who has to submit building plans?

The short answer is everyone. It is a legal requirement that any new building and any alteration that adds on to or changes the structure of an existing building must go to the City's (Planning) Development Management Department for approval.  Approval must be given by the City Council before work can commence on site. If you paint, redecorate or re-plaster, you don't need permission because you haven't moved any walls or altered the drainage system. However, if you make a change to the structure, such as adding a carport or even moving the front door position, you require permission to do so. When you submit a building plan for approval it is essential that you make sure that you have complied with the zoning regulations of the Town Planning Scheme.

why is building plan approval important?

1. Stop Orders from the JHB City Council:

If you've chosen to build without having the plans approved, a building inspector is entitled to enter your property and order construction to stop immediately.

He could obtain a court order for the structure to be demolished, at your expense, and you would be liable for legal costs. In serious cases, you could be fined or sent to prison.

2. Hand-over of Approved Plans on sale of the House:

Transgressions may come back to haunt you in later years when you want to sell yuor home, and the purchasers insist on getting the approved plans.  This is fast becoming the norm in real estate transactions

3. Insurance Implications:

Illegal building work may negatively affect any future insurance claims where insurers may not pay out claims if a structure is found to be illegally erected.

4. Community Harmony:

It is important for the sake of community harmony, to ensure that no structures are erected that negatively affect the neighbours or surroundings. One of the main reasons our suburbs are sought after and valuable is the character of the area. It is in the interest of all the residents to safeguard this precious resource.

heritage applications

Heritage Applications are required for any structure older than 60 years as these are automatically a protected heritage resource which may not be altered without prior permission of the Provincial Heritage Resource Agency Gauteng (PHRAG).  Norwood, Orchards, The Gardens and Oaklands are recognised heritage suburbs and all submissions will require proof of when your house was built.  Should you not be able to find such proof, or should the house be older than 60 years, you will need to prepare a submission to PHRAG motivating the changes you wish to make.  


It is a requirement of the Act that the local residents' association, NORA, needs to sign off this submission.  This may sound like a daunting and bureaucratic process but the intention is a good one that strives to protect special buildings and the character of the neighbourhood. To assist and ease this process, NORA is a member of the Joint Plans Committee of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation, and has a team of town planners, architects and heritage specialists to call on in making the assessment. NORA will advise and streamline this process as much as is possible. 

important documents

PHRAG Checklist
Heritage application checklist
PHRAG Check List.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 31.0 KB
PHRAG Application
Application to be completed for changes to structures older than 60 years
PHRAG Application Form.docx
Microsoft Word Document 37.0 KB
Illegal Building Complaint Template
How to report illegal building
Illegal Building Complaint Template.docx
Microsoft Word Document 12.4 KB