Monday, September 23, 2013

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.

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