Table of Contents

1. Overview

The Dealing with Construction Permits indicator refers to the entire process for applying for building plan approvals and the conducting of building inspections up until the issuance of an occupancy certificate. South Africa does not use the term Permits but in our case, it simply refers to approvals of building plans and inspections.

For this indicator, the City of Johannesburg has been chosen to represent South Africa. Whilst there are other large cities such as Cape Town, Durban etc, Johannesburg has the highest economic activity and is therefore picked as the city to represent South Africa.

Therefore it is important for City of Joburg to ensure that they perform very well for this indicator – Dealing with Construction Permits.

In the World Bank Doing Business 2019 survey, South Africa ranks number 98 out of 190 countries. The survey measured number of procedures for applying for building plans, conducting inspections, water connections, and issuance of the occupancy certificate. It also measured the costs for each procedure, and the time taken. This measurement is done on an example building a warehouse in Joburg.

In the 2019 Doing Business survey South Africa had 20 procedures, costs were at 1.9% of the warehouse value, took 155 days for entire process and 12 out of 15 on the quality dimension.

Source: Doing Business Database

2. Business Procedures

To apply for plan approvals, conduct inspections and obtain an Occupancy Certificate at City of Joburg, these are the steps to be followed:

Procedures Where Cost Time Taken Resources
1. Submit Site Development Plan Land Use Management - 158 Civic Boulevard Braamfontein. 7th floor R973 (Open Link) 10 Days for a commercial SDP and for any other SDP, it is 28 days. Land Use Management Scheme (Open Link)
2. Submit Building Plan Metro Link – 158 Civic Boulevard, Braamfontein Based on tariff schedule per square metre. 5 days for a Commercial property and within 10 days for a non-commercial property. Submission Form and Checklist (Open link)
3. Notify Department of Labour for commencement Notify 7 days in advance for a building No Charge  1 Day
4. Department of Labour may or may not conduct an inspection dependent on their availability Michael Msiza No Charge  1 Day
5. Notify Building Control of Commencement Contact Building Inspector as per approval letter No Charge  1 Day
6. Apply for a water and sewer connection As per Tariff Schedule  1 Day (Open Link)
7. Conduct inspection for water (not done all the time) May or may not happen No charge  1 Day
8. Provide water connection No Charge Up to 10  days
9. Conduct Open Drain Inspection Contact Building Inspector as per approval letter No Charge  1 Day
10. Conduct Fire Inspection Contact Building Inspector as per approval letter No Charge  1 Day
11. Submit Notice of Completion to Building Control Contact Building Inspector as per approval letter No Charge  1 Day
12. Conduct Final Inspection Contact Building Inspector as per approval letter No Charge  1 Day
13. Issue Occupancy Certificate Chief Building Inspector issues it No Charge  4 Days
These business procedures will be changed when City of Joburg launches their new construction permitting system which will be piloted in October 2020.

3. Methodology

The World Bank Dealing with Construction Permits survey uses a standardised case study. The case study makes reference to a Warehouse that needs to be built in Johannesburg [Linbrow Park, Industria, Wynberg, Jet Park, Kya Sands, Modderfontein, Fordsburg, Strydom Park].

Since we don’t only build Warehouses in City of Joburg, the questionnaire can be answered based on a Commercial development.

The details of the full methodology can be found here.


A procedure is any interaction of BuildCo’s employees or managers with external parties, including government agencies, notaries, the land registry, the cadastre, utility companies, public and private inspectors, and technical experts apart from in-house architects and engineers. Procedures that can take place at the same time as another procedure are marked with an asterisk (*).

Time is measured in calendar days (not working days). For a procedure that can be completed entirely online, the minimum time is 0.5 days. For a procedure that cannot be completed entirely online, the minimum time is 1 day.

Costs include only official fees. Nonrecurring taxes that are necessary for the completion of the specific project are recorded. Bribes are excluded. Refundable deposits are excluded.

3.1 Case Study Assumptions

“The Dealing with Construction Permits indicator records all procedures that are required for a business in the construction industry to build a standardized warehouse. These procedures include submitting all relevant project-specific documents to the authorities; obtaining all necessary clearances, licenses, permits and certificates; completing all required notifications; and receiving all necessary inspections. The indicator also records procedures for obtaining connections for water and sewerage, as well as measures the quality of building regulation and its implementation in the Building Quality Control Index.”

