It has become common for homeowners to choose expansion or renovations of their current homes rather than choosing to purchase a new property.
Your neighbour recently started making alterations to his/her house which has dramatically impacted your ability to enjoy the full usage of your property.
You were not made aware of this prior to the undergoing of the alterations and, of course, are worried about how this could affect the value of your property.
This poses an important question of whether or not they are allowed to just build?
However, many homeowners embark on this process without adhering to the applicable standards and regulations as set out in the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977 (“Building Standards Act”) and thus do not obtain all the necessary consents.
According to the Building Standards Act, any plans and specifications by a property owner which involves the erecting of buildings and/or structures must be approved by the local authority before being undertaken.
This involves a comprehensive inspection of the building plans by the local authority’s building control officer in order to determine if all the major and essential requirements, laws and regulations have been complied with.
During the approval process, the local authority has a option, in terms of section 7 of the Building Standards Act, to refuse a building plan application on the grounds that it could have a negative affect on neighbouring properties in the area in which the building is to be erected.
This includes if the planned building work will be unsightly or objectionable or if it will detract from the value of adjoining or neighbouring properties.
This serves as a protection to property owners from ending up in a situation where their property suffers a drastic decrease in value as a result of the building activities of their neighbours.
If such a scenario as refered to at in the introduction of the article were to befall you, then it be advisable to liaise with the relevant local authority and ascertain whether the required processes have been followed and approvals obtained.
A neighbour could be fined or even be instructed to cease construction and/or demolish any progress to date if he/she did not submit his building plans for approval.
In order to ensure that the smooth running of an enquiry into an illegal building alteration, it may be necessary to consult a legal professional.
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