Alterations and additions to existing buildings

According to the National Building Regulations, if you build onto an existing home, you will have to submit your plans and comply with the "new" building regulations, including Part XA, which deals with energy usage.

The National Building Regulations 

The National Building Regulations are not retroactive in their application. Therefore, if you are altering or adding to a building, you will not have to ensure that the entire building complies with the new regulations that have been imposed since the building was erected.

This can be of particular interest to people who are concerned about the implications of the new energy efficiency legislature and regulations. However, if you need plans for any additions or alterations, you will have to ensure that the new section of the building complies.

General Principles and Requirements

According to Part A of SANS 10400: General Principles and Requirements, the alterations must comply with the requirements of the Act, when an application is made to make alterations or additions to any building, the plans have to be approved by the Building Regulations and Standards Act.

The general principles and requirements involved in making alterations and additions to buildings are as follows:

The  alteration must comply with the requirements of the Act, but “consequent changes to any other part of the building which would be necessary in order to make such other part comply with the requirements of the Act shall not be required unless in the opinion of the local authority such consequent changes are necessary to ensure the health or safety of persons using the building in the altered form”.

The addition must comply with the requirements of the Act, “but no changes to the original building shall be required unless the addition:

1.    will affect the structural strength or stability of the original building;
2.    will render any existing escape route from the original building less effective; or
3.    will affect the health of persons using the original building.

Possible problems that may occur when adding to older buildings

Problems might arise when alterations or additions are made to buildings that were erected in compliance with earlier building by-laws.

In these cases, the local authority might decide to treat the new portion as a separate part of the building. When this happens, the alterations will have to comply with the National Building Regulations, without having an effect on the original portion of the building.

While the above does not happen often, the local authority will decide to which extent the unaltered part of the building should comply with the National Building Regulations. Generally, they are more strict when it comes to fire regulations and escape route requirements, but that does not affect dwelling houses or residential buildings.

When it comes to making alterations to older buildings, the primary concern is the health and safety of the people using the building. However, any decisions about alterations should be made within the context of what is practical and economically sound in an old building. 

If the owner of the building cannot alter the building in a way that would suit his or her purpose, at a cost which will enable him or her to have a reasonable economic return, they probably won't alter the building at all.  This could lead to the perpetuation of a situation that might be dangerous. However, it is still in compliance with old by-laws, making it perfectly legal.

In these situations, making certain changes that are practical and economically sound could improve the building significantly.

Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated

For estate attorneys that can give you unlimited advice on the alterations and additions that you have planned for your building, contact Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated.