Get your plans in early if you want to build

For those who own a stand and are keen to start building their own home, now might be a good time because building costs are dropping - but they need to remember that there is much red tape and paperwork to get through before they can lay the first brick.

“For those who own stands in estates and other gated developments, the job is easier because the geotechnical survey and environmental impact assessment will already have been done,” says Keith Nash, sales director for leading residential developer Sable Homes, “but they will still need to go through the process of getting their building plans drawn up and approved by the local authority.

Nash says many of those who bought stands from Sable Homes during the property boom are now looking to start work on their dream homes, thanks to the fact that building cost growth has dropped to around 6,5 percent a year, compared to around 39 percent at the end of 2006 – and that the average cost is between R4500/sqm and R6000/sqm.

What is more, he notes, is that although there is still a price difference between buying an existing house and building a new one of the same size, many of those who can afford to buy now would rather have a new house or townhouse in a security complex than an older suburban property.

However, he advises, would-be home builders should not start hiring contractors or buying materials until they have got their building plans passed, as this can take quite some time.

The documents that owners will need to assemble before they approach the local authority include the following:

  • The registered title deed to the property, or a draft deed with a covering letter from the developer’s attorneys;
  • A form signed by the architect confirming his appointment;
  • The form appointing an engineer to the project;
  • A zoning certificate for the property and a map;
  • An approved Surveyor-General diagram showing the position of the stand and its boundaries;
  • The house plans including a site plan, elevations, sections and floor layouts, all signed by the owners, the architect and the engineer.

Once owners have all this information they can take it to the planning department of their local authority, fill out the necessary application forms and pay the plan submission fees. (These are R10/sqm in Johannesburg, fopr example.) Planning approval could be anything from 4 weeks to 12 weeks

“Consequently,” says Nash, “our advice to those who are thinking about building is to get their plans drawn and submitted as soon as possible.”

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