Frequently Asked Questions
 

How do I select the best piece of land?

 

How to choose your Architect?

 

What is the process for the design of a new home?

 

What are Town Planning Regulations?

 

What is Coverage?

 

What is FAR?

 

Selecting an Estate

 

What are the new SANS regulations?

 

What additional costs can I expect when building a new home?

 

What is the NHBRC?

 

 

How do I select the best piece of land?

 

Once you have decided where you would like to live, be it an Estate, a suburb or even a farm, you will need to narrow down your choice to the exact piece of land.  This decision is a very careful balancing act of

  • Financial considerations,

  • View,

  • Prevailing wind direction,

  • Slope,

  • Soil conditions,

  • Your requirements,

  • Property location,

  • Access,

  • Pet policy,

  • Existing vegetation,

  • Land size,

  • Town Planning regulations and

  • Neighbour’s impact.  

It is important to remember that the site with the lowest price tag, will not always be the most cost effective one to build your dream house on.  
Before you sign of the dotted line get your Architect involved for a site evaluation.  We would love to help you decide which piece of ground deserves your dream home!

 
 

How to choose your Architect?

Speak to your friends, family and colleagues, as they should be able to give you an unbiased opinion of a person they have worked with.  Most of the Estates have a list of Architects that are allowed to design there.  You can also drive past houses under construction and note the details of the Architects of the homes that you admire.  Once you have a list of potential Architects, it is advisable to contact at least three of them to arrange interviews.  Please check for a consultation fee, as some Architects may charge for this initial meeting.  Before the meeting, it is advisable to review their portfolio via email or online.  Be aware that there are a few categories of registration, ranging from Architectural Draughtsperson, Architectural Technologist, Senior Architectural Technologist to Architect and only those with a Professional registration are able to submit plans.  Candidates are not permitted to do so.  Make sure that you are comparing apples with apples and note that, frequently only Architects are allowed to practice in Estates.  During your interview with the Architect discuss what you have in mind for your project – the style, the accommodation and your budget.  Ask how much involvement the person you are meeting will have with your project, as frequently projects are passed on in the office to junior staff.  Architects can offer different levels of service and you to decide what works for you.  Request a quote, to make sure that you can afford the service.  It is of the utmost importance to be able to communicate with your Architect effectively, to make sure that you get the home that best suits you.
 

What is the process for the design of a new home?

So you have made the big decision that you are ready to build your new home and have purchased the land – CONGRATULATIONS!  
The following points are a guideline of the design timeline:
Obtain a land survey – 2 weeks,
Once the survey is received work on concept plans – 2 weeks,
Re-work plans if needed - time varies according to changes,
Produce initial design with elevations and sections – 2/3 weeks,
Re-work plans if needed – time varies according to changes,
Submit the initial design (though reasonably final would be preferable at this point) to the Estate – the Estate’s all meet at difference times of the month, though generally they meet once a month,
Prepare council drawings with necessary tweaks for the next Estate submission,
Produce the SANS calculations and electrical layout.  Adapt the design as required – 1 week,
Once the Estate has approved the final plans, Engineer quotes will be obtained,
Plans are now submitted to the Municipality (this takes about 12–16 weeks for full approval),
While plans are at council, the specifications are prepared – 1 week,
The project is now ready for tender
Overall, it takes approximately 6 months before construction can commence.

 
 

What are Town Planning Regulations?

These conventions stipulate the usage, maximum coverage, allowable FAR, height and storey restrictions for a property.  These regulations vary from area to area and, thus need to be ascertained before design commences.
 

 

What is Coverage?

Coverage is the footprint of your building in relation to the property.  For example, if your ground floor is 200m2, your second floor is directly above it and also 200m2 with your site being 1 000m2.  The coverage is calculated as 200m2 / 1 000m2 = 20%.  Coverage is always is expressed a percentage.

 

What is FAR?

Floor Area Ratio is the allowed habitable space for a property.  When calculating this ratio, the habitable space is divided by the site size.  Non-habitable space such as covered patios, garages and store rooms are excluded.  For example, if your ground floor is 200m2, with a 40m2 garage and a 60m2 covered patio and your second floor is 200m2 with a 10m2 store room on a 1 000m2 site.  The FAR is calculated as ((200m2 – 40m2 – 60m2) + (200m2 – 10m2)) / 1 000m2 = 0.29.

 

Selecting an Estate

This is a very personal decision, I suggest visiting the various Estate to see what lifestyle suits you.  The Natal North Coast has a range of wonderful gated communities to choose from.  When visiting here are some things to look out for:

  • Facilities

  • Building Style

  • Upkeep of Estate

  • Other residents

  • Location

  • Levy

  • Pricing

  • Pet Policy

  • Renting Regulations

 

What are the new SANS regulations?

SANS 10400-XA regulates the minimum standards required in terms of energy efficiency in new buildings.  This legislation covers everything from building orientation to glazing to hot water supply to building envelope requirements and energy usage.  The exact requirements differ around the country.  South Africa has been divided into 6 zones and the KwaZulu Natal North Coast falls under Climatic Zone 5.
The regulations limit the amount of glazing allowed in a building relation to its size, each window and door’s orientation, their individual shading and type of glass.  Glazing orientated north and south are favoured over those facing east and west.  
The standards also require 50% of the building’s hot water supply needs to be obtained through means other than electrical resistance heating, meaning generally either solar geysers or heat pumps will need to be installed.    
All exposed hot water pipes and geysers need to be insulated.
R-value refers to a material’s thermal insulation capacity.  SANS 10400-XA specifies minimum R-values for all walls, roofs and floors according the building’s Climatic Zone.
The upside of these regulations is that although initial construction costs will be higher, the energy saving in the long run will be substantial, considering South Africa’s rising energy costs.

 

What additional costs can I expect when building a new home?

When working out the feasibility of a new home, remember to allow for the following:

  • Estate submission,

  • Council submission,

  • Land surveyor,

  • Architect,

  • Engineer,

  • Quantity surveyor,

  • Landscape Architect,

  • Garden,

  • SANS calculations,

  • NHBRC,

  • Disbursements,

  • Water, Internet and Telephone connections,

  • Electrical connection, varies considerably between single and 3 phase electricity,

  • Allow for water and electricity during building and

  • Construction costs.

 

What is the NHBRC?

The National Home Builders Registration Council is a body which all new homes need to be registered with 15 days before construction commences.  
This council protects the homeowner by providing a:

  • 5 year warranty against major structural defects,  

  • 12 month’s roof warranty and  

  • 90 day defects liability warranty.

Only new homes need to be registered with the NHBRC, not alterations or additions.

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