Monday, September 23, 2013

City of Cape Town - boundary walls policy

The City of Cape Town has a policy restricting what you can do with new boundary walls at your home.

For side and rear boundaries, walls are limited to 2.1m high.

For street facing boundaries, the maximum height is 1.8m.

In addition, the City does not allow full height solid walls along the full length of street facing boundaries. At minimum 40% of the length of the street frontage must be " visually permeable"
This means either not walled or walled with something which is see through, gates or palisade fencing. If your driveway was open to the street or had a steel gate you could see through for instance, then this would count towards the 40% requirement.

It may be possible with a good motivation to appeal for a departure to allow a variation to this policy, but like everything that requires specific permissions, there is no guarantee of approval.

The Role of the Building Inspector


This may seem like skipping to the end before you read the first chapter, but the building inspectors are a vital cog in the building plan process.

A plan once approved is valid for a start within 12 months of date of approval, after which it expires and would need to be re submitted.  The only way that council knows that work has started, is if you call the building inspector. If this isn’t done, council will assume you haven’t started. In 12 months your plan expires, and hey presto the work which is complete is all of a sudden unauthorised.

Make sure your builder, pool contractor, thatched lapa or patio roof guy – contacts the building inspector  – often they don’t!  If you decide to build a brick braai in the garden over a weekend, you need a plan approved  and the BI involved.

If your contractor tells you this isn’t necessary, call council and check for yourself.

I talked to a client recently who wanted a roof over her patio, and the contractor was telling her he could start before the plan was approved. In her particular case, the structure would extend to a side boundary and require approval of a departure from the zoning scheme, and consent of neighbours. She also is in an area where plans have to be approved by the original developer, and they have very definite rules and requirements about the type of roof cover that could be built. A patio roof cover supported on an aluminium or steel structure has to be specified by an engineer, and this is required before plan approval. Support posts have to be centrally cast in foundations, and even the foundation below ground is not allowed to extend over a boundary.  Lots of things to be sure of before the building can start !

The building inspector should inspect at the trench and foundation stage. He will look to see that the setting out is correct, ie that it is being built as shown on the approved plan, and isn’t extending over any boundaries. He will want to see the foundations once the concrete is poured. He may call randomly during the building period to check progress. The final stage is to call him when the work is complete. He will check to see that it has been built as per the approved plan, and if all is okay he will issue an “ occupancy certificate” and close the file.

The building inspectors, certainly in the Blaauwberg region are practical and friendly individuals, and they are there to protect you. They will be looking to see that normal building practices are being applied,, and if used correctly can prevent a lot of future frustration.

Energy efficiency, the new National Building Regulations

Part Xa to the National Building Regulations Sans 10 400
These new regulations became a requirement from November 2011.  They have been a "must do " requirement since May 2012.


These deal with :

1.    How we use energy to heat water

2.    How heat is lost and gained through roofs

3.    How we use energy for lighting

4.    How heat is lost and gained through glazing, ie windows and glazed doors.


1.    How we use energy to heat water,

The new regulations require that a maximum of half of the energy used to heat water can be electrical, the balance must be by an alternative source – solar geysers, heat pumps, gas.

Hotwater cylinders and hot water pipes must be insulated with a geyser blanket to a certain minimum requirement. Hot water cylinders should be positioned to minimize the length of the hot water pipes.

2.    How heat is gained and lost through roofs

Roofs are required to be insulated to meet a minimum requirement. The simplest method is to provide a 135mm blanket of cellulose fibre type insulation ( isotherm / aerolite type) but a combination of cisalation, fibre blankets, thicker insulating ceilings can be specified.

3.    How we use energy for lighting.

The maximum electrical energy useage for lighting in the home is limited to 5W per m2 of interior floor area. This effectively means that lighting should be a combination of CFL, LED or fluorescent lights. The old 60w globes, or multiple 50w halogen downlighters are unlikely to comply. Generally a combination of up to 15w cfl globes  and 6w led downlighters will comply.

4.    How heat is lost and gained through glazed elements.

Glass is a lousy insulator, and is now required to meet strict criteria in two ways - conductance of heat through glass, and solar heat gain through glass.

Conductance is simple, how we use energy to keep our homes warm when it is cold outside and cool when it is hot outside. The calculation is a function of the area of glazing in m2’s and the interior floor area of the space in m2’s, calculated separately per storey.

Solar heat gain deals with the magnification effect of direct sunlight through glass, and this can vary depending on whether the glazed element is facing north south east or west. West for instance is the worst from this point of view.

The area of glass is therefore limited to ensure it complies with the new requirements.

Elements which can help are :

Type of glass – single glazing, double glazing, tinted glass, specially treated glass, shading overhangs in front of the glass. Type of window frame makes a difference. For instance wooden and Upvc window frames are better insulators than aluminiium or steel.


These new requirements are now the law, and we as architectural professionals cannot get a plan approved without showing on the plan how the new work complies. We are also required to inspect the work during construction and on completion to ensure that what was actually built does comply.


These reg’s are similar to buying a hybrid version of a standard car.  Unfortunately being good and green is expensive L


David Holliday is on the national panel of qualified persons to take responsibility for these new requirements

Sunday, September 15, 2013

City of Cape Town, New Integrated Zoning Scheme

City of Cape Town

New Integrated Zoning Scheme

Effective 01 March 2013




When the City of Cape Town, the Metro structure, came about it was an amalgamation of all of the individual Municipalities in the area. Each of these municipalities had it’s own zoning scheme – rules and regulations which governed building development in their area. Milnerton had several schemes under its wing. Milnerton, Table View, Bloubergstrand, etc. So the City has since its incorporation been administering nearly 30 different schemes which has been a logistical nightmare.


