Build Your Own House

How to Build Your Own Home in South Africa.

Building your own Home.

So you've decided to tell everyone that "I want to Build my own Home", let us help you with some facts.

  1. All new homes, by law, have to be registered with the NHBRC, some RDP houses are exempt from this. As an owner builder you may apply for an exemption from the Housing Consumer Protection Measures Act with the NHBRC.

  2. A qualified and registered “competent person” must prepare and submit all building plans to council. This means a qualified and registered architect that will draw up your plans and then they must submit the application to council.

  3. Building Plans must be submitted (Western Cape) (Gauteng) and Approved before commencing with any Demolition's or Building work.

  4. Building Permits; rezoning and other required council applications.

  5. The NHBRC inspects all enrolled homes at key stages of construction. The objective of inspections is to protect housing consumers against poor workmanship during construction. In the situation where the inspector identifies a deviation from the NHBRC Home Building Manual, a non-compliance will be issued to the home builder and a certain amount of time will be given to correct these issues; after which you can not continue until they have returned to sign off that the issues were corrected. We advise you to make an appointment with them to return on set date to reinspect the corrections. If you don't you may find yourself waiting a very long time. The NHBRC inspector's are always overwhelmed and short staffed.

  6. There are many crucial stages on any construction build; but here are the Four key stages of a House Build. These stages cannot be left to chance or quality control be overlooked or the skimping on building materials.

As you've chosen to be the home owner builder; we understand that you're hoping to be able to do it all by yourself and to cut down on what seems to be unnecessary costs (you know exactly what you're doing after all) even so. You would unfortunately be incorrect; you require a (competent person) to sign off that the key stages of work are in accordance with design and or requirements.

We highly suggest you budget for the hiring of and should register them with the NHBRC original application; an engineer is required to ensure that the best building practices are being adhered to; this person is required to inspect the building and certify (once it has been completed) that it has been constructed, erected or installed as specified on the approved plans.

The 4 key stages: The NHBRC Inspector should be called to site during the preparation of and completion of these stages for sign off. We suggest taking photograph's throughout every stage at these critical points for your record's.

SUB-STUCTURE (Foundations)




  1. 2nd Floor Slabs. You can find companies that produce hollow core floor slabs or block and lintel floor slabs with various design capabilities. They would supply, deliver, install and give a completion certificate.

  2. Stairs and Staircases. You can find companies that produce precast stairs or build custom stairs for your site. They would supply, deliver, install and give a completion certificate.

  3. Roofing. Another Key stage. There are a lot of companies that specialize in only the roofing stage of any build. They also supply, deliver, install and give a completion certificate. If you're looking to save on this stage; we suggest you still contract a roofing company for the main roof truss work. You could go on to do the battens, roof tiles or sheeting and finishing's.

Always get a quotation for the entire roof then ask for another quote later to supply the main roof trusses only. This would allow you to deduce what labor and materials you're being charged for.

We would determine if the savings calculated outweigh the effort to do the finishing stage yourself.

Also note: That if you take this route and there are any complications or roofing failures after the main trusses were installed by the supplier/installer; you may enter into a blame game with the main roof truss supplier/installer and it will be hard and expensive to prove who is at fault. Therefore we suggest hiring a roofing company to do the roof from start to finish. You may suggest or enter an agreement to supply the roof tiles or sheeting for the job.

  1. Plumbing: Let's be honest plumbing is expensive for 1 reason only; it's an awful job dealing with human waste on any level. But this is a new build, there should be no human waste at the point of 1st fix (this is the initial installation phase).

Where could you save on this phase of the build; you could supply the materials which let's agree are a huge percentage of the costs of plumbing. There's no real planning required on the routes to take because your construction plans indicate where the routes must be taken.

Why is plumbing so expensive?

Plumbing companies spend time and money investing in vehicles, tools, equipment and gas. But are all "plumbers" qualified? Not exactly; many plumbing companies use laborers that have some experience in the physical installations of plumbing on sites or are still in training to become a plumber; but by law they only require a qualified plumbing supervisor to ensure their work is to code.

"It is illegal for any person who works on a plumbing installation if he/she is not a qualified plumber or not working under the adequate supervision of a qualified plumber. Registered persons under the category of qualified plumbers are qualified plumbers and may carry out plumbing works and may supervise non-qualified plumbers or plumbing learners, however they will not be allowed to purchase or issue Plumbing Certificate's of Compliance for the plumbing installations."

*** So what does this mean to you and your project. You could hire a qualified freelance licensed plumber to supervise your plumbing on site and give a COC (Certificate of Compliance) for the work done. You wouldn't have to pay a company for the use of they're vehicles; staff; gas etc.

  1. Electrical: Same as the above but with a few different key requirements. The pre-planning for the construction phase of the electrical requirements for the build must be determined beforehand in the quotation phase. Namely what the DB (Distribution Board) minimum requirements are and what the building requires. ( How many rooms; plugs; lighting; ovens etc. determine the amperage draw required from the Distribution Board. 1st fix of the electrical conduits are easier but much the same as plumbing.

*** ECOC (Electrical Certificate of Compliance). The electrical certificate of compliance inspection should be done by a qualified and accredited person, such as a registered electrician. The electrician will need to validate that the electrics conform to the South African wiring code (SANS 10142-1) – Requirements for Electrical Installations.

Again you could undertake the installation of all 1st Fix of the conduits to a DB but not the wiring; for this you require a wireman's license for residential (not to be confused with an electrical lineman) and again a registered and qualified electrician is required to oversee that the work is completed to code before an ECOC issued.

These 10 factors will assist you in making the correct choices on your Home Owner's Build. You can do this yourself and there is enough information out there to allow you to do it, you just need to know where to look. That said; a House Build can go on for months and you will have to put up with many headaches along the way. We suggest hiring a Construction Project Manager to undertake all of this for you.

*** Vast Construction Projects can provide you with Construction Project Management services to make your Home Build a success from start to finish without the headaches.

Contact us to discuss Project Managing your Home Build.

**Find our what it Costs to Build a House in South Africa.

*If you found this helpful and wish us to add more facts and figures on how to build your own home, please contact us.

Factors affecting House Construction

Before you construct a house it's important that you estimate the amount of money that you will spend on the project.

The process of estimating the cost of construction is usually complex as you need to consider many factors in order to come up with an accurate estimate. Some of the factors that you need to consider include:

  • Condition of the Site:

The condition of the construction site can increase or decrease the construction costs. Some of the conditions include wetlands, poor soil conditions, conflicting utilities, contaminated materials, overhead lines, ground water, river or stream crossings, buried storage tanks, endangered species habitat, and archaeological sites.

The location of the site will also affect the cost of construction. For example, if you are construction your house in a high value area, you will most likely put up a high value property which will be more expensive than when you are putting up a low value property in an average or low value area.

  • Choice of Architect:

Architects not only design buildings, they also ensure that the buildings are constructed according to plan. While new architects will try to cut corners in order to lower the costs of construction, this isn't the case with experienced and reputable architects.

The reputable professionals will thoroughly follow the construction process and ensure that everything is done perfectly. This is to protect their brand. This means that if you hire a reputable professional, you will most likely spend more money.

  • Labor Costs:

The amount of money that you pay to the people working on the site varies from one place to another. In general, the labor costs tend to be high in the urban areas as compared to the rural areas. This is because the cost of living is much higher in the urban areas.

  • Project Schedule:

The time that the contractor is expected to complete the construction greatly affects the cost of construction. An increase in project duration greatly increases the construction costs due to increase in indirect costs.

  • Materials:

Are the raw materials required in the construction process near the site of construction? If they are within the site the cost of construction will be low, but if they are within the site you will have to spend more money.

  • Conclusion:

These are some of the factors that affect the cost of constructing a house. To ensure that the house lasts for a long time ensure that you don't compromise on the quality of the materials that you use.

Contact us to discuss Project Managing your Home Build.

**Learn more ways to save on your House Build in our Construction Blog.

*If you found this helpful and wish us to add more facts and ways on how to build your own home, please contact us.