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Building & Developing FAQ

What are National Building Regulations (NBR)?

National Building Regulations are a set of functional regulations which are used as a point of reference for the design and construction of buildings, to ensure the safety and health of people and animals that live in or around buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that energy is conserved and that facilities are provided for people with disabilities. “Approved Documents” provide guidance on complying with Building Regulations.

  • Regulations setting standards for the safety and health aspects of buildings
  • Enforces the National Building Regulations and Buildings Standard Act
Is National Building Regulation Approval the same as Planning Permission?

No. These are two entirely separate processes. Planning permission considers land use and rights. Certain proposals may require Building Regulation Approval but not Planning Permission. Planning enquiries can be made with the City Development department.

Can I speak to Building Control Officials?

Yes we would always encourage you to discuss your ideas and proposals at your earliest convenience. We will be pleased to discuss National Building Regulation requirements. Building Control Officials are available during office hours to discuss any Building Control issues you might have. (Refer to building control contact details).

Who monitors Building Regulations?

The Department of trade and industry is the custodian of the National Building Regulations and Building Standard Act. Who then delegated the implementation through the Municipality to Building Control. Building Control (as delegated) – qualified and experienced teams of building inspectors from the municipality carry out compulsory inspections as work proceeds: Their extensive knowledge of materials, construction methods and local conditions is available to assist you at all stages of the construction process. Building control is also responsible for the law enforcement and monitoring of contraventions by any transgressors.

When do I need the local authority’s/ CoE approval?

When doing any building work or alterations as stipulated in the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (Act 103 of 1977) as amended. With regards to what is regarded as minor building works, as defined in the NBR and in terms of Section 13 of the aforementioned act.

The following are some of projects that need EMM’s approval:

  • Extensions to existing building
  • Erection of new buildings
  • Conversion of existing loft into a room
  • Conversion of existing garage into a habitable room
  • Internal alterations
  • Carports
  • Cell mast
  • Advertising Structure
  • Construction of a conservatory etc.
Do I need CoE approval to carry out repairs to my house?

No, if the repairs are of a minor nature and you are replacing like for like. This includes replacing the felt to a flat roof, repainting, replacing a small area of previously existing and approved brickwork etc.
Yes, if the repair involves the removal of a major part of a wall and rebuilding it. In the case of re-roofing if the tiles are of the same type then no approval need be sought. If the new tile or roofing material is substantially heavier or lighter than the existing material then an approval under Building Regulations will be required.

Please note:

When undertaking substantial repairs and replacement approval may be required including work to thermal elements i.e. roofs and walls. Substantial refurbishment and repairs may require the upgrading of thermal elements e.g. replacing part of an external wall.

Do I need CoE approval to convert my house into flats?

Yes, this is a change of use.

Do I need CoE approval to underpin my house?

Yes, this is a structural alteration and an appointment of a registered structural Engineer is essential.

Do I need CoE approval to install fittings and appliances or carry out drainage work?

Yes – All drainage work in connection with a building requires an application, all consumer installation must comply with the South African standard specification 10252: water supply and drainage for buildings, SANS 10106: the installation, maintenance, repair and replacement of domestic solar water heating system and SANS 10254: the installation of fixed electric storage water heating systems or any similar substituting or amendment thereof if the consumers installation is of a type regulated by either standard.

Altering the position of a bath or w.c. etc?

Yes, you will need Building Regulations approval if drainage alterations are made. Not fitting alterations.

What do we mean by a 'Change of Use'?

Not same use as on the approved building plan. For example, If your plan was approved indicating a bedroom, you cannot change it into an office.

If I need CoE approval, what do I do next?

Submit building plans for consideration at your respective Customer care Area (C.C.A.).

Can I apply online?


Will I have to pay for the application to the CoE for the approval of building plans?

Yes, we are obliged to make a charge for the work of administering Regulations. Building plan fees must be paid when submitting building plans for approval in terms of the building plans related tariff structure and is available here.

How do I check progress on my submitted building plans?

By contacting building plan counters in the relevant Customer Care Centre.

Can we recommend a builder?

