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Got space? Build your own duet

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The old established concept of a granny flat has changed quite dramatically in the past two decades with most municipalities having gradually eased the control in terms of sizes and, lately, that it needs to be attached to the main dwelling.

In fact, the granny flat of today is a fully functional dwelling, often with the only limitation to not exceed a certain footprint of mostly 50% of the stand area.

From granny flat to sectional schemeduet in cradock eastern cape

This is according to Danie Saayman of Pretoria-based CityScope Town Planners. “Depending on the detail of the Town Planning Scheme (also known as the Land Use Management Scheme) a second dwelling is in reality defined as a second kitchen,” he says, noting that any set of rooms, such as extended outbuildings, but without a kitchen, will not be regarded as a second dwelling. “Whereas some homeowners may want to build a second dwelling for purposes of an extended family, or deriving an additional rent income, the majority will probably aim to sell such a new unit.”

This can only be done by complying with the requirements of the Sectional Titles Act, says Karien Coetzee, the national property management consultant at property management company, Trafalgar, who says every single duet in the country follows this approach.

“A body corporate will have to be established as each dwelling will then be registered as a section in the body corporate, but most of these ‘complexes’ do not function as a body corporate.”

Coetzee explains that duets generally make the portion of the stand that each dwelling is on and the outside of each dwelling an exclusive use area and make the owner of the section responsible for all maintenance in that area. “They don’t raise levies and don’t have AGMs. If there is an expense they need to share, such as repairs to the dividing wall, they just split the costs.”

Appointing a managing agent is not a requirement, but is only done if the owners do not want to deal with maintenance, admin, accounting and want to function as a body corporate.

“But there is nothing that states that a managing agent must be appointed – no matter how big or small your scheme is,” says Coetzee, noting that levies are always determined in terms of the expenses. “If you make the scheme an exclusive use area and don’t function as a body corporate, then you don’t need levies.”

Here’s how levies are calculated

Same services, greater capacitywater pipe taps

When setting up a sectional scheme on your stand the municipality will not allow a second set of services connections to a stand, regardless of the number of users, says Saayman. “It means that the owner must make use of his existing services connection to branch off to the additional unit and make his own arrangements for the metering of consumable utilities. Only on a separately subdivided full-title stand will a new connection be allowed.”

Due to having only one connection, owners may require an increased capacity connection, the cost of which is determined by each municipality.

“Bulk services connections or development charges are contributions that the owner will be obliged to pay to the municipality for the additional burden that he places on the system,” says Saayman. “This includes water, sanitation, electricity, roads and stormwater, and in cases even public parks. These costs are calculated individually for every case according to the extent of the new demand, relative to the existing pattern of usage and the difference being determined according to the current financial year’s capital budgets for each service type. Often the municipality may differentiate between wealthy suburbs and lower-income areas. An average second dwelling in Pretoria could be levied between R35,000 and R40,000 in a once-off payment.”

How does this affect rates?

Municipal rates are determined by only three variables:

  1. The municipal rates policy, which can apply discounts, exemptions and rebates. Often residential stands get a standard discount of about 30% when the stand is developed.
  2. The valuation of the property, which is revised every four years, or at the occasion of a major amendment such as a rezoning. Since a second dwelling is normally achieved by way of a consent or departure, it may, or may not be subjected to a revaluation.
  3. The tariff, which is expressed as cent-in-the-rand of the property. The tariff is determined yearly with the annual budget and divided between all ratepayers, and is the same factor for everybody.

How to get municipal approval<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-961084p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Grobler du Preez</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/editorial?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>

For approval of consents for second dwellings you will have to ascertain from your specific municipality on two issues, specifically:

  1. Firstly, the policy of the municipality on densification of residential areas. In the Tshwane Metro Municipality a policy on densification has been adopted in order to achieve higher efficiency of services provision, public transport as well as curbing urban sprawl. Certain minimum erf sizes of historical nature were scrapped and broad brush density zones have been established.
  2. Secondly, a landowner needs to make sure what process is provided for in the local Town Planning Scheme to follow in order to obtain authorisation for the second dwelling. In most cases it will entail a so-called Consent-Use or Permission application (sometimes called a Departure) and in certain cases it may require a Rezoning application.

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David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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