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Building plan submission and approvals explained:
A Building Line is an invisible line on your property demarking the point up to which you can build – garden / boundary walls are not included. Typically IN Johannesburg Building Lines are 5m at the front, 2m at the sides and 3m at the back. However Building Lines vary from township to township, and it’s best not to make assumptions. A building line prevents building too close to neighbouring properties or the road. Some building lines include a servitude, normally in favour of COJ. This cannot be built on, or relaxed. Building Lines can be relaxed – you will need your neighbours consent and the Municipal Town Planning Department approval. As Town Planning departments are notoriously understaffed it is best to use the services of a town planner or architect. The first step is to appoint a SACAP (South African Council for the Architectural Profession) registered Architect / Designer / Technologist. A list of SACAP registered Professionals can be found at www.sacapsa.com In order to practice as an Architect, Designer, Technologist and draughtsman, it is compulsory to register with SACAP. De-registered Architects, Designers, Technologists and draughtsmen are not legally allowed to practice architecture independently. The Architect will obtain previous plans from Council and a copy of your SG Diagram (Surveyor General) diagram and Zoning Certificate. The SG diagram clearly demarks your properties boundaries / area and neighbouring stands. The Zoning Certificate will tell you what the zone use of your property is – Agricultural, Business, Commercial, Industrial 1, 2 or 3, Residential 1, 2 or 3 and Special Use. Residential 2 or 3 usually indicates your property is in a cluster / townhouse development. The Zoning Certificate will also tell you the square meterage of your property, how many storeys you are allowed, the coverage (building footprint) and the F.A.R. – Floor Area Ratio – maximum allowable living space. Coverage is the building footprint on the stand – in other words what percentage of the stand is covered by a roof? Paving, driveways, swimming pools and boundary / garden walls do not count towards coverage in SA. Coverage is typically 50% for a single or double storey dwelling / building and 40% for a three storey building. F.A.R. – Floor Area Ratio is the percentage living space allowable on the stand – so bedrooms, lounges, kitchens, servant’s quarters etc will count, but garages, covered patios, lapa’s, sheds, swimming pools and store-rooms etc. do not. F.A.R.s vary between 0.3 – 1.2. A low F.A.R. – 0.6 for example – will effectively ensure that the first floor is smaller than the ground floor in a double storey building. You will also need to obtain a copy of your title deeds, either from your Conveyancer, or the institution which financed your property, or directly from the deeds office. This not only to confirm that you are the owners of the property; but also because title deeds sometimes have restrictive clauses within them; this could affect the outcome of your building plan application. Typically title deeds indicate that there is a 2m servitude on two boundaries other than a street boundary or pan-handle. Further restrictions such as prohibiting metal roofs or wooden buildings are common. Restrictive Clauses within Title Deeds can be removed – this involves an application through the Town Planning Department as well as the High Court, through a conveyancer. Consent Use can also be granted for extra coverage / FAR. However this is a lengthy process and I strongly recommend that you use a Town Planner. If your property is within an estate or town house / cluster complex you will also need to get a copy of the Estate Guidelines from the Aesthetics Committee / Body Corporate / Residents Associate etc. You will find a list of requirements that ensure aesthetic harmony and good building practice within the estate / complex. In addition you will need your plans stamped and a letter from the Body Corporate for Council indicating that they are happy with your planned building. It is vitally important that your architect / designer do their homework before drawing up plans. This will save a lot of time and expense later on. For a Building Plan Application you will need:- 1) A Colour copy of the building plans, plus 2 black & white prints , preferably A1 size 2) Application form, signed by the owner as well as the Architect ( applicant ) 3) Title Deeds , S.G Diagram , SACAP Architects Certificate , SANS 10400 FORM 1 and Zone certificate. 4) Structural Engineers stamp on the drawings as well as completed SANS 10400 Form 2 5) Permission letter and stamp from Body Corporate / Aesthetics Committee etc. if applicable. 6) Previously approved drawings. 7) Plan Submission fees 8) Power of Attorney authorising your Architect to act on your behalf in respect of gaining building plan approval. For a Building Line Relaxation Application you will need:- 2) 1) A Colour copy of the building plans, plus 2 black & white prints , preferably A1 size 2) Application form, signed by the owner as well as the Architect ( applicant ) 3) Title Deeds , S.G Diagram, SACAP Architects Certificate and Zone certificate. 4) Approval Stamps from the Roads, Water and Building control departments. 5) Permission letter and stamp from Body Corporate / Aesthetics Committee etc. if applicable. 6) Adjoining and surrounding neighbours signatures, consenting to the relaxation , as well as an affidavit confirming the neighbours have been notified 7) Plan Submission fees 8) Power of Attorney authorising your Architect to act on your behalf in respect of gaining building plan approval. As many Town Planning departments are severely understaffed it is best to appoint a town planner to speed the process up, currently Johannesburg is taking 6- 10 months to approve a building line relaxation application – it used to take 3 weeks!. Once your building line application has been approved, you will receive a letter from Town Planning which will need to be submitted with your plans for Building Plan Approval. Permission for the relaxation lasts for a year – if you have not started building within this time you will need to reapply. A Building Line is only relaxed over the portion the new building will occupy and it only applies to that building. If you demolish the building or build a further storey you will also need to apply for permission.