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Building? Here’s your cheat sheet to all standard dimensions and sizes

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There is no user manual for all aspects of homeownership, from moving, to taking occupation and to maintaining and understanding common and uncommon defects. Albert van Wyk has more than 38 years’ worth of building experience and has put all he has learned into a concise, easy-to-use reference book entitled, The Proud Home Owner. He has granted HomeTimes exclusive access to republish portions of his book to help homeowners make better decisions around buying and selling, as well as maintaining their properties.

Standard dimensions and sizesbeautiful bathroom

  • One brick course is 85mm. The brick is 75mm and the joint is 10mm.
  • 25 courses are 2.125m which is known as lintel height.
  • The top of all window frames is this height, unless specified otherwise.
  • The top of a standard door frame is also 2.125m.
  • The top of a standard garage door is also 2.125m, but must be increased for a 4×4 vehicle with a roof carrier.
  • The tops of all windows frames and door frames must line up.

  • The size of a standard door is 813mm x 2.032m. Other sizes are 762mm, 900mm and 1.2m wide at the same height of 2.032m.
  • The standard height of an electrical plug is 4 courses (340mm) from the floor.
  • The standard height of a light switch and a door handle is ±1.2m from the floor. You may install them at ±1m to make it easier for small children to use.
  • A work top like in the kitchen is 900mm from the floor.
  • The top of a writing desk is ±750mm.
  • The top of a hand basin is 830mm. You need to bend down to wash your face. It is wrong to install the vanity cabinet at this height and then the basin on top.
  • The shower head must be ±2m from the floor. It is easy to adjust and high enough for a tall person.
  • The height of a bench in the shower is 500mm.
  • The width of most of the kitchen appliances is 600mm. Fridge, washing machine, dish washer and drier.
  • The hot water tap at bath or basin must be on the left hand side.


  • A comfortable width of a tread is between 250mm and 300mm.
  • A practical and comfortable height of a riser is 170mm (2 brick courses).

  • The height of a balustrade is ±1m. The design must be such that no opening is large enough to pass a ball through of 100mm diameter.

For more, and to order your copy of The Proud Home Owner, click here, or visit Gauteng Home Inspections if you’re building, buying or doing maintenance


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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