First and foremost, don’t take on renovations if you know you don’t have the necessary skills to do-it-yourself. Too many homeowners do their own renovations, with disastrous results that could end up devaluing a property rather than upping the value.

Property experts, Pam Golding Properties, asked me to share some knowledge on what to do when considering home renovations.


1. Have a property valuation done

Before you spend any money on plans and approval, it is in your best interests to get a property valuation done on your home. A property valuation will allow you to assess the current value of your property, and you can also ask for an estimation of the property values in your area to see whether any improvements or renovations are worthwhile, and if you will see a return on your investment.


2. Have plans drawn up

If you intend to alter the structure of your property, you will need to have plans drawn up by a draughtsman who is registered with SACAP (South African Council for the Architectural Profession). If budget is not an issue you can have plans drawn up by an architect. It’s also a sound idea to involve a structural engineer if there are drastic changes to be made to the existing structure.

You will require plans for:

- Swimming pool and any safety fence or wall required

- Building a pergola or outdoor structure separate from the existing property

- Retaining walls of a certain height

- All structural alterations to the existing property that alter the original floorplan


3. Get municipal approval

Municipalities around the country are clamping down on illegal additions, alterations and improvements that have not been approved by the proper municipal authority. Homeowners that go this route could end up paying a high fine and having to make right any work done without the proper approval.

A qualified draughtsman or architect will be able to assist you as to what can or cannot be done before drawing up plans, and in the case of an architect, will submit the plans for municipal approval. Having plans drawn up is also important in planning for a renovation project.

It is important to note that every region has different bylaws relating to home improvements and renovations, and for this reason it is difficult to say exactly what each will require. However, there are some guidelines that you should consider when planning any type of renovation or improvement.


4. Know heritage property legislation

Historical properties are covered by the National Heritage Resources Act and protected by law at local and national levels. If you own a property that is more than 60 years old, you should enquire at your local heritage authority before considering any alterations or improvement.

Any improvements or changes that alter the structural appearance of these properties are required by law to have the necessary approval and permissions before such renovations are undertaken. If you are unsure as to the laws governing a heritage property and you own a heritage property, contact your local town planner or city council to obtain a copy of the guidelines and rules.



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