Building Plan Approval Fees and Town Planning Costs in South Africa

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Are you planning to build a residential, commercial, industrial or educational facility in South Africa? Just like in any construction project around the world, building costs will include town planning fees charged by the municipality. Before you commence building a new house, extension , addition or making alterations to your existing dwelling on your residential plot or erven, you have to apply for an approval from the municipality in your city or town. The type of application fees you pay depends on the type of applications required by your project. As an example, if you want to build a casino, night club or liquor store on erven meant for middle class residential development only, you do not just need to apply for building plan approval, but you also need to apply for property rezoning. Thus, you will be required to pay fees for both rezoning and building approval separately. In this case if your rezoning application is rejected, you can’t proceed with building on the said property.

The reverse scenario is also possible. If you intend to build a residential facility (house, flat, apartment, lodge etc.) on property meant for commercial, entertainment, educational or industrial use, you have to submit a rezoning application first. There are many other types of applications that you have to make before you reach the building plan submission stage. These fall under town planning applications. Basically, if you want to make changes, modify, remove restrictions and relax certain portions of existing town planning regulations and schemes applying to a specific zone or area, you have to submit an application for consideration and pay the applicable fees prior to submitting a construction plan application.

Types of Town Planning Applications in South Africa :

The following are types of town planning applications that home owners, property developers, builders, architects, investors or any citizen may make in South Africa:

Rezoning Application Fees

Zoning regulations control the type of developments that can be made within a specific area in the city, town or district. In other words, no developments shall be made in a specific zone if they are not in line with the designated purpose of the land as defined in the land use scheme governing that area. A prospective property owner who intends to construct a building or structure that is  exempt from the land use scheme and regulations has to apply for a special waiver or exclusive rights known as a rezoning application. A rezoning approval for your proposed construction project doesn’t mean the zone is now open for building developments that were previously disallowed or restricted. It simply means the zoning of your property has changed. The area or suburb in which your property is located is still under the same original zone. When your rezoning application is approved and the property is built, and in case you want to add more developments, you will be required to submit individual applications for these additional developments. These additional developments are approved under a different license which is not rezoning.

Rezoning Application Fees – South Africa
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Rezoning Application Fees in South Africa – Graph

Consent Use Application Fees

The difference between a rezoning application and consent use application is that additional developments can be made on your property without rezoning your property. The owner has to get the consent of the municipality in order to build new additions. The applicable fees are not affected by zoning or size of property. An example of a scenario where you would make use of this application is when you want to build a guest house or kindergarten nursery on your residential plot.

Consent Use Application Fees_South Africa

Title Deeds Restrictive Conditions Removal Application Fees

Title deeds pertaining to a property set the conditions about the building requirements and its range of restricted possible uses. Title deeds control factors like maximum building height, basements, parking space, swimming pool and so on. If your building or renovation proposal requires one or more restrictive conditions to be removed, then you have to apply for the removal of these conditions on your Title Deed. The applicable fees are not affected by zoning or size of property.

Removal of Title Deed Restrictive Conditions Application Fees_South Africa

Relaxation of Building Line Application Fees

When marking the boundaries for plots and stands, the land surveyors from the Municipality will produce a boundary map of your plot, as well as the roads and site drainage / water supply systems servicing that land. They do have these maps in their archive. However, you cannot build a permanent building or structure anywhere on your plot. To find out where you are supposed to build, measure the minimum distance allowed by the Municipality from the plot boundary to the interior. Municipality regulations may prescribe say 2, 3, and 5 metres respectively from the side, back and front elevations of the plot. You have to find out from your municipality about these requirements, and anyway your building plans will be checked for compliance with these codes. The area occupied by the building should be within the interior boundaries. If you need to build outside the interior boundary, you have to apply for this special requirement which is called an Application for Building Line Relaxation. Any additional proposed developments outside the interior boundary will need a new and separate application each time. The picture below (Fig. 1) shows the positions of the plot boundary and the interior building boundary.

