Have plans drawn up before you build

Before you start planning for home improvements in the form of alterations and additions to your existing home, there are some facts that you need to know.


Who has to submit building plans?

Any new building and any alteration that adds on to or changes the structure of an existing building must be approved before any construction work takes place.

However, If you are planning to redecorate any room in your home, or re-plaster your house, that does not include 'structural' changes, you don't need permission, because you haven't moved any walls around or altered the existing structure and services (drainage/sewerage) in place.

But if you make a change to the structure, for example, add on a carport, or even just move the front door, you do need permission. When you submit a building plan for approval it is essential that you make sure that you have complied with the zoning regulations of the applicable municipality.

What if someone fails to submit a plan?

If you've chosen to build without having the plans approved, a building inspector is entitled to enter your property and order construction to stop immediately. He could even obtain a court order for the structure to be demolished, at your expense, and you would be liable for legal costs as well. In serious cases, you could be heavily fined, or convicted.

Even a homeowner who undertakes alterations without permission could face prosecution should the property be sold and the approved plans not correspond to the actual layout and design as indicated on the plans.

Where can I get an application form?

Get in touch with your local municipal office. They will advise where to obtain the necessary documentation and advise where the completed forms, together with the building plans and supporting documentation, need to be submitted. An application would normally include a completed application form, signed by the owner of the property or his/her authorised representative (proof of authorisation is required) together with a copy of the registered title deed. The title deed can be obtained either from the attorneys who handled the transfer of the property, the financial institution that granted a first mortgage bond over the property, or the Deeds Office.

A separate form also needs to be completed by a professional engineer or technologist registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa when structural work such as reinforced concrete floor and roof slabs, special reinforced foundations are part of the proposed building. Different certificates or designs need to be submitted depending on the technical aspects of the plan and you will need to consult an architect or engineer in this regard.

How much does it cost to submit an application?

Fees are calculated by the building control counter staff when you submit an application. A standardised set of tariffs applies when calculating the fee payable. Your local municipal office will be able to advise you on any monies due.

[via city of Johannesburg]