Tips for the first time

2017-05-03 06:00

Question:

I have a vacant plot in a residential area which I am now ready to start building my retirement home on. But everyone has warned me that a construction project is complex and that I have to follow the right steps and get all the right approvals before I start to avoid lots of headaches later.

Where should I start?

Answer:

All buildings constructed in South Africa must comply with the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977 (“the Act”), together with all regulations issued in terms thereof.

Local authorities are also bound by the provisions of the Act, and any plans and specifications involving the construction or erection of a building or structure must be approved by your local municipality before any construction commences.

A good place to start is to make contact with your local municipality’s planning department.

As each local municipality will have its own by-laws and rules, the building control officer will be best suited to advise you on the specific requirements for the area in which you plan to build and any possible considerations you should take note of with regard to your project.

You must also establish what the zoning of your vacant plot is.

The zoning scheme regulations for the specific area will prescribe the use of the plot and whether there are any restraints placed thereon. You should also ask your attorney to obtain a copy of the title deed of your plot to ascertain if there are any title restrictions, servitudes or endorsements in the title deed which you should take note of.

Appoint the necessary experts and do your homework well before you make any appointments.

Make sure that the architect, engineer, builder or electrician is registered and obtain references from previous clients on work they have done. Ensure that you conclude proper contracts with your contractors.

If your project is to be financed through a building loan, it is important to consult your bank too.

They may have additional requirements and may require additional experts to be appointed and internal approvals to be followed.

Once your team is appointed, plans have been drawn up, and you have all necessary documentation in hand, you can apply to your local municipality for permission to start your building project.

When you have your approved plans, you can continue. Remember that any scope changes during construction will have to be updated on your building plans.

Certain stages of your building project (e.g. laying of foundation, plumbing and electrical) will also involve building inspectors that must conduct on-site inspections.

Finally, once your home is built, remember to obtain your certificate of occupancy from your builder before moving in.

So make sure you obtain advice upfront and put the neces-sary contrac-tual frameworks in place to help you minimise and manage your risk throughout the project.
Luhann Prinsloo, associate, Phatshoane Henney Attorneys

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