How To Build a House In South Africa - House Construction Guide
Initially, to build a house can be a complicated undertaking but very satisfying at the end. This process can be made simpler by following a tried and tested sequence from that first idea up until you move into your freshly painted new home.
First you will need to undertake numerous planning activities that will lay the basis of a hassle free construction process. Here is a typical planning schedule to help you achieve the desired goal:
Decision to Build
– Firstly, as a prospective homeowner, you must carefully evaluate your financial and lifestyle situation before venturing into the house construction process. Perhaps you may feel that your family is growing beyond the confines of the current home. Or in the case of a prospective first time homeowner, it could be a simple matter of needing shelter and a basic home to call your own.
Whatever the reason, you need to ensure that your final decision is also right for your pocket. To do this you will need to establish the general cost estimates of buying land and the prevailing cost of house construction. To accomplish this you may need to pay a visit to several offices of local estate agents who operates in the areas that you wish to build your dream home. Most estate agents will show you a list of vacant land properties that are up for sale.
This will give you a clear idea of the type and prices of various property options that are available in the market. Thereafter you will also have to talk to a few builders to determine the general house construction cost for the type of house you wish to build. Once you’ve obtained this information you can then begin to look carefully at all other factors to determine whether it is a viable and worthwhile proposition for you and your family.
Work out the finances
– Once you are satisfied that your finances are in order and that you will afford to build, you may now need to approach the banks to establish their general requirements and costs of financing your new venture. For a start, the banks will give you an indication on the requirements, process and costs involved in financing the construction of your new home.
Most banks will even give a pre-approval for an amount that you qualify for. At this stage you may also want to negotiate the interest rate to be charged on your building loan, most banks will consider lowering the interest rates depending on individual circumstances.
Buying land to build
For most people, buying land and house construction are possibly the largest investment that they’ll make in their lifetime. It is therefore essential that you do your homework properly when choosing a plot of land to build a house.
As indicated above, estate agents will assist you in this search. At this stage, you could also obtain preliminary services of an architect who will advise you on the feasibility and viability in relation to costs, technical and design potential of each plot. Once you have identified a suitable piece of land, the estate agent will then guide you in the process of securing and transferring the ownership of the land to you. .
Hiring an Architect or Draughtsman
Once the property has been transferred to you, you will now need to appoint an architect or draughtsman, who will be tasked with transforming your ideas and dreams for the new house onto a set of building plans that will be used to build your dream home. Remember that your bank will also require copies of the floor plans prior to approving your house construction loan.
Working with you architect to develop your construction drawings can be an exciting adventure. Your architect will assist you to ensure that the designs fit your requirements and your budget. He/she will also ensure that the house will suite your plot. At this stage you may also learn a few technical details about you designs, You will need to check a few details that may affect the long term comfort of your new home.
As a result you may want to know the following: Does the house fit within the site boundaries? Are the windows facing the correct direction of the sunlight? What are the statutory requirements that are applicable where my site is located? Visiting your local municipal offices may assist you and your architect in this regard.
Securing the Finance
– Before the loan can be approved, banks will subject an applicant to a rigorous process to scrutinize, amongst others, the credit worthiness of the applicant. Most banks will also attach stringent conditions to ensure that the house construction process delivers the planned buildings within the set specifications and costs.
For this, banks will go as far as to request that any prospective builder is registered with a national builder’s regulating institution such as the National Home Builder Registration Council (NHBRC). As part of the application to the bank, you will also need to submit your proposed house plans together with some few builder’s quotes so that your bank can evaluate the actual loan amount and to determine the risk profile on your loan. In addition to the requirements mentioned above, most bank will generally require the following items from you:
- A house construction loan application form
- Supporting documents such as:
- Your proof of address
- Your proof of Identity
- Your proof of income (for you and your spouse)
- Your current bank statements
The bank will then evaluate your application and either reject or approve it. If your application is approved, then construction work can now begin. But prior to that, you will first need to obtain approval of the building plan by the municipality.
Municipal Plan Submission and approval
Here are some typical requirements when submitting building plans/architectural designs to your local authority:
- A copy of your Title Deeds – obtainable from either your attorneys/conveyancers who handled the transfer of your property or the financial institution which has granted the mortgage bond over the property.
- Application Forms provided by the local authority, filled and signed by yourself and your architect.
- Where structural work such as concrete slabs or special foundations is contemplated, an appointment certificate completed and signed by a registered professional engineer.
- A fire installation drawing (normally for public or commercial buildings) – check with the fire department of your local authority.
- A copy of an approved Site Development Plan (SDP) - if applicable.
- A full set of house plans coloured and scaled according to the building code applicable to your local authority.
- A rational design proposal by a professional engineer for fire installations or specialized electrical and mechanical systems.
- Applicable building plan scrutiny fees. These can be charged at a rate per area of the dwelling or as a flat fee. NB. Building line fees can vary considerably from local authority to the next.
- An architectural compliance certificate/form signed by both yourself and the architect or draughtsman who prepared your house plans.
Appointing a Builder & Construction
– Appointing a reliable and experienced builder is vital to the success of any home building project. Where an architect is appointed, you will be safely guided by him along this process. The architect will first advise you on various types of contract agreements. Together with the contract agreement, the architect will also compile other documents (ie. Schedules, specification, etc) which will form part of the tender/bidding paperwork.
Builders will then submit their bids to the architect based on the bid documents provided by the architect. The architect will thereafter brief the homeowner on the bids received and advice thereof. Once a suitable builder has been identified the architect will co-ordinate the signing of the contract between yourselves and the builder. The builder will now have to get the ball rolling to initiate the construction works on site.
A Typical House Construction Schedule
- Apply for municipal service connections - water, electricity and sewerage.
- Site clearance – cut trees, level the ground, etc
- Site establishment - site huts, temporary toilets, site access, etc.
- Setting out – measuring and pegging the proposed building perimeter and prepare for foundation excavations.
- Foundation Excavations
- Inspections – by structural engineer and building inspector.
- Pour concrete in foundations
- Foundation wall – up to min. 200mm above natural ground level.
- Backfilling – compacting hardcore fill and ant treating under slab
- Damproofing under slab – damp proof course and membrane
- Electrical conduits - All the pvc tubes that will convey the electrical cables, etc.
- Surface Bed - Pouring floor concrete slab
- Superstructure Walls – building external and internal walls
- Roof trusses - A system of wooden planks that will carry the roof covering
- Inspections – structural engineer and building inspector
- Roof covering - Roof tiles, corrugated iron sheets, etc.
- Beamfilling – filling between walls and roof covering
- Plumbing - All the plumbing pipes
- Inspections – Municipal building inspector
- Electrical conduiting - The actual electrical cables, wall plugs, light switches, etc.
- Plastering - Cement plaster is applied to exposed brick walls
- Windows and doors
- Floor screed
- Kitchen cabinets
- Bathroom fixtures
- Electrical plugs and switches
- Boundary walls and fencing
- Completion and handover to new homeowner
- Move in