Source: World Bank Dealing with Construction Permits Questionnaire

3.2 Reforms versus a Correction

Term Definition
Reform Referring to a change in practice or law that occurred between May of the previous year and April of the current year.
Correction Meaning that the unified answer was erroneous in previous year(s) and did not reflect the reality in your economy.

3.3 Questionnaire

The questionnaire for Dealing with Construction Permits can be found here.

4. Reforms for 2020/2021

City of Joburg will be making four reforms for the year 2020/2021. These reforms are transformational and COJ will be implementing a system to ensure that they reduce procedures and cost, thereby making it easier to do business. The Reform Action Plan is signed of by the Executive Director: Development Planning and the City Manager. The Building Control Officer has been tasked to chair the Programme Steering Committee.

Reform 1: Reduce procedures and time

The first reform is to ensure that City of Joburg optimises its entire process before it is put into a system. The process optimisation will result in just 8 procedures or steps and the entire process will take between 25 to 35 days for Commercial property developments, irrespective of the size (greater than 500 or less than 500 square metres).

The system will automatically circulate site development plans and building plans to the Municipal Owned Entities (MOEs) for comments. These MOEs will have to comment within 48 hours.

Procedure Service Level (turnaround times)
Municipal Owned Entities comments
(e.g. Fire Department, Joburg Water, etc)
48 hours
Site Development Plans approval 10 working days
Building Plan approvals/refusals 5 working days
Combined Final Inspection with Fire Department, Building Control, and Issuance of Occupancy Certificate Within 24 hours
Final Water Connection 5 to 10 working days


The system will cater for a single screen to notify the different authorities for Commencement and also the application for Water Connection.

Reform Action 2: Implement a risk-based approach for Building Inspections

City of Joburg (through the National Technical Working Group) will be implementing a risk based approach for building inspections with the SABS (South African Bureau of Standards) and NRCS (National Regulator of Compulsory Standards) into the SANS10400 building standards.

With this reform, Registered Professionals will be able to conduct their inspections based on their design and issue a Certificate of Compliance. The Building Inspectors from City of Joburg will therefore not need to conduct such an inspection when a Certificate of Compliance is issued. This reform will remove building inspections such as the Open Trench and Open Drain inspection, where applicable.

This would result in one to two procedures being removed from the Dealing with Construction Permits process.

Reform Action 3: Implement a Construction Permit Management System

The IFC (International Finance Corporation), World Bank Group has provided City of Joburg with a World Class Construction Permit Management System. The system makes use of open source and the source code will be provided to City of Joburg.

City of Joburg has employed a local IT Service Provider, Red Circle, to configure and implement the system. City of Joburg has fully specified their requirements and Red Circle will also be integrating the system to the Land Information System (LIS), Geographic Information System (GIS) and Finance systems for payment.

Architects will soon be submitting their plans online and the system will also check if the Architect is in good standing with SACAP.

The building plans will also be assessed online. Building Inspectors will be issued with a tablet (mobile device) to view plans and also take pictures of the inspections to be conducted. This will be uploaded onto the system.

The system will be piloted in October 2020.

Reform Action 4: Implement a Change Management Plan

In order to ensure that City of Joburg has a smooth transition to use the system, a change management plan will be developed and implemented.

City of Joburg has also updated its formal communications plan to ensure that all its stakeholders are aware of the changes that will be coming.

Since City of Joburg was largely non-automated, it had lots of manual processes driven by people. It will now be automated and system driven.

5. Laws

Below is a table of the acts: 

Act Link
Act No. 103 of 1977: National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act Open Link
Amended National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act Open Link
City of Joburg Land Use Management Scheme Open Link

6. Technical Working Group

A Dealing with Construction Permits National Technical Working Group has been constituted comprising of representatives of DTIC, InvestSA, SABS, SACAP, IFC/WBG, NRCS, PIRB, Major Metro Representatives (eThekwini, Joburg , Cape Town).

The purpose of the Technical Working Group is to facilitate discussions on the reforms for City of Joburg and nationally.

To this end, the City of Joburg, eThekwini and Cape Town has shared their reforms and each City is making significant strides.

7. Useful Links

8. Performance Statistics

9. Contact

Broderick Chiloane​

Building Control Officer City of Joburg​