This FAQ attempts to provide some answers to frequently asked questions with regards to BUILDING PLAN or “PERMISSION TO BUILD” applications.

GENERAL GUIDE - cURRENTLY uNDER dERVELOPMENT
   
1. Regional Offices – Where are you located?

The Branch is represented by Regional Offices located in major centres around the eThekwini Metropolitan area.

2. Why am I required to submit a building plan or make a “Permission to Build” application to the Local Authority?

This is a LEGAL requirement applicable throughout South Africa. Section 4(1) of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act states the following:

No person shall without the prior approval in writing of the local authority in question, erect any building in respect of which plans and specifications are to be drawn and submitted in terms of this Act.
 

3. Why and when do I need AMAFA (KZN Heritage) approval?

This is a LEGAL requirement for the protection of national, provincial or local heritage aspects.
Where a proposal falls within one of the following broad categories contact AMAFA (KZN Heritage) for further information and clarification of requirements:

- buildings older than 60 years,
- road, wall, pipeline, canal or other similar linear development or barrier exceeding 300m in length,
- places, or buildings and structures of cultural significance,
- historic settlements and townscapes,
- historic graves and burial grounds,
- places associated with oral tradition and living heritage,
- archaeological and paleontological sites,
- battlefields,
- geological sites of scientific or cultural importance,
- landscapes and natural features of scientific and cultural importance and various categories of movable objects, or
- changes to the character of a site including the subdivision / consolidation of 3 or more sites or rezoning of site exceeding 10 000m2.

AMAFA Contact information:
Email: built.enviro@amafapmb.co.za
Tel: 033 3946543


Please note that any consideration by AMAFA (KZN Hertitage) and any authorisation required is to be obtained prior to the submission of any "permission-to-build" application to this branch. Proof of such authorisation must accompany any application submitted to the Development Applications and Approvals Branch at the time of submission.

4. Why is it necessary to obtain Town Planning authorisation prior to making a building plan application?

 

A building plan or “Permission to Build” application cannot be considered for approval where, in terms of any other applicable legislation, there is an impediment that will hamper the use to be effected on a site. Such impediments can be related to zoning, title deeds, site controls, etc. including conflicting legislative timeframes for considering applications.

 
Any clearance or authorisation granted in terms of the relevant Town Planning Scheme and Planning legislation, does not presuppose that the application is “approved” or approvable in terms of section 7 of Act 103 of 1977. NO building work must be commenced with based only on a Planning authorization obtained to avoid being charged in terms of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act for unauthorized building work.
 
5. Do I need my neighbour’s consent to build?
 
NO requirement for public participation or neighbour’s consent exists when making a building plan or “Permission to Build” application in terms of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act.
 
Public participation and/or requirement to obtain a neighbour’s consent may be a requirement for obtaining a Planning authorisation. This requirement preceding the submission of a building plan or “Permission to Build” application.
 
Any public participation or neighbour’s consent process required also does not presuppose that the application is “approved” or approvable in terms of section 7 of National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act.
 
Objections lodged in respect of a building plan or “Permission to Build” application, as a result of failure to act in terms of any public participation or neighbour’s consent process, related privacy, view or value issues are considered based on what is contextually reasonable within their urban context and are not automatic reasons for refusal of an application. The nature of an objection received may also require that a Planning authorisation previously obtained be reconsidered.
 
6. Where do I obtain a copy of my Title Deeds / Surveyor General diagram?. Where do I obtain a copy of my Title Deeds / Surveyor General diagram?
 
Copies of the Title Deed & SG diagrams are held by the bond holder or owner where not bonded. Where unable to obtain a copy, contact the Surveyor General’s office:
 
300 Pietermaritz Street,
Pietermaritzburg, 3201
 
SG diagrams are accessible via web address: http://csg.dla.gov.za/
 
7. Who is responsible for ensuring a building complies with the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act?
 
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8. What is SACAP and can I draw my own plans?
 
The South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) is the regulatory body with which ALL architectural professionals are to be registered in order to practice architecture. In addition it is responsible for protecting the interests of the public. The Architectural Professions Act 44 of 2000 has been effective since 01 June 2006.
 
