Gaining approval for your building

Approval for your project must be obtained from a number of local council departments, and on larger projects approval from possibly the Department of Water and Forestry, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and the South African National Roads Agency.  And when you’re altering an existing old building (usually older than 50 years) you might also have to apply for approval from the National Monuments Council.

Planning approval applications are generally lodged during the working drawing stage, when enough information is available to submit the drawings to the council. Your architect can submit the application together with the relevant drawings on your behalf (although the owner must normally sign the drawings and application form).  To save time your architect might request that you sign a power of attorney which will enable him/her to submit plans on your behalf.  A municipal approval fee is charged in relation to the area of the project, which is payable by the owner because it’s not included in the architect’s fee.

The drawings and specifications will then be checked against regulations before you are issued with approval to build.  Your architect liaises with the building control department to provide additional information that may be required.  Because your architect is familiar with their procedures; this process can usually be expedited.  The building approval system exists to ensure that the country’s standards of health, safety and amenity are adhered to.

During certain phases of the construction it is the contractor’s responsibility to inform the town council’s building inspector that an inspection is required.  Should your contractor fail to do so, a fine can be issued. The building inspector will again inspect the completed works and should he/she be satisfied that the structure was erected according to the submitted plan. If so, an occupation certificate will be issued.

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