They have therefore been working on creating an “ Integrated Zoning Scheme” the IZS, which puts in place a single set of rules for the entire city area, ( with some exceptions).


This new scheme came into effect 01 March 2013 and all new work proposed must now comply with these new rules.


The scheme itself is quite complex and deals with multiple land uses, overlay zones etc, but this summary will deal with the regulations for residential, and those parts which most affect the typical home owner. For full details of all of the requirements and the other land use categories ( Industrial / commercial / agricultural etc) you can check with the Land Use Management Section of the City.


The rules deal primarily with, use of land, maximum built area on a plot, heights and building lines.


Use of land.

There are 2 main types of residential land, single residential and general residential. Single residential ( SR1) allows for 1 residence on a plot, and general residential allows for multiple dwellings on a single plot, ie group housing in it’s many forms.


Single residential has as it’s primary use a dwelling house, but can also allow for instance, bed and breakfast use subject to some conditions.


There are a few additional uses called consent use which would require special consent including neighbours. These include a second dwelling, ( granny flat or 2 family dwelling) educational of worship use, guest house etc.


There is an SR2 zoning but this deals mostly with informal / low cost housing. Generally this is much less restrictive.


General residential has 6 subzones Gr1, GR2 etc. Basically it could allow for group housing or sectional title, flats or houses and there are less additional or conditional uses allowed.


Maximum built area.

There used to be a factor called coverage which generally said you shouldn’t build over more than 50% of the area of your plot, although this may have been more in higher density areas.

There is now no coverage factor in the new scheme, but the maximum built area is now given as a maximum bulk size, ie total m2’s. For plots of over 650 m2 this is 1500m2, obviously assumes at least double storey. For plots of less than 650 m2, there is no maximum factor but the building lines will control the maximum allowed.


Maximum height limits have now increased.

For plots of greater than 650 m2 this is now 9.0m high to eaves height and 11.0m to the top of the roof.

In plots of less than 650 m2 this is 8.0m & 10.0m respectively.


General residential max height varies with the sub zone as obviously this category can allow for big blocks of flats.


Building lines

Good news and bad news.


A building line is an imaginary line, inset from the boundaries over which you shouldn’t build.


Typically on a single residential plot these used to be 1.5m side and rear and 4.5 to the street

Building lines have all changed, and again are dependent on plot size.

The new scheme does not differentiate between side and rear boundaries, it refers to these as “ common boundaries” ie not street facing and common to an adjacent property.


Greater than 2000m2 has a building line of 6.0m to street and common boundaries.


Between 1000 – 2000m2 the building line to the street is 4.5m and to common boundaries is 3.0m.


Between 650 – 1000 m2, street setback is 3.5m and common boundaries 3.0m


Less than 650 gets a little complicated.


Street building lines are 3.5m, that’s easy.

Common boundary building lines :

The 1st 12m along the boundary has a zero building line ( can build to boundary)

60% of the remainder of the common boundary is also a zero building line.

The remaining 40 % has a 3.0m restriction.


For a plot of less than 200m2 the street building line comes down to 1.0m.


There are a few exceptions. Garages for instance can be built on a common boundary.

For plots of less than 650 they can be built to within and up to 1.5m from the street boundary. In both cases as long as the structure is not more than 3.5m high and not wider than 6.5m, a double garage fa├žade.

If your plot is greater than 650m2 there is a 5.0m minimum setback from the street boundary.


Remember a street boundary is not the kerb, the boundary is set back from the kerb, and the space between is the street verge – not your property, belongs to the municipality.


Regarding building lines, it used to be the case that if you applied for a departure from the zoning reg’s and got neighbour consent you would be allowed to build over the building lines. Since the new scheme, and because there is now no coverage factor the City will apply the building line restrictions much more strictly. They will generally not approve building line departures unless there is absolutely no alternative, there is a genuine need, and a rock solid motivation. This is probably the major change in the application of these new rules.


I mentioned earlier there were some exceptions. Some areas, Parklands and parts of Sunningdale are good examples, were approved with development guidelines, and these are part of the conditions of approval of the subdivision of that land for individual use. Where there are conditions included that conflict with the zoning scheme such as building lines or coverage factors, probably maxiumum heights as well, these conditions of approval supercede the zoning scheme. So Parklands building lines for instance remain the same.


Last thing. Some of the older properties in the area, have building conditions, building lines, coverage, second dwelling restrictions entrenched in the title deed. This is a binding legal document and the City of Cape Town does not have the authority to over ride this. Where this applies, special consent from Provincial Administration may be required.


There’s a bunch of other stuff in the scheme, dealing with industrial / commercial / Agricultural etc land use, and a myriad of either allowed uses or allowed with consent uses, as well as overlay zones. But I am dealing here with what affects my work directly, and the common things that apply to the man in the street and his house!


Dave H Sept 2013

Dave H new blog

I am an Archi - Tech - all architectural professionals are registered in various categories with the governing body, and I am registered as a Professional Architectural Technologist - one of the practical guys !

I run a small practice working for individual homeowners and would be home owners. 75 % of my business is renovations and additions to existing houses, but I do enjoy creating new individual homes to the owners requirements.

I have been doing this since 1995, having previously worked for property developers.

My practice is based in Table View, Western Cape, and I specialise in the areas within the city of Cape Town covered by the Milnerton and Parow offices

There's a bunch of interesting information centred around the practicalities of getting plans approved in the City of Cape Town, National Building regulations etc.

New post to follow, chat soon