Building Line Boundaries and Plot Map
Relaxation of Building Line Application Fees_South Africa

Subdivision Application Fees

Both large and small plots of land can be sub-divided into smaller units of land.  When a property is sub-divided, the new unit of land will have its own Title Deed separate from the parent property. To find out if your land can be sub-divided, get the help of a land surveyor to do a site survey. From the site survey, information about the size of the land, vacant space, access to main roads, location of the existing main house or building with respect to the site can be obtained. There are minimum requirements for sub-division and therefore whether your application is approved or not depends on factors that have already been mentioned above. In addition, local zoning regulations and title deed restrictions will determine the outcome of your application.

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There are many reasons why a property owner would like to sub-divide their land.  The new unit of land can be leased, sold or developed into an accommodation that can be rented to generate income.

Land Sub-Division Application Fees_South Africa

Consolidation Application Fees

If you own more than one pieces of land or properties that are adjacent to each other, you can submit an application to the municipality or provincial government, whichever is applicable in your region, to consolidate the properties into one piece of land. Properties situated in low density areas and outside the CBD are more favourable for consolidation than those in high density areas and CBD. Once again, zoning laws will determine the outcome of your application.

A good example of a case where one might want to consolidate their properties or plots is when they are undertaking a big investment project that takes up more space like converting small pieces of land into a single site for building a shopping mall, office park, tourist resort, school, college or apartment block. Horizontal expansion will require more properties along the street to be consolidated than vertical expansion.

Consolidation (Merging of Land and Plots) Application Fees_South Africa

Township Establishment Application Fees

Large tracts of land in rural areas, farming and agricultural zones can be sub-divided into smaller units of land for development purposes. The sub-divided portions of land are zoned and registered with their own title deeds. It is important to consult and work with a local town planner if you want to apply for township establishment. The conditions for township establishment are set out by the jurisdictions in which they fall. Sub-divisions for property outside the city in rural areas and farmland will require you to jump a few more hurdles since you have to apply not only with the local authority but with other stakeholders and statutory bodies such as the environmental authorities. Basically, your application will undergo a feasibility assessment by representatives from various departments and the community, and this can take a long time.

Sub-Division of Large Land (Township Establishment) Application Fees_South Africa

Building Plan Submission Fees :

The erection of buildings in South Africa is governed by the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act No. 103 of 1977.

National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act No 103 of 1977 – South Africa
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Total floor area is the main factor that will determine the amount you pay to submit your building plans for approval at the municipality. Open outdoor structures such as carports, patios, braai areas, gazebos and pergolas are not included in the gross floor area unless they are enclosed to create floor space.

Unless your building plans are approved by the authorities at the municipality, you cannot start building or making alterations and additions to existing property on the site. Building drawings and specifications are checked and evaluated by building control officers working on behalf of the municipality. They will also carry out inspections of the site during the construction stage, and prepare reports with regards to compliance issues found on the site.

There are several things that are evaluated for building code compliance, but the main ones are:

  1. Will the erection of the building physically affect the surrounding environment, structures, services and adjacent built-up areas in a damaging way?
  2. Will the building complement other buildings in the surrounding neighbourhood?
  3. Will the value of the building be in the range of the market value of existing buildings in the area or will it reduce the market value of the area?
  4. Does the building pose a hazard in the community?

The notice of approval or rejection is usually given within 60 days from the date of application. In case the drawings are approved, the plan will have 12 months validity, after which you can apply for an extension of validity if you have not started building within 12 months.

Where To Get Architectural Drawings?

The provisions in the Building Act allows draughtsmen, architectural technicians as well as registered architects, architectural technologists, structural engineers, etc to prepare Drawings with their credentials affixed to the plans.

Building Plan Submission Fees in Various Municipalities of South Africa :

The fee analysis of municipality building plan approval costs shown below was prepared by SAPOA (South African Property Owners Association) [ Last Updated 2016]. Download the report.

Medium Density House Residential – Building Plan Submission Fees -South Africa
Commercial Office Development – Building Plan Submission Fees – South-Africa
Commercial Retail Centre – Building Plan Submission Fees – South-Africa
Industrial Factory – Building Plan Submission Fees – South-Africa

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