Doing Business

National Building checklists introduce greater efficiency for construction permits


Authors: Letta Kaseke & Bharti Daya

As part of government’s commitment to have more efficient, accountable and transparent processes, a National Building Standards Checklist was established to support a critical and vital sector of the economy.

Through an extensive consultative process with stakeholders, the checklist is aligned to international best practice and National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977. The Act states the responsibilities of the Building Control Officer, local authorities and officials in the Construction Permitting system is to ensure compliance and quality control. Embedded in the Act is the SANS10400, which entails detailed building regulations, which need to be adhered to for the safety of occupants. Therefore, the Act and Standards are woven into the Checklist as a means to ensure compliance from both the Professional Body affiliated-applicant and the legislated local authority responsible for the issuance of Construction Permits.

In order to prevent unnecessary delays and costs for the Building professional making the submission, a Pre-scrutiny Checklist and Plans Examination Checklist has been introduced as part of the Building Plans examination process. The Pre-scrutiny checklist increases transparency of information providing professionals with list of documentation required upfront to prevent delays and decrease the rejection rate for applications. It also allows the Professional an opportunity to revert if their application is not up to standard, by so doing it avoids the resultant delays from the acceptance of poor quality submissions by the local authority. An extra measure, to increase compliance and quality submissions is the MOU signed between local authorities and SACAP. This in turn enables the local authority a direct facility to report SACAP members who submit poor quality submissions repetitively.

The aim of the checklist is to create seamless government processes and to foster greater accountability in the built environment landscape. The checklist is a tool that enables examiners in the built environment to scrutinize incomplete, sub-standard or incorrect submissions objectively.

Before the introduction of checklists, the lead-time for decisions (approvals or refusals) on commercial property building plans was circa 30 days, since the introduction of Checklists coupled with the new web-based permitting system the turnaround time has been reduced to 15 days (assuming the application has all required documentation).

The Pre-Scrutiny Checklist ensures that the submission complies with the SANS 10400 regulations as well as the basic components of a complete submission.

Key components of the Pre-Scrutiny Checklist include:

  • Details about the property: Form of ownership, Title Deed details
  • Compliance regarding the drawings (all new work to be coloured, Servitudes and Building lines to be detailed, details of drainage, description of glazing, frame type and ironmongery
  • SACAP Registration form
  • Attachment of Zoning and SG Diagrams
  • Attachment of any other supporting documents such as previously approved plans, scanned PDF plans, full floor-plans etc.

The Checklist for Plans Examination detail the technical requirements for the Building plan submission in accordance to the Building Standards (Copy of the Checklist for Plans Examination). The Checklist assists officials in the Building control office to better scrutinize plans as part of their Standard Operating Procedures. A move and approved only if they are in line with South African building standards.

These application of these measures throughout the various metros has the potential to significantly improve the processes around obtaining a construction permit. In the words of Neil Armstrong, “this is one small step for man but one giant leap for mankind.”