No. Unfortunately we cannot recommend individual builders, we would always suggest you consider builders who are prepared to let you view recent projects and seek references from previous clients. Recommendations provided by friends / relatives do give a degree of reassurance, together with membership of appropriate trade / professional associations. Always agree your requirement whether this be through a formal contract or written plans and specifications, give consideration to issues such as insurance, access to the property, fire safety, services such as water and electric, security, site clearance/cleanliness etc.

Do we have copies of drainage plans?

Yes, the site drainage system is indicated on the building plan and the general services plans are available from services division and, are available for the public upon request and with the payment of the relevant tariff, should a copy be requested.

When can I start work?

After approval of building plan and upon notifying council of the intention to start building (about two days in advance), an approved building plan must be available on site at all times during construction.

When and at what stages do I have to request an inspection?

Building control office must be notified 2 working days in advanced that an inspection is required. It is important that all compulsory inspections are carried out in order to allow us to issue a completion certificate upon application.
There are compulsory inspections that one needs to book with the CoE:

  • Site and Foundation trenches
  • Open and closed drainage
  • Roof

Completion- it is important that you request a completion inspection ideally before your builder leaves the site – additional work / cost may be necessary. It is illegal to occupy a building/ Extension without an occupation certificate. The certificate is a vital document when you come to sell your property.

What are the consequences of building without approved building plans?

If you carry out building work without approval from the EMM you are committing a criminal offence for which you can receive a fine upon being found guilty of up to R 4 000, 00 or a court order to demolish the structure concerned. Problems can also arise in the future if the property is put up for sale and the EMM records reveal that approval was not granted.

What do I do on completion of buildings?

When you complete your project you should contact building control office to arrange a final inspection. It is recommended that any final payments to builders are only made after the inspection has been carried out and a certificate of occupancy is issued. It is essential that you request a final inspection as soon as possible following practical completion, the certificate provides you and future owners of the development that “as far as can be reasonably ascertained” work complies with current building standards. It is important that all relevant inspections are requested prior to completion. Occupation certificate should not be taken as guarantee or warranty of the building works.


Please remember we cannot replace the services of a Project Manager or Architect- whilst we will always endeavour to ensure that your work meets current standards our site presence is comparatively limited you may need to employ the services of appropriate consultants for quality assurance assessments purposes.


Request for final inspection from building control and produce applicable certificates (Engineers completion certificate, glazing, roof, certificates of compliance electricity) if all is in order the Building Inspector/ Chief Building Inspector will issue a certificate of occupancy.

Empty and derelict buildings?

If you have concerns over derelict and empty buildings or any building structure that may pose dangerous to the people please report this to us and we will take appropriate action.


Report the matter to the municipality at the relevant Customer Care Centre.

I intend to demolish a building – do I need permission?

Yes all buildings that are to be demolished must first get permission from the EMM and an application must be submitted together with an applicable fee needs to be paid in terms of the building plans fees and related tariffs, after the application has been assessed and found in order, a demolition permit can then be issued with stated conditions to be complied with.


Applications forms are available here and at the building control offices.

I’m unhappy with the service I have received from the CoE what can I do?

This is obviously the last thing we want, our main goal is to ensure that your development meets Building Standards and we will endeavour to help you whenever we can. We pride ourselves on a professional, practical and ethical approach – if you have any concerns or reservation please log a call at the customer care centre.

What if my building plans application is refused?

You may appeal such decision in writing within 21 days to the Review Board. This deals with disputes arising from appeals lodged by building owners against decisions of Local Authorities. The procedures are given in the Review Board Regulations. You are represented on the Board and it provides expert technical advice to enable the resolution of such disputes. The board establishes whether applicable building legislation has been complied with.

To initiate an appeal the following must be lodged with us:

  • An application for review by the Board (SABS Regulatory Affairs), setting out in writing the grounds on which it is based
  • Plans, documents, photos, to enable the board to effectively deal with the appeal.
  • A copy of the appeal with the Local authority in question
  • The statutory fee

The completed appeal can be posted to SABS (Regulatory Affairs)

How long is an approved plan valid?

A building plan is valid for 12 months from the date of approval. You may apply in writing to your local authority for an extension before the expiry date. Extension can be granted for six months upon receipts of written request from the property owner.