29 May 2014
The Building Standards and Building Regulations Act, which requires all property owners who intend to alter their homes to get municipal approval for the work no matter how small the changes are, may lead to some confusion.
It is advisable that property owners do their homework correctly before embarking on any project and, if there is exemption from having to have plans for the job, make sure all the paperwork is in writing and has all the necessary stamps or signatures to this effect.
This is because certain municipalities might, in cases of minor building work, give written approval to the effect that the owner does not need building permission, whereas other municipalities will need plans for minor building work passed through them to make them legal.
This is according to Helen Hoekstra, general manager of Atlantic Seaboard Knight Frank South Africa, who says examples of these minor building works include a tool shed not exceeding 10 square metres in area, a child's playhouse not exceeding five square metres in area, a cycle shed not exceeding five square metres, a greenhouse not exceeding 15 square metres in area and an open-sided car, caravan or boat shelter or a carport where such shelter or carport does not exceed 40 square metres in area.
Other minor building works include any freestanding wall constructed of masonry, concrete, steel, aluminium or timber or any wire fence where such a wall or fence does not exceed 1.8 metres in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil, any pergola, a private swimming pool and a change room not exceeding 10 square metres in area, at a private swimming pool.
However, Hoekstra says, it is still required that you get the necessary paperwork from your municipality confirming that plan approval is not required.
She says this might not seem important at the time one does the building alterations but the reality is the implications of non-approved building work, when it comes to the Consumer Protection Act, could lead to property buyers possibly claiming damages from the seller and the agent involved if there are any faults with the construction.
Cases such as these are yet to be tried in court but there are mixed interpretations from attorneys, some saying the agent must ensure the seller hand over all plans to the home to protect himself, whereas others underplay the importance of this, she says.
Hoekstra says it is advisable that property owners do their homework correctly before embarking on any project and, if there is exemption from having to have plans for the job, make sure all the paperwork is in writing and has all the necessary stamps or signatures to this effect.