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Do I need permission before doing minor building work?


Hi there, I have read that I don’t need to inform my local municipality of minor building work. Is this really the case? – Barry


Hi Barry, even though it is not required to submit building plans for projects defined as “minor building work”, homeowners will still require written permission from their local authority before they start.

The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (Act 103 of 1977) states in part 13 (1)(a) that to undertake any building work, even if the project falls under “minor building work”, the homeowner will have to apply to their local authority for authorisation.

The homeowner will need to receive written permission from the building control officer, following on receipt of a permit application from the owner, before they can start their project. Written permission granted to the homeowner in terms of section 13 of the said Act, therefore exempts them from submitting formal building plans.

Christo Hamman, the manager of Building Control at the Hessequa Municipality says: “We require a formal decision, in terms of section 13(1)(b) of the Act, by our Building Control section, following an application by the owner for minor building works. An approved building fee is also required. The reason we require homeowners to obtain authorisation is because of the numerous legal issues regarding, for instance, building lines, view, aesthetics, etc. While homeowners are entitled to undertake minor building projects (see definition of “minor building works”) without formal building plans, they need to adhere to the requirements of section 13 in the Act. Obtaining authorisation beforehand will ensure that they are proceeding with the project in the correct manner and erecting the building in accordance with the directions specified in such authorisation.”

Bought a house that has no building plans. Now what?

So even when erecting a temporary structure as such as builder’s shed, you will require permission from the local authority. It is not just the project itself that will have to be given the thumbs up by the local municipality, but also all other structures that may need to be put up during the period the project takes place.

To provide permission for a temporary structure, in terms of SANS 10400: Part A23; the municipality will require the following information:

  1. The buildings’ intended purpose and the length of time it will remain on the property

  2. Where the homeowner intends to erect the structure

  3. The availability of suitable materials from which it may be constructed

Therefore, before starting any building project, be it minor building work or otherwise, it is advisable to contact your local authority and obtain permission upfront.

Got a burning question? Email mariette@hometimes.co.za and we’ll be sure to assist you

Who is Adrian Goslett?

Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Adrian Goslett is the regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa


Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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