Further details on SACAP and its responsibilities to the public can be found here: http://www.sacapsa.com/
 
The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act also requires the professionals designing buildings or work related to buildings is registered with the relevant profession registration body.
 
9. Appointing the architectural professional and / or other related professionals?
 
In ALL instances the OWNER is responsible for signing the necessary appointment forms. The Power of Attorney (P.o.A) contained on the reverse of the local authority Application Form does not authorise the self-appointment of an architectural professional in terms of SACAP requirements or the appointment of related professionals on behalf of the owner by the authorised / appointed representative. Where appointment of architectural or related professionals are to be appointed by an authorised / appointed representative, a separate “General” Power of Attorney is to be provided by an Owner for such purpose.
 
10. Can a Council employee draw or submit my building plan?
 
NO. EThekwini municipal employees, unless authorised, are not permitted to undertake private work related to preparing planning or building plans or submitting same to the municipality. This is considered a conflict of interest in terms of the Municipal Systems Act and may lead to disciplinary action against the employee.
Report such instances to the City Integrity and Investigations Unit for investigation.
 
11. What fees are payable in terms of a building plan or “Permission to Build” application?
Where money or any other form of inducement is requested by or made to a municipal staff member in respect of a building application, and for which no payment invoice or receipt from a municipal cashier was received, report the matter to the City Integrity and Investigations Unit.
 
12. Fraud and Corruption is allegations?
 
Please report ANY allegations of Fraud or Corruption to the City Integrity and Investigations Unit.
It is further advised that the matter is reported to the relevant professional registration body and the SA Police Services.

13. Tracking my application status?
 
The owner and author are responsible for tracking the status of an application once submitted to the local authority. However, as the process includes the possible circulation of plan copies to external service provider departments for input, it is advised that the owner / author only contact the department after three weeks from the date of submission. This will provide the department sufficient time to provide a reasonable response as to the actual status of an application.
 
Enquiries as to the status of a application are to be directed to the respective Regional Office enquiry numbers available here.
 
14. In what order are NEW building applications processed?

15. How is the length of time taken by the Local Authority to grant an approval i.r.o a building plan application measured?
Perception: The time taken in considering an application is measured from the date of submission to the local authority of the PLANNING application to the date when an “approval” in terms of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act is granted.
 Perceived_Timeframe.jpg
In the above example the perception is that it has taken 300 days (10 months) for the local authority to “approve” the application.
 
Reality: The time taken to “approve” an application is measured in terms of an application for “Permission to Build” submitted in terms of section 4, or where submitted anew section 7(5), of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act.
Actual_Timeframe.jpg
The requirement to obtain a Planning (or any other legislative) authorisation precedes the submission of a building plan or “Permission to Build” application. The purpose being to ensure that a proposal is possible and satisfies zonal and planning scheme, heritage, environmental, and other legislative compliance requirements. These preceding compliance requirements existing in terms of “other” applicable laws and any processing times to obtain such authorisations cannot be attributed to the building plan or “Permission to Build” application process.
 
Building Application Timeframe:  The time taken to consider a building plan application is measured from when the application is accepted into the system for consideration to when a decision in terms thereof is made.  A decision being either to REFUSE or APPROVE the application.
 
In the above “Actual Timeframe” example the building application was submitted on three separate occasions.  On the first two occasions the application was refused, and following the third submission it was approved. In accordance with the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act each occasion of submission or submission anew constitutes a new application. On each occasion the time taken from the date of submission to the date of decision was within 30 days.
 
The local authority is required to make a decision within 30 or 60 days (dependant on the architectural area of the building) from the date of submission.  In the example the application was submitted on three occasions and in each instance decided upon within 30 days. Accordingly the time period taken to “approve” the application is 30 days, NOT 300 days.
 
16. How am I advised of the decision in respect of my application?
 
You will be advised by means of an email or notification card, sent to the owner and identified recipient, whether the application is refused or approved. Unfortunately the local authority cannot guarantee delivery of notification cards, as this is the responsibility of the SA Post Office. The notice setting out the reasons for any refusal will be available on collection of the application from the relevant regional office dealing with the application. With respect to an approved application, an Advisory Notice is made available upon collection of the application.
Email notification may be utilised where related details have been provided.
 
17. Can an application be withdrawn once submitted?
 
YES, on written request of the Owner it may be possible to withdraw a building application from the local authority process. The withdrawal being subject to there being no negative outcomes arising from, and/or impediments to, the withdrawal of the application. Any refunds associated with the withdrawal request will be advised and processed accordingly. Note that where a decision has already been made in respect of the application NO refund will be considered.
An application cannot be withdrawn by the author of the plans where a dispute between the author and owner may exist.
 
 
PROFESSIONAL GUIDE

18. Exemption from Submission of a Building Application
 
ALL building work requires the submission of a building application in terms of section 4 of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards (NBR&BS) Act to the local authority, unless exempted.
 
Work by or on behalf of the state requires the lodgement of plans, specifications and certificates with the local authority for its information and comment. Building work by or on behalf of the state associated with national security, or by virtue of economic considerations, necessity or expediency, may be exempted by the Minister of Trade and Industry from the lodgment of such documentation with the local authority. (Refer to section 2 of the NBR&BS Act for further clarity). Such exemption does not exempt the state from compliance with the requirements of the NBR&BS Act as provided for in the South African Constitution.
 
The local authority Building Control Officer may under section 13 of the Act exempt an owner from the requirement to submit a plan in respect of a building defined as a minor building work and impose conditions and directions in such authorisation. An exemption from the requirement to submit a plan does not however exempt the owner from making an application in terms of the NBR&BS Act.
 
19. What can the Author do to expedite the consideration of applications?
 
To ensure applications can be considered with the minimum of delays and avoid the possibility of being refused unnecessarily it is recommended that the appointed professional undertakes the necessary research into the property with the relevant external legislative stakeholders. This will ensure that issues related with planning together with any consents, heritage, social responsibility & environmental impacts, and local authority services provider’s requirements are addressed in the application prior to submission of a building application.
 
In addition ensure that, where applicable, any restrictive conditions in Title Deeds have been either removed or adhered with prior to submission of the building plan application.
 
20. Who is responsible for completion of the declaration contained in SANS 10400-A Form 1 & 2?

The completion and submission to the local authority of the Form 1 & 2 appointments are legislated through the NBRs. These constitute legal appointments and declarations to be completed by the owner and appointed professional/s.
 
21. Why do I need Title Deeds and SG diagrams to submit a building application?
 
To confirm ownership, ensure no restrictive conditions prohibiting the proposal exist, and identify the extent of the site.
 
22. Why can I not contact the Assessment Officer prior to a decision having been made?
 
Applications are not assigned to an Assessment Officer at the time of submission. Applications are only assigned to an assessment officer on the day of allocation. Until an application has been assigned to an assessment officer for consideration, all enquiries as to the status, expected allocation date, etc. are to be directed to the regional office enquiry number/s.
 
23. Why is it necessary to have my application checked before I can resubmit my refused application?
 
The Act provides the local authority with one of two options, to either APPROVE or REFUSE an application. The Act also allows a refused application to be submitted ANEW at no additional cost subject to (i) this being done within one year of the original/initial date of refusal; and (ii) the plans, specifications and documents having been amended so as to satisfy any reason which may have caused the application to be refused in the first place.
 
The reason for a check is to establish whether the issues which gave rise to the refusal have been attended to. Where it is found that this has not been achieved the application will not be accepted for submission anew. To avoid unnecessary delays for developers/owners the reasons for refusal should be satisfactorily resolved prior to any submission anew of an application. This process may differ in the Regional Offices due to operational constraints.
 
24. What are requirements for a building plan or “Permission to Build” application?
 
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25. What are the minimum requirements to be provided on a plan in order to be accepted for submission?
 
 
NOTE. Applications are only accepted for submission once the applicable fees in terms of the published Tariff of Fees have been paid.  
 
26. What colours are applicable when colouring building plans?
 
Generally:
 
 27. Additional paperwork required where the registered owner falls into one of the following categories?
 
Where the ownership of a property falls within one of the following, additional proof / consent / authority from the “owner” is to accompany the application forms:
 
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