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After spending months at home, homeowners may well be considering some additions or renovations to their property, for which planning approval will be necessary


Before going ahead with any home projects to make their lives more comfortable, homeowners should follow the correct procedures and obtain the necessary planning approval to avoid running into issues later.


Having building plans approved is a requirement of the National Building Regulations and Buildings Act of South Africa. Regulating additions and renovations is necessary to ensure that all buildings are conducive to occupants’ health and safety.

Before providing home finance, all financial institutions require up-to-date and approved building plans. These plans are also required by the local municipality before issuing a rates clearance certificate required for selling a home.

“In short, if a homeowner fails to obtain planning approval, they’ll run into problems when they later decide to sell, and may even be ordered to tear down renovations if they fail to meet the relevant criteria for gaining planning approval. It’s always advisable to obtain the necessary approval before going ahead with any renovations or additions,” says Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO, RE/MAX of Southern Africa.


For those who are unsure of how to go about this, real estate expert Dietlyn Bekker, RE/MAX Panache explains that any new buildings, alterations, or additions to buildings, boundary walls, swimming pools, garages, Wendy houses and toolsheds, to name a few, will need planning approval.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of submitting plans for any changes to internal walls. If you’re changing the use of a property from residential to commercial, for example, you will also be required to submit a plan.”


Before you go ahead with submitting your plans, Bekker explains, you first need to check that what you plan to do meets town planning guidelines and requirements. If you used a professional architect, they’ll be able to complete this process for you.

“When submitting the plans, homeowners usually require a copy of their title deed and four copies of the proposed plans, a signed application form which is available from the municipality, and proof of payment of the submission fee. Homeowners should note that only registered architectural professionals are able to draw and submit plans,” Bekker says.



“After the plans have been submitted, they’re passed through various departments, including the fire department and health department. The homeowner is then notified as to whether the plans have been approved or rejected.

“Should they be rejected, the homeowner is notified as to why and is given a chance to rectify them. Should the rectifications be submitted within a year of the first rejection, there’s usually no additional fee charged,” Bekker says.

Though the local authorities endeavour to approve or reject plans within 30 days from submission, the process sometimes does take longer.

When an application is approved, the homeowner is notified and provided with a stamped copy of the plan.

Only once in possession of this stamped copy, is the homeowner allowed to start building. A building inspector should be called to inspect the progress of the build, either from the start or on completion, so that a certificate can be issued to confirm that the building is as per the approved plan, says Bekker.


Adding onto or renovating your home can add immense value if done correctly. “For those contemplating whether to add on or buy new, I would recommend that they speak to a local real estate advisor to find out what value the addition can add to their home versus what they can afford to purchase within their budget. This will make it much easier to decide on a way forward,” Goslett concludes.

According to Grant Gavin, broker/owner, RE/MAX Panache, there are various complications that have the potential to delay a property transaction. “An experienced property practitioner is therefore worth their weight in gold for ensuring that these complications are identified and dealt with as early as possible in the transaction.”


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