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Residential , commercial and retail design, documentation, council submission.


Drawings, measuring up, photographic survey. Below , is an article as from "PROPERTY 24 " dated 30 Jan 2017. The below information is pertinent to all home owners want to sell or purchase property .

  One of South Africa’s largest conveyancing firms has issued a strong warning to property sellers not to rely on the “blind protection” of the ‘voetstoets’ clause if they don’t have approved building plans.
“The courts now place the responsibility of ensuring that there are approved plans for the property directly on the seller,” says Greyvenstein.
According to Liesel Greyvenstein, one of the directors of Greyvensteins Attorneys, a member of the national Phatshoane Henney Group of Associated Firms, there is a growing legal shift away from the protective blanket of voetstoots for second-hand property sellers with illegal or unapproved structures. “The courts now place the responsibility of ensuring that there are approved plans for the property directly on the seller,” says Greyvenstein. “While the voetstoets clause remained valid within the realms of common law and was a standard provision in sales agreements, it is no longer offered as blanket ‘as is’ cover, nor the guarantee of a smooth property transaction.” Unapproved building plans are the biggest headache in property transactions today, owing to the tightening of legal requirements around approved plans following the promulgation of the updated SANS 10400 building regulations, and Greyvenstein says there is a strict process to follow in terms of extensions, alterations and the building of all structures on a normal freehold property.  “Buyers and their banks now almost always want plans of the property, without which sellers run some serious risks,” says Greyvenstein. “Aside from the legal implications, getting illegal extensions approved could include lengthy delays in the transfer process. Then there is the risk of the banks withdrawing the financing of the property.” She says the banks are less and less willing to finance property purchases unless provided with registered plans.
Unapproved building plans are the biggest headache in property transactions today, owing to the tightening of legal requirements around approved plans following the promulgation of the updated SANS 10400 building regulations.
“If it comes to light prior to registration that there’s an illegal structure on the property, and even if the seller is genuinely unaware that there are no plans for it, the conveyancers cannot willy-nilly retain funds on registration of transfer for remedy since, by law, the full proceeds on registration are trust funds and belong to the seller. Banks are aware of the risk associated therewith, especially as the property constitutes their security,” she says. The seller could also be forced to relocate or demolish the offending structure, says Greyvenstein, and there are potentially high costs associated with all this. “Litigation is expensive, and no seller wants to be the test case,” she says. Courts finding in favour of purchasers Considering ‘precedent-setting’ cases such as Banda and Another v Van der Spuy and Another (where the buyers successfully challenged a defective roof), and Naidoo v Moodley (where the purchaser found out that there was no certificate of occupancy, a requirement for the property to be registered), Greyvenstein says sellers’ voetstoots arguments and assertions that they were not aware of the absence of plans or illegal constructions are now regularly being overruled by the courts. “The trend is for the courts to find in favour of purchasers, with the reasoning that they are entitled to assume that all legal and municipal requirements have been adhered to,” says Greyvenstein. 1. Ignorance no longer an excuse Greyvenstein says the introduction of a seller’s declaration by the Estate Agency years means that sellers are now routinely questioned about approved plans. “Right up front, along with the signing of the mandate, sellers have to complete a declaration regarding the existence or lack of approved plans. It’s also something that prudent agents investigate when they take mandates, so there’s no getting away with the excuse that they didn’t know,” she says. 2. Common problems According to Greyvenstein, the most common problems experienced by conveyancing attorneys and estate agents today include building line transgressions, with particular reference to carports and entertainment areas built on to boundary walls, and building over servitudes. “People also regularly build over manholes, drains and gulleys, and enclose balconies in apartment blocks without the requisite permissions,” she says. Affairs Board (EAAB) in recent Greyvenstein says purchasers also needed to watch out for sectional title units that had been extended, since approval was required from the body corporate as well as the municipality, and plans had to be registered with the surveyor general and the Deeds Office. In circumstances where plans were not available, Greyvenstein says, the parties would have to come to an agreement to have “as built” plans drafted and submitted in order for the transaction to proceed. However, the seller runs the risk of the purchaser wanting to pull out of the sale. “It will then be at the bank’s discretion as to whether to go ahead with financing or not, but it’s very likely that the bank will withdraw the financing,” she says. If the municipality was unable to approve “as built” plans, Greyvenstein says remedial action would be required, and the purchaser would have to be compensated with regard to the costs of relocating or replacing the offending structure. Greyvenstein says homeowners areresponsible for the safekeeping of their own plans. “It’s therefore in all property owners’ best interests to have municipal-approved plans, which will save time and pre-empt problems down the line when the time comes to sell,” she says. As a rough guide, Greyvenstein says the cost of approved plans for a basic three bedroom, two bathroom house is about R10 000, provided there were no restrictive title deed conditions.  “Compare this cost with that of a failed transaction, and that once a sale falls through, a property quickly gets a stigma attached to it, so the chances are it will sit on the shelf,” says Greyvenstein. “No matter which way you look at it, it makes sense to get approved plans now.